Sunday, May 31, 2009

George McGovern is nothing if consistant.
RIP Paul Haney, once the voice of mission control.
Abortion Doctor George Tiller Murdered Outside Church
Doctor George Tiller was shot to death Sunday morning at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas. George Tiller, who worked at the Women's Health Services Clinic, is one of the few doctors who performs late term abortions.
Obama's Broadway Date Night Seen as Unseemly
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama jetting over to New York for a dinner and a Broadway show for their periodic "date night." Understandably the Republican National Committee is finding this unseemly.
George W. Bush greatest former President in history.
'Super Laser' Dedicated at Lawrence Livermore
This past Friday, a super laser was dedicated at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory just an hour away from San Francisco. The laser may facilitate the next step toward practical fusion energy.
Amazingly, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton had a great time in Canada, having a polite conversation in front of a paying crowd.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Paul Spudis asks can we be resourceful on the Moon?
The Obama stimulus package is a failure, with no end to the economic downturn in sight, with details of the stimulus projects more often or not an embarassing study in government waste. No problem. The Obama White House has a plan to fix things.

suppress all criticism of the Obama stimulus package.
It looks like that magic is over. Ted Rall wants Barack Obama to resign.
Toy Story 3 Teaser Trailer Released
Disney/Pixar has released the teaser trailer for Toy Story 3, coming June 18th, 2010. As with the first two Toy Story features, Tom Hanks voiced Woody, the toy cowboy, and Tim Allen voices Buzz Lightyear, the toy space man.

Friday, May 29, 2009

John Cornyn Repudiates Gingrich, Limbaugh
John Cornyn, Republican Senator from Texas, repudiated both Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich who have called Supreme Court Nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor "racist" for remarks she made in a 2001 speech.
XM-25 Individual Air Burst Weapon Now Being Tested
Proof that war in the 21st Century will be nothing like what it was in the 20th; the US military is starting to test an infantry weapon known as the XM-25 Individual Air Burst Weapon. Unofficially it is called "the Judge Dredd Gun."
IEEE Spectrum has a Mars theme issue.
Mike Judge's 'The Goode Family' Sends Up Political Correctness
The Goode Family, a new animated comedy from Mike Judge, who previously created Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill, premiered recently on ABC TV. The Goode Family turns out to be everything the Hills of Arlen, Texas, are not.
A discussion of advanced space propulsion from the ESA.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Orlando Sentinel has a list of most of the Second Augustine Commission.

Addendum: The list has an interesting mix of people. There are academics, one former astronaut, a military officer, and two or three from commercial space (old and new.) One of the latter, Wanda Austin from the nonprofit The Aerospace Corporation, is raising some eyebrows and causing certain people on the Internet to jump up and down with glee.

Since The Aerospace Corp conducted the study that purports to prove that the EELV could be used to loft the Orion after all, Austin's inclusion would seem, on the face, to violate Norm Augustine's principle of people who have an open mind. However one suspects that Augustine has gotten private assurances that Austin will keep an open mind, not pushing overtly for the EELV option. Her expertise will be invaluable in evaluating the various alternatives to the current approach.
John Lithgow to Be on 'Dexter' as Guest Serial Killer
John Lithgow, better known for his comedy roles on such TV shows as 3rd Rock from the Sun and films like Harry and the Hendersons, will appear on the 4th season of Dexter. John Lithgow plays a serial killer who has evaded the law for three decades.
Gingrich: Sotomayor Comments Racist
Newt Gingrich, twittering from Europe, was the latest public figure to decry what many considered Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor's racist comments in a 2001 speech. Gingrich was direct about Sotomayor's racist comments.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Chinese manned lunar landing in 2025-30.
The idea of the economic development of the Moon seems to annoy certain people.
The Ecologist editor Pat Thomas warns against turning the Moon into 'a huge open-cast mine': 'The Moon should be protected from exploitation. Our priorities should be here on Earth,' she argues. 'The money we'd use to create a 'lunar economy' could be far better spent on renewable energies and wiping out debt.'

Against such foolishness even the Gods strive in vain.
The untold story of Apollo 11.
Ted Olson vs. Proposition 8
With the California Supreme Court upholding Proposition 8's ban on same sex marriage, supporters of same sex marriage are pursuing one option through the federal courts. Leading this effort, much to everyone's surprise, is Ted Olson.
Along with some rather strange attacks on Your Humble Servant personally, Jon Goff has an even stranger proposal, demanding lunar COTS now and not when there is a market for it.

I've explained why a lunar COTS is not viable now, but apparently Jon and some others need to have the lesson repeated.

A lunar COTS, as with the current orbital version with ISS, would involve several companies vying for the opportunity to transport cargo and people to and from a lunar base. Private companies, likely with government help, would build and operate their own space craft capable of reaching the lunar surface.

Jon seems to think that this would work even before a lunar base is deployed or even before a single human being returns to the Moon. He is wrong, of course.

To illustrate how wrong Jon is, one can only imagine the owner of a rocket company, say SpaceX, approaching a venture capitalist for financing. This would be necessary for the billion or so that a private, entrepreneurial company would require to get a moon ship up and running. The number of private people would could afford to finance such a project out of their own pockets is very small. The subset of people willing to do so is likely Nil.

The first question that a venture capitalist will ask the rocket company CEO is how he expects to make money. The response would be that NASA would pay for transporting cargo and people to and from the Moon. Eventually private customers will come to the fore as the Moon becomes more accessible.

The second question is what guarantee do you have that five or ten years hence NASA will still be willing to pay for such a service? The response will be that NASA has promised to do so.

The venture capitalist will nod, thank the rocket company CEO, and the meeting would end. There would be no funding for the private moon ship because any venture capitalist worthy of the name will be aware of the fleeting nature of government promises. He will be aware about how Congress tends to fund something one year and not fund something the next. He might even be aware that President Obama has hinted on cut backs to he exploration program in the out years. He will certainly not risk a billion or two dollars on government promises.

Now imagine another meeting taking place after a lunar base has been established. NASA is very keen to outsource maintenance of the lunar base so that it can concentrate on Mars or an Earth approaching asteroid. The venture capitalist will note that the government has made a solid commitment to the Moon, not in plans and promises, but in infrastructure. He is more likely to approve funding for the private moon ship.

