Monday, January 31, 2005

Apparently prostitution is not only legal in Germany but, in some cases, it is mandatory
NASA and the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) have partnered on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) project. Pedro Rustan,director of advanced science and technology at the NRO was Pete Worden's program manager for Clementine, the lunar probe operated by the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization.
There are those who divide space exploration into two muturally exclusive models. They are the government centric and the commercial centric models.

But are they really mutually exclusive? Or are they, properly executed, mutually supportive?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Second Battle for Iraq has been fought. The people of Iraq have won and the terrorists have lost. Rank this as one of freedom's greatest victories, ranking alongside the American Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Those people who think that Arabs are culturally alienated from the idea of liberty have been exposed for the bigots they are.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The folks behind Kistler Aerospace have founded a new commercial venture, aimed at reaching for the Moon. More here.
More political correctness stupidity concerning the name of a college sports team.
For as long as I can remember the fact that NASA appropriations is handled by the same subcommittee as housing and veterans' programs has been a bone in the throat of space advocates. Now the new House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis has a plan to eliminate the VA, HUD, Independent Agencies Subcommittee entirely. NASA and the National Science Foundation would go to the Energy and Water Subcommittee.
Tom James has some thoughts on return to the Moon options (see below), especially Option 4.
Bad weather on the Moon could be a serious matter indeed.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Are the Russians about to experience a resurgance? Maybe. They have the technical expertise. But do they have the money?
President Bush picks up on an idea first pushed by Newt Gingrich, computerizing medical records as a means to reduce both cost and error.
Death penalty opponents make much of cases in which people sentenced to death are later "exonerated" of their crimes and are released, implying that there is a danger of innocent people being executed (and further implying that this has already happened in the modern era, though I don't remember any specific cases cited.) However, some of these people who have been released from death row are nevertheless guilty as hell.
Teddy Kennedy calls for the abandonment of the people of Iraq to the tender mercies of the Baathist and Islamofascist terrorists, resulting in mass death and the making of perhaps millions of refugees, and for abject surrender on a front of the War on Terror.

I know that's not how he phrased it, but that would be the result if his ravings ever become policy.
Jim Oberg warns that the root causes of Apollo1, Challenger, and Columbia have yet to be addressed. Then a flight surgeon remembers Challenger.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Michael Medved finds that Fahrenheit 9/11 to be dated and stale, while The Passion of the Christ is a film for the ages.
Tom Mantula over at the Return to the Moon board has some interesting news concerning options being considered for Moon, Mars, and Beyond.
The key to this battle will be the lunar architecture recommended by the Lunar Strategy Roadmap Committee. There are four strawman architectures being considered by the committee. They are

1. The Evolutionary Approach - a number of human lunar landings at different sites, followed by a base to explore the use of ISRU and learn how to live on the surface of another planetary body. Time frame is 2016 for the first landing to 2030+ for Mars. At this point a decision will need to be made to decommission the lunarbase (that is as in scrap it, NOT selling it to the private sector) and focus on Mars or if the base will still be supported while NASA goes to Mars.

2. The Early Outpost Approach - similar to option one except that a focus will be made early on a site for a lunar outpost to explore the use of ISRU and learn how to live on the surface of another planetary body. Time frame is 2016 for the first landing to 2030+ for Mars. Again at this point a decision will need to be made to decommission the lunarbase and focus on Mars or if the base will still be supported while NASA goes to Mars.

3. The Expedited Moon to Mars Approach - the infamous lunar touch and go. It would consist of a 4-5 human lunar landings to text equip and build skills, then abandon the Moon for a second time to go rushing off to Mars. Needless to say the Mars Only folks loved this one even though it’s the one that will likely kill the VSE the quickest.

4. The Commercial Approach - The last and the most interesting one. It proposes the creation of a Lunar Exploration and Development Authority (LEAD) to fund and build the lunar infrastructure needed. This would include data buys from commercial lunar missions and lunar Nav/Comm systems. The LEAD would also lease lunar infrastructure from commercial firms. IF commercial firms were not available or it was not feasible to develop resources commercially the LEAD would do it and then look at selling it off afterward. Lots of opportunity here for folks. The Science and Mars people didn’t seem to like this option and questioned the wisdom of relying on commercial firms to provide infrastructure and reliable data.

For obvious reasons, I like Option 4 the best.
Smart-1 has returned the first images from the Moon.
Some black Democrats are unhappy at the savaging Condi Rice has had to endure in the United States Senate. As well they should.
President Bush has picked up on an embaressing aspect of the current social security system, as it tends to discriminate against blacks.
Glenn Reynolds has an analysis of what looks like a long term space race between the United States and China.

