Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Obama space policy train wreck threatens to run over Charles Bolden, who is perhaps just is the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
RIP Robert McCall.
Walt Cunningham is displeased with the Constellation cancellation.
Jim Gerghaty asks about the Obama space policy jobs saved, created, or destroyed?

The latter, at least for now.

Meanwhile, a jobs rally in Titusville.

A bunch of layabout bureaucrats demanding their phony baloney jobs on the backs of the taxpayers? Or space visionaries just wanting a chance to open up the high frontier, while feeding their families and paying the mortgage?

You make the call.
The first British tea party was a big success with standing room only.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Clark Lindsey compares the effort to end Constellation to last year's successful effort to end production of the F 22. Clark forgets several differences.

First, there will be a number of F 22s in the Air Force inventory, just not as many as most analysts think are needed.

Second, the Administration could point to the F 35 as an alternative. There is no alternative (yet) being proposed for Constellation.

Third, Obama was at the height of his power and popularity last year. This year he is in the low 40s in most polls and sinking.

Besides, I wonder if a future administration will revive the F 22 just as Reagan did the Carter cancelled B 1 bomber.
Paul Spudis, always to be counted on for a fresh perspective on things, assails what he called talismanic thinking, which is to say easy, technological fixes that will make space travel incredibly easy. He directs special attention to VASIMR.
This piece in the Orlando Sentinel suggests that there is an aerospace industry cabal, led by ATK, campaign to smear NASA officials, especially Lori Garver. The article offers no proof or even any alleged examples. One cannot but wonder if this is a tactic by the pro Obama space policy folks to try to blunt the opposition to the Constellation cancellation. If you are for actual space exploration, you must be sexist, so the narrative goes.
Eric Cartman Caught Gun Running; 'South Park' Creators React
The new season of 'South Park' has not aired yet and already Eric Cartman is again up to no good. It seems that some mercenaries working for Blackwater diverted some weapons meant for the Afghan security forces and sold them to a drug gang.
Miles O'Brien's reaction to the reaction to the Obama space policy is choice:

The creators of South Park react to the news, among other things, that Cartman has been into a spot of gun running.
Columbia Pictures Sued for '2012' Copyright Infringement
Roland Emmerich, the German born film director of '2012', demurred from depicting the destruction of Islamic sites for the obvious fear of having a fatwa issued against his life. Now it seems he should have thought twice about Christian sites as well.
One might actually wonder if, at least in the short run, canceling Constellation would be as expensive, if not more than continuing it.
"Zombies" have free--er--speech rights.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The left wing version of the Tea Party movement is apparently the Coffee Party. Shouldn't it be the "Coffee Clatch?"
Burt Rutan responds to Buzz Aldrin:
This new NASA plan will not have good optics for Americans over the next decade or two as the exploration (i.e. above low earth orbit) activity will be done by our adversaries while we look on and rerun the old films of Apollo. Buzz will continue to be our hero, but our youth may yearn to move to where the action is.

We went to Cafe Pita for the best Bosnian food in the State of Texas.

Here's more courtesy of Guy Fieri

House Ethics Committee: Rangel Violated Rules
The House Ethics Committee has concluded that Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel accepted trips to the Caribbean paid for by corporations who were lobbying Congress for special favors; a big, ethical violation.
NASA's Bolden Before the House Science Committee
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden received more flack at a hearing of the House Science and Technology Committee. Only one Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, had good things to say about the Obama space plan.
Health Care Reform Summit Gives Advantage to Republicans
The health care reform summit that took place at Blair House yesterday was supposed to show up the Republicans as a bunch of obstructionist nay sayers and to clear the way to ram through health care reform with reconciliation.
'Burn Notice' Season 3 Episode 15 'Good Intentions'
'Burn Notice' Season 3 Episode 15 'Good Intentions' begins with Michael's latest adventure with Mason Gilroy, which involves the acquisition of a 50-caliber machine gun from a gang of white supremacists.
Tea Party Movement Spreads to Great Britain
The Tea Party Movement, so well begun when Rick Santelli uttered the "rant heard 'round the world," which has become such a political force in the United States, has spread to Great Britain. The first British Tea Party will take place in Brighton on Saturday.
Burt Rutan corrects the Wall Street Journal Story.
My basic concern is that the real value of NASA's contributions that
America realized in the 60s and early 70s is now being completely
discarded. How can we rationalize a surrender of our preeminence in
human spaceflight? In my mind, the important NASA accomplishments are
twofold: 1) The technical breakthroughs achieved by basic research (not
by Development programs like Constellation) and 2) The Forefront Manned
Exploration that provided the inspiration for our youth to plan careers
in engineering/science and that established the U.S. as the world leader
in technology.

In short, it is a good idea indeed for the commercial community to
compete to re-supply the ISS and to bring about space access for the
public to enjoy. I applaud the efforts of SpaceX, Virgin and Orbital in
that regard and feel these activities should have been done at least two
decades ago. However, I do not see the commercial companies taking
Americans to Mars or to the moons of Saturn within my lifetime and I
doubt if they will take the true Research risks (technical and
financial) to fly new concepts that have low confidence of return on
investment. Even NASA, regarded as our prime Research agency has not
recently shown a willingness to fly true Research concepts.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Looks like Holdren got a horse whipping by the House appropriators.
Mile O'Brien doesn't think there is anything wrong with the Obama space plan that a little spin won't fix. I don't think he helped matters with this:
Constellation was touted as “Apollo on Steroids” but really it was a ninety-pound weakling – an uninspired attempt to bring back the magic. NASA was acting like the middle aged high school football hero who spends too much time in the local saloon telling tales of the glory days when he led his team to the state championships.

But the country has grown up and moved on – and it is time for NASA to get off the bar stool and do the same.

Breath taking in its nastiness and bile.
What if the Chinese landed on the Moon before we did? The world is divided into "They can't", "Don't care", and "It would be a big deal."

I think Chris Berman is in the third category.

Killer Whale Drags Trainer to Her Death at Sea World, Orlando
In full view of a group of horrified visitors, a killer whale at the Sea World park in Orlando, Fla., grabbed its trainer and dragged her into the pool and thrashed her to death under the water. It was the third death the animal was involved in.
NASA's Bolden Defends Space Policy Before Senate Panel
NASA administrator Charles Bolden attempted to defend the new Obama space policy before a hearing of the Science and Space Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
Homer Hickam has some suggestions for Charlie Bolden.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On to Mars--again?
Burt Rutan, of all people, hates the Obama space plan.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden's first hearing before Congress since the Obama space policy was interesting. At one point, Bolden actually started crying at the thought of the jobs that are about to evaporate.

There seems to be a not so subtle shift in the way NASA is approaching the space policy, away from an amorphous technology development program to something that will--some day--lead to people actually going somewhere. The bad news is that it's Mars, with perhaps a brief stop on the Moon, sometime in twenty five years.

The Moon was too hard and "unsustainable." But Mars, on the other hand...

The mind boggles.

