Thursday, July 31, 2008

Good luck to the folks at SpaceX for a good launch of the Falcon 1. Perhaps the third time will be a charm.
Barack Obama Audacity Watch Launched. Meanwhile McCain Ad Compares Barack Obama to Paris Hilton, Britney Spears.
Rand Simberg offers a nice observation about John Glenn's desire to fly the space shuttle past 2010. But then he has to ruin it by repeating a false calumny against Your Humble Servant (without really explaining why he is this time) and then has a fantasy (some might call it a mad delirium) of massive death and destruction on the eastern coast of Florida as a way to revitalize space policy. Why not just wish for Al Qaeda to set off a weapon of mass destruction at JSC to really make sure of things while one is at it?

Addendum: Meanwhile, Jon Goff goes ballistic.
Now dear reader, my first question is, where did I ever state that I believed that "Obama cares a fig about revitalizing anything but the liberal welfare state"?

That is sort of implicit in the statement:
"it is quite possible to both believe in gutting Constellation and at the same time revitalizing NASA. The two are not mutually incompatible at all."

So I wonder which it is. Then Jon contradicts himself again with this:
If someone states that they don't think NASA's doing a very good job anymore of inspiring people, and thinks they're headed down the wrong track, why is it a flip-flop or inconsistent or crazy to believe that making major changes to what NASA is doing and how it's doing it could "revitalize" it.

Of course if by "major changes" we mean "cut the heart out", then we can wonder if there is a new definition of "revitalize" that we are not aware of.

The comments are pretty funny too. They illustrate, if nothing else, what an incoherence space activism has become in which ego and posturing has replaced reason and logic.

There is something else too. I first got interested in the idea of space travel because of how inherently wonderful it is. It's that sense of wonder and awe that drives me still, along of course with the macro economic and grand strategy arguments, to advocate space as a necessary venue of human activity.

But what I see coming from too many people who call themselves space activists is incoherent, blind rage and hatred for anyone who does not share that rage. I find that very sad.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A blind special forces officer still on duty.

Video below:

Ludacris Pro Obama Rap Song Stirs Controversy.
Al Gore places his infant Son in a Rocket Ship to escape a dying planet. From our friends at The Onion.
Ehud Olmert will shortly be out as Israeli Prime Minister.
Barack Obama has another scary friend.
Has Obama flip floped on space policy, or are the following "just words?"
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged his commitment to NASA in a statement his campaign released Tuesday congratulating the agency on its 50th anniversary.

The declaration may surprise many NASA supporters. Earlier in his campaign, the Illinois senator said he would rather see money budgeted for Constellation, the program to replace the aging shuttles, go instead toward education reform.

Yet, Obama said he would support the agency if elected this fall.

“I believe we need to revitalize NASA’s mission to maintain America’s leadership, and recommit our nation to the space program, and as President I intend to do just that,” he said.

Addendum: Jon Goff weighs in via email:
Not that I have any intention of voting for Obama (I'm currently
planning on voting Barr myself), but I think it is quite possible to
both believe in gutting Constellation and at the same time
revitalizing NASA. The two are not mutually incompatible at all.

Gracious, while this doesn't come close to believing six impossible things before breakfast, as the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland suggests, it comes at least two impossible things close to it. The first is that one can revitalize the space agency by gutting its primary mission. The second is that Barack Obama cares a fig about revitalizing anything except the liberal welfare state.
Harry Potter Trailer Released to Internet
Glenn Martin invents a Jetpack
Marvin the Martian will shortly be in his own movie.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The US House has set aside such minor matters as energy and the economy and is poised to issue An Apology for Jim Crow and Slavery
NASA Established 50 Years Ago
A film trilogy based on the first three Foundation books by Asimov. I rather hope it turns out better than some other Asimov film projects.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A couple of Baylor University physicists have developed a concept for a warp drive that seems to follow physical laws as they are currently understood. Of course the energy required to run the thing would be--well--astronomical.
In the wake of Barack Obama's magical mystery tour of the Middle East and Europe, the polls are in and...

...McCain over Obama by 4

The tour, which was seen as a triumph by the media, seems instead to have been a disaster.
Robert Novak Diagnosed with Brain Tumor

Get well soon, Prince of Darkness.
Virgin Galactic Rolls Out White Knight Two
Oliver Stone's W Trailer Released.