Addendum: Rand Simberg offers a caustic response in which he apparently claims to have been vindicated in his view that the Chinese space challenge doesn't matter. Scroll down to see my comment.
When people go back to the Moon and on to Mars, they will wear space suits that would have astonished space explorers of the past for their flexibility and high tech design.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Ted Turner compared Fox News to Hitler. That is rather unfair. Unlike Fox News, Hitler failed to conquer the world.
Barbara Boxer promises Democrats that if they give money to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, she will continue to be a shrill little troll.
Suha Arafat, the wife of the now room temperature terrorist chieftain, is making a great show of piety by going on the haj to Mecca. Suha spent most of her days of wedded bliss apart from her loving husband living the high life in Gay Paree on the dime of the Palestinian Authority. That must be why the PA may want to take her daughter away.
One thing that Johney Carson did that I don't think modern late night hosts do was to have as guests on the Tonight Show people like Carl Sagan and Robert Jastrow.

The closest was when Leno had Burt Rutan on twice last year. But imagine people like Bob Zubrin and Paul Spudis on late night on a regular basis.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Michelle Malkin profiles Shohreh Aghdashloo, a talented Iranian born actress who plays a terrorist mom in this season of 24. Ms. Aghdashloo does not whine about Middle Eastern terrorists on TV and in the movies.
There may be a chance for some justice for the raid that the INS carried out to abduct Elian Gonzales and ship the boy back to Cuba. Unfortunately, it won't be for the boy himself, now under one of the last Communist tyrannies.
Talking about being about to dish it out, but not take it, Barbara Boxer is a pathetic little whiner, is she not?
Bill Thomas may be on to something. The excuse liberals give for not reforming Social Security is that the crisis won't happen until most of them are dead. Never mind that it gets harder to fix the closer the day of reckoning comes. But, if we recognize that Social Security discriminates against blacks (who tend to have shorter life expectancies) in favor of whites, then liberal opponents of reform are placed in an untenable position.
Your Humble Servant comments on the continuing Hubble Space Telescope drama.
Radiation is a huge hazard for future interplanetary explorers. Fortunately, electromagnetic shields may provide an answer.
There are lots of ideas about how to get people to Mars. But what will they do when they get there?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The British are apparently going to argue about the usefulness of sending people to explore space. Of course, I consider the question already settled.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Looks like the White House will propose not doing any mission to service the Hubble telescope, robotic or shuttle.
Michael Moore continues to inspire other documentary film makers, though perhaps not in the way he intended.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Well, of course the epic of the landing on Titan proves the superiority of capitalist democracy over islamo-fascism. But then, that superiority should be self evident.
Fred Barnes, not surprisingly, likes President Bush's speech.
Are the Democrats about the jump off the cliff--again--and make Howard Dean their chairman?
President Bush did not just throw down the gauntlet, he hurtled it into the teeth of every tyrant and terrorist in the world.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Some progress toward proving that we can build solar cells with lunar materials, on the Moon.
The liberals think they have a model for their efforts to regain power. Oddly enough, it is the one man they hate more than anyone (except George W. Bush), Newt Gingrich. Their misreading of Newt's political grand strategy will sink them deeper into ignominy and irrelevance.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The American Astronomical Society is the latest group to call for sending astronauts to fix the Hubble telescope.
I wonder what Barbara Boxer means by this kind of behavior. Most people would dismiss it as disrespect brought about by volcanic rage against the Bush Administration in general, and one of the most accomplished women in America who has the effontery to be (a) black and (b) Republican. However, surely there must be some diabotical political purpose behind this.

Or then again, maybe it's just the rage.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Jim Oberg suggests that Huygens was a near run thing and was a success thanks to the efforts of some tireless and brilliant engineers.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

John Conlin suggests that the very idea of race is outdated and pernicious.
Houston City Council member Shelly Sekula-Gibbs speaks out against Mayor White's legalized car theft program, called Safe Clear.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

I have heard of radical college professors going postal on conservative students, but this story achieves a new low as an example of derangement (not on the part of the student, who was accused of it, but the professor, who clearly is.)
Apparently, even under an austerity budget designed to decrease the deficit, NASA will still get an increase.

Friday, January 14, 2005

2005 has made a roaring start with the first landing of a probe on the Moon of another world. Details to follow.

Addendum: The first picture.