In the meantime Senator Vitter had some pointed questions to ask about the nominal Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. This in turn has caused Keith Cowing to erupt like Vesuvius.
This is not new: there is a small subculture of space policy wannabes out there who seem to be convinced that Lori Garver has sold her soul in the pursuit of some sort of plan to destroy human space flight and replace it with ... well, they do not agree on that part. The silly thing about all of this is the illogic of someone like Lori ever being inclined to want to "kill" human spaceflight. Quite the contrary.

Let me say this. I have known Lori for more than 20 years. If you have read NASA Watch you will know that in the past I have not hesitated to criticize her when I saw fit. But let me tell you, for anyone with a shred of knowledge about Lori and her background to suggest that she is against human space travel - of any kind is ludicrous. Not only did she head the National Space Society, an organization devoted to human space flight, but she spent 6 months of her life training to get a seat on a Soyuz flight as "AstroMom" and even had surgery to meet the medical qualifications. It just doesn't compute.

Keith is, as he often does, missing the point. It is not that Lori Garver likes space travel less, but rather that she likes Lori Garver more. That means that if her political masters want space exploration killed, then she will happily help put it in the grave. Her flip flop concerning the Bush Vision for Space Exploration, being for it before she was against it (after going to work for John Kerry) illustrates this.

The rumors that Lori Garver is the real head of NASA, with Bolden just serving as front guy, while unproven are nevertheless so rampant that one begins to suspect that where there is smoke there is fire. She is a Democratic loyalist and can be counted on to not go off the reservation. An effective head of NASA would be an advocate for his or her agency and for space exploration in general. Garver will do the bidding of the administration no matter what it is.

Keith also did not serve Garver well by bringing up the "AstroMom" episode, which consisted of Garver trying to get a ride to ISS with a donation subscription. Why one would want to give money so that someone else could get a joy ride into space was never adequately explained. It demonstrated a sense of entitlement that was very breathtaking to behold.
Obama Missile Defense Agency Logo Causes Consternation
The new logo for the Missile Defense Agency is causing a little bit of a buzz on the Internet. It seems to some that the new logo incorporates a feature of the
Obama for President 2008 logo with an Islamic looking crescent.
Mosab Hassan Yousef, Son of Hamas, Spy for Israel
The exploits of Israel's intelligence services are considered legendary. Now it seems that Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, scored an astonishing coup by turning the son of the leader of Hamas, Mosab Hassan Yousef.
Obama Already Planning Campaign 2012
With a persistent economic crisis, a grinding fight over health care reform, a War on Terror, and a looming political tsunami facing Congressional Democrats in November, the Obama administration is gearing up for Campaign 2012.
What if the Chinese land on an asteroid?
'Generation Zero' a Film on the Roots of the Current Economic Crisis
'Generation Zero' is a documentary film that attempts to describe the roots of the financial meltdown that occurred in September 2008 and the resulting economic crisis that persists to this day.
'Lost' Season 6 Episode 5 'Lighthouse'
'Lost' Season 6 Episode 5 'Lighthouse' continues with the device of parallel time tracks, this time focusing on Dr. Jack Shepherd, with a subplot dealing with Jin and someone (or something) that looks like but doesn't act like Claire.
18 Upcoming TV Shows That Could Save Small-Screen Scifi

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Paul Spudis celebrates his friend and lunar visionary Klaus Heiss.
Danny Williams: 'It's My Health, It's My Choice'
Danny Williams, the Newfoundland premier who stirred controversy by going to the United States for heart surgery instead of taking advantage of Canada's government health care system, was defiant about his decision.
16 Sci Fi Episodes from your favorite sitcoms.
Charlie Bolden denies that he is trying to shut down Constellation prematurely.
Harry Reid: Unemployment Leads to Wife Beating
Speaking on the Senate floor in defense of the $15 billion jobs bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had a rather unique point about why the bill needed to be passed. It seems that joblessness among men leads to domestic abuse.
Joran Van Der Sloot 'Confession'
A so-called "confession" by Joran van der Sloot, the Dutch man who is suspected of being involved in the disappearance and likely death of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, has come to light, leading to a renewal of the investigation.
NASA has started to reveal what sort of technology for deep space exploration it plans to develop, though not use, under the Obama plan.
NASA will lead the development of a powerful new rocket engine powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants. The engine could be utilized on future heavy-lift rockets or on the first stage of a new launch vehicle, according to NASA.

"A strong candidate would be a hydrocarbon (liquid oxygen/kerosene) engine, capable of generating high levels of thrust approximately equal to or exceeding the performance of the Russian-built RD-180 engine," the NASA budget estimate said. "Other key target characteristics for this new capability include improvements in overall engine robustness and efficiency, health monitoring, affordability, and operability."

The RD-180 engine, which propels the first stage of the Atlas 5 rocket, packs more than 860,000 pounds of sea level thrust at full power.

NASA says the new hydrocarbon engine should be fully operational by the end of this decade, or even sooner if the agency receives help from the Department of Defense.

Sounds awfully life a "Saturn V" first stage "on steroids."

More on this anon.

Addendum: Space Exploration Technology Program Details Revealed
NASA has released a series of budget documents that details the technology development program that it intends to replace the Constellation space exploration program. The technology program does not support a specific exploration mission.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The tea party movement has spread to Europe where it is very much needed.
Against President Obama's Health Care Reform Proposal
The President's health care reform program is onerous not only for what it does, but what it does not do. The new innovation, that of a government bureaucracy that will regulate premium prices, may prove to be the most disastrous.
Charlie Cook Predicts Republican House Takeover
In a wide ranging interview in the National Journal, respected political prognosticator Charlie Cook made the startling prediction that the Republican Party is "on a trajectory" to taking over the House of Representatives.
ACORN Shutting Down
With funding drying up from both government and private foundation sources, offices of ACORN are shuttering across the country. But some suggest that this is only a rebranding scheme and that ACORN will be back under another name.
John Mankins, who seems to like the Obama space plan, has identified Future space capabilities for an ambitious civil space program as part of a technology development program. Stephan Metschan believes he has A Better Plan than either Constellation or the Obama plan (i.e. Direct.) Taylor Dinerman muses on Space policy versus space politics: lessons for the future.

By the way, Taylor Dinerman's comparison of Mike Griffin to Hyman Rickover, though apt, is going to make some people very angry.

Finally, Jeff Foust takes a look at Blue Origin.
The Dallas Tea Party has some fun at the expense of Keith Olbermann and the lily white MSNBC lineup:
Obama Unveils His Health Care Reform Bill
President Obama has uploaded the White House version of health care reform. At a first glance it combines most of the worse provisions of the House and Senate bills and adds what is, in effect, government control of insurance premiums.
Will the Bloom Box Become a Power Plant in Every Back Yard?
"60 Minutes" featured the latest possible transformative energy producing technology. The device is a new type of fuel cell called the Bloom Box, a product of a startup company called Bloom Energy, run by K.R. Sridhar.
Senator Barbara Mikulski is clearly looking at the proposed Obama space policy much like she would a stink bomb set off by some juvenile delinquents. She is searching for ways to clean up the mess and somehow save space exploration and President Obama from himself.

