Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hasbro seems to be back peddling on the whole idea of GI Joe as a Euroweenie UN type.
Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico and candidate for President of the United States, wants the government to come clean on the Roswell Incident. I agree. How else are we to know whether or not Dennis Kucinich is a space alien?
China has announced the production of a new family of launch vehicles, the Long March 5 by 2013.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

People, pronounced "brain dead" and condemned to actual death by starvation and dehydration, are waking up as the treatment of brain injuries advance. The unquiet ghost of Terri Schiavo has not been laid to rest.
A real life blind detective.
I have always thought that the advice of the Roman Emperor Cauligula should be applied to dealing with our enemies. "Oderint dum metuant." That means, roughly, let them hate us so long as they fear us.

Of course many disagree. Many think that Al Qaeda and their ilk can be persuaded to love us, if only "cowboy diplomacy" were to be abandoned. Ron Silver (of all people) delightlfully shows us what must be done to make that happen.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jeff Foust has a recap of this year's Lunar Lander Challenge.
Taylor Dinerman attends the "Remembering the Space Age” conference and finds that the horror of French style deconstruction analysis has encroached even on the space age. Then he asks the question, “Who want to be stuck on the same planet with the semioticians, forever?”

A good enough argument for space settlements in my humble opinion.
One of the things I always loved about returning to the Moon is its potential as the "Persian Gulf" of the 21st Century, as a source of clean, limitless energy. Whether you like fusion fueled by lunar mined helium 3 or space based solar power stations built with lunar materials, it looks like our nearest neighbor can provide the solutions to many of our environmental and energy problems.

Alas, trust the environmentalist wackos to object to that.
Earth's sister has played a role in teaching us to value our environment: how extraordinary to think that the next giant leap for the environmental movement might be a campaign to stop state-sponsored mining companies chomping her up in glorious privacy, a quarter of a million miles from our ravaged home.

Extraordinary indeed.

Addendum: The Belmont Club has more.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Keith Cowing had an interesting piece on the continuing kerfluffle on the Orion/Ares design.
However, should Griffin leave or be replaced, the general consenus is that the entire VSE/ESAS universe would be revisited - from stem to stern - with an EELV-based architecture the strong favorite to replace it. If the powers that be reject Ares - they will reject any Shuttle-derived architecture.

If this is true, it is diqueiting news. I've been reading Don Beattie's book on the sad story of what eventually became the International Space Station. One of Beattie's points about one of the many causes of the space station's problems is the remarkable tendency for no design issue to actually be settled. Part of the reason for that was multiple changes of management, at NASA, the White House, and in the Congressional oversight committees. New people wanted to put "their own stamp" on the project, no matter the technical and budgetary complications that would ensue. We do not need to, in my judgement, go down the road again where politicians think they are aerospace engineers.

Mike Griffin seems to realize that:
We conducted a very thorough study of architectural alternatives to meeting our needs for ISS resupply and return to the Moon during the Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS), over two years ago. At some point, the studying has to stop and the work has to commence. We are well past that point. The suggested approach has numerous shortcomings with regard to meeting our architectural requirements.

Who was Chang'E? The goddess, not the space probe.
More outrage about Hollywood's plan to turn G.I. Joe into a Euroweenie.
Looks like the Lunar Lander Challenge does not have a winner this year. Well, they don't use the term "rocket science" as a metaphor for something really difficult for nothing.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Off to a long weekend at an undisclosed location. Almost certainly no wisdom until Sunday night or Monday morning.
Moon Shoot, which sounds like a docudrama about Apollo 11, goes before the cameras next year for a July, 2009 release.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where is the Gipper when we need him to say just what needs to be said about Charlie Rangel's trillion dollar tax hike?
Lee Cary asks the explosive question, Is the Hillary Clinton campaign an influence target for Chinese criminal enterprises? Or, worse, the Chinese government?
A directed energy weapon is on its way to Iraq. Not so much a phaser as a mobile agonizer.
A Guide to Women by Captain James T. Kirk.
Looks like the movie going public is staying away from all of those boring, preachy, anti war movies that Hollywood is for some twisted reason insisting on making in droves. I complained about this phenomenom a couple of months ago. Earlier, I suggested a solution.
Who Really Deserves the Nobel Peace Prize?
Hint: Not Al Gore.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What is Next for Senator Kay Baily Hutchinson?
Today is Saint Crispin's Day, when the English thrashed the French at Agincourt. Judd Magilnick wants to celebrated it as a secular holiday.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,

Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,

And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall see this day and live old age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispin's:'

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.

And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,

But he'll remember with advantages

What feats he did that day.