View it here.
Caltech is working on "intelligent robots" to aid in deep space exploration. This should prove a useful tool taht will enhance the capability of human explorers, but I suspect the anti humans in space crowd will oversell this as they are want to do.
Amitai Etzioni, who wrote a little remembered polemic against the original Apollo program, calls on Barack Obama to not only end manned space flight, but any exploration of interplanetary space in favor of something called "near space."
Taylor Dinerman looks at European space policy.
Jeff Foust examines COTS and asks, among other things, does it go far enough? Also does it compete with Constellation?
NASA at Fifty and the new entrepreneurial space sector

Sunday, July 27, 2008

PETA is offering a million dollars to the first person or company that develops, suitable for sale, artificial chicken meat suitable for vegetarians and carnivores alike. I would be a little less skeptical if the judging was done by a panel of independent chefs and food critics and with a better variety of recipes.
An international alliance to explore the Moon, including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, and South Korea.
Christopher Book gives James Hanson and other global warming hysterics a well deserved spanking.
This year's Regolith Excavation Challenge draws nigh.
The Mythbusters Look at the Moonlanding Hoax
Now Batman is Dick Cheney.
Batman is not charming. He isn't popular, partly because he's a zealot and partly because he doesn't bother to explain himself to the press. He is independently wealthy, having spent years as the head of an industrial company. His methods are disturbing, his operations bathed in darkness. He is misunderstood, mistrusted, endlessly pursued by the attack dogs of the night. He is not a hero.

And he lives in an undisclosed location.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bomb Blasts Rock Bangalore in India
And the Messiah appeared and the heavenly hosts sang, "Yes we can! Yes we can!"

Addendum: More thoughts on the Gospel of St Barac.
Gerard Baker, the American editor and the assistant editor of the Times of London, has answered the question: Can one laugh at Barack Obama? His piece, entitled "He ventured forth to bring light to the world," resoundingly says, "Yes we can!"
The Mythbusters episode in which the gang decides once and for all and for all time whether men landed on the Moon or not will air August 27th.
Edgar Mitchell clarifies his statements about UFOs.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I think the inclusion of Paul Spudis as Chief Scientist on the Odyssey Moon Lunar X Prize team gives the team a big boost in credibility as well as its scientific knowledge and capability.
Vanity Fair McCain Cover Falls Flat

Comedy is hard
Steampunk Star Wars
John Edwards Caught with Mistress, Love Child, Claims National Enquirer That's right. It appears that the Breck Girl has been taken in adultery.
John Culberson is being forced to recant his assertion that NASA wastes money. This may have sunk Culberson's idea to reorganize NASA, which is too bad because the space agency might profit from such a reorganization.

Here is a lesson. Don't get all angry and half cocked about what a horrible government bureaucracy NASA is and how the whole mess needs to be scrapped or privatized or whatever. One of the many things that distinguishes NASA from--say--the Department of HUD is what NASA does is really cool and a lot of people will take umbrage at criticism of it, even when it is warranted.

There is a way to approach constructive criticism of NASA, but at last Rep Culberson and too many other people haven't gotten the knack of it.
A small space telescope to detect Earth Approaching Objects.
The LA Times seems to be somewhat confused about the Constellation program and the attitude towards it by the candidates:
There's something to be said for pulling the plug on Constellation. The space agency should take a fresh look at its goals and practices, possibly even giving up its role as a driver in human space exploration and becoming a paying passenger on vehicles built and operated by foreign and private-sector organizations.

If one means operations in Low Earth Orbit, that seems to be NASA's plan already. But there are no private sector vehicles capable of taking people beyond LRO nor will there be for quite some time.
Fiscal realities and NASA's commitment to keeping its $17-billion budget flat already seem to be putting a limit on Constellation, but Bush's, and now McCain's, vision nicely balances realism and ambition.

OK, good so far, but then the Times goes on to say:
Yet it's Obama who is sounding like the more realistic, market-oriented candidate. His campaign said recently that Obama hopes to enhance NASA's role "in confronting the challenges we face here on Earth, including global climate change" and "to reach out and include international partners and engage the private sector to increase NASA's reach and provide real public economic benefits for the nation."

Obama? Market oriented? I'd like to know where that comes from. Obama seems to regard the private sector as a cash cow for his various program proposals.