Ironically Miluski helped to kill a space exploration program in the early 1990s. Will she now help to save it in 2010?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Israeli Air Force has a fleet of drones capable of striking Iran.
Will Obama Really Commercialize Space?
Part of the Obama space policy that even some of the critics like is the commercialization of space flight. The idea is that NASA would buy seats on commercial space taxis that would take astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Glenn Beck CPAC Speech Brings Them to Their Feet
In an event that featured plenty of entertaining speakers, the CPAC convention had, as its climax, an hour long speech by Glenn Beck, the radio and television personality who is as close as the "mad prophet of the airways" as any living man could be.
Organized labor is mad as hell at the Obama cancellation of Constellation. They seem to be angry that launch services are being privatized to companies that are not, strictly speaking, union shops.

I wonder what would happen if the Obama administration decided to force the New Space companies to unionize, as a sop to the labor unions, as a condition of getting launcg contracts. It would be just the sort of thing the Obama administration would do.

One suspects one would hear a change of tune from the Internet Rocketeer Club.
Homer Hickam denounces the Obama space policy at Embry-Riddle University.
These sudden new policies, then, are like a dagger aimed at the heart of the great American asset that is NASA. Yet, almost casually, the White House, with its willing accomplices at NASA Headquarters, are proposing to dismantle its human spaceflight component with a promise that, maybe in a few months, it will have something else for our engineers and technicians to do. Or maybe not. No one knows. My dad was a coal mine superintendent. This is as if he decided to tell his people that they weren't going to be miners any more but not to worry, he might figure out something else for them to do at a later time. If he'd have done that, his miners would have thrown him down the nearest mine shaft. Of course, Dad would have never done that. He was a good manager and he always looked out for his people, something NASA Headquarters or the White House apparently doesn't believe is important.

The problem is that the Obama people have never run anything before getting the Presidency. Naturally they have no clue how to be managers.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

This Week in Space

RIP Alexander Haig, Soldier and Statesman
Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, soldier, statesman, and adviser to three Presidents, has died at the age of 85 of complications of an infection. Though he aspired to the Presidency, Alexander Haig never served in elected office.
Will the next human expedition to the Moon be a private venture? Or perhaps a private/NASA partnership? The latter has some interesting possibilities. The problem is, the decision has to be made to go, with a time table and a deadline. So far there seems to be a strange reluctance to make that decision and then put resources into it.

Addendum More on a Public/Private Return to the Moon
The Economist has a story upon the lofty theme of how Americans can still get to the Moon before the Chinese even if President Obama succeeds in canceling the Constellation return to the Moon program.
President Obama has been compared to Spock by many, sometimes in a not so nice way. Now it looks like rapper Skylar Gordy, who apparently attacked Mitt Romney on an airline flight, thinks Romney is a Vulcan too.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sen. Frank Lautenberg Diagnosed with Lymphoma of the Stomach
New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg has been diagnosed with lymphoma of the stomach, which is apparently very treatable. Still, as Sen. Lautenberg is 86, any cancer is a serious matter and he will be absent from the Senate during treatments.
Glenn Reynolds reminds us that it has been a year since Rick Santelli's "rant heard round the world" that sparked the tea party movement.
'Family Guy' Actress, Andrea Friedman, Shoots Back at Sarah Palin
The latest shot fired in the 'Family Guy' Sarah Palin Down syndrome feud came from the actress who voiced the Down syndrome character in the episode in question. Andrea Friedman, who herself has Down syndrome, is upset.
Tom James describes a visit a local Congressman made to his place of work and was astonished at the reaction of some of his co-workers.
Then the Congressman took questions. Here again, I was a disappointed by my coworkers and their attitude of entitlement when it comes to the program. Most of the questions were about what we might do to help save our jobs by persuading Congressmen to preserve the Constellation program as-is, unchanged. This focus on job security is understandable among people who might in a few months be looking for new employment in a crappy job market, but it seems awfully short-sighted in that it ignores the potential for the new policy (if actually implemented and not just happy-talk from the Obama administration) to create a much bigger industry (and thus more job opportunities) than we currently have in manned space.

And there is part of the problem. The Obama plan may or may not work as advertised (I think that it won't), but in the meantime the mortgage has to be paid this month. I would tend to suggests that the feeling is less that of entitlement than that of being perturbed that jobs are at risk solely on the basis of political whim. One can have commercialization and space exploration too. But the sad fact of the matter is that the Obama plan cancels space exploration and thus, in the minds of many, links that cancellation to the space commercialization initiative. That is unfortunate, because that means it might not survive the Congressional sausage machine.
Tiger Woods Public Statement Apologizes to Everybody
Tiger Woods, the famous golfer and philanderer, issued his first public statement since the incident in the driveway. Tiger Woods essentially apologized to the entire universe for his sexual misbehavior.
'Burn Notice' Season 3 Episode 14 'Partners in Crime'
'Burn Notice' Season 3 Episode 4 'Partners in Crime' starts with Fi complaining to Michael that most gentlemen will take a girl out to the theater, or dinner, or shopping at farmers market. But here they are on a boring stakeout.
Elton John: Jesus was Gay
Elton John, the openly gay musician, has caused a little controversy in an interview with Parade Magazine. Elton John a man who has much use for religion, not liking the whole tenet against homosexuality thing.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Austin Plane Crash by Man with IRS Tax Problems
A man named Joseph Allen Stack has stolen a small plane and has flown it into an office building containing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. Earlier Stack apparently set fire to his own house with his wife and step daughter inside.
Kennedy Supporters Try to Stop Miniseries
Joel Surnow, the creator of the hit TV series '24' and a rare Hollywood conservative, is developing a Kennedy family miniseries for the History Channel. A group of Kennedy acolytes, led by Kennedy advisor Ted Sorenson, are aghast.
Yvo De Boer, UN Climate Chief, Resigns
Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has resigned his post to take up a job at KPMG, a consulting group, as an adviser on climate and sustainability.
CafePress: 'Miss Me Yet' Bush Paraphenalia Sales Spike
The New York Daily News is reporting that CafePress is noting that sales of items with the image of former President George W. Bush and the caption "Miss Me Yet?" have started to spike, while sales of those touting President Obama have collapsed.
FInal Orbit is a thriller about some lottery winners who take a jaunt to the International Space Station--and then kind of wish they hadn't.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

