Monday, July 30, 2007

Has the Copperhead Caucus just lost the New York Times? If not, how does one explain this article by a couple of guys from Brookings?
More on the idea of sending an Orion to an Earth approaching asteroid. Here is what I had to say about the subject a few months back.
More on Dark Shadows coming to the big screen, with Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins.
Considering the recent tragecy near Mojave, much of this week's Space Review is given over to topics surrounding it. Jeff Foust discusses the possibility of an accident in flight, what will happen afterwards, and what is being done to prepare for it. Meanwhile Tim Pickens celebrates the life and mourns the death of his friend Glen May.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Marvin Zindler has died.
Franklin Chang-Diaz continues to develop his plasma rocket, now at a facility in his native Costa Rica.

Scaled has announced information on a fund for those who wish to support the families of the deceased as well as the injured and their families.

Please send contributions to:
Scaled Family Support Fund
c/o Scaled Composites
1624 Flight Line
Mojave, CA. 93501

Acct # 04157-66832

Wire transfer ABA Routing #1220-0066-1

Please make checks payable to the account
number or to the name of the fund.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Texans, who seem to be much disdained by some Brits, are in fact responsible for saving Britain's economy by helping to develop the North Sea oil fields. I can remember stories of Texas oil men disporting themselves about Glascow in kilts and cowboy boots.

Via Instapundit.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Apollo landing sites as protected cultural and historical sites? I concur with that.
Alan Boyle has more on the Scaled Composites accident. He quotes a sentiment from Rick Tumlinson that we certainly second.
"But people like these (refering to Charles "Glen" May, Eric Blackwell, and Todd Ivens) who give their sweat and lives to build those ships, who take their families out to live in the desert and work incredible hours on tedious tasks to make those rockets fly, and who do so because they share the dream of an open frontier in space, they too are true heroes."


Kipling once wrote, "If blood be the price of admiralty,
Lord God, we ha' bought it fair!" And so it will be for the airless oceans of space as it has been for the Earths seas.
A tribute to Glenn May who perished at the Scaled Composites explosion.
Resistance to Tyranny in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Meanwhile, J.K. Rowling reveals some details about the fates of our heroes not mentioned in the book.

Spoilers from both links.
The Fall of Ward Churchill
Obama pulled one of the biggest boners at the YouTube Debate when he promised to meet with all of the enemies of the United States without conditions. Even Hillary Clinton could not fail to leap on that one. I explore the situation in Diplomatic Follies at the Democratic YouTube Debate
Johnny Depp as Barnabis Collins? How delicious.
Looks like Zachary Quinto (of Heroes) will play Spock in the upcoming Star Trek film. And so will Nimoy.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My take on Space and the Next Election
Rand Simberg has a post about the accident that hit Scaled Composites.
This is so wrong.
Mad Men: A Show About the Evils of Capitalism, Media Manipulation, and Office Politics. If you can get past that, it's actually a pretty good show.
During the YouTube debate, Barack Obama claimed that he still can't get a cab in New York because he's black. Ann Coulter calls him on that.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Looks like LiftPort may be coming back from the dead.
Hillary Clinton and John Edwards Plot to Winnow the Democratic Field
Norman Borlaug: The Greatest Man You Never Heard Of
Recently the greatest human being living received a special Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his achievements. This man has previously been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He is very likely responsible for saving the lives of over a billion people in the Third World from starvation. Yet his name is unknown to the general public.
Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo meets Xena Warrior Princess. It's actually kind of choice.
Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas and candidate for President, has a somewhat confused idea of space policy. He seems to be afraid of being laughed at for supporting a humans to Mars expedition, but seems to support human exploration in the abstract.
What is the state of the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) industry? Taylor Dinerman suggests guarded but hopeful.
A space elevator built from diamonds? Sam Dinkin thinks it's possible and it would certainly look cool.

Addendum: Sam Dinkin takes the idea and runs with it further.
Jeff Foust discribes at recent panel discussion on space and politics that took place at a recent NewSpace Conference. There weren't that many surprises, except some surprise expressed that the final go/no go decision for going back to the Moon would be taken by the next President. Those of us who could read a calender always realized that.

Lori Garver thinks that the next President will create a cabinet level "Department of the Environment." While that would represent another regrettable growth in big government, it would provide an opportunity for NASA to shed its Earth science parts and thus concentrate on matters space.