Then shall our names,

Familiar in their mouths as household words,

Harry the king,

Bedford and Exeter,

Warwick and Talbot,

Salisbury and Gloucester,

Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remember'd;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition:

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Alan Boyle has a good round up of the various Centennial Challenge competitions going on, including the recently concluded Space Elevator Games and the up coming Lunar Lander Challenge.
China's Chang'E 1 is on its way to lunar orbit.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Science and Public Policy Institute gives Al Gore a good spanking.
As many as 35 serious scientific errors or exaggerations, all pointing towards invention of a threat that does not exist at all, or exaggerations of phenomena that do exist, do not reflect credit on the presenter of the movie or on those who advised him. The movie is unsuitable for showing to children, and provides no basis for taking policy decisions. Schools that have shown the movie to children are urged to ensure that the errors listed in this memorandum are drawn to the children’s attention.
How Rush Limbaugh Humiliated the Democrats and Enriched the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mining is forbidden by treaty in Antartica. What if someone did it anyway?
Chang'E I departs for the Moon Wednesday.
Condemning Turkey and Losing the War in Iraq
The headline of this article is somewhat misleading:
With the requirement to land anywhere on the Moon, unlike Apollo's equatorial zones limitations, the Orion project office's flight dynamics team has determined that the combined exploration vehicle and lander will have to loiter in low-Earth orbit, potentially for up to six days, waiting for the correct moment for trans-lunar injection to achieve the right orbital inclination following three lunar orbit insertion burns.

Nevertheless an interesting peek at current issues involving the Orion's development.
The first installment of The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones has at last come to DVD.
Taylor Dinerman imagines a future when western companies sell China energy from space based solar power facilities. The problem, of course, is that the current Chinese regime, with its dreams of super power status, would be somewhat reluctant to become dependent on energy from its main opponent. Beijing, after all, can note the problems the West faces because of a dependence on Middle East Oil. One suspects that China will want to develop its space based energy resources in house, as it were.

Addendum: Sam Dinkin has some more thoughts.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

One of the problems with using a derivative of the Apollo era J2 rocket engine for the Ares is that Apollo era materials are rare, or dangerous, or not strong enough.
More on the efforts to learn how to control hurricanes.
Willi Hillary's mistreatment of Socks the Cat come back to haunt her? It should, of course, even if it is not as important in the great scheme of things as cattle futures, travelgate, and so on.
Hugh Hewitt celebrates the ascent of Bobby Jindal to the Governorship of Louisiana.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dumbledore is--was gay. This will cause the practitioners of slash fan fiction to go wild.
Apparently Teddy Kennedy and his friends have managed to throw another roadblock for the Cape Wind Project. One can be forgiven for doubting the sincerity of liberal pols when they gas about global warming.

Of course, in the meantime, offshore wind farm projects are proceeding apace off Galveston, Texas.
Since the Ares V will provide heavy lift, NASA is looking at other missions for it besides launching Moon ships, such as lofting a very large telescope.
The Sci-Fi channel has greenlite a TV pilot that retells the story of the American Revolution on another world, with America playing the of Britain. As with the previous revolution, taxes seem to be the sticking point.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The following recipe for meat sauce is not for anyone who is dieting. But it is very hearty on any kind of pasta.

Addendum: Goodness, one never knows what will draw Rand Simberg attention. I hope he's not implying what he appears to be implying (g). Besides, Turkey sausages? (Though lemon juice and honey seem an interesting innovation.)
I guess this gives a new definition to the term "stark raving mad."
"Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war? You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."
The competition for Rp/Kistler's share of the COTS funding is now on.
Protests are nothing new in Berkley. But protests of protests are, especially when the counter protesters outnumber the original protesters.
Looks like that the House may go along with the Senate version of the appropriations bill that contains NASA spending, i.e. with the extra billion dollars. The bill, which also contains funding for the Commerce and Justice departments, still faces a veto threat over the overall spending level.
A branch of the Chinese Communist Party in space? Well, does that not speak for itself?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It appears that SpaceX's Dragon/Falcon vehicle is on schedule to fill the "space flight gap" that US politicians are so nervous about.
One thing that occured to me while watching Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Hillary Clinton is Not Queen Elizabeth
Nottingham: A Revisionist Film about Robin Hood and the Sherriff
Looks like the star ship Enterprise has a doctor (not a...well, you get it.)