These are the facts, not rooted in airy, romantic, libertarian notions of how the world works.
If you think that the Obama Presidency is a horror show, know that it can get worst.
Will Charles Bolden save the Vision for Exploration?
A Romanian team aiming for the Google Lunar X Prize has a rather unique approach involving a balloon launched probe.
Shona Holmes describes how American doctors saved her life, after the vaunted Canadian health care system tried to kill her.
Deadliest Warrior: William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu
The latest Deadliest Warrior, William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu, took the concept in another direction by pitting not only two warriors separated by time and culture against one another, but two actual fighters known for their love of battle.
Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton
The story of Horse Soldiers, a book by Doug Stanton, is one so incredible that it would not be believable as fiction if it were not absolutely true. Horse Soldiers is like John Wayne meets the Arabian Nights as told by Tom Clancy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Proposition 8 Upheld in California
The California Supreme Court has upheld Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage in California. However the California Supreme Court let stand the approximately 18,000 same sex marriages consummated in California before the law took effect.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor Nominated for Supreme Court
President Barack Obama has picked Judge Sonia Sotomayor for nomination to become a Justice of the Supreme Court. In Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Obama gets a "twofer" for his first Supreme Court appointment—a woman and a Hispanic.
Why Does Kim Jong-Il Want Nuclear Weapons?
If Kim Jong-Il were just an eccentric celebrity—say a film actor or a rock singer—his antics and his paranoia would be just the subject of mild interest in the tabloids. Unfortunately Kim Jong-Il is the leader of a country with nuclear weapons.
From this week's Space Review, Bolden's Burdens by Jeff Foust, naturally about what Charles Bolden faces as NASA administrator. and a comparison of NASA to the car companies in Cars versus rockets by Michael Potter.
Dick Cheney takes Barack Obama to school.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A film or miniseries version of Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series may never be made. That has not stopped someone from making a trailer.

Loger version here. Dig the B 17 strike on the alien mother ship.
Mike Griffin is still speaking out about space policy.
A piece that discusses the Zeng He expeditions and the lessons it holds for modern space exploration. Rand Simberg recycles an attempt to debunk, but in so doing also recycles a fallacy.
The fact was that Zheng He’s journeys were a failure. They sent out vast amounts of the nations’ treasure with which to impress the heathens and gain tribute and the appropriate respect (just as is the goal for the current Chinese space activities). But when trade occurred at all, the ships often came back with items that were perceived to be of less value than what had been sent out to the ports. The trade was not profitable — it was draining vital resources. The bureaucrats were right.

By that standard, the early European voyages to the Americas were a failure. Columbus certainly did not find the East Indies or much of anything of value. The difference was that the Europeans persevered, continuing exploration, and eventually founded empires. And, by the way, eventually the United States of America, as well as a host of other nations in the New World.

Of course Rand is also wrong about the underlying reason why the Chinese stopped exploration and burned the ships. Economics was a factor, but a bigger factor was the desire of the Chinese bureaucracy to not allow China to be "polluted" by foreigners and their ideas. Not only were government sponsored voyages like Zeng He's stopped, by private voyages into deep water were forbidden on pain of a very painful death.

That's why Europe owned the last five hundred years and China was a doormat for colonial powers duing that time. The current Chinese government has not let that lesson go unlearned.
Deadliest Warrior: Shaolin Monk Vs. Maori Warrior
The most unusual matchup on Deadliest Warrior, thus far, had to be Shaolin Monk vs. Maori Warrior. Not only are the fighting styles of the two warriors different, but so were their entire approach to life and existence.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Looks like North Korea ha cooked off another nuke, which just goes to illustrate President Obama's more foolish foreign policy and national security choices, especially cut backs in missile defense.
Angels and Demons Starring Tom Hanks
Angels and Demons is the sequel to the hit film of a couple of years ago, the Da Vinci Code, also from a book by Dan Brown. Like the previous film Angels and Demons stars Tom Hanks as the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

President Obama has nominated Charles Bolden to be NASA Administrator and Lori Garver to be Deputy Administrator.

Addendum: Charles Bolden Nominated as NASA Administrator
NASAAccording to Florida Today retired Marine General and former astronaut Charles Bolden has been nominated for the post of NASA Administrator by President Barack Obama. Bolden will replace Mike Griffin, who resigned in January.

Addendum 2: Naturally Rand Simberg has concerns.

Addendum 3: Bill Nelson, on the other hand, seems very pleased.
Let me see. A TV show that makes fun of environmentalist wackos?

And this is allowed on the air? On network TV?

Miracles do happen.
A Mars mission in the 1980s:

As seen in the Stephen Baxter novel Voyage

And a more modrn version, using VASIMR engines

Friday, May 22, 2009

Obama Addresses Navy Academy Graduation
President Barack Obama addressed the 2009 graduating class of the Navy Academy and made a number of interesting points that illuminate his approach to national security. One point was dead on, albeit obvious. Two were debatable.
Charles Krauthammer, Enemy of the People
The latest enemy of the people on the Left is Charles Krauthammer, the erudite conservative columnist for the Washington Post and commenter on Fox News. Joe Klein started the ball rolling with a quote in a recent piece in Politico by Ben Smith.
You want fear mongering? I'll give you fear mongering...
Obama's White House made five year olds cry. Quite literally as it turned out.
Incredibly, White House staffers attempted to push back on this story, in flagrant ignorance of the elementary political truth that a politician cannot win any argument with a crying five-year-old child. I will be merciful and not reproduce their justification, although I will note that it strongly implies that the parents of a busload of crying five-year-olds are all liars.

The mind boggles. I don't recall this sort of thing happening when the evil Bush, always a stickler for punctuality, occupied the White House.
A big screen version of Gerry Anderson's 1970 TV show UFO seems to be in the works. I do have found memories of th Moon based staffed by those girls with purple hair.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Alan Boyle a new documentary called Orphans of Apollo which is about a quixotic enterprise called MirCorp and a casesudy about how and why too many space commercial ventures fail.
Chuck Norris is so bad ass that even his picture will stop burglaries.
A rotating space elevator
Now there is not only the rumor that Obama and Charles Bolden had an argument over NASA's budget, but that the meeting got so heated that Bolden withdrew his name from consideration as NASA administrator.

Meanwhile Rand Simberg has this pearl of wisdom:
But it is possible to spend less money on space, and it’s even possible to get more for less than we’re currently getting (simply getting NASA out of the launch-vehicle development business would go a long way toward that goal).

Some day Rand will lay out a detailed analysis of what exactly that means. No launch vehicle development means no return to the Moon for the foreseeable future. Even most people who want to go the EELV route admit to the need of a heavy lifter like Ares V in addition. Assembling a Moon ship in LEO with many launches of existing launch vehicles for every lunar expedition is lunacy beyond the boundaries of craziness.