Aside from that, the usual about space not being a priority, none of the candidates wanting to be specific on space policy, and so on. There wasn't much said about the next election and Congress. Support for the Vision for Space Exploration seems solid and bipartisan in Congress at the current time. That could effect what the next President does no matter what he (or she) might otherwise think. Congressional support for the space station, for example, probibly saved it from cancellation by the Clinton Administration in the early 1990s.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Looks like Al Qaeda has become so barbaric that even its members are in revolt.
It looks like that the next President to serve on 24 will be President Allison Taylor, obviously a woman, played by actress Cherry Jones. The producers deny any connection to Hillary Clinton and, looking at the photos of Ms. Jones, I have to agree. Ms. Jones looks for more photogenic than Hillary ever dreamed of being.
In which I review Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling's epic masterpiece of the eternal struggle between good and evil, freedom and tyranny, disguised cleverly as a series of children's books, comes to an awe inspiring end. School is out (and indeed the Hogwarts school is not even a scene in the book until later in the story) and Harry and his friends must now apply all that they have learned if they are to survive and triumph.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Various authors other than J.K. Rowling contribute their ideas to the end of the Harry Potter series. Absolutely no spoilers.
Northrup Grumman has bought out Scaled Composites. This would be a great deal for Burt Rutan if he can maintain the freedom to run the now wholly owned subsidiary of a big aerospace company as he wants with the new infusion of cash. It may prove a little confusing to certain people who equate big, old aerospace=bad and new-space=good.

Addendum: Interestingly, both Rand Simberg and Jon Goff approve of the transaction. I have to say that I like the idea of Northrop buying its own skunkworks, if that is indeed the plan. One of the interesting effects of the rise of new commercial space companies is how the traditional ones will try to adapt. Northrop seems to have provided one answer.

Friday, July 20, 2007

There's a petition to make Jukly 20th a national holiday, called Space Exploration Day.
In which I discuss the bizzare phenomenom of do it yourself political music videos in Taryn Southern is Hot4Hill.
Is Dolores Umbridge the Hillary Clinton of Harry Potter's Wizarding World? I say yes.
Mitch McConnell: Master of the Senate.
It seems that it is now part of the Obama Doctrine that we do not stop genocides whether they happen in Iraq or even Africa.
Apparently the second season of Jericho is going to look pretty familier to people who watch the news.
"And when we start season two, that Cheyenne government is here, and they're helping us rebuild. There are revenge killings going on between Jericho and New Bern. There's still problems there. They're sort of like warring tribes a little bit, but there's this occupying force that's trying to bring stability to the area. And then that becomes the new [question]. Are these guys good or are these guys bad?"

Gee, what does that sound like?
Since the Democrats took over the Congress, the popularity of that august body has dropped to a level just above that of Al Qaeda. Naturally Chuckie Schumer blames Bush and the Republicans.
Apparently Senate Democrats actually want people who report suspicious activity--say Middle Eastern looking men misbehaving on an air plane--to be sued.
Thirty eight years ago today, two men made the first foot steps on another world. Over the next forty one months, ten more men would follow.

Those will not be the last foot steps.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bill Kristol makes a great case that President Bush will win in the end.

I have a couple of added added reasons. When privately built, privately operated space craft begin to take paying customers into space in a few years it will largely be because of Bush Administration policies.

And, an appropriate thing to point out on the day before the anniversary of the First Footsteps, when the next Footsteps occur, if they are made by an American, that too will be because of President Bush.
There's a peculiar kind of Holocaust Denying that seems to be chic is left wing circles. The reason the left doesn't often get called on it is because the particular Holocausts they deny took place in Vietnam and surrounding areas in the mid to late 70s after the Americans abandoned the region. John Kerry illustrates this phenomenon when he says that there was "no bloodbath" in Vietnam and that the reeducation camps, while a little rough, turned out people who are now thriving.

The story mentioned in the caption to the video indicates that a hundred or so thousand died in those camps. That figure of course does not include the almost two million who died in Cambodia and the million who died at sea trying to escape SE Asia as boat people.
Now we can expect terrorist violence from animal rights fanatics. Oddly enough these crazies are actually afronted when they are called terrorists, which is what they are.
In which I describe a curious, modern rite of passage upon turning fifty. One Man's Colonoscopy

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It seems that even space tourism is not immune to inflation.
The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes.
In The Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes has written the most compelling and readable history of the Great Depression ever to come out. In so doing, Shlaes has taken a period that everyone thinks they know about and shows that the true story of the Great Depression is far more complex than hitherto believed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

One result of private space travel is that more people will be exposed to the overview effect.
In the future, space suits will be lighter, more flexible, and cooler. And it is very important to look cool while exploring the universe.
The direct to DVD Babylon 5 film will boast of state of teh art special effects.
Last week, Peggy Noonan published a column in which she attacked the President for being too cheerful. Noonan, of course, served the most cheerful of all of our recent Presidents, Ronald Reagan.