Addendum 2: And another.
Rand Simberg has some rather nice things to say about the Moon, Mars, and Beyond Vision, one year later.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

If 2004 was the year that the new space age had begin, 2005 will surely be the year the new space age takes off at warp speed.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and of Blue Origin, will build a space launch facility in West Texas.
Clint Eastwood has told Michael Moore, in effect, to "make my day."
Ann Coulter launches on Rathergate and the white wash report. She turns up far more evidence of liberal bias:
Responding to Bill O'Reilly's question in a May 15, 2001, interview on "The O'Reilly Factor" about why CBS News had mentioned crackpot rumors of George Bush's drug use on air seven times, but the name "Juanita Broaddrick" had never crossed Dan Rather's lips (and was only mentioned twice on all of CBS News), Rather replied: "Juanita Broaddrick, to be perfectly honest, I don't remember all the details of Juanita Broaddrick. But I will say that – and you can castigate me if you like. When the charge has something to do with somebody's private sex life, I would prefer not to run any of it."

If only the press had extended that same courtesy to Mike Tyson! Rape has as much to do with "somebody's private sex life" as Bush's National Guard service does.

Admittedly, Juanita Broaddrick's charge against Clinton – that Bill Clinton raped her so brutally that her clothing was torn and her lip was swollen and bleeding, hence his parting words of "you'd better put some ice on that" – was not a story on the order of Augusta National Golf Course's exclusion of women members. But, unlike the Bush drug-use charge, which remains unsupported to this day, Broaddrick's allegations had been fully corroborated by NBC News – which then refused to air Lisa Myers' report until after Clinton's acquittal in the Senate.

The Mayor of Houston has belated realized what a mess he created with the Safe Clear Law, which causes people who break down on Houston's freeways to be involuntarily towed away, regardless of the ability to pay.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Liam Neeson as Abraham Lincoln in a film by Steve Spielberg? Could be fun.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Houston recently passed a law called Safe Clear, which causes people who have breakdowns on the freeway to be towed, regardless of whether they could fix the problem in a reasonable time (like a flat) and regardless of whether they can afford the seventy five dollar towing fee. Naturally, the law is causing a lot of anger and acrimony. Bob Lamer believes he has a better idea.
Newt Gingrich's new political book is out:

Dick Morris muses about the latest Clinton scandal.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Motley Fool examines investment opportunities on the high frontier.
One thing that seems to be missing from the report on the CBS News document scandal is the role that political bias played in it. That's too bad, because there will be no effort to correct the long standing problem that has plagued the main stream media, which means that inevitably something like this will happen again.

And, of course, Dan Rather still gets to slide out with his gold watch and hand shake.
Some of the budget games NASA is playing, under new authority granted by Congress, are very--well--interesting.
Two of my favorite shows moved me in different directions last night. First, I've had an affection for Boston Legal since (a) it has actually succeeded in making William Shatner an actor and (b) I like James Spaders Alan Shore's sardonic wit. But last night's episode seemed designed to really tick me off because (a)it featured the return of Candice Bergen to TV as a kind of Murphy Brown as law partner from Hell and (b) an absurd liberal, political rant disguised as a sub plot concerning a man who sues the US government for the current genocide in the Sudan. The same folks who are mad as Hell at us invading Iraq and therefore stopping the mass murder and rapes and other horrors inflicted by the Ba'ath Regime are also mad as Hell that we are following their prescription for such things in the Sudan by letting diplomacy take its course. If we were to send an army into the Sudan to kill Arabs, I assure you that within weeks the folks responsible for that sub plot would be mad as Hell that we had done what they wanted.

Fortunately, 24 is back and a bad time for Jack Bauer is always a good time for the rest of us. Sure there are absurd situations, and last night was no exception. A train demolishment, a middle class Arab family in Southern California up to no good, the kidnapping of the SecDef and his daughter (with whom Jack is sleeping), the massacre of an entire IT office, and the same actress who was once head of the Section in La Femme Nikita, now head of CTU LA, and really frustrated that she can't have Jack tortured and then "cancelled." Oh, and Chloe, the neurotic computer whiz is back and seems to have lost some weight. I look forward to new episodes.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

John Fund talks about the continuing struggle to retrieve the Governorship of Washington State from those who have stolen it.
A world without Israel? Not quite the paradise imagined by some folks in the Arab world, Europe, and the US State Department.
John Carmack made his millions designing computer games your parents don't likely approve of. Now he wants to conquer a higher frontier.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

I think Newt is making a mistake attacking the President on Iraq, if he really has Presidential ambitions. One of the things GOP primary voters will look for in 2008, I believe, will be loyalty to President Bush.