Fuel depots are a good idea, but as an enhancement of the current plan. Eventually, to really unlock the potential of the Moon, we'll need the ability to move a lot more people and cargo than the Constellation architecture can, and fuel depots would be a big help.
Dick Cheney's Speech on Terrorism
Moments after President Obama concluded a lengthy speech defending his administration's terrorism policy—and attacking that of the Bush administration—former Vice President Cheney responded with the mien of a kindly but stern adult giving the facts.
The poll numbers for both Dick Cheney and George W. Bush are rising. Could it be that people are starting to yearn for the days when adults ran things?
Bombing of Riverdale Jewish Center and Riverdale Temple Thwarted
The FBI and the New York Police Department have broken up a terrorist plot to blow up the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Center in a neighborhood in the Bronx as well as shoot airplanes with Stinger missiles.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Keith Cowing is reporting that the Obama Bolden meeting "did not go well." No elaboration, but I am frankly intrigued. What was the source of the conflict? And why was there a conflict, since Obama is no verbose about “finding common ground” with people with whom he disagrees…

Addendum: A revision from Nasa Watch
At least two sources suggest that when Obama suggested to Bolden during their meeting that cuts to the human spaceflight budget might be needed later, Bolden said he would strongly counsel him not to. Otherwise, it was characterized as a pleasant conversation.

I suppose that should indicate President Obama's long term commitment to space exploration.
V as an allegory for the Age of Obama.
Follow the plot arc here: A savior with seemingly supernatural powers comes to rescue mankind, and is adoringly embraced by a public desperate for Hope. Not until it’s almost too late do they realize the Change they were promised isn’t quite what the increasingly sinister savior has in mind. (The words “hope” and “change” actually do appear at critical moments here in the trailer.)

Is there a scaly reptile behind all that hope and change?
Senate Blocks Funds for Guantanamo Closure
Following the lead of the House of Representatives, the United States Senate has voted to block funding for the closure of the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay. The move is a stinging, bi-partisan rebuke for President Barack Obama.
Team FREDNet is competing for the Google Lunar X Prize.
2009 California Election Results in Rebuke to Political Class
California voters rejected a series of propositions that would have raised taxes and allocated spending in an attempt to close that state's estimated $21.3 billion dollar budget deficit. The result is seen as a rebuke to California's political class.
Is Obama about to flip on Iran? Stuff like this may be serving to concentrate his mind.
Jon Goff sent Your Humble Servant an email:
Ares-I and Ares-V are already mixes of politics and engineering. Do
you honestly think that if it weren't for political pressures out of
Florida, Utah, Texas, and Alabama, that NASA would've come up with a
vehicle like that as the best approach? No, the cat's been out of the
bag for a long time, and you've publicly admitted it before. The
problem is that with public funding comes public oversight. If
Ares-I/V were the warped dream of some crazy billionaire, I don't
think you'd see half the complaints from the internet. You'd see some
laughing and mocking, but nowhere near the public outcry. This is a
taxpayer funded project, and as taxpayers we have the right to decry
waste, and try to use the political process to fix it. You can't have
it both ways. Especially when you have a clear cut case of a
government agency using funding to further its own bureaucratic
desires while not meeting the requirements originally set out for it.
That's a case where political action is 100% legitimate, if not
demanded by Congress and the President's oversight responsibilities.

And the response:
Jon, I have never said that was not the case. The problem is that there are people, some no doubt well meaning, some with agendas, who want to open the entire design of our exploration architecture to the political process. Partisans of just about every idea are very adroit at pointing out at the flaws (real and perceived) of all of the other ideas.

As someone without engineering training, but with considerable history training, I have to fall back on the latter for analysis. And history teaches us that there has been no technological development project that has not had problems. Good heavens, even the vaunted Falcon took four tries before one actually reached orbit. And you can't say that Elon Musk's project is wholly private. He has taken government money, so the progress of his work is now a part of public interest.

I'm an agnostic about what kind of rocket we us to return to the Moon. But I offer this caveat. The first person on the Moon is going to be the employee of some government. There is no market for going to the Moon that has enough benefit that would attract a private player able to pay the cost.

There is, however, a national security reason for going back to the Moon. That's because that government employee might just be an officer of the Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army. The implications of that are just too dire to let that happen.

Once people are back on the Moon, then there will be a good, core market for private enterprise, Lunar explorers will need all kinds of support that a lunar COTS program could readily provide.

You may not like some of the unseemly things that are being done to get us back to the Moon. But they don't call politics the equivalent of sausage making for nothing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Teddy Kennedy's cancer is in remission, which is good news. The bitter irony is that Senator Kennedy was able to get the best of private care that he would like to deny everyone else.
The Costs of Obama's New CAFE Standards
President Barack Obama presented the new national CAFÉ standards for automobiles. By 2016, automobiles manufactured in the United States will have to operate at 35.5 miles per gallon. The new standards will cost motorists in money and lives.
The rebuttal of NASA's analysis of the Direct concept is now out for examination.

I don't have an informed opinion about Direct either way, except to note that of the alternatives to the current architecture Direct has the most thought put into it. The EELV faction surely hates the idea, for various reasons, mainly political.

I suspect that if Augustine Two finds the current architecture wanting (by no means an assured outcome, despite what some people may believe), then the brawl will have only begun. It will be the consequence of taking rocket design into the political process.
Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons Blasts President Obama
Later this month, President Barack Obama will travel to Los Vegas for a fund raiser for Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader. This has Nevada's Republican governor Jim Gibbons miffed, as Obama has refused to meet with him.
'Sherlock Holmes' Trailer Debuts
A half a year before the movie itself is scheduled to premiere, the first trailer for Sherlock Holmes, staring Robert Downey Jr. Jude Law, Rachel MacAdams, and Mark Strong has appeared on the Internet.
'24' Season 7 Finale Concludes Jack Bauer's Latest Bad Day
The 24 Season 7 Finale has ended. Jack Bauer, the long suffering counter terrorism agent, has survived another very bad day—barely. And, sadly, 24 has promulgated an essential Hollywood myth about who is the root of all evil in the world.
How Washington wlll ration your health care.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Binyamin Netanyahu Meets a Hostile Barack Obama
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel met in the Oval office with President Barack Obama to hear the President's demands for what Israel must do and, more importantly, must not do in the Middle East.
Apparently Nancy Pelosi believes that her fellow Democrats are out to get her.
When Obama chooses a NASA administrator, he will be addressing only one problem facing the space agency. Jeff Foust discusses in Exchanging Uncertainties.
So why don't we have O'Neil type space colonies?
John Mankins discusses the need for more investments in space technology. I have a couple of questions. Is the government the proper venue for deciding which technologies get developed and wich do not? Could the private sector do the development, perhaps with the incentive of tax credits?
Maureen Dowd Caught in Plagiarism Scandal
Maureen Dowd, the snarky opinion columnist for the New York Times, has been caught in a plagiarism scandal. Apparently Maureen Dowd lifted a paragraph, almost word for word, from a left wing blog called, ironically enough, Talking Points.
Joe Biden's Bunker Blunder
Joe Biden, the gaffe prone Vice President, has revealed the secret location of the Vice Presidential bunker. The Vice Presidential bunker has been revealed to be located under the Naval Observatory where Vice Presidents reside.
'Antichrist' Premiers at Cannes
Apparently the most talked about entry at the Cannes Film Festival is a film called Antichrist, directed by Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier. Antichrist starts out with the slow motion, black and white, stylized death of a child.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Barack Obama Speaks at the Notre Dame Commencement
One person who must have been delighted at the controversy surrounding his visit to the campus of Notre Dame must have been none other than President Barack Obama himself. Attention was focused by the media on him and he took full advantage.
Is the United State losing the new race to the Moon?
Castle Starring Nathan Fillion Renewed for 2nd Season
Castle, staring Nathan Fillion as a smart alec murder mystery novelist Richard Castle with an eye for detail and human nature and Stana Katic as the straight arrow, by the book detective Kate Beckett with whom Castle is paired, has been renewed for a second season.
A couple of guys whose rocketeer activities were certainly not limited to the Internet have some ideas about how to go forward in space, courtesy of the New York Post. Buzz Aldrin wants to make China a partner in ISS. He's wrong about that, though I could see India, Brazil, and one or two other countries as candidates. Tom Jones, who flew on the shuttle and comments on things space for Fox News, champions the Ares and Orion against their critics.