Mind, changing NASA into a climate change agency would just fit the sort of thinking Obama and the Left seem to indulge in. Explore space? Why would we want to do that?
There is an underground group of conservatives in Hollywood known as Friends of Abe. It's remarkable that left wing domination of the film and TV industry is so total that such a group has to exist and has to be semi secret.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stacy Bartley points out a story about the Lunar Science Conference.
Barack Obama apparently have an enemies list. How did that work out again for Mr. Nixon?
Now here is a weird rumor how about a sequel to Top Gun with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Maverick, now a seasoned flight instructor as Miremar having to deal with a brash, out of control aviator played by--perhaps--Katie Holmes?
Christian Bale, aka Batman, has been arrested on charges of assault filed by his own mother and sister
That Obama and McCain have been essentially tied for weeks is well known. Now the huge polling advantage for Congressional Democrats is starting to erode. Maybe the predicted massacre of Congressional Republicans will not happen after all.
Radovan Karadzic Accused Serbian War Criminal Captured
Henry Spencer has an interesting idea. Skip the Ares 1 entirely and go right to the development of Ares V. A lunar mission that uses two Ares V launches would certainly have a lot of capacity. One wonders what the challenges of launches two rockets of that size within days of each other would be.
Ferris Valyns gives a round up of the space policy discussions at the Netroots Convention held recently in Dallas. Apparently the discussions hit all the usual topics, with the addition of the real priority of the far left which seems to be to turn NASA into a climate change agency.

Monday, July 21, 2008

John McCain to announce his running mate this week according to Robert Novak.
Michael Savage's Autism Remarks
A space elevator made of legos
A B-52 Has Crashed Off Guam
Al Gore's ten year plan to get us off carbon fuels has gotten a strange convert: Libertarian Party Candidate Bob Barr. This has me scratching my head. Isn't is part of Libertarian Dogma to fleet from big government projects of this kind as fast as possible?
Michael Huang compares the black John Kennedy to the actual John Kennedy and finds the former wanting.
Jeff Foust discusses the coming "turning point" in space history.
Rand Simberg has an interesting piece about justifications for having a space effort. He divides those motives into fear, greed, and freedom, good things to pay attention to all.

He might, though, regret calling explorers and other curiosity seekers people with attention deficit disorder. I don't think he meant it as an insult, but some will think so.

In any case, I wonder how much s "minority" explorers really are, if one has a broad definition for "explorer." Part of the fun of a vacation is the experience of seeing a place for the first time with one's own eyes, even if millions have already seen it before. The Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls are certain impressive seen in person. And I can attest that the Pyramids, the Sistine Chapel, and Westminster Abbey are all far more awesome than photographs will attest.

Rand also makes the following point:
But despite the fervent wishes and hopes of many space enthusiasts, he’s a distinct minority, which is one of the reasons that support for space and NASA budgets is a mile wide and an inch deep. It’s just not that fundamentally important to most people, and certainly not a voting issue unless you happen to live in a community that gets federal space dollars, and often not even then.

On the other hand there isn't a lot of opposition to publicly funded space activities either. One can argue about how "wide and deep" support for space is, but most modern polling data suggests that support is greater than even during the Apollo era.

Rand also makes a grievous historical error:
The only election on record in which space was a major campaign issue was Apollo 17 Moon walker Harrison Schmitt’s, running for reelection as Senator from New Mexico in 1982. His opponent’s slogan was “What on earth has Jack Schmitt done for us?” The space explorer lost.

Space was a major issue in the 1960 Presidential campaign and a minor one in several subsequent ones. In 1972, George McGovern suffered because of his opposition to the space shuttle. Walter Mondale's opposition to human space did not help him in 1984. Even John Kerry's lukewarm regard for space was a minor issue in 2004. One suspects that the same will be said for Obama in this year's election.

I also call into question Rand's analysis of the 1982 New Mexico race, Senator Schmitt lost not so much because of his support for space exploration, but because his opponent was successful in suggesting that he supported it to the exclusion of everything else. If Schmitt had been a little smarter in dealing with other, more local issues, he might still not have won (1982 was a bad year for Republicans in any case) but the issue might have been muted.

Addendum: Then again, I wonder just how much exploration "for the hell of it" there has ever been. The hunter/gatherers that Rand cites generally looked over the next hill for more stuff to hunt and gather, as well as maybe a place to get away from the bigger, stronger tribe that was being a bother.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

One Sunday evening in 1969...
Thirty nine years ago, the first humans set foot on the lunar surface. I take the occassion to look ahead to The Next Moonwalker
Apparently the Democrats have come to the conclusion that the price of gasoline is a problem. Unfortunately they think that the price is too low.
Barack Obama is trying to Ronald Reagan's magic. He will not succeed because he, like most of the Left, has no idea of how Reagan was more than just soaring speeches and sunny optimism. Obama also needs to realize that he is not fit to even dwell in Reagan's shadow.
Mind, all the world knows that I'm not a virulent critic of Orion as are some of my friends in the Internet Rocketeer Club. But, I have to agree with Alan that the name was stolen from a far more impressive Orion that was conceived in the late 1950s. According to George Dyson's book on the subject the problem with Orion was not just the fallout that would have been created by the bomb/fuel (which some of the people working on the project thought could be licked) but the EMP effects of touching off hundreds of nukes in the atmosphere, which no one has a notion of how to solve.
Why We Haven't Been to Mars Yet

Thursday, July 17, 2008

John Culberson (who is Your Humble Servant's Congressman) wants to overhaul NASA's structure and make it sort of like the National Science Foundation. I'm not sure how that would work or how that would address NASA's bureaucratic problems, though to be fair to Culberson his scheme is a work in progress. My theory is that a lot of NASA's bad habits stemmed from the decision to turn it from a cutting edge science, technology, and exploration agency as it was during Apollo into a high tech, space taxi service. It's possible (and my expectation) that returning to science, technology, and--especially--exploration will help NASA shed those bad, wasteful habits.