NASA to 'Reach Out' to Muslim Countries
A recent story in the Orlando Sentinel suggests that the Obama administration intends NASA to become as much a tool of international diplomacy as it is an agency that furthers science, commerce, and the national security needs of the US.
Bill Clinton Plotting Assault on Tea Party Movement?
Big Government is reporting that Bill Clinton is putting together a coordinated assault on the Tea Party movement. If the report is true, then it suggests that the Left considers the Tea Partiers and what they represent an existential threat.
Rob Coppinger suggests that the Obama space budget has thrown NASA into chaos.
Two takeaways from the Barbara Mikulski's plans for NASA funding. First, there seems to be a coming together of the authorizors and appropriators, traditionally at odds, in the Congress over space policy. Second, Mikulski definitely intends a little push back against the Obama space policy. "Safety" has become a code word for skepticism of the commercial space policy. "Destination" suggests Mikulski is going to demand the we have a space exploration program that goes somewhere.
John Mellencamp for US Senate?
The chaos in Indiana surrounding the sudden and unexpected retirement of Sen. Evan Bayh has Democrats casting around for a candidate for the November election. Some have rallied around the idea of singer John Mellencamp for Senate.
'The Mount Vernon Statement' Signed by Conservative Activists
A group of conservative leaders and activists have gathered at Collingwood Library and Museum, which is on the Mount Vernon estate of President George Washington, to sign a document called the Mount Vernon Statement.
'Lost' Season 6 Episode 4 'The Substitute'
'Lost' Season 6 Episode 4 'The Substitute' continues the use of the two parallel universe story lines. The island is destroyed timeline tells what happens to John Locke after his return to LA. The other timeline concerns the creature that looks like John Locke.
John Holdren, Obama's Science Czar, and Charles Bolden, the NASA administrator strike back at Charles Krauthammer's assault on the Obama space plan. I give them a B + for defending the commercial space aspect and a D - for defending the cancellation of the space exploration part.
Despite valiant efforts by NASA and its contractors, President George W. Bush's Constellation program would not have been able to send astronauts to the international space station until two years after the station had crashed into the ocean.

Without a doubt true, under the old plan. But then the letter contains this whopper:
As for returning to the moon, the last administration's target of doing so by 2020 was by now unachievable under any budget.

Under any budget? I find that hard to believe. In any case the new plan doesn't contemplate going anywhere until the mid 2030s.

The big lie in the letter is that the only choices available was continuing with the "program of record" with the exact, projected flat budgets or the new plan. But Augustine suggested a variety of options concerning exploration, none of which were even contemplated. Also there was always the option of simply paying for the program of record. But it seems that the Obama administration does not want to do space exploration at any price.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Actor, Director Kevin Smith Caught 'Flying While Fat'
Actor and director Kevin Smith was recently given the royal order of the boot from a Southwest Airlines flight from Oakland to Burbank for violating the airline's "customer of size" policy. That is to say, Kevin Smith was caught flying while fat.
Cedar Falls, RI School Superintendent Fires Entire Staff of High School
A school superintendent in Cedar Falls, R.I., has taken the unusual step of firing the entire staff of a local high school that has a 50 percent graduation rate. The fault appears to lay with a recalcitrant teachers' union.
'Family Guy' Mocks Trig, Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin would have been forgiven for being very angry with Seth MacFarlane for mocking her son Trig, a baby with Down syndrome, in the latest episode of 'Family Guy.' The Palin family has decided to react more in sorrow than anger.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban Military Chief, Captured in Pakistan
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the military commander of the Taliban, has been captured in a joint raid conducted by the CIA and Pakistani Intelligence. The implications of this capture for the War on Terror cannot be overstated.

Monday, February 15, 2010

One of the things that has astonished me about some of the defenders of Obama's cancellation of Constellation is how unbearably snotty they can be. a case in point:

I mean no disrespect - but - I am tired of listening to Dr. Spudis, Dr. Griffin and all of the other, whiney, Baby Boomer, Cold Warrior, Manifest Destiny driven individuals who are still trying to live out their 1950's childhood dreams - at taxpayer expense.

The screed that follows is breath taking in its eighth grade insolence as well as its estrangement from objective reality. But it illustrates the mounting desperation, in my opinion, of the people who actually think that the direction President Obama would take our national space effort leads to any place worth going.
Mai's in Houston Burns
Mai's, one of the oldest Vietnamese restaurants in Houston, caught fire Monday morning. There is extensive damage on the second floor, the roof has partially collapsed, and there is smoke and water damage on the first, dining room floor.
Kenneth Starr to Be Named President of Baylor University
Kenneth Starr, the former Independent Counsel whose investigation led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, will be named President of Baylor University, according to KWTX News in Waco. Ken Starr is currently Dean of Pepperdine University.
Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh to Retire
The latest Congressional Democrat to retire, possibly to avoid the humiliation of an election defeat in November, is Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana. Former senator from Indiana Dan Coats had already announced a bid to unseat Sen. Bayh.
John Brennan: 20 Percent Terrorist Recidivism Rate 'Not Bad'
Recently Barack OBama's Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan caused a firestorm when, in an oped piece in USA Today, he charged that critics of Obama's terrorism policy were only aiding and abetting Al Qaeda.
Houston Congressman Pete Olson and the fight to save Constellation
Jeff Foust reports from the FAA’s annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Commercial space takes center stage. Dwayne Day is still pretty sure China is not going to the Moon. Taylor Dinerman asks Will NASA’s embrace kill NewSpace?
If the Moon program could be described as belonging to the 20th century, the NewSpace industry is beginning to look as if they belong to the 18th century. Like French courtiers wandering the halls of Versailles looking for a favor from the King, individuals who used to be regarded as brave entrepreneurs will now haunt the corridors of power looking for a subsidy or an earmark. They will prove their technical expertise by writing proposals that are perfectly adapted to the prevailing bureaucratic winds. It may be good business, but it does not have much to do with 21st century market capitalism.

Oh, my. In Asia it is called crony capitalism.

Finally, Dwayne Day reports that Richard C. Hoagland knows the real reason behind Obama's space policy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Phil Jones - Global Warming Science Not Settled After All
Professor Phil Jones, a global warming advocate whose observations has fueled world-wide efforts to curb carbon emissions, has made a number of startling admissions that will surely undermine the entire issue of climate change.
It looks like that Margaret Thatcher, besides dealing with Marxist trade unions, Argentine dictators, and the Soviet Union also had to deal with Dr. Who.
Palestinians Dressed as Avatar Na'vi Protest Israel
Proving that popular culture can cause strange twists and turns in the real world, a group of Palestinian protestors near the town of Bilin donned loin cloths, long, dark haired wigs, and painted themselves blue to look like Na'vi from Avatar.
Congress, NASA Clash on Constellation Cancelation
NASA, in response to President Obama's proposal to cancel the Constellation space exploration program, may be moving to wind down Constellation related work and cancel some contracts. NASA may be in violation of federal law by doing so.
Amy Bishop University of Alabama at Huntsville Shooting Case Gets Curiouser and Curiouser
The case of the biology Professor Amy Bishop, who allegedly fatally shot three of her colleagues and wounded three more at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, has started to get curiouser and curiouser, as the saying goes.
Paul Spudis discusses Confusing Means and the Ends of space exploration.
The new policy indicates a lack of understanding of the difference between “means” and “ends” within both NASA and the current administration. When they cancelled Project Constellation, the Vision was terminated as well. And what was put in its place?