Meanwhile, Philip Plait, a Hubble astronomer, champions exploring beyond LEO.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Obama Names Jon Hunstman Ambassador to China
President Barack Obama has named Utah's Republican Governor Jon Huntsman as ambassador to China. Jon Huntsman, who speaks fluent Mandarin, is a good fit for the post. But there was also a political consideration.
Alan Bean, Apollo 12 astronaut and artist, has a new book of his paintings coming out, just in time for the 40th anniversary of the Moonlanding.
Tucker Carlson Joins Fox News
Pundit Tucker Carlson has celebrated his fortieth birthday and has joined his third cable network, Fox News, as a paid commentator. Tucker Carlson appeared on Fox and Friends Saturday morning to give his views on the news of the day.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Charles Bolden is to be the new NASA administrator. Maybe. Maybe not.
The new Star Trek movie has been beamed up to the ISS for the edification and enjoyment of the crew.
Despite Obama 'Torture Pictures' Leaked to Media
President Obama's decision to reverse himself and not release the so-called "torture pictures" was correct and courageous. Unfortunately, thanks to certain foreign media outlets, the decision was likely futile.
Miles O'Brien has some thoughts about the potential nomination of Charles Bolden as NASA administrator.

I hae no particular opinion on Bolden one way or another. The last ex astronaut to occupy the administrator's office was Dick Truly, whose tenure did not turn out very well. That doesn't mean much, except to suggest that contrary to some of the buzz on the Internet having actually flown in space is not necessarily a qualification.

Also O'Brien is reporting that Lori Garver is going to be Bolden's deputy. O'Brien refers to Garver's rather embarrassing astro mom campaign to fly to ISS financed by public prescription. The mind set that would lead one to think that scheme would work is something foreign to me. She would not be my choice for any public office.
Telephathic solders? Looks like it's being worked on.
Paul Spudis points out that much has been learned since Augustine One which should be taken into account by Augustine Two.
in the intervening twenty years since that Augustine report, several robotic missions have changed the way we perceive the Moon. We found that the poles are very different from the rest of the Moon. The 1994 Clementine mission found large areas in permanent shadow near both poles; the sun never reaches the bottoms of craters here because Moon’s spin axis is almost perpendicular to the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun (the ecliptic). Such areas are extremely cold, possibly only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero. Water added to the Moon through bombardment by water-bearing meteorites and comets for billions of years could be retained in these dark areas. Additionally, we found areas in close proximity to these dark regions on mountain peaks rising above the local horizon that are nearly continuously illuminated by the Sun. In 1998, the Lunar Prospector mission found elevated amounts of hydrogen in the polar regions, consistent with the accumulation of excess volatiles (including water).

So what do these discoveries mean for lunar return? We now know that sustained human presence on the Moon is possible, largely because we’ve found a source of near-constant power (permanent sunlight) and a source of sustenance and rocket propellant (volatiles, including water). The robotic Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions showed us that the poles, almost completely unknown in 1990, are inviting oases on the lunar desert. There, we can extract hydrogen and oxygen to make air and water for life support and propellant to fuel rockets. The sunlit areas can generate near continuous electrical power, with regenerative fuel cells providing power for the short duration eclipse periods. Locally obtained power and consumables means that continuous human presence is possible, without the enormous expense or unproven technology of large nuclear reactors and the delivery of massive quantities of material from Earth.

And this means:
The more we learn about the true nature of the Moon, the more the goal of learning to live there on a quasi-self sufficient basis appears feasible. This opens up wholly new areas of operations and commerce in space, undreamed of as little as twenty years ago. It has the potential to change the entire paradigm of spaceflight, from a narrow, government-run, science-oriented program, completely dependent upon the caprice Congressional largess to a self-sustaining, free-market program, in which NASA develops and demonstrates new technologies that open up spacefaring by many different passengers and payloads for a wide variety of purposes.


Addendum: Link has been fixed.
Victor Davis Hanson imagines a President named Palin doing the exact same thing that a President named Obama has actually done.
Bones Season 4 Finale
The Bones season 4 finale, The End in the Beginning, used the device of putting the familiar characters of the show and putting them in new roles, though with the usual situation of an unsolved murder.
Kyle Smith takes note of what he believes to be Ron Howard's willingness to insult Christians, but not Muslim. I'm not sure that Angels and Demons does the former (I haven't seen it yet) but there is a reason for the latter, besides the usual political correctness. Christians tend to forgive those who trespass against them. Muslims, on the other hand, put out fatwas and cause no end of trouble to their enemies. Just ask Salman Rushdie.
Just come in the mail, Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan.

Addendum: A reader writes in to bemoan the fact that John Wayne is no longer around to be in the movie. Nathan Fillion, on the other hand...
Is Charles Bolden to be Obama's first NASA administrator? NASA Watch thinks so. If it turns out to be true, it will demonstrate Senator Bill Nelson'spowerful influence on the US civil space program.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mike Griffin is not impressed with the idea of a review of the Vision for Space Exploration.
"A review that once again asks the question, 'Are the goal posts in the right place? Should we go to the Moon? Should we go to Mars? Should we visit the near-Earth asteroids?' - scrambling that mix again, I think, will not be productive," Griffin said. "The goals have to remain in place for longer than a presidential administration or a session of Congress if you are to get anything out of the space program."