Culberson is being attacked by Democrats and others for his proposal and his somewhat harsh words about NASA. Nevertheless, a restructuring of some sort to allow the space agency to more effectively pursue it's mission is probably in order.
Elon Musk discusses what it means to be someone who choose to be an American.
The latest from Hamas children's TV. Which body part should the talking rabbit lose for stealing?
Jesse Jackson Caught Using the "N Word"
Terminator 4: Salvation Most Anticipated Film of 2008
Looks like the first people to settle in the Americas came from Europe.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NASA's return to the Moon program is having some technical and financial problems common to a new development program of its kind:
Outside experts say it's too early to be too worried, but they have some concerns.

"It doesn't surprise me that there are these kinds of pains given the early stage (of development) and the long time since we did anything like this," said John Logsdon, director of space policy at George Washington University. "NASA is trying to do this with inadequate and uncertain funding."

The problem is mostly the political system for not coming up with budgets that are passed and signed by the president so that NASA can go ahead with its financial plans, said W. Henry Lambright, a technology and public policy professor at Syracuse University. The budget for next year still has not been passed.

"We have a government that is dysfunctional," Lambright said. "I'm not blaming NASA. I think NASA is a victim of a political situation we have in this country."

Despite those assements I predict that the Internet Rocketeer Club will go nuts.
Another jihdi complains of horrible treatment during an interrogation.
Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden who is accused in a terrorism conspiracy, told a military court that during questioning in 2002, a female interrogator "came close to me, she came very close, with her whole body towards me. I couldn't do anything. I was afraid of the soldiers."

"Did she touch your thigh?" asked Hamdan's attorney Charles Swift.

"Yes. . . . I said to her, 'What do you want?' " Hamdan said at a pretrial hearing. "She said, 'I want you to answer all of my questions.' "

"Did you answer all of her questions after that?" Swift asked. Hamdan said he did.

Words fail.
JibJab.Com Unleashes "Time for Some Campaignin"
It appears that Jesse Jackson, in that infamous tape wherein he offered to castrate Barack Obama, also used one of words you can't say ever. Especially if one is a white person.
Terrorist Watch List Tops 1 Million Names, Claims ACLU. Of course one of those names, which ought to be on everyone's terrorist watch list, is terrorist and child murderer Samir Kuntar released in a prisoner swap by Israel.
Thirty nine years ago today, the first manned expedition to the Moon departed.
Are we about to invade Pakistan?
More on lunar based telescopes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Grand Strategy of Barack Obama 3.0
President Bush reminds us why we should be glad he is President:
" They're smart enough to figure out whether they're going to drive less or not. I mean, you know, it's interesting what the price of gasoline has done," Bush said at a news conference in the White House press room, "is it caused people to drive less. That's why they want smaller cars: They want to conserve. But the consumer's plenty bright. The marketplace works ."

"You noticed my statement yesterday, I talked about good conservation and — you know, people can figure out whether they need to drive more or less," he said. "They can balance their own checkbooks."

"It's a little presumptuous on my part to dictate how consumers live their own lives," the president added. "I've got faith in the American people."

Wow, a politician who treats the people like adults.
When Barack Obama prates about "change" I'm sure that he doesn't want people to think about this.
Saving Grace, Starring Holly Hunter, Begins Second Season
Michael Griffin discusses the space race with China, the space flight gap, and commercial space efforts.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Homer Simpson joins the fight for oil drilling.
More about Direct, the alternative return to the Moon scheme that apparently won't die. Apparently accusations of conspiracies are starting to be made:
Steve Metschan, an engineer and former NASA contractor who supports the Jupiter team, said the upcoming presidential election could change NASA's plan. He accused NASA of suppressing information that shows Jupiter would perform better than Ares.