Indeed, while we stipulate that Paul Spudis did not like the Constellation architecture, he liked its direction. His assessment of the new policy is devestating:
Currently, the proposed budget casts aside this hard-won, bipartisan policy and puts nothing in its place. This new policy is striking in that, rather than serving America’s national security, economic and scientific interests, it undermines them. The “new path” was apparently put together by a very small group of people, without significant debate or input from outside sources. Whatever the circumstances of its genesis, it is poorly conceived; if it were well considered, we would know exactly where we were going, what we would do there, and what benefits would accrue from these voyages. The idea expressed by some in the blogosphere, that we will now be able to “go everywhere and do everything” is ludicrously na├»ve. Given the past performance of this agency (or any agency) given no direction, random motion is a much more likely outcome, at $20 billion per year.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

John Coby, a liberal Texas blogger, is pretty sure that the fault for Obama's attempt to cancel Constellation lays with the tea party movement.
Obama's Space Plan - a Conservative Argument
The Obama space proposal, which seeks to enable a commercial space industry for transportation to and from low Earth orbit while it cancels space exploration beyond LEO, has sparked a kind of civil war among conservatives.
Battle of Marjah, Afghanistan Begins
The first major battle of the Afghan surge has commenced. Thousands of American, NATO, and Afghan troops are fighting to eradicate the Taliban in the southern town of Marjah, in the lush Helmand river valley.
Coming soon, the Romans invade Scotland and then kind of wish they hadn't...
Is America going the way of Rome? Only if we choose to.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Newt Gingrich and Bob Walker concentrate their defense of the Obama space policy on the commercial launch part of it. However they pass over entirely the other part, the cancellation of the return to the Moon program. Indeed they make a claim about the Obama commercial space policy that is simply not true:
But the ambition of the NASA leadership is much larger. Getting the agency out of the low-earth-orbit launch business frees up budget to do other exciting and valuable things. It permits development work to start in earnest on a heavy-lift launch vehicle capable of solar-system exploration. It enables expansion of the aeronautics budget, particularly in helping develop the next-generation air-traffic-control system, a technological goal that will pay huge dividends to the United States. It will permit new investments in robotic space missions and Earth science missions. In essence, the new spending plan takes NASA back to its roots of advanced technology development, experimentation and exploration.

Certainly that is what commercializing Earth to LEO transportation should do. But the Obama policy does none of those things. It locks America in low Earth orbit for decades to come.

Addendum: Rand Simberg demonstrates a kind of cluelessness when it comes to the politics of this.
If George Bush had come out with this policy, most conservatives (or at least Republicans) would have praised it. Had Barack Obama come up with the VSE and Constellation, he would have been hailed by many (though certainly not all) of the left as JFK redux, and many conservatives would have hated it. I wish that people would actually examine the issue on the merits.

Actually the vast majority of conservatives would support the commercial space part of the Obama proposal if it were not coupled with a retreat from the high frontier. My fear is that commercial space has been poisoned in many minds because of that and will suffer when Congress inevitably sets to work on trying to revive a space exploration effort.

And the left no more likes JFK's space program than they do JFK's tax cuts.
NASA and the Obama administration seems to be breaking the law in its eagerness to close down Constellation.
Taylor Dinerman plays with political nukes by making The Case Against Private Space.

Entrepreneurial companies have consistently overpromised and under-delivered. Over the past 30 years, over a dozen start-ups have tried to break into the launch business. The only one to make the transition into a respectably sized space company is Orbital Sciences of Dulles, Va. Building vehicles capable of going into orbit is not for the fainthearted or the undercapitalized.

I disagree with the overall premise. For one thing he passes over commercial space's more recent successes. But Dinerman's points do contain a certain reality check for those who think that some scrappy entrepreneur is going to get people on Mars next week.

More ominously, these kind of arguments may be used to sink the Obama commercial space policy. I think that some of the new space folks have made a terrible political blunder by linking commercial space with the cancellation of the return to the Moon program.

Also I feel for Dinerman for the abuse he is about to get. And the gentle reader thinks that Charles Krauthammer was name called.

Meanwhile Peter Diamandis makes The Case for Private Space. His arguments are familiar to most people who follow the issue and I agree with most. But I think Diamandis tends to oversell the Obama space policy. The only commercial component that gets any significant finding in it is Earth to LEO transportation. That's a crucial sector, but it is a long way from mining asteroids or settling the Moon. And the crack about the average age of NASA engineers was a bit snarky. The reason for that stems from a Clinton era hiring freeze. That average age will drop as a lot of shuttle era workers start to retire.
Jay Rockefeller on Obama: "And He's Beginning to Not Be Believable to Me.
Jay Rockefeller, junior senator from West Virginia due to the fact that the senior senator, Robert Byrd, is older than dirt, has begun to express doubts about President Obama's veracity. The subject appears to be clean coal.
Houston, Huntsville Community Leaders Organize to Oppose Constellation Cancellation
Local politicians and business leaders in at least two cities that depend on aerospace for employment and economic activity are uniting to oppose President Obama's attempt to cancel the Constellation space exploration program.
Airborne Laser Shoots Down Missile
In a history making test, an airborne laser successfully shot down a missile in flight. The successful test was somewhat bittersweet because the Obama administration has decided to keep the program as an R&D effort, not deploying it.
Richard Mains said that we're stuck in low Earth orbit but that's OK because going to the Moon is just too hard.
'Burn Notice' Season 3, Episode 12, 'Enemies Closer'
In 'Burn Notice' Season 3, Episode 12, 'Enemies Closer' Michael has not one but two psychopaths to deal with. One is Mason Gilroy, the man whose organization he is trying to penetrate. The other is an old friend from his past.
Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island to Retire
Patrick Kennedy, congressman from Rhode Island and the son of the late Sen. Teddy Kennedy, has decided to retire from public life after his current term in office. Patrick Kennedy seems to be keen to avoid the humiliation of defeat.
Jeff Foust reports on Lori Garver's speech before the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Crystal City, Virginia. One wonders if she really believes adult human beings will believe what she said.
After her speech she said that she was not surprised by the strong and often strongly negative, reaction to the agency’s new direction. “I think we fully expected that any change of this magnitude was going to have people concerned. The status quo is tough to move,” she said. She added that the agency was ready to provide more information about the plan during Congressional hearings planned for late this month. “We have a lot of details and we look forward to discussing them.”

My suspicion is that the administration is making up the details as they go along. In any case, the problem with the policy is not process or presentation. The problem is the policy because it turns away from real space exploration for decades.
Charles Krauthammer on the closing of the next frontier.

I should also note the increasing hysteria being demonstrated by Obama plan sycophants. Both Rand Simberg and Keith Cowing respond to Krauthammer's reasoned arguments with snark, insults, and a deliberate misreading of what Krauthammer actually wrote. One can only note how desperate people who support choosing to not go to the Moon are being when they behave like that.