A good point. I favor the review, if only to clear the air and settle certain Internet controversies once and for all, but Griffin's fear is a legitimate one. Abrupt changes of direction that coincide with changes of administration solely for political reasons are not productive.
Nancy Pelosi: 'The CIA Lied to Me'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's latest tortured explanation about what did she know about waterboarding and when did she know it is that the CIA lied to her about waterboarding being used on Abu Zubaydah during the briefings in 2002.
Lost: The Incident Season Five Finale
Lost: The Incident, the fifth season finale of the weirdest show on television, is promised to be the end (for now) of the time travel story arc. Lost: The Incident features a lot of jumping around in time, though, and not just between 1977 and 2007.
Obama Addresses Arizona State University Graduates
President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Arizona State University. It was a speech that, had it been delivered by a better President and a better man, would have verged upon the inspiring.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rand Simberg gives the new Augustine Commission it's marching orders. Most are somewhat vague generalities that most people would agree with. However, there is this:
It shouldn’t matter whether it is lunar sortie versus lunar base versus some other destination. Rather, consider an architecture that can address a broad range of requirements beyond low earth orbit. But in order to do that, we need a true equivalent of the Interstate Highway System, not a rerun of Apollo. We don’t just need an infrastructure that is affordable and sustainable. It must also be scalable, to allow an expansion of activity as budgets and markets permit in the future.

That's all well and good, but there are a couple of problems. Is it really NASA's job to do something like commercial transportation that should be built--well--commercially? And is NASA, government agency that it is, even capable of doing that?

My recommendation would be to introduce incentives for the private sector to build a "space interstate highway system" and leave NASA to the task most suited to it, high risk, cutting edge exploration and science.

Then there is this quaint gem, under "Ignore politics":
Think of yourself like a Base Closing and Realignment Commission that provides recommendations for the nation as a whole, not local interests. Let the politicians argue about how to preserve jobs (while ignoring all of the jobs and wealth not being created due to the opportunity costs of their parochial decisions).

Oh yeah, by all means let us ignore the wishes of the people who control the money. It would be a fine thing if all politicians were to high mindedly only follow the national interest. But for those of us who live in the real world, the hard task is to craft the sort of space effort that does serve that interest and will be voted for by the Shelbys and he Hutchisons of the world. That involves, alas, compromise and maybe doing things that are. on close examination, unseemly. But Bismark did not compare Law making to sausage making for nothing.

The base closing commission metaphor is especially inappropriate. The various base closing commissions were voted on by Congress with the promise to abide by their recommendations. The new Augustine Commission was not voted on by the Congress, which would feel itself under no obligation to follow its recommendations should it find them too radical.

Addendum: Rand tries to clarify his position:
The answer is no, and I didn’t say or imply that it was. It is NASA’s job to provide basic technology and incentives to private industry for them to provide transportation services, though. NASA should be a good customer, and purchase commercial services (like propellant from depots, and rides to various locations, including from earth to orbit).

If Rand had actually said that in his Pajamas Media piece, it would have been beneficial. The piece clearly suggests NASA building a space faring "Interstate Highway." In any case we are, so far, in complete agreement, but with one caveat. The time to do all of this is not now, when there is no evidence that the government is actually committed to going beyond LEO, beyond pronouncements and some inadequate funding. The time to start up a Lunar COTS is when there is tangible proof that the government is beyond LEO to stay, such as a small lunar outpost. Rand sort of gets it with the following.
If the private sector had any confidence that NASA would be such a customer, it would be able to raise the funds itself for development of the infrastructure.

Well, duh. If I were a venture capitalist, the way I would have such confidence is for NASA to actually be back to the Moon. Try what Rand proposes today and, as even he implies, no one would be willing to fund it for fear that Congress will yank funding down the road.

Rand goes on:
Though it wouldn’t be unreasonable for NASA to build the first depots itself, to reduce technical risk for the later private investors. This would be the closest equivalent to the Interstate Highway System analogy.

I would regard orbital depots if they make economic and technical sense as a good add on to the current plan. Having NASA test out the concept (with maybe private sector vendors launching the fuel tanks to the Lagrange points) would be a good step.

Finally, Rand stumbles because he doesn't get the essential requirement for everything to fall into place.

What it shouldn’t be doing is developing launch vehicles. We have plenty of those, with better ones in prospect if NASA will provide a sufficient market for them.

There is no market until there are people on the Moon and elsewhere beyond LEO. There are no people on the Moon until (a) NASA does it in the old, expensive style or (b) we wait for the private sector to get around to doing it, by which time we'll be applying to China or some other country for visas. Using (a) we get a small lunar base, let's say, and then the private sector steps in to resupply it (just likes COTS and ISS), only now with the potential for expansion, and NASA goes on to Mars and the asteroids.

That may seem like to Rand to be crossing a square by going around the corners, but in the real world that is often the best way to go.

If Obama is Spock, then Bush is Captain Kirk. And who, after all, was the better Captain of the Enterprise?
Is Sarah Palin getting ready to go for it in 2012, While I haven't made any commitments that far out, I rather hope she does as he is sharp, telegenic, and drives the Left crazy.
Michelangelo's the Torment of St. Anthony Bought by Kimball Art Museum
In a remarkable coup, the Kimball Museum in Fort Worth, Texas has acquired the earliest known work by Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Torment of St. Anthony. It will be the only work of its kind in the permanent collection of an American museum.
Obama's FDA Goes After Cheerios
It seems that the Obama Administration has found a new thing to worry about. The Obama Food and Drug Administration is going after Cheerios. Cheerios is a common breakfast cereal that has been a staple of many families for generations.
Deadliest Warrior: Green Beret Vs. Spetsnaz
This week's Deadliest Warrior: Green Beret vs. Spetsnaz pitted two elite commando forces from the modern era in a battle to the death. Almost unique of the Deadliest Warrior episodes, Green Beret vs. Spetsnaz might have actually happened.
Is Steny Hoyer about to make a play to topple Pelosi?
Opposition to Obama at Notre Dame Builds
President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the commencement at Notre Dame University and receive an honorary degree. This has angered pro life students, faculty, alumni, and others who have organized campaigns against it.
Team Italia's entry for the Lunar X Prize looks like a host of skittering spiders.
The Democrats are looking at all sorts of middle class tax increases including soda and chips.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

There is an EPA memo that not only suggests that so-called greenhouse gasses have no effect on public health, but that it might have beneficial effects,
Lords of Corruption by Kyle Mills
Lords of Corruption, the latest thriller by Kyle Mills, is the story of a young man named Josh Hagarty, whose life of bad luck and hard scrabble living seems about to change when he is offered a job running a project in Africa for a charity called NewAfrica.

Famous works of literatures as told on Twitter.

Playing the game, here is the one for Nocturne

"Musician and Doctor go to Venice. Thwart international plot and help damaged friend."