Still, he'll be familier to Lord of the Rings fans.
An interesting special election took place to fill the Massachusetts Congressional seat of Marty Meehan. The Democrat, the widow of Senator Paul Tsongas, won as expected. The interesting part was by how little in this bluest of blue states.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rudi Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, and the Rise of Third Party Candidates
Under a Guliani Administration, we would be prepared for all emergencies, including an alien invasion. Good to know.
Apparently the most respected climate scientist in the world thinks that Al Gore's global warming theories are bunk.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ben Stein is pretty sure who really should have gotten the Nobel Prize and I am pretty sure he is right.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rush Limbaugh and Harry Reid have a gift for the Marine Corps-Law Emforcement Foundation. Put in your bids soon and often.
More on the space based solar power report.
The new Sulu and Scotty have been cast.
Al Gore has gotten his Noble Peace Prize, joining such luminaries as Yassir Arafat, Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, and fellow fraud Rigoberta Menchu.

More here and here.
Gore himself -- as the court heard -- has spoken about the need to overstate the case when faced by skepticism.

"In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality," he said in one often-cited May 2006 interview. "Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem. Given that starting point, I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is."

In other words, we have to lie.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More mayhem brought about courtesy of socialized medicine.
At least 90 patients died from an infectious superbug in three neighbouring hospitals in southern Britain in two years due to lack of basic hygiene, according to an official report published Thursday.

In other words the sort of hospitals that Michael Moore and Hillary Clinton want for us are so filthy that people are dying as a result.
The Perils of Remaking Classic Films
I've just finished reading the Space Based Solar Power paper put out by the National Security Space Office and found it one of the most remarkable space policy papers I've ever read. It lays down the economic and national security benefits to having a space based solar power system. There are also two things dependent on acquiring such a system.

Cheap and routine access to space.

Access to lunar and/or asteroid based resources.

In other words, a program to develop space based solar power ties in neatly not only the exploration program but efforts to enable commercial space industries.

Much more anon.
Hillary Clinton claims that eighteen thousand Americans die every year because they lack health insurance. As with most things Hillary Clinton says, there is much reason to doubt this statement.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It looks like Eric Bana will play the bad guy in the new Star Trek film.
Kaguya is returning the first images from lunar orbit.
I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!
Senator Clinton seems to have tossed out the baby bonds with the bath water and is instead offering everybody a $1000 matching fund for a "universal 401K." It will be financed, just like everyone of Hillary's other schemes, by taxing the rich.
Frank Startford examines our potential in space.
Is the United States responsible for an "arms race in space?" Jim Oberg gives the people who think so the back of his hand and reminds one and all of Soviet (later Russian) deployment of space weapons.
Preproduction is heating up at Pixar for a trilogy of John Carter of Mars films.
It looks like Dreamworks is doing a film about a private expedition to the Moon staring Jake Gyllenhaal (Rocket Boys) with a screenplay to be written by Mark Bowden (Blackhawk Down.) The film will be diretced by Doug Liman (Mr. and Mrs. Smith.)
It appears that the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is embarking on its own war on science. I'm sure Hillary Clinton will object any day now.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Robert Bussard: RIP

More. And also the Brussard Ramjet
Hillary Clinton Declares War on Space Exploration
Swift Boating the Truth
The following is yet another example of Why We Fight.

John Gebhardt's wife, Mindy, said that this little girl's entire family was executed. The insurgents intended to execute the little girl also, and shot her in the head...but they failed to kill her. She was cared for in John's hospital and is healing up, but continues to cry and moan. The nurses said John is the only one who seems to calm her down, so John has spent the last four nights holding her while they both slept in that chair. The girl is coming along with her healing.
Hillary goes berserk on a registered voter.
On this date, forty years ago, mass murderer, terrorist, and t shirt icon Che Guevara entered Hell by way of a Bolivian Army bullet.
The Democrats' war against Rush Limbaugh continues and has taken an ominous turn.

Next. "Are you or have you ever been a conservative?"

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Friday, October 05, 2007

Apparently there is some new buzz for a new Serenity film. That would make me very happy.
Apparently fears that Hillary Clinton would gut exploration to pay for other NASA accounts has been confirmed.
But in a telephone interview afterward, she said that in the short term she would subordinate Bush administration proposals for human exploration of the Moon and Mars to restoring cuts in aeronautics research and space-based studies of climate change and other earth science issues.

Travel to the Moon or Mars “excites people,” she said, “but I am more focused on nearer-term goals I think are achievable.”
Homer Hickam and Rand Simberg conclude their bout over things space.
Alan Boyle muses about the next space age.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Apparently the one billion dollar "emergency funding" bill for NASA pushed by Senators Mikulski and Hutchison was passed by unanimous consent. No word on what the House will do in conference or what the President thinks, but so far well done ladies.