"Our concern is that by the time everyone figures this out, we will have destroyed our heavy-lift system," said Metschan, of Seattle. "At the end of the day, all we're asking for is an independent review of all this stuff."
Did Senator Chuck Schumer Cause the Indymac Bank Failure?
The New Yorker Cover Controversy
Jeff Foust poses the question, do proposals for government funded energy projects pose a threat to government funded space efforts? Mind I think an energy Apollo project is a bad idea that will likely waste money. Fortunately, crafting a sound energy policy would not involve a huge, Apollo style project to arrive at the energy solution. McCain has a start of the right approach for an electric car battery prize. Also a lot of a good policy would involve the government just getting out of the way, permitting more drilling, more refineries, and more nuclear power plants.

Meanwhile Greg Anderson discusses how to craft political support for long term space goals.
One of the last bastions of intolerence in America does not lay in the South ir in some red neck enclave where everybody clings to guns and God. It is in Hollywood where conservatism is the politics that dare not speak its name.
But Los Angeles is a one-company town. And because of bullying (or what Democrats would call blacklisting or "political discrimination," if the shoe were on the other foot), Hollywood has become a one-party town. History will show this dynamic hurt both the creative and the political processes.

In the absence of checks and balances, we end up with a system that creates a mainstream film about Ronald Reagan - written, produced and directed by narcissistic and myopic partisans who only viewed the Gipper through the lens of AIDS activism. Like anyone would watch an epic movie about America's victory in the Cold War.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Generation Kill is apparently the latest stupid anti Iraq war show, now hitting the small screen.
The latest example of Hollywood actors behaving badly. Actors Josh Brolin and Jeffrey Wright Arrested It was in a bar room brawl in Shreveport Louisiana.
Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party Presidential candidate Her main claim to fame was brawling with the Capitol Police a couple of years ago, so this should be entertaining.
Fanatical Christians grabbing peaceful Muslims and beheading them is certainly a wide spread problem and worthy of dramatic depiction. It's not as if we've ever heard of such incidents going the other way.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

There is a person who wants to build a replica of a Gemini capsule, put it on top of a Falcon 9, and launch it in time for the fiftieth anniversary of John Glenn's flight. Sort of an Astronaut Farmer for real. Via Stacy Bartley
Dr. Michael DeBakey RIP
Tony Snow RIP

Friday, July 11, 2008

Beijing Bans Dog Meat for the Olympics

An example of food racism?
Buzz Aldrin has an interesting point. Do shows like Star Trek, where people beam up and down and travel faster than light, create unrealistic expectations for real space efforts, thus making the latter seem boring? It has not been that way with me, but perhaps I'm the exception.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rand Simberg is looking for work. Drop him a note if you have anything in the way of aerospace engineering or related.
Phil Gramm and America's Mental Recession

From the folks that brought you Airplane! and The Naked Gun films, a semiserious and politically incorrect message about the relationship between foreign oil and terrorism.
Barack Obama: "Learn Spanish"
The Carnival of Space is now up.
Jesse Jackson Insults Barack Obama
Ferris Valyn has his picks for Obama's NASA Administrator. Some are very amusing.

Peter Diamandis - I doubt that he would want to quite his day job running the X Prizes,

Lori Garver - Knowledgable about space policy, but lacking in a technical background. Not necessarily a deal killer (remember Sean O'Keefe or James Webb), but she's also a Clintonista and therefore not likely to be popular among the Obama people.

James Hanson - Certainly an entertaining choice and with the Left's desire to turn NASA into a climate change agency almost plausible. But his call to put the CEOs of all the Oil Companies on trial, among other things, puts him out on the wacked out fringe list.

Gene Kranz - One would doubt that Kranz would want to come out of retirement, especially under an Obama Administration. Somewhat plausible for McCain, though.

Barbara Morgan - It's only in television scifi like Battlestar Galactica that teachers get high political office for things that have to do with other than education.

Patricia Grace Smith - Somewhat plausible, considering her experience, but not the best possible candidate.

Rick Tumlinson - Very entertaining choice, for reasons that shouldn't need too much explaining.

George Whitesides - Another somewhat plausible choice, given his experience, but again not the best possible candidate.

Simon P. "Pete" Worden - My personal favorite as a man who has the background, experience, and the ability to think outside the box. Unlikely under an Obama Administration. Plausible under McCain.

Of course considering the plans Obama has for NASA, would anyone really want the job of running it?

Addendum: Stacy Bartley admonishes me:
I think you do Barbara Morgan a little bit of a disservice-she's more
than just a school teacher. After Challenger she was invited to undergo
real astronaut training which she did and went up on the shuttle on her
OWN merits. Having said all that I agree that she's NOT qualified to
head NASA (And I think she'd agree too).

What we need is someone like James Webb again but who is there that had
his unique qualifications? Gene Kranz would certainly have the
"gravitas", but I don't think he has the political acumen. Jim Hansen
wrote a good bio of Neil Armstrong beyond that I have little good to say
about him.