Of course, Newt may just run not so much to win but to get some of his ideas out into public discussion, which will be a good thing.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Is the theft by the Democrats of the Governorship of Washington State beginning to unravel? Or is this a last stand by the Republicans?
Can anyone now believe, with any assurance, that anything Armstrong Williams says is his own opinion and not one that was purchased? Sadly, I think not.
Welcome, by the way, for those visiting here due to the kind mention by Professor Reynolds. Children of Apollo, my alternate history novel that he mentioned, can also be found here, as well as here, and here.

I'm also coauthor of an espionage thriller entitled Nocturne, which can also be found here, here, and here.

I also have a more detailed list of alternate history selections, for those interested.
Various authors, from Marion Zimmer Bradley to Tom Clancy, try their hands at Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Addendum: Then, of course, there is Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by Thomas Harris.

Hermione is summoned to Dumbledore's office for an "interesting errand" to Azkaban Prison. With Voldemort on the loose, every effort is going to be made to find out everything there is to know about "He who must not be named." Toward that end, Hermione is to interview a former Professor of the Defense Against the Dark Arts, Hannibal Lecter to try to find out if he had any insights into where Voldemort was hiding and what his plans were.

Hermione has heard of "Hannibal the Cannibal." Everyone has. There was the infamous faculty dinner Professor Lecter hosted at Hogwarts, which featured fava beans and a fine Chianti, among other things. Several students in Professor Lector's class had vanished and it was only through the efforts of a Profiler from the Ministry of Magic that it was found out why and what Lecter was doing with them.

And so Hermione is drawn into a game of psychological intrigue where, among other things, she asks the question of whether the Owls are still screaming. Isolated by his crimes from all physical contact with the magical world, Lecter plays an enigmatic game of "Clue" with Herminoe, providing her with snippets of data that, if she is smart enough, will lead her to Voldemort. Undaunted, she goes where the data takes her. When Lecter finally escapes from Azkaban, another question arises. Who is in more danger? Hermione and her friends Harry and Ron? Or Voldemort himself?

Second addendum: Of for that matter, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by Richard Condon.

"Harry," said Professor McGonagall. "Why don't you pass the time by playing a little tarot?"

Glassy eyed, as if in a trance, Harry lays out the tarot pattern. When he over turns the Queen of Swords, he looks up.

"Now, Harry, I will tell how you are going to kill Dumbledore and make Gilderoy Lockhart headmaster of Hogwarts. But first I know you will never entirely comprehend this, Harry. But you must believe I did not know it would be you. I served Voldemort. I fought for him. I'm on the point of winning for him the greatest foothold they will ever have in this school. And he paid me back by taking your soul away from you. I told him to build me an assassin. I wanted a killer from a world filled with killers and he chose you. Because he thought it would bind me closer to him."

McGonagall takes Harry's face in her hands.

"But now we have come almost to the end. One last step. And then, when I take power, Voldemort will be pulled down and ground into dirt for what he did to you. And what he did in so contemptuously underestimating me."

McGonagall kisses Harry on the forehead, the cheek, and -- most intensely -- on the lips.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Meanwhile, Arnold continues to enjoy what is best in life. "To crush your enemies, to drive them before you, and to hear the lamentations of the Democrats."
Fred Barnes suggests that the 21st Century will be a Republican Century.
Robert Zimmerman examines the state of the space program a year after the announcement of the Moon, Mars, and Beyond Vision and finds both good and bad things to say. The most interesting to me:
Though many reports have raised specific questions about Bush's space vision, the press coverage has been extensive and generally exuberant. In fact, W's proposal got more positive exposure than any space plan since John F. Kennedy's moon initiative in the 1960s.

Congress, in turn, responded by giving Bush all the funds he requested for NASA, leaving no doubt of their support for this ambitious space program.

Even those Democrat politicians who opposed Bush's proposal were far less hostile than their counterparts in 1989. Consider, for example, Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., whose space platform during his recent presidential campaign was hardly as enthusiastic as Bush's for the human exploration of the solar system.

Nevertheless, Kerry included it in his overall platform, suggesting the U.S. space program must balance human exploration with the need to do astronomical, planetary and aeronautical research.

As stated by Lori Garver, a member of Kerry's Science and Technology advisory team, "We will support solar system exploration as an important goal for our human and robotic programs ... but only as one goal among several."