It's not a done deal yet, but the passage of the amendment does demonstrate strong, bipartisan support for the US space program, stronger in fact than I have seen in decades. It should prove an answer to those who whine that the current program is not "sustainable."
Five Things Hollywood Thinks Computers Can Do

You mean I can't take over alien technology with an eleven year old Mac?
Hillary Clinton has announced her science agenda. A lot of it, of course, is a political attack on the Bush Administration, some of it looks like a promise to establish government control over science, but some of it looks interesting.
Hillary will restore the federal government's commitment to science by:

Signing an Executive Order that:

Rescinds President Bush's ban on ethical embryonic stem cell research and promotes stem cell research that complies with the highest ethical standards.

Bans political appointees from altering or removing scientific conclusions in government publications without any legitimate basis for doing so, and prohibits unwarranted suppression of public statements by government scientists.

Directs all department and agency heads to submit annual reports on the steps they have taken to (1) safeguard against instances of political pressure threatening scientific integrity; and (2) promote openness and transparency in decision-making.

Reverses President Bush's new directive that dramatically expands political appointees' control over agency rulemaking.

Revives and expands the national assessment on climate change, going above and beyond the requirements imposed by Congress.

Restoring the science advisor's direct access to the President.

Working to re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment.

Protecting the integrity and independence of federal scientific advisory committees.

Strengthening whistleblower protections for those who disclose potential instances of political interference with science.

Not much substance here. It's the advancement of the idea that under teh current administration that science = politics and that things will be better when Hillary is in power. Next:
Hillary will enhance American leadership in space, including:

Pursuing an ambitious 21st century Space Exploration Program, by implementing a balanced strategy of robust human spaceflight, expanded robotic spaceflight, and enhanced space science activities.

Developing a comprehensive space-based Earth Sciences agenda, including full funding for NASA's Earth Sciences program and a space-based Climate Change Initiative that will help us secure the scientific knowledge we need to combat global warming.

Promoting American leadership in aeronautics by reversing funding cuts to NASA's and FAA's aeronautics R&D budget.

There are two ways that one can accomplish this. The first is to increase NASA's budget by a couple of billion or so and then enhance space science, Earth science, and aeronautics. The other is to gut the exploration account and spread the money to other NASA accounts. Considering the Clintons' record on NASA, how much does one one to bet about which alternative she'll choose?
Hillary will promote a nationwide commitment to innovation by:

Establishing a $50-billion Strategic Energy Fund to invest in technologies to promote conservation, combat global warming, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Pursuing a comprehensive innovation agenda to enhance the nation's research capacity; help ensure we continue to have a premier science, engineering, technology and mathematics workforce; and upgrade our innovation infrastructure.

Whether the energy fund will have any utility or not depends on what sort of technologies are chosen for largess and how they are chosen. How much do you want to bet that a whole swath of "green" technologies are in for a lot of money which likely won't bring about any results? Remember synfuels and shale oil? Get ready for some more boondoggles IMHO.

The "comprehensive innovation agenda" is just political noise, at least until some specifics are mentioned.

Oh, and for those who may have been looking, there appears to be nothing about enabling commericial space.

Addendum: Hillary's speech.
Jim Oberg ponders what that first Sputnik launch was like.
Visions of lunar exploration from the 1950s.
Why were the two greatest steps toward space exploration accomplished by two of the worse tyrannies in history? Something to ponder when considering China's space effort.
Dwayne Day maintains that 2057 will look pretty much like 2007 where military space is concerned. He is wrong, of course, especially if civilian space develops any in the next fifty years. Lunar bases and Mars settlements will be targets and will need defending.
Homer Hickam and Rand Simberg go at it for round four and both succeed in illustrating some of the misconceptions people have about the course of the space program.

Rand demonstrates ideological blinders when he sneers at the entire space program from the moment of Sputnik to--well--I guess today as "socialism." Homer correctly points out that Rand is misusing the term. In fact Apollo especially was rooted in the national security needs of the United States. The original sin of the space program was not the beginning of Apollo, but its end when we turned NASA from a cutting edge science, technology, and exploration agency into a high tech space taxi service.

And this is where Homer falls down. No doubt he is correct that some remarkable things were accomplished during the shuttle/station era. But the problem is that resources expended to build and maintain the shuttle system could have been so much more wisely spent, building and expanding on the technology and experience gained during Apollo while, perhaps, enabling the private sector to develop a space launch industry.