I wonder if we should look to the private sector among retired business
executives? Lee Iacocca is probably too old but someone like him might
be of help.

I hate to say it but they need to trim the size of the astronaut pool.
Not only is is excess expense, but I think the fact that by and large
people can't remember the names of most of them doesn't help NASA
Deke Slayton had a good plan for the shuttle astronaut pool which
involved a MUCH smaller pool with each astronaut flying a lot more.


True, I was being a little flip. But Barbara Morgan, good qualities though she has, is not be first choice for NASA Administrator.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A fifty meter telescope on the Moon? That would be something.
T. Boone Pickens' Plan for Energy Independence
Scientists have suspected for some time that there may be water ice trapped in permenently shaded craters at the lunar south pole. Now scientists have discovered minute traces of water trapped inside volcanic glass bead samples brought back from the Moon by the Apollo astronauts.
Iran Missile Test Causes World Wide Concern

And a stark choice for the American election
Is the United States losing the new space race?
China has sent men into space twice in the past five years and plans another manned mission in October. More than any other country besides the United States, experts say, China has decided that space exploration, and its commercial and military purposes, are as important as the seas once were to the British empire and air power was to the United States.

Goodness. Who has been saying that? And there's more:
"The Chinese have a carefully thought-out human spaceflight program that will take them up to parity with the United States and Russia," Griffin said. "They're investing to make China a strategic world power second to none -- not so much to become a grand military power, but because deals and advantage flow to world leaders."

Even in 2008 it looks like there is at least one Nazi war criminal on the loose. Aribert Heim, Aka Dr. Death, May Be in Argentina. Heim was an SS Doctor who performed barbaric experiments on some of the prisoners at Mauthausen in the same manner as the more infamous Josef Mengele.
Climate Change Delusion Syndrome, More wide spread than one might think.
One of the most fascinating series of documentaries to air in a long time is Moon Machines, about the various technologies developed during the Apollo program to take men to the Moon. Episodes cover the Saturn V, the Apollo command module, the lunar module, the flight navigation computer, the space suits, and the lunar rover. It should be required viewing for people to get a taste about how really difficult it is to develop cutting edge technology. There are indeed lessons for our own time, with a new effort to return to the Moon. When one hears complaints about challenges facing the current effort, it is a good thing to remember that the Apollo era engineers faced and overcame a myriad of challenges.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

In which John McCain defines what love really means, back hands the sixties, belittles hope, and exalts service and patriotism.
NASA has done an an extensive analysis of the Direct scheme and has found it to be wanting. On the merits, that would seem to be it, but I suspect that there are certain people who will never be convinced.
It is now official. Osama bin Laden is now more popular than the Democrat Congress. Yet Democrats still lead in the generic ballot. Go figure.
A somewhat spoiler filled review of Ron Moore's upcoming new SF series, Virtuality.
Yet another horror story from one of Michael Moore's favorite socialistic health care systems. More such stories available here.
Barack Obama Steers to the Right
Barring some unforeseen change, the shuttle era will end on May 31st, 2010.

Monday, July 07, 2008

It looks like someone is about to publish a novel that will depict Laura Bush in such a way as would shock the sluts on Sex and the City.
Food racism. Bizarre.
Rand Simberg gives a warning of what might happen when the current laissez faire approach to regulating space commerce expires and Cong. James Oberstar gets a chance to drop the hammer. Contrary to the opinion of some, commercial space is not immune to politics.
The Hancock Twist. Spoilers abound.
Dwayne Day visits the NASA exhibit at the Folklife Festival in Washington DC. And then Dr. Day writes one of the weirdest alternate history space stories I've ever read.
Very often great space projects run into delays, sometimes due to unexpected technical problems, sometimes for other reasons. This is true of the new space commercial sector as well as for NASA. "Rocket science" is not a metaphor for "something really hard" for nothing.

Jeff Foust explains why?
Someone has had a peek at the screenplay to Roland Emmerich's new monstrosity, 2012. Beware, spoilers abound, but it involves neutrinos, earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, a washout out scifi writer, "Barack Obama", some qute kids, a conspiracy nut, and Noah's Ark style space ships in Tibet.
5 Terrible Life Lessons Hollywood Likes to Teach Us

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Newt Gingrich gives a fascinating and informative talk about his vision for a new space effort. The only part I would disagree with is his notion that money for prizes, tax incentives, etc come out of NASA's current budget. The reason is that I think there is a value for having an exploration/science research/technology development agency. Gingrich's criticisms of NASA's risk aversion has resonance, but I think that tendency developed during the shuttle/station era. I believe it is quite possible, even probable, that the new exploration effort would return the space agency to the mindset of Apollo that Gingrich suggests was beneficial. I would set up the incentives over and above whatever budget NASA is given.