Also, I don't think that Krauthammer is being so much "anti free enterprise" as he is expressing some doubt that the promises that commercial space will be ready to step up to the plate in the time period promised will materialize. Given the history of "new space" companies, that is at least a reasonable argument.

Addendum: Everyone should read Tom Matula's post in Rand Simberg's comment section. He hits the nail on the head about the political dynamics. Libertarians have gotten into bed with the liberals to try to kill the space exploration program, for different reasons of course.
Avatar: the Sequel

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Obama space plan: back to the 1970s?
John Strickland, to his credit, does not believe the spin that the new plan will get us beyond LEO sooner than Constellation. Sadly his reaction is to believe the other spin that Constellation wouldn't have worked anyway so it is just best to bend over, grab the ankles, and endure another decade or two in LEO.

The Staff Writers at Launch Space have a somewhat different view.
With a simple stroke of the pen, President Obama has created a 2011 budget proposal that will cancel America's hope of remaining the leading space-faring nation.
Jeff Krukin has some interesting thoughts on milestones and deadlines for space exploration.
As for NASA, should it have milestones and deadlines for its future R&D efforts? Certainly, but only if tied to real budgets and wisely considered and defined goals, and it is the goals that are the key.

One good place to start is to once one has decided on a particular program, to go to the Moon, to build a rocket, or whatever, to not decide later that one can't pay for it.

Jeff then falls down with this:
If NASA is going to develop new deep-space propulsion systems and heavy-lift launchers, how should the deadlines be determined? An arbitrary date by which the current or future President feels we should go to Mars? A date mandated by Congress by when we should visit an asteroid? I believe these approaches are wrong. All milestones, deadlines, and goals should be focused on one endeavor; the creation of an economically viable (profitable) space transportation system, regardless of where we want to go in the solar system.

There are two problems with this. First, if one eschews deadlines, one is begging to have an open ended program whose costs balloon because the fixed year to year costs (people, infrastructure, etc) increase because the duration of the project increases. Second, one is going to have to go somewhere sometime. Jeff's goal of an economically viable space transportation system us too vague to be even meaningful as a goal. It is a prescription for drift, cost overruns, mid stream design changes, and eventual cancellation.
For all the worry about China planting its flag on the Moon before the U.S. returns there, they cannot beat America's private sector if we use it wisely in our space endeavors. A NASA sprint to the Moon or Mars is not sustainable and is unrealistic to expect when you consider our current fiscal situation.

On the other hand by the time some scrappy entrepreneur gets to the Moon, his main problem might be filling out the paperwork for the visa at the Chinese embassy. Space exploration is as much a national security concern as it is a commercial enterprise and therefore needs some government involvement, with goals, destinations, and timetables.

Addendum: A reader writes, "Doesn't the new plan suggests a deadline for the new commercial space craft to be operational by 2015-16?" Indeed it does.
Henry Spenser repeats an often said canard about Constellation, to whit that it was just a "repeat of Apollo" and really why would anyone want to do that.

The problem is that in order to return to the Moon in any kind of meaningful manner, we need to start with what would essentially be Apollo style missions and build up to a permanent lunar base, then a lunar settlement. Apollo was forty years ago and to say "been there, done that" is to miss the point that we haven't in decades and will need to learn how to do so again before proceeding to the next step.

Besides, even the first missions contemplated under Constellation envisioned four astronauts on the Moon for a week at a time, building up to months at a time. That would be not so much "redoing Apollo" as it would be picking up where Apollo left off.
Debra Medina a 9/11 Truther?
Debra Medina, a Republican candidate for governor of Texas and a favorite of some in the Tea Party Movement, is trying the backtrack from comments she made on the Glenn Beck radio show that suggests that she is a 9/11 Truther.
Biden: Iraq Victory One of Obama Administration's 'Greatest Achievments'
Vice-President Joe Biden was on Larry King Live recently and made an astonishing announcement. It seems that victory in Iraq will be listed as one of the greatest achievements of the Obama administration.
Obama 'Agnostic' About Middle Class Tax Increases
During the campaign, candidate Barack Obama promised that under his administrations taxes would not increase for people making under $250,000 a year. Now President Obama has pronounced himself "agnostic" about the idea.
Sarah Palin and the Affair of the Bracelet
The latest anti-Sarah Palin outrage so exceeds the business of the scrawled notes-on-her-hand kerfuffle in the quality of surreal that one wonders if there is something in the water. Sarah Palin is wearing a bracelet with the name of her soldier son on it.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker joins space exploration political fight

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

GOP Valentine's Day Cards
The Republican Party has rolled out a group of very special Valentine's Day cards, partly for whimsy, partly as a fund-raising tool. No doubt the Democrats will accuse the GOP of politicizing Valentine's Day.
What Next for Iran on February 11th?
What is going to happen in Iran on February 11thm the 31st anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the Shah and brought about the current, Islamist regime? The Ayatollah Khamenei has promised a "devastating punch" against the West.
Former Texas Rep. Charlie Wilson Dead
Charlie Wilson, the former Congressman who represented the 2nd District of Texas for more than 20 years and who was famous for helping to arm Afghan mujahedeen against the Soviets, has died at the age of 77.
Captain America Does Battle Against the Tea Party Movement
The latest incarnation of Captain America, a Marvel Comics super hero who was first created to deliver hurt and mayhem to the Nazis, has found a new threat to do battle with: an enemy within. Captain America will now fight the Tea Party Movement.
Just when all hope seemed to be lost, the National Space Society has come out against Obama's cancellation of Constellation.

The irony is that Lori Garver used to be NSS Executive Director, a post she used with great alacrity for her bureaucratic ambitions.
Should HUmans Go Back to the Moon?
'Lost' Season 6 Episode 3 'What Kate Does'
'Lost' Season 6 Episode 3 'What Kate Does' continues the story of some of our intrepid heroes on the two alternate time lines, one in which the hydrogen bomb sank the island, one in which it failed to do so.
NASA's Bolden Touts Mars by 2030s as Space Exploration Goal
NASA administrator Charles Bolden recently sat down with the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle and opened his mind about what he thought whatever exploration plan that replaced Constellation would send NASA and the United States.
Apparently NASA didn't even know what its funding was going to be in the FY2011 budget request until 48 hours before the official rollout. That smacks of incompetence and does not bode well for the administration actually managing things.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It looks like Charles Bolden's not so secret plan is to just go to Mars. He has expressed this view before. It would be a bitter irony if the "bold!", "new!", "innovative!" space plan turns out to be a lunge at Mars.

