Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jeff Foust has a couple of posts over at Space Politics about the performance at ISDC by Lori Garver, who is apparently Deputy Administrator in Charge of Prevarication at NASA. In one post Foust describes how she essentially ran long during a luncheon speech and then wound up taking over an address by Scott Pace in order to joust with him about commercial space. Pace is somewhat skeptical about the Obamaspace commercial space plan and suggests building Ares 1 as a backup plan. Garver does not think that is wise.
“Private sector will not have the incentive to invest and develop that capability if we have, as you call it, a backup plan."

That is a curious sentiment coming from someone working for an administration that maintains that a "public option" is essential for health care reform. Besides, one did not notice a reluctance to invest in commercial space with Ares 1 still part of the program.

The really awful part of Lori Garver's performance came when the subject turned to the Moon, which the Obama administration has abandoned. Not so, says Garver, do not believe your lying eyes, believe me.
She later added that even though the new plan does not explicitly include a lunar landing, “we are not giving up on the Moon.” She said under the program of record we weren’t going to the Moon in the foreseeable future anyway because of those cost and schedule issues, and that the plans for lunar return that did exist were regressing to “flags and footprints” missions rather than something sustainable. The capabilities that would be developed in the new plan “will allow us to go back to the Moon and stay much earlier than the program of record.”

One does not know how to start. But perhaps some questions for Ms. Garver would be in order.

When and in what fashion will Americans return to the Moon under Obamaspace?

Why did the administration, which has not be shy about spending money in areas that it cares about, simply provide funding for Constellation to put it back on track?

If "flags and footsteps" are so bad, how does one explain how Obamaspace's exploration program consists of nothing but "flags and footsteps?" Except, considering the politically correct nature of this administration, there will be no flags. Also, if Constellation was morphing in that direction, why not unmorph it?

The answers, if Garver could be forced to give them, would be illuminating. Until then, one cannot believe anything that woman has to say.

Addendum: Sadly, if one reads the comments in the Space Politics post, at least three rather credulous people do. Let us review what the President said at KSC a month and a half ago:

"Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We've been there before. Buzz has been there. There's a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do"

That seems pretty clear to me. Add to that the fact that a lunar landing is nowhere in any time line published by NASA or the White House, and one still has to ask the question, In what sense was what Lori Garver said true?
The BP Oil Spill Disaster: Some Strange Media Reaction
The BP Gulf of Mexico oil leak disaster has not only caused untold economic and environmental devastation to the Gulf Coast, damaged further the political reputation of President Obama, and likely destroyed BP as a company, but has also caused bizarre behavior in the media.
Top Kill Manuever Fails to Cap BP Oil Leak in Gulf of Mexico
With the failure of the top kill maneuver to seal the gushing oil leak. BP will now try to use robotic submarines to saw off the damage riser and to install a containment value to siphon away "most of the oil."
Fuzzy fiber a "game changing" nanomaterial.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hi, neighbor!
Dennis Hopper: RIP

Michelle Malkin has an appreciation.
NASA's Bolden Promises Lunar Orbit Mission in 'Early 2020s'
In a speech at the International Space Development Conference in Chicago that featured a bland defense of the Obama space policy and a confrontation with a PETA activist, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden suggested a lunar orbit mission was planned for the early 2020s.
Joe Sestak Not Eligible for Post on Intelligence Advisory Committee
Washington Examiner analyst Byron York seems to have caught a little inconstancy in the official story about the Joe Sestak affair. It seems that Joe Sestak is not eligible for the unpaid position that he was allegedly offered.
'Prince of Persia' Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arteton
'Prince of Persia' starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the stalwart Prince Dasten and Gemma Arteton as the beauteous and impetuous Princess Tamina is not set in any Persia that existed in history, though historical elements are used.
Charlie Bolden is mulling