And Children of Apollo

"Nixon expands the space program. Six years later, a woman walks on the Moon. The Soviets are not pleased."
Norm Augustine to Review the Vision for Space Exploration
Norm Augustine, retired CEO of Lockheed Martin, has been asked by President Barack Obama to chair a commission to study the Constellation program to send human explorers beyond Low Earth Orbit. Norm Augustine has done this sort of thing before.
Donald Trump Says Carrie Prejean Keeps Her Crown
Carrie Prejean can keep her crown as Miss California. That was the pronouncement from on high by Donald Trump, the owner of the Miss USA and Miss Universe Beauty pageants. Thus ended (or at least should end) one of the most absurd kerfuffles in history.
House: Season Five Finale Ends with Shock
The fifth season finale of House M.D., Both Sides Now, ended with a development that was long expected by House fans. Still, the last ten minutes or so of the House episode came as a kind of shock that is unexpected when it finally arrives.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Atlantis Hubble Repair Mission Takes Off
The space shuttle Atlantis lifted off at 02:01 PM EDT on Monday for the fifth and final Hubble repair mission. The crew of the space shuttle Atlantis will extend the life of the Hubble space telescope until at least 2014.
This month marks a perhaps more obscure 40 year anniversary than the one that will happen this July. The Flight of Apollo 10
Apollo 10 was the final flight of Apollo space craft before the actual Moon landing was scheduled to be attempted by Apollo 11. Virtually every aspect of a lunar mission was tested, with the exception of an actual lunar landing.
Michael Huang is more than a little suspicious of Augustine II.
Wanda Sykes Questions Rush Limbaugh's Patriotism
The controversy over Wanda Sykes' tasteless performance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner is continuing apace. Critics are focusing on the vicious, unfunny things Wanda Sykes said about Rush Limbaugh.
David Feherty Jokes About the Deaths of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi
David Feherty, a sports analyst for CBS, proved that he shouldn't give up his day job when he offered a little joke (a very little joke as it turned out) in a Dallas Magazine for which Dabid Feherty had to apologize.
Children of Apollo is now available in India.
Palin Derangement Syndrome causes a disturbed man to go after Piper Palin's lemonaide stand.

A guy tests material for a real invisibiliy cloak.
Dennis Wingo presents a vision of the turn of this century.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The White House Correspondents' Dinner: Obama as Stand-up Comic
The White House Correspondents' Dinner is one of those inside the beltway affairs in which Washington insiders, the media, and certain invited guests get to celebrate how wonderful they are. Also the President of the United States has to be funny.
When he visits the Normandy beaches for the 65th anniversary of D Day, it seems that President Obama would prefer that the hoi polloi be kept away from him as far as is possible.
The 65th Anniversary of D-Day is fast approaching. Barack Obama will attend the events on June 6th as George Bush did in 2004 for the sixtieth memorial service. Here is the rub, as of now Obama’s State Department has asked (read demanded) the French government not allow tour guide services to operate that day. It is a big day for Normandy tourism. Yet, the king will not allow those not connected with government to enjoy the day. Obama is very important you know. This is an unprecedented request. I hope the French come to their senses and deny it.

George Bush, on the other hand, was less of a Bourbon Prince when it came to being close to the people.
Compare that with 2004. Security was tight as President Bush and other world leaders were in attendance, but the event was still open to all. A friend relayed the story of waiting in line to use a port-a-potty (a French port-a-potty no doubt, yuck, believe me.) She looks to her left and who he is in the next line waiting patiently? President Bush. Sure he had Secret Service nearby, but he waited like everyone else.

One somehow thinks that Obama discourages even the thought that he actually has to use the bathroom.
That isn’t America and it surely isn’t what those young boys died at Normandy for.


Saturday, May 09, 2009

NASA's commercializing space flight proceeds apace.
Star Trek by J.J. Abrams
J.J. Abram's version of Star Trek, the beloved franchise that started as a three season TV show over forty years ago, is spectacular in capturing the character, the humor, and the action that was all that was good about the series.
Reagan a better friend to gays than Obama? Oddly enough, it seems that is true.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Jeff Foust has some interesting historical material from Norm Augustine and Mike Griffin about the cost of doing space. One thing jumps out:
I]t would be a grave mistake to try to pursue a space program “on the cheap”. To do so is in my opinion an invitation to disaster. There is a tendency in any “can-do” organization to believe that it can operate with almost any budget that is made available. The fact is that trying to do so is a mistake—particularly when safety is a major consideration. I am not arguing for profligacy; rather, I am simply pointing out that space activity is expensive and that it is difficult. One might even say that it is rocket science!

Drew Peterson Arrested
Drew Peterson, the ex police officer whose fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, has been missing for a year and a half, has been arrested on the charge of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio, who was found dead in a dry bathtub five years ago.
More on the necrophilia controversy Body Works Exhibit of Corpse Sex Causes Controversy
The latest Body Works Exhibit has opened in Berlin, Germany along with a great deal of controversy. This version of Body Works features a male corpse having sex with a female corpse. There have already been a number of public complaints.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Senator Bill Nelson pretty much guarantees that Obama's NASA budget numbers will change after the Augustine review.
Four StarTrek tehnologies tha are almost here and three that are still far off.
Phasers for real?
The new Augustine Commission, to be officially called a "Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans." The goal:
The review panel will assess a number of architecture options, taking into account such objectives as: 1) expediting a new U.S. capability to support use of the International Space Station; 2) supporting missions to the Moon and other destinations beyond low Earth orbit; 3) stimulating commercial space flight capabilities; and 4) fitting within the current budget profile for NASA exploration activities. Among the parameters to be considered in the course of its review are crew and mission safety, life-cycle costs, development time, national space industrial base impacts, potential to spur innovation and encourage competition, and the implications and impacts of transitioning from current human space flight systems. The review will consider the appropriate amounts of R&D and complementary robotic activity necessary to support various human space flight activities, as well as the capabilities that are likely to be enabled by each of the potential architectures under consideration. It will also explore options for extending International Space Station operations beyond 2016.

Members of the panel to be named soon.
Apparently the necrphilia exhibit is not going over well.
Obama Cancels National Day of Prayer Service
The National Day of Prayer, first designated by President Truman and made permanent by President Reagan, was celebrated by an ecumenical service in the White House by President George W. Bush every first Thursday in May.
Lost's Follow the Leader: A Recap of the Weirdest Show on TV
One thing one can say about Lost, it is certainly a different kind of show. What other show has depicted time travel, islands that "move", the dead coming back to life, multiple corporate conspiracies, among other things?
Threesome marriages?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Rob Coppinger has a bitter thing to say to those who think that the new Augustine Commission automatically means the death of Ares I.
Before this week's review revelations the blogosphere got excited over comments made by acting NASA administrator Christopher Scolese about achieving, in the next decade, a LEO crew and cargo and docking capability and the potential for missions that were beyond Earth orbit but not quite Moon outpost missions

This is one possible end result from the budget compromise due to ISS extension but should not be read as a firm indication of where the agency is going. A Moonbase may still be the target and Ares I may still have its solid rocket first stage come this third quarter

Coppinger describes the process that is about to happen as a "truth and reconciliation" operation.
Truth in terms of what has actually happened over the last five years, what things actually cost to develop and what budget NASA will actually get in the years to come. The full steam ahead "rosy picture" painted by some in NASA over the last few years is apparently light years from the harsh reality we have yet to learn about

And by reconciliation Hyperbola does not necessarily mean the bringing together of previously warring parties but reconciling the need to extend ISS operations with the goal of "returning" to the Moon by around 2020

If you are extending ISS operations, as Hyperbola is expecting NASA to do, you are going to have to review the Moon plan because you simply can not afford to go as far and as fast with one if you are doing the other at the same time.