Mind it is bold talk (ha!) coming from a man who can't get a commitment to go back to the Moon.
Scott Pace takes a dm view on canceling Constellation.
'˜House' Season 6 Episode 13 '5 to 9'
'House' Season 6 Episode 13 '5 to 9' takes a little vacation from the usual House formula of a patient with strange disease and instead focuses on a day in the life of Lisa Cuddy, the much put upon hospital administrator.
Russia is looking to charge us more to ride up to our own space station.
The Latest Sarah Palin (non) Scandal
The left-wing media is apparently agog over the latest Sarah Palin scandal. Apparently, when she addressed the Tea Party Convention in Nashville on Sunday, Sarah Palin scrawled some notes on her hand.
A Rocket Boy and Two Star Trekkers Respond to Choosing Not to Go to the Moon
Opposition to President Obama's bid to cancel the Constellation return to the Moon program has started to manifest itself among purveyors of popular culture. It has even inspired its first work of literature.
24: the Movie will have Jack Bauer in Europe.
Bob Werb of the Space Frontier Society makes a back handed compliment to people who oppose Obama's cancellation of Constellation. He suggests that they are not so much "corrupt shills" as they are "Von Braunian socialists."

At least he did not say, as SFF people have been known to in the best, "National Socialists."
Paul Spudis muses on the Vision for Space Exploration, Apollo, space and the national interest, and the new space race that Barack Obama seems to be surrendering at the starting gate.
There is indeed a new space race. It is just as important and vital to our country's future as the original one, if not as widely perceived and appreciated. It consists of a struggle with both hard and soft power. The hard power aspect is to confront the ability of other nations to deny us access to our vital satellite assets of cislunar space. The soft power aspect is a question: how shall society be organized in space? Both issues are equally important and both are addressed by lunar return. Will space be a sanctuary for science and PR stunts or will it be a true frontier with scientists and pilots, but also miners, technicians, entrepreneurs and settlers? The decisions made now will decide the fate of space for generations. The choice is clear; we cannot afford to relinquish our foothold in space and abandon the Vision for Space Exploration.
'Miss Me Yet?' Billboard Appears Along Minnesota Road
The "Miss Me Yet?" image of a smiling George W. Bush has been ubiquitous on the Internet as President Obama's popularity spirals down and memory of his predecessor becomes more nostalgic. Now a billboard has appeared.
Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, RIP
John Murtha, the long serving controversial congressman from the 12th District of Pennsylvania, has died from complications of gall bladder surgery. Democrats fear that the Republicans will pick up his seat in the special election.
Houston's JSC Director Mike Coats expresses concern over Constellation cancellation

Monday, February 08, 2010

Jeff Foust has a good review of the fallout (some would say train wreck) of the Obama space policy. Foust misses the main objection of those of us who find this policy awful. It doesn't get us anywhere anytime soon.
Speaking of Rand Simberg, he offers a salvo in defense of the new policy and the demise of Constellation. Rand seems to have written the piece before Charles Bolden suggested that work on the HLV (which paradoxically Rand also opposes) will not even start for another ten years with humans (at least of the American variety) going beyond LEO maybe by 2030. Concerning an HLV being necessary, Rand is in disagreement with the Augustine Committee and does not really answer the supposition that in space fuel depots are a risky and unproven technology to put in the critical path. The idea of a "path to anywhere" is a little funny. Eventually one has to go somewhere and it would seem to me to be prudent to decide where sooner rather than later.

Instead there is going to be a small scale technology program with actual decisions and funding kicked down ten years, when someone else will be President.
Now Trek Fandom has come out against the new, exciting, and innovative Obama space policy. Rand Simberg thinks nothing will come of it, and he may be right. On the other hand they got a space shuttle (albeit the air drop test article) named Enterprise.
Super Bowl 2010 - the Ads
One of the great features of any Super Bowl are the expensive ads that are put up in 30-second increments for the enjoyment of all. Super Bowl 2010 was no exception, and there were a number of entertaining commercials.
Sarah Palin Stumps for Rick Perry in Texas
Sarah Palin was in Cypress, Texas, just northwest of Houston, to stump for Governor of Texas Rick Perry, who is facing a primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Palin addressed a crowd of about 5,000 to 6,000 people.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

NASA's Bolden - No Human Space Exploration Until 2030
NASA administrator Charles Bolden met with the media in advanced of the flight of the space shuttle Endeavour STS 130, now planned for Monday morning. Bolden offered some astonishing admissions about the Obama space plan.
Sarah Palin Addresses Tea Party Convention
Sarah Palin, former Alaska Governor, political force of nature, perhaps future President, addressed the first Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee Saturday. It has been noted that Palin did so without a teleprompter.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Homer Hickam writes about the day people return to the Moon. It is not a day of celebration in America.
Paul Ryan Presents GOP Alternative Budget
Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin has offered, along with five other Republicans, an alternative FY2011 budget proposal. The extraordinary thing about the Republican budget is that it actually cuts the deficit by addressing entitlements.
NASA's Bolden Confronts Unhappiness at Obama Space Plan at Kennedy Space Center
NASA administrator Charles Bolden traveled to the Kennedy Space Center for the occasion of the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour STS 130. But he was also in Florida to confront the consequences of the new Obama administration space policy.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Meanwhile, China forges ahead in space.
Obama Calls Navy Corpsman 'Corpse Man'
The media, including the blogosphere, talk radio, and cable news is all abuzz over President Barack Obama's mispronunciation of the word "corpsman" in praising American military personnel at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Homer Hickam says that it is time for John Holdren and Lori Garver to resign. In my opinion, neither should have been given any office of trust to begin with.
They are the principle architects of the decision to cancel the American lunar spaceflight program known as Constellation. The manner in which the end of Constellation was announced represents a failure of basic Management 101 principles. A good manager never shuts down a large program without having a sound plan on what to do next. Instead, what we got from Mrs. Garver and Dr. Holdren was whimsical, airy drivel without any worthy NASA goal.

Hitler finds out Obama had cut Constellation.

Keith Cowing is reporting that there are protesters outside KSC with signs: "Obama Lied. NASA Died!"
Mary Landrieu Defends 'Louisiana Purchase'
Clearly showing the strain of the criticism of what has come to be called the "Louisiana Purchase," Sen. Mary Landrieu took to the Senate floor to defend the provision in the Senate health care reform bill that provided Medicare subsidies.
Newest Robonaut rolled out by Houston's JSC, GM, Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston
NASA Scrambles to Salvage Space Policy
Having faced pointed and even hostile questioning about its new space policy in the Senate and now in the House, the Obama administration and NASA officials are starting to realize that perhaps the rollout of that policy was flawed.
'Burn Notice' Season 3, Episode 12 'Noble Causes'
'Burn Notice' Season 3, Episode 12 'Noble Causes' was remarkable in the serendipity of its airing the same week as the Rahm Emanuel controversy. It seems that Fi and Sarah Palin see eye to eye on a certain word one must never use.
"Bones' Season 5, Episode 14, 'The Devil in the Details'
"Bones' Season 5, Episode 14, 'The Devil in the Details' provides a reprise of the reoccurring conflict between Booth, the man of faith, and Temperance Brennan, the woman of reason and total lack of social skills.
Jon Stewart on Bill O'Reilly - Round Two
Jon Stewart was on Bill O'Reilly's show for the second night in a row and articulated his opinions from foreign policy and Sarah Palin. Bill O'Reilly imagined that Jon Stewart was his vice-presidential running mate and was being vetted for such.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

James Cameron, whos film Avatar depicted Americans on an alien planet as a bunch of genocidal maniacs, praises the Obama space policy.
Their plan calls for the full embrace of commercial solutions for transporting astronauts to low Earth orbit after the space shuttle is retired this year. This frees NASA to do what it does best: deep space exploration, both robotic and human.