Nor was Kerry's campaign position unusual. Though many people - from academics to politicians to aerospace experts - strongly disagreed with Bush's specific proposal, few adopted the position that space exploration is unnecessary, as many had in the past. Instead, they simply have argued the nation must do it differently.

What this means for the American space program is profound. After more than 40 years of debate, the argument is over and the supporters of manned spaceflight have won.

Well, maybe. I profoundly hope so.
The new Space Transportation Policy is out and the commercial section looks, at least to me, to be very promising:
IV. Commercial Space Transportation

1) The United States Government is committed to encouraging and facilitating a viable U.S. commercial space transportation industry that supports U.S. space transportation goals, benefits the U.S. economy, and is internationally competitive. Toward that end, United States Government departments and agencies shall:

a) Purchase commercially available U.S. space transportation products and services to the maximum extent possible, consistent with mission requirements and applicable law;

b) Provide a timely and responsive regulatory environment for licensing commercial space launch and reentry activities;

c) Maintain, subject to periodic review and the competitiveness of U.S. industry, the liability risk-sharing regime for U.S. commercial space transportation activities set forth in the Commercial Space Launch Act, as amended (49 USC, Subtitle IX, Chapter 701), including provisions for indemnification by the United States Government;

d) Refrain from conducting activities with commercial applications that preclude, deter, or compete with U.S. commercial space transportation activities, unless required by national security;

e) Involve the U.S. private sector in the design and development of space transportation capabilities to meet United States Government needs;

f) Provide stable and predictable access to the Federal space launch bases and ranges, and other government facilities and services, as appropriate, for commercial purposes on a direct-cost basis, as defined in the Commercial Space Launch Act, as amended (49 USC, Subtitle IX, Chapter 701). The United States Government reserves the right to use such facilities and services on a priority basis to meet national security and critical civil mission requirements;

g) Encourage private sector and state and local government investment and participation in the development and improvement of space infrastructure, including non-Federal launch and reentry sites; and

h) Provide for the private sector retention of technical data rights in acquiring space transportation capabilities, limited only to the extent necessary to meet United States Government needs.

2) The Secretary of Transportation shall license and have safety oversight responsibility for commercial launch and reentry operations and for operation of non-Federal launch and reentry sites, as set forth in the Commercial Space Launch Act, as amended (49 USC, Subtitle IX, Chapter 701), and Executive Order 12465. The Secretary of Transportation shall coordinate with the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and other United States Government departments and agencies, as appropriate.

a) The Secretaries of Transportation and Defense shall establish common public safety requirements and other common standards, as appropriate, taking into account launch vehicle type and concept of operation, for launches from Federal and non-Federal launch sites. The Secretaries of Transportation and Defense shall coordinate these requirements with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other departments and agencies as appropriate.

3) The Secretaries of Commerce and Transportation shall encourage, facilitate, and promote U.S. commercial space transportation activities, including commercial human space flight.

It will be interesting to see if, under this new policy, someone developing a commercial orbital vehicle will be able to cite paragraph 1 and subparagraphs a and d to suggest that their vehicle be used to shuttle crews to and from the space station.

Addendum: Reuters seems to be upbeat about the new policy.
It looks like that some Democrats will contest the relection of George W. Bush by objecting to the official count of the electorial votes in the Congress. And so the descent into madness of a once proud political party proceeds apace.

Addendum: Oddly enough, Kerry has declined to join in this farce.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Howard Dean as Clinton's man as Chairman of the DNC? Now what did Bob Tyrrell mean by suggesting that?
Do we really want the same folks who perpetrated the oil for food scandal, not to mention sexual abuse of refugees in Africa, handling aid to the tsusami victims? I think not.
The University of Utah has been given some federal grants for research that may eventually allow the blind to see, the mute to talk, and the lame to walk.
Tom Toles, cartoonist, repeats the trillion dollar Mars mission lie.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Jim Glassman makes the case for private retirement accounts under Social Security.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Alan Boyle has found a scientist working on the Mars Rover team who thinks that humans make the best explorers.
John Kerry is still in denial about the reason he lost. While he is casting about for tactical reasons (What if Kerry had been warmer? More eloquent? Less haughty? What if Karl Rover had been less clever?), he is missing the real reason. It all started over thirty years ago when he told a Senate Committee that American soldiers in Vietnam were acting like "the Army of Chingas Khan." That calumny sank any hopes of him being President in 2004.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Kanna Rajan reflects on the changes at NASA wrought by the Moon, Mars, and Beyond Vision.