All I can say is, buckle up. I have a feeling that in the end, no one will be very happy.

More on the ISS extension here. I think that how much or if at all this affects the return to the Moon depends on whether SpaceX can deliver thus mitigating costs of keeing ISS going another four years.
Is the new Star Trek conservative?
James T. Kirk (Chris Pine standing in for William Shatner) tosses off a line about the folly of diplomacy when dealing with intergalactic vermin.

Of course it was James Doohan's Scotty who suggested that the best diplomat was a fully charged phaser bank.
This analysis of Mike Griffin's term as NASA Administrator is a well balanced, candid document that dispells a lot of the canards put out by the Internet Rockteer Club, while still taking Griffin to task for what it regards as his failures. The main failure appears to be dealing with the opposition. The analysis suggests that Griffin was too blunt ad should have schmoozed them, pretending to listen to their concerns, putting them on advisory committees, but giving them no power tomake any decisions. That might have worked or a while, but knowing the folk in the IRC one suspects tha they would not be satisfied with meaningless seats on bogus advisory committee.

Griffin's main problem, as the report states, is that President Bush and the Congress did not provide the support they had promised to keep the return to the Moon program on track. That is a lesson the current President an Congress needs to learn.
Deadliest Warrior: Mafia Vs. Yakuza
Casting Mafia hit men verses the Yakuza, Japan's version of a criminal syndicate, would seem an odd choice for Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior. But it proved to be an interesting, albeit blood splattered and noisy confrontation.
Obama and Biden Go to Ray's Hell Burger
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden had lunch together this week. That is not unusual. Presidents and Vice Presidents have been lunching on at least a weekly basis for some decades. The difference was the venue.
With the reevaluation of Constellation about to happen, Henry Spencer is already sure what the verdict should be. Mind, he makes the case for scrapping Ares 1 and going with a modified EELV with far more reason than most, escheweing some of the nuttier conspiracy theories being put out by the Internet Rocketeer Club.
NASA studied this option at some length, and decided that Atlas and Delta just weren't good enough. In particular, NASA thought it would be very expensive to modify them to meet NASA's official "human-rating" standard, which specified what a rocket had to do to be safe for launching people.

Even at the time, some of us had doubts about this. It's unlikely that there was any actual rigging of the analysis, but all too often, the devil is not in the details but in the assumptions.

Of course I'd be interested to know who this "us" is. The more I think of it, the more I begin to think tha a second Augustine Commission may be desirable to settle the question, at least for those people who are rational. I hope that the testimony is public so that it can be followed in real time, before the final report is issued to be chewed over.
Terminator: Salvation is not out yet, and already a sequel is being talked about.
McG is already looking ahead to the next chapter in what the studio hopes will be another trilogy. "I strongly suspect the next movie is going to take place in a [pre-Judgment Day] 2011," McG reveals. "John Connor is going to travel back in time and he's going to have to galvanize the militaries of the world for an impending Skynet invasion. They've figured out time travel to the degree where they can send more than one naked entity. So you're going to have hunter killers and transports and harvesters and everything arriving in our time and Connor fighting back with conventional military warfare, which I think is going to be f------ awesome. I also think he's going to meet a scientist that's going to look a lot like present-day Robert Patrick [who famously played the T-1000 in Terminator 2], talking about stem-cell research and how we can all live as idealized, younger versions of ourselves."
Warp dive possible?
Is Obama actually going to try to force Israel to give upher nukes? Not even Jimmy Carter tried that.
Amity Shlaes, author of the must read The Forgotten Man, has discovered incivility on the Internet.
Beam me up, Barry
Looks like the White House plans to trot out Norm Augustine to head up the Constellation evaluation. Augustine has done this sort of thing before, during the Elder Bush's Space Exploration Initiative.

Augustine is a sober, institutional kind of guy who is not likely too propose anything too crazy.
The Kennedy family is preparing itself for Teddy Kennedy's inevitable death, as only it can.
It would seem to be a minor victory for the GOP, but the Republicans haven't had too many of them recently.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Coming soon, the first museum exhibit of necrophilia.
Paul Spudis makes a reasoned argument for a lunar base.
Rand Simberg issues another rant in which he makes personal attacks and utters nonsense.
I think that the Shuttle was a tragic error of historical proportions. But the error wasn’t in the vehicle design per se (though it was a flawed concept as well). The error was in the notion that the government could build a launch system that would serve all of the nation’s space transportation needs.

Good so far. So does Rand propose that NASA try to build, in effect, a lunar version of the STS system?
Now, Constellation isn’t quite as erroneous as that — this time, NASA is only indulging in a conceit that it can build a single launch system for its own needs, and to hell with anyone else’s.

In other words, Rand is proposing that NASA repeat the same mistake it did with the space shuttle, build some kind of system that everyone can use. Not just a national space line, but a national lunar line.
But we cannot have a monoculture. NASA has repeated the mistake of the Shuttle by making its plans and architecture dependent on a single vehicle type (actually, two vehicle types, either of which will shut them down if it fails). There is no resiliency to it, any more than there is currently with the Shuttle.

So is Rand saying that NASA should build two or more vehicles capable of going to the Moon? Not quite.
What I want NASA to do, and would be just as much “NASA’s job” as building an entirely new redundant launch system, is to invest in the technologies and hardware needed to allow us to leave LEO, given that private industry has largely solved (and will continue to improve on solutions for) the LEO problem.

So, leaving aside the quaint notion that private industry has largely "solved" the LEO problem (strange, my trip to the orbiting hotel is not on for next week), what Rand seems to be saying is that NASA should just get out of the exploration business and be a technology hobby house for private industry and that we should wait until private industry deigns to build lunar craft.

At which point we'll have to apply for visas from the Peoples Republic of China, one suspects.

Rand's big problems is that he thinks that the commercial is all. All other considerations, especially national security, are bogus. It would be like campaigning against the Lewis and Clark expedition because it would not build the transcontinental railroad while pushing west.

Shoveling corporate welfare to rocket companies is not the way to incentivize commercial space. Providing core markets (i.e. a lunar base) and being a customer when the service actually exists works better.