I'm also fascinated by Gingrich's evolution about how his prize system would work. He seems to have given some thought about how to build in some incentives so that Congress will fund them.

Second, Gingrich seems to have backed away a little from the more grandiose ideas of humans to Mars prizes and lunar base prizes (which again suggests retaining NASA as an exploration agency.) He has an interesting idea for a billion dollar reusable orbital space craft prize that I can get behind.

Finally it looks like Gingrich recognizes the threat that China, et al poses for our national security, especially in space, unlike some people.
NASA at the Folklife Festival in Washington
I ask the question: Is The Day the Earth Stood Still Fascist? That applies to both the original and the remake, though apparently Keanu Reeves' Klaatu is essentially going to be Al Gore with a particularly mean robot friend come to stop us from hurting the environment.
Ed Morrissey reports that the Democratic National Convention in Denver is headed for a disaster even without riots in the streets.
It looks like that Al Qaeda us being routed from its last urban stronghold in Iraq. An epic victory that you will not read about in the American media.
One of the interesting things about the original The Day the Earth Stood still was the metaphor of Klaatu as Christ, being killed then resurrected. The remake seems to have changed Klaatu's purpose from settling the Cold War to stopping us evil humans from wrecking the environment. That's tiresome enough. So does that mean that Klaatu is now--Al Gore?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

It seems that Barack Obama, the great post racial uniter, can't even unite the Democrat Party. In fact he seems to be losing ground.

The interesting thing is that if enough ticked off Hillary supporters opt to stay home, a lot of down ballot Democrats will suffer as well. That means that confident predictions of a GOP bloodbath in the Senate and House may not materialize.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Declaration of Independence
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Read the whole thing.
Hancock Starring Will Smith
Jesse Helms, RIP

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I've been a fan of Penn and Teller's Bullsh#t since the first episode. Where else can one find the account of a fake petition circulated at an environmentalist rally calling for the banning of dihydrogen oxide (water for those not familiar with chemistry.)

So, knowing that the two magicians are also very committed libertarians, I was fascinated by the news that they were going to call bullsh#t on NASA. There's enough NASA bashing (some of it justified, some not) on the Internet so that one could imagine would would transpire.

Surprisingly, the episode was not a rant, but actually had a balanced view of the state of space exploration at the dawn of the 21st Century. There was a lot of stuff about safety lapses that led to Challenger and Columbia, but that was well documented and not in dispute by anyone.

Mind, they did have Robert Park as a guest, which is always a red flag, but there were also other guests who answered his anti humans in space blather. Penn said the F word a lot, which he always does, and his micro gravity strip tease was kind of gross. But even the commercial space vs NASA portion was well balanced and fair; COTS was even given a prominate mention, something our friends in the Internet Rocketeer Society rarely do. And there was a swipe at President Bush that was tiresome.

The conclusion seemed to be that yes NASA is government and we hate government and yes NASA has had accidents and we hate those too. But NASA does things that are so very cool, after all, and if the commercial folks are getting in the game too, space is big enough for everyone.
Allahpundit documents one of the first instances of McCain Derangement Syndrome

The trailer from the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still

Apparently it is not true that Keanu Reaves changes the famous line to "Klaatu barada whoa!"
The Carnival of Space is now up.

A thriller about the President of the United States as a serial killer named the DC Ripper.

Of course I can see it now. "Come on, everybody lies about cutting women up with knives. What does this have to do with health care, education, the environment? It certainly doesn't rise to the level of impeachment. You right wing republicans had just better move one because this is all you can talk about."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chris Satullo really despises his country and writes a lying, hate filled column to explain why.
Rene Marie Sings "The Black National Anthem" at a Denver Event It was the Mayors State of the City speech Marie substitution of Lift Every Voice and Sing for the National Anthem has caused a political ruckus.
NASA is encouraging a student developed lunar orbiter.
Chairforce Engineer aint apologizing for calling NASA "fascist" no matter how silly that makes him sound.
NASA's manned space program is a taxpayer-supported effort which primarily serves to enhance national prestige, while enshrining a small number of large corporations as the titans of the aerospace and tech sectors.

Not to mention scientific exploration, technological development, and (recently) enabling small, entrepreneurial space development. But as the folks at the Peoples Front of Judea would say, "Aside from that, what has NASA ever done for us!"
As far as NASA not being "fascist" because "fascists don't allow for competition," I think that the recent history speaks for itself. Will NASA allow for parallel manned space efforts?

Yes, actually.
Dan Goldin was certainly opposed to Dennis Tito's space vacation on the ISS.

Dan Goldin was a prat and I said so repeatedly during his overlong tenure as NASA Administrator. But he hasn't been in charge since 2002.
Mike Griffin's NASA resorts to debunking alternative approaches to manned lunar missions, even though their current approach is not likely to survive the current election without profound changes.

The argument that Mr. X refers to here is not that these alternatives shouldn't be tried by someone else. I'm sure that if some private group wanted to do Direct, NASA would just shrug and say, "Good luck." Mr. X. is not mentioning that there is a politically motivated drive to force NASA to abandon it's current approach to going back to the Moon and adopt something else. Griffin made a pretty good rebuttle to this idea based on the technical facts, not on politics.
NASA officials currently resort to scare tactics, raising support for Project Constellation by claiming that China will be on the moon by 2017 unless we give Project Constellation full funding. There's no reason why the US and China can't share the moon, no compelling reason to beat China to the moon, and no evidence that China has the means to fly a human around the moon by 2017.

Except that the Peoples Republic of China is a totalitarian regime (i.e. real fascists) who will not share the Moon given the chance. The compelling reason to beat China back to the Moon is to demonstrate to the world that the future still lays with freedom and not tyranny, as well as to make sure that China doesn't lock us out of the economic development of the Moon. The 2017 date is a strawman. If someone like Barack Obama cancels the Vision for Space Exploration or if we get bogged down in arguing about hardware, China will be first and will have a pretty good chance of owning the space future.
To be fair, NASA has done a better job at allowing for competition as of late. If properly funded, the COTS program will create an alternate means for space access that's closer to a free-market approach. With that being said, awarding a COTS contract to Orbital Sciences is hardly the way to break the oligarchy of large companies that dominate the space economy. Furthermore, with NASA dropping out of ISS in 2017, the incentives behind COTS become diminished.

Orbital Sciences used to be one of those small, entrepreneurial space firms. It got successful, therefore bigger, therefore (in the eyes of Mr. X) evil. I'm also not sure that ISS couldn't be run as a semi private consortium. I suspect that will be the arrangement to keep the thing operating past 2016.
Is the "fascist" label for NASA extreme and deceptive? Perhaps. But the fact remains that NASA subverts the capitalist system in the name of national pride.

Yep, extreme and deceptive, but we're going to do it anyway. The accusation of "subverting the capitalist system" is silly on its face, especially considering COTS, which Mr. X acknowledges.
I will admit that a private-sector rationale for exploring the moon will require at least 30 years pull off; the NASA plan is the way to go if you're willing to throw untold quantities of taxpayer dollars at going back as soon as possible. But I would rather sacrifice the moon in my lifetime than undermine capitalism.

Actually, properly managed, the NASA Vision for Space Exploration will bring private business to the Moon far sooner than thirty years hence. If we wait around like Mr. X. wants to, I suspect that those fat, ice and helium 3 mining contracts will be owned by the Chinese and the companies it favors.
I don't care what name you want to apply towards NASA's manned space program and its practices. You can call NASA what you will, but it doesn't change the nature of the beast.

A brown shirt is a brown shirt by any other name. It's sad to see that certain space activists, whom I call the Internet Rocketeer Club, resort to tactics. It makes my job a lot harder.

Addendum: Keith Cowing weighs in.
Just to show that with the right spin, anything can be considered fashionable, the women of that polygamous sect have launched a clothing line. Personally I wouldn't put those potato sacks they call dresses on an ape.
Rush Limbaugh: The 400 Million Dollar Man.
More thoughts on Nicolas Sarkozy's grand design for a true, European space program. But, and this is a good question for the pro free enterprise President of the French Republic, what about commercial space?
An independent evaluation of the Direct concept? It's an alluring idea, but one suspects that whatever an independent review board decides, people will be unhappy. If it says that Direct has merit, then the EELV people will howl. If it says that Direct does not have merit, then all of the anti Ares people will howl.
Homer Hickam on SpaceShipTwo and space tourism.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

15 out of 18 Iraq benchmarks satisfactory. Take that, Senator. Reid, Speaker Pelosi.
Sarkozy wants Europe to have a real space program with European moon bases and missions to Mars.

Now, I know a lot of people who yawn at the idea of the Chinese beating us back to the Moon. But the French? It should not even be considered.
Gene Cernan, the last man on the Moon, speaks.
Saving Private Ryan Ten Years On
Wesley Clark Attacks John McCain's Military Service

More thoughts on the "Swift Boating" of John McCain

Addendum: The angry potato, Senator Jim Webb, is the latest to trash John McCain's military service, A pattern indeed.