David Limbaugh responds.
Time Magazine discusses the Dawn Mission to Ceres and Vesta, two rather large and rather old asteroids.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Thirty eight years ago, Apollo 11 departed for the Moon.
An expedition to Phobos and/or Deimos is being considered.
Doubting Global Warming Could be Treasonous. Robert Kennedy Jr. said so.
Of course just to keep things fair and balanced, I also hammer a Democrat. Senator Jon Tester Engages in Vietnam Era Nostalgia
For those gentle readers who think I never criticize Republicans, I have a treat. Republican Senators Go Wobbly About the War in Iraq
Scott Horowitz is stepping down as head of NASA's exploration efforts, to "spend more time with his family." Since this is the sort of excuse that government bureaucrats use when they don't want to give out the real reason, speculation has started to run rampant.

The obvious suggestion, from the usual suspects, is that Orion/Ares is about to collapse and Horowitz is getting out before it happens. Rand Simberg suggests that as a reason, though he also offers an alternative, non space theory. Chair Force Engineer also suspects something is up.

While so far the weight problems don't seem to be any thing more than the teething problems that every project of this kind goes through, it is certainly possible that something is developing behind the scenes. The clue as to what it is will be the identity of Horowitz's replacement.
Now that Farfur the Martyr Mouse has gone to the 72 virgins, his buddy Nahoul the Bee has arrived to take up the cause of terrorism.
Sam Dinkin looks at a global warming threat that even Al Gore never dreamed of.
Through some economies, the Kepler planet hunting telescope has escaped cancellation.
Michael Griffin invokes Robert Heinlein.
The Lagrange points as destinations for Orion.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Following Ferris Valyn's lead, Brian Swiderski starts his own Daily Kos diary to try to educate the left about things space. A little bit of political bias here (it is on the Kos after all) but still worth reading.
Victor Davis Hanson takes the New York Times and hammers it to a bleeding pulp.
On July 8, the New York Times ran an historic editorial entitled “The Road Home,” demanding an immediate American withdrawal from Iraq. It is rare that an editorial gets almost everything wrong, but “The Road Home” pulls it off.

Read the whole thing.
The next space shuttle flight has some bitter sweet overtones. Barbara Morgan will, at long last, get to fly.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson RIP
I muse about one of my new favorite shows, Burn Notice.
Apparently Taryn Southern, who was on American Idol a few years back, is Hot For Hillary. Here's a sample of the lyrics:
I know you're not gay
But I'm hoping for bi

If I were Ms. Southern, I would keep a good eye on my cat.
Chair Force Engineer has some interesting thoughts on Orion's current mass problems.
I muse on how Scotter Libby Escapes Jail and the hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton.
Drive. was one of those interesting, quirky shows with a very strange premise of an illegal road race for reasons at first unknown. Naturally the Fox Network yanked it off the air after airing only four episodes. Here is what would have happened had Fox not done so.
A mnember of the Texas Legislature, Boris Miles did not hestitate to vote against a bill that would give Texans the right to stand their ground and use deadly force to protect their lives and property. However, when Miles surprised a couple of burglers in the house he was building, he did not hestitate to pull heat and fill them full of lead.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ferris Valyn continues his admirable efforts to educate the Left about things space. But he inserts a misconception about Your Humble Servant:
And yes, for those of you who follow commenter at, yes Mark Whittington is still defending the current plan for Orion.

Well, not exactly. I've always maintained that I lack the technical expertise to evaluate one set of space hardware over another. I have posed a couple of questions to the opponents of the current proposal way to get back to the Moon that so far has not gotten a satisfactory answer.

Is the alternative being offered actually cost less and/or perform better than NASA's plan?

Some people insist yes, some no. I have not seen any real analysis with hard numbers to suggest that any of the alternatives meet these criteria.

Does or does not the NASA plan have problems that will inevitable cause it to fail?

Again the answer has not be satisfactory. There have been at least three occasions in which a rumor has swept the Internet that the whole Ares/Orion project was going to collapse "any day now." So far these rumors have not been borne out by any thing resembling reality.

There has been some talk about weight problems bedeviling Orion. Either Orion is too heavy to reach orbit or Ares 1 is not powerful enough to take Orion to orbit. This sounds ominous unless one is familiar with the history of the development of other space projects, like--say--Apollo. The Lunar Module had severe weight problems too. But the problem was attacked by very innovative engineers and eventually solved. There was no world wide web at the time for people to claim that Apollo was on the verge of collapse at the time.

And even the weight issue has gotten contradictory statements. One poster on another board is pretty sure that Orion was deliberately sized to prevent it from being launched on top of an EELV (Atlas V or Delta IV.) Another poster in the same threat is pretty sure that an EELV could "easily" launch an Orion to low Earth orbit. Both cannot be true.

Then there is the problem of the current approach being "politically sustainable." It's a fair question, though it is predicated on the notion that some other approach--which has not gotten an exhaustive cost benefit analysis--would be more politically sustainable.

However, in any case, the evidence is not in yet. So far, the spending bills in both the House and the Senate have fully funded the exploration account for NASA. There is even a bipartisan effort to add a billion or so dollars to NASA's budget in the Senate to pay for some of the costs of returning the shuttle fleet to flight, thus alleviating the pressure on some of NASA's other accounts, including exploration.