Oddly enough, thirty five years after the end of Apollo, that is what we're embarked on. NASA is being turned back to its proper function of exploration while the private sector (through COTS) is being encouraged and enabled. Neither Rand nor Homer seem to be fully aware at the beautiful elegance of the current effort, of how a synergy between the private and public sector is being developed. Rand is wrong for suggesting that NASA = socialism. But Homer might want to recognized that in the modern era, there are Rocket Boys (Rocket People?) working at companies like SpaceX, Blue Origins, and other small, entrepreneurial companies as well as at NASA. And it is a glorious thing indeed.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Homer Hickam and Rand Simberg have their third round on the question of NASA and the private sector. Homer argues that NASA has been supportive of the private sector and Rand disputes this.

The interesting thing is if the current year were 1999, Rand would be right and Homer mistaken. But the year is 2007 and despite the fact that Rand cites a number of 20th Century sins commited by NASA, he seems to have ignored the very commercial friendly policies (such as the COTS program) that NASA has commited to in this century.

His argument that NASA's refusal to use the EELV in the exploration program has caused the recent merger by Boeing and Lockheed Martin is likely wrong. Even if NASA did employ the EELV to launch the Orion, I'm not sure that the flight rate would have been increased enough to keep the Delta IV and Atlas V seperate. NASA has, in any case, commited to using the EELVs for robotic missions, a fact Rand ignores. NASA has offered a number of arguments why the EELV is not suitable for the exploration program which again Rand did not address one way or the other.
Rand Simberg and Homer Hickam have at it again, this time over destinations. Rand makes the case for Earth approaching asteroid. Homer champions the Moon. I think they're both right.
I think Rush may be just a little bit ticked. Harry Reid is going to rue the day he threw down on him.
The spinoffs argument to support the space program may be overused, but the idea that the Apollo Program helped create Silicon Valley is interesting.
Some Senators are a little confused about what Rush Limbaugh actually said about phony soldiers.
It seems that British film maker Peter Morgan is working on a follow up to The Queen, this time upon Tony Blair's relationship to President Bush. Michael Sheen will return as Blair.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Homer Hickam and Rand Simberg go toe to toe concerning NASA and the space program. I find himself being in the odd position of agreeing partly and disagreeing partly with both of them.

I tend to take Rand's side about the space shuttle and space station. They were policy disasters, mainly because they failed to perform as advertsied. But I tend to side with Homer Nickam that current exploration effort is not only worthy but needs a tad more funding. I strongly disagree with Rand about this:
If NASA were to put forth a plan by which it enabled hundreds or thousands of people to go into space, I think that would be worth going back and asking the Congress and Office of Management and Budget to fund. Sadly, NASA isn't capable of that, by its nature as a federal agency, because it would mean too much relinquishing of control to what it perceives to be a frighteningly uncertain and unpredictable private sector, with too few opportunities for pork in specific districts. But this debate is supposed to be about what our national goals are in space and how best to achieve them, 50 years after the launch of the first satellite, not what is good for a historically contingent space agency that happened to be formed in the wake of that long-ago event.

It's not really NASA's job to do that. The current NASA is heading in the right direction as a cutting edge exploration, technllogy, and science organization. The best that can be hoped for as far as "enabling hundreds or thousands of people to go into space" is for it to be commercial friendly, which is also a direction that it's headed it. I'm quite fine with NASA funding expeditions to the Moon and beyond. I will leave it to the capable hands of folks like Elon Musk and Burt Rutan to get me my own ride to the high frontier.
Harry Reid really, seriously wants to condemn Rush Limbaugh for the "phony soldiers" remark (which is, of course, being lied about and taken out of context in the liberal media.) In any case considering the record of certain Senate Democrats, this effort is the equivilent of Bill Clinton condemning someone for infidelity.
Jeff Foust watched the web cast of the space segment of Newt Gingrich's solution's day and it seems to have been a bit of a bust. There was some recitation of some conventional wisdom (and some conventional folly.) I'm happy to see that the Chinese threat is now being widely recognized. Also, it looks like presenter Bob Walker (who was once chair of the House Science Committee)supports the Vision for Space Exploration. This might enrage some people who thought that a President Gingrich would cancel it.

There was some talk about using an EELV rather than the Ares 1, though nothing about why NASA's claims that would not work are bogus. And there was a nod to Gingrich's favorite space idea, the twenty billion dollar Mars Prize.
One of the cliches of modern politics is that had Al Gore become President, there would have been no war in Iraq. I tend to agree and I further think there would have been no war in Afghanistan either. Roger Simon, however, suggests otherwise.
The Outer Space Treaty is obsolete
Three Myths about space travel.
It seems that the MoveOn.Org Betray Us ad has generated a great deal of money for the GOP.