The plan does the first, but does not do the second. There is something of a cognitive dissonance too. The commercial sector does not get depicted very well in Avatar either.
At National Prayer Breakfast, Obama Calls for 'Civility'
President Barack Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday. His remarks were a mixture of inspiration, religion, a little sly partisanship, with more than a little dash of hypocrisy.
Carly Fiorina Unleashes Demon Sheep Ad on Tom Campbell
Carly Fiorina would like to become the first Republican senator from California in quite a while. But before she goes up against Barbara Boxer, she has to knock off moderate Tom Campbell in the primary. Thus Carly Fiorina has unleashed a Demon Sheep ad.
Jon Stewart and Bll O'Reilly Banter on the Factor
Jon Stewart, the liberal satirist from The Daily Show, was on Bill O'Reilly Wednesday night, which ought to have been the occasion for fireworks, but oddly it was not. Instead Stewart's and O'Reilly's banter was positively genial.
It looks like Obama's space plan is faring no better in the House than the Senate. One exception seems to be Dana Rohrabacher, a long term commercial space supporter. But even he is unhappy with certain aspects, presumably the cancellation of the back to the Moon program.

This Week in Space - SPECIAL REPORT from Spaceflight Now on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Steven Weinberg loves the Obama space policy not because he believes that spin coming from the White House and NASA that it will lead to a wonderful new Age of Space Exploration, but because he knows that it won't.
Taylor Dinerman rebuts Rand Simberg pretty thoroughly at NRO on the cancellation of the back to the Moon program.
Tom Jones, former astronaut and Fox News space analyst, takes a dim view of the Obama space policy which he calls, the path to nowhere.
Underworld innn spaaaaace!
Scott Brown Demands to Be Seated in the Senate
Senator Elect Scott Brown has demanded that he be seated in the Senate immediately and not on February 11th, when he is scheduled to be sworn in. Scott Brown has cited a number of important votes pending in the Senate.
Paul Spudis, who was not happy with the Constellation program, nevertheless is also unhappyu with the new, Obama space policy.
Bill Nelson Grills Peter Orszag on NASA Budget Proposal
So far the push back against the Obama space policy has been just rhetorical. Yesterday that pushback escalated during a hearing on the FY2011 budget with OMB Director Peter Orszag being grilled by Senator Bill Nelson.
Obama Disses Las Vegas--Again
It is unknown whether President Barack Obama has something against the city of Las Vegas or whether he may secretly want the troubled Sen. Harry Reid to be defeated for reelection this year.
Rahm Emanuel 'Retard' Remark Causes Apologies, Resignation Demands
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has discovered that there is a new word that one cannot say—ever. The word is "retard," and it has caused Rahm Emanuel to have to done something he rarely does-apologize.
Walter Shapiro is the latest pundit to inveigh against Obama's abandonment of the Moon.
'Lost' Season 6 Episodes 1 and 2 'LAX'
'Lost' Season 6, Episodes 1 and 2, 'LAX' occurs after a hydrogen bomb detonates on the island. It also occurs after the hydrogen bomb does not detonate on the island. Thus 'Lost' segues from time travel to alternate universes.
Another account of Charles Bolden's presser at the National Press Club caused this to jump up at me.
The NASA chief did not set specific deadlines or destinations, but hinted that the Earth's moon, the asteroids and Mars and its two moons were on the list as targets for human space exploration.

"Anybody who talks about exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, there are some places that just naturally come to mind: the moon, Mars, asteroids and other near-Earth objects. So those are some of the definite destinations," Bolden said.

But that list does not rule out other potential targets, he added.

"We hope very soon to be able to give you a very definitive time schedule that we hope to reach some of these destinations," Bolden said.

This contrasts to what Lori Garver said just the previous day.
That might have made up for the fact that the space agency's top officials couldn't give a precise timetable or itinerary for future voyages beyond low Earth orbit. "We don't want to set an arbitrary deadline, as has been done," said Lori Garver, NASA's deputy administrator.

There either seems to be some confusion over at headquarters, or else a dawning realization that without some idea of where and when people are finally going beyond Low Earth Orbit, the new space policy is in very serious trouble.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Another conservative gives he back of his hand to Obama's "conservative" space program.
Mike Griffin debated Bretton Alexander about the Obama space policy. I was a little disappointed in Alexander's defense of commercial space; he was essentially repeating talking points without getting into the rationale of privitizing routine space flight.

Mike Griffin on the other hand handily refuted the canard, put out by the Obama administration and its allies on the Internet, that Constellation was inherently "unsustainable."
Not at all. It's called unsustainable because the budget that NASA was told it had was continually eroded by both the Office of Management and Budget in the Bush administration and two congressional continuing resolutions.

If you keep cutting the budget, you can make anything unsustainable.

And, unlike Constellation's critics, Griffin has evidence, from the report of the Augsutine Committee, to back him up.
The true story of a space pioneer...

Six reasons for going back to the Moon courtesy of Homer Hickam.
Will Liquid Glass Change Everything?
s a product called "liquid glass" about to revolutionize every aspect of human existence? If the hopes of a German company, which owns the patent to the technology, Nanopool, are realized, a spray-on product will soon be available for a variety of applications.
NASA's Bolden Defends Obama Space Plan
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden spoke before the National Press Club to defend the new direction NASA has been instructed to go by the Obama administration that cancels the space exploration program and funds commercial space craft.
Danny Williams Opts Out of Canadian Health Care System
Those who tout the creation of a single-payer health care system in the United States point to the system in Canada as the model for one that would be fair and available to all. Unfortunately not everyone in Canada shares that opinion.
Michael Belfiore is all for the Obama NASA budget proposal, though he tends to concentrate on the commercial space aspect and pass over the killing of space exploration. But he does have a warning:
A bigger danger is that NASA could become the only customer for the fledgling spaceflight companies, making them de facto arms of the government, with all the attendant problems, and keeping them at the mercy of changing political winds. That's one reason Robert Bigelow, CEO of Bigelow Aerospace, which is developing commercial space stations, shuns government financing. "We don't have NASA currently on our radar screen as a client," he said during today's telecon.

One wonders if that is the real plan, coming from an administration not known for its love of free market capitalism, to not so much enable the free market in space but to incorporate and then kill it.
And The 2010 Oscars Nominees Are...
'Avatar,' the controversial highest grossing motion picture in history, got just two major Oscar nominations; best picture and best director for James Cameron. The rest of the films nominated were an eclectic group indeed.