So I observe the debate with great interest and no little bemusement.

Monday, July 09, 2007

In which I put on sack cloth and ashes and mourn Farfur the Martyr Mouse.
Recently the star of Hamas children's television, the Palestinian terrorist answer to Barney the Purple Dinosaur, Farfur the Martyr Mouse was beaten to death on camera by someone identified as an Israeli government official.Presumably the giant Mickey Mouse clone is even now sporting with the 72 Virgins. My question is: are they also mice? Or is something very weird happening in Paradise?
Walter Cronkite is fondly remembered by many people of a certain age as the journalistic voice and face of the early space program. But was his reputation for knowledge of things aerospace tainted by political bias? Certainly, as Jim Oberg suggests, it has concerning the Soviet shootdown of KAL 007.
In Indy 4, are the godless Soviets after the Lost Ark.
Victor Davis Hanson reports that there is no limit to the depravity of Al Qaeda.
The Copperhead Caucus in Congress used to demand that the President "listen to the Generals." It is a bit of advice that they refuse to take themselves as they prepare to declare defeat in Iraq.
Texas may be about to be the venue of a new type of oil industry. The kind you cook with.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A NASA official pays tribute to Robert Heinlein.
Election 08 just got some potential for some real entertainment value with the possibility of a Pelosi vs Sheehan contest.

Friday, July 06, 2007

How Scotland Beats Terrorism
Forget about your robert bruce
and all the men he's beaten
the hero of the scottish now
is a man called big John Smeaton

Scotland Forever!
More Historical Epics I'd Like to See on the Big Screen
Immigration Reform Crashes and Burns
Joe Lieberman, who would be a leader in the Democrat Party if the Democrat Party has an ounce of sanity, suggests that we are already at war with Iran but have refused as yet to acknowledge it or do anything about it. I agree and I have some suggestions.

Speaking of Iran, I muse on the delicious irony of Gas Lines in Iran.
Apparently a deal has been reached for Rupert Murdoch to buy Dow Jones & Co., which includes the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Apparently Oliver Stone is not taking his new role as "Great Satan" very well.
Apparently the "Doctors of Death" in Britain are not the only members of the medical profession driven mad with hate and blood lust. From a story from last year:
"I injected more than 35 policemen and soldiers, including officers and some who were slightly injured," the doctor, identified by a Kurdish security official as Luay Omar Taie, said in the taped statement. "I used to stop the breathing machines or cut the electricity in the operations room or reopen the wounds."
The mother ships for Stardust and Deep Impact, both of which have completed their primary missions, have been given new missions.
The push by the left to erode the First Amendment by reimposing the (Un)fairness Doctrine continues apace.
Apparently an effort to turn certain Republican law makers against the War in Iraq is not going well.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It seems that there was a blogger covering the Continental Congress. Here and here
Jeff Foust looks askance at the ravings of Bruce Gagnon.
Demand remains high for tickets for sub orbital jaunts on SpaceShipTwo.
Kurt Loder views Michael Moore's Sicko, weighs in in the balance, and finds it wanting.
An Independence Day message from John Adams.
Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

More on the upcoming Star Trek film.
If humans are grabbing more than their share of sunlight does that mean that solar power is now out as a politically correct source of energy?
Jon Sanders is is having too much fun at the expense of Farfur the Martyr Mouse, whose untimely death will be mourned by all.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Star Trek, starring Matt Damon as Captain James T. Kirk, Ardien Brodey as Mr. Spock, and Gary Sinese as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. It looks like it could happen.
Live Free or Die Hard
Michael Moore's Sicko
Michael Moore's latest outing into the pseudo documentary genre, Sicko, is, like the previous outings, comprised of one part sly humor, one part affected moral outrage. Like the previous outings, Sicko is not overly burdened by the truth.The truth would only get in the way, you see.
Jeff Brooks inveighs against the old space vrs social programs complaint.
Jeff Foust examines NASA's communications plan.
Robert Heinlein, prophet of rocketry.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bruce Gagnon, one of our favorite nut cases, says that the "space industry" has "declared war on the poor." For your entertainment.
The aerospace industry is an expensive game. Virtually every space technology project underway today is overwhelmingly over budget. The International Space Station, originally set to cost $10 billion, now costs out at over $100 billion. The aerospace industry publication, Space News, years ago editorialized that they know they must come up with a funding source for their expensive space programs. They have they reported. They said they are sending their lobbyists to Washington to defund the "entitlement programs." Officially the entitlement programs are Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and what is left of the welfare program after Bill Clinton got through with it.
Michael Yon's latest dispatch demonstrates more than most why we fight. Warning: Disturbing images.
More on the space glove competition and the Centennial Challenges.