Addendum: Rand is really mad now. Leaving aside the personal attacks and the incoherent ravings disguised as policy analysis, I found this interesting:
My point is that private industry can get payloads to LEO, and is not far off (certainly not as far off as NASA is) from getting humans into LEO, given that SpaceX is much further along with Dragon development than NASA is with Ares/Orion. That Mark can’t afford to go is his problem, not private industry’s.

I had thought that the great goal of commercial space was to drive down the cost of getting to LEO. Is Rand saying that just getting payloads into orbit is sufficient? Also, I like SpaceX very well, is actually doing things instead of just talking about it on the Internet. Dragon development is where it is, but it's going to need COTS-D money to start taking people up in the near future. In any event, a lot of the commercial operators are having some of the same cost an technical problems, albeit on a smaller scale, as NASA has. The lesson learned is that space technology development is always harder than is thought. That is true for a nimble entrepreneur as well a bureaucratic space agency. "Rocket science" is not a metaphor for "something difficult" for nothing.

Addendum 2: Now Rand takes his inevitable trip back to the eighth grade by boasting of his own humor and then suggesting that your humble servant is mentally unbalanced. This is what is wrong with space activism, IMHO. If one questions the assumptions of what I call the Internet Rocketeer Club, instead of offering reasoned arguments they go for school yard tactics.

One of the things I have always found off putting is the bottomless rage one witnesses in space discussions. In fact not only the prospect of people returning to the Moon, but private companies becoming real players in space should fill one with wonder and awe. Sure there are problems, both technical and political, but what great human endeavor is free of such?

One of the sad things is that these people don't comprehend how unattractive they look to folks outside the narrow, incestuous culture of space activism. I remember a conversation I had with another writer a few years back and how he described how utterly crazed he thought certain space advocates were. The exception was Elon Musk, whom he interviewed for an article, who came across as calm, reasonable,and yet passionate about what he was doing.
If this report is true and Obama is ordering a new study of the Ares rocket, then the only thing I can say to my friends in the Internet Rocketeer Club is careful what you wish for. The idea of the administration that inflicted upon us the stimulus bill, among other things, now doing rocket engineering should fill everyone with dread. At the very least it will cause months of delays. At worst, it will open up the return to the Moon to the political process to such an extent that we might have to start learning Mandarin if we ever want to see the lunar surface.

Addendum: A source emails me that this may jut be a way to put the argument to rest once and for all. If so, good luck on that. My observation is that the people arguing for other architectures are not very swayed by reason or evidence.
Michael Savage Banned from Britain
Radio talk show host Michael Savage has been included in a list of sixteen people with the dubious distinction of having been banned from Britain for what is termed "extremist views" and "fomenting hatred.".
USS Freedom Joins the Fleet
USS Freedom, LCS-1 is the newest ship in the United States Navy and the most high tech for her size ever built. LCS stands for "Littoral Combat Ship." USS Freedom's primary mission is to deal with "asymmetrical threats", such as Somali pirates and terrorists.
Dom DeLuise is Making God Laugh Now
Actor, comedian, and chef Dom DeLuise died in his sleep Monday night at the age of 75. Dom DeLuise is best known for his roles in comedy films, especially many directed by Mel Brooks. Yet his first film role was in Fail Safe as an Air Force Sergeant.
Cinco De Mayo Battle of Puebla

Monday, May 04, 2009

In one of his periodic rants against NASA's approach to returning to the Moon, Rand Simberg states something that is just incredible:
In my mind, what Constellation should be is the development of an infrastructure that allows us to go anywhere we want in the inner (if not outer) solar system, and then let the national priorities determine what we’ll do with it once it’s in place.

This statement is fantastic because Rand seems to expect that a government agency is going to do this. The problem is that it is not NASA's job nor is the space agency institutionally capable of building and operating transportation systems in the manner he seems to want. Nor should we want NASA to do this. It would be sort of like asking the Department of Transportation system to build a national, high speed rail system.

NASA has proven that it is pretty good at exploring space, which is what Constellation is all about. Mind, a lunar base (and Rand is quite wrong again; Ares V could deliver inflatable habitats to the lunar surface to create a small, lunar base) can be he destination of a lunar COTS program that could grow into a commercial space transportation system.

Of course, the reader will remember, the Obama administration seems to be backing away from a lunar base. My only response is that I am not responsible for folly coming out of the current White House.
J. J. Abrams Begins a New Star Trek
If the buzz reflects reality, J.J. Abrams, who is already famous for such hit TV series as Alias and Lost, as well as the third Mission Impossible Movie, is about the pull of the impossible. J.J. Abrams is about to make a 40 year old TV series new again.
Thomas Lauria: Whte House Treatened Bank with Press Corps
ABC's Jake Tapper is reporting that Thomas Lauria, a lawyer and Global Practice Head of the Financial Restructuring and Insolvency Group at White & Case, is accusing the Obama administration of strong arm tactics against opponents of the Chrysler bankruptcy.
Apparently Obama's NASA budget will not shorten the space flight gap.
Arlen Specter is certainly at home with the Democrats when it comes to demagoguery
Specter told Face the Nation that had the GOP listened to him and spent billions more dollars in the “war on cancer,” Jack Kemp would still be alive.

The only problem is that the GOP was quite lavish in spending on medical research.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Apparently NASA managers have two shuttle extension plans, one through 2012 and the othe through 2015. Both require new money.
Jack Kemp: A "Bleeding Heart Conservative" Passes On
Jack Kemp will be remembered for two things. The first is for being the driving legislative force for the 1980s tax cut that broke the back of stagflation. The second is for recognizing that conservative principles could address problems such as poverty.
Bernard Whitman makes a good,well reasoned case for same sex marriage.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Jack Kemp RIP
X Men Origins: Wolverine - a Review
X Men Origins: Wolverine is supposed to tell the story of Logan aka Wolverine and how he got to be the fun loving, amnesiac, feral guy with the retractable adamantine claws. What the film viewer gets is a lot of sound and fury signifying not much.
Keith Cowing is reporting that there will in fact be no studies conducted by Lori Garver and Pete Worden. That would mean that the Obama administration has pretty much decided what it intends to do.

Friday, May 01, 2009

FDA Recalls Hydroxycut
The Food and Drug Administration has ordered a recall of Hydroxycut products, sold in various forms as an herbal based weight loss supplement, because it has been shown to cause jaundice and liver failure in certain people.
Jon Stewart apologized for calling Harry Truman a war criminal. Jon Stewart is still an ignoramus.
David Souter to Retire from Supreme Court
President Barack Obama is about to get his first Supreme Court appointment. Oddly enough it is the result not of the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens (89) or Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (76) but of the relatively spry Justice David Souter (69).

There's a bear in the woods. Fortunately there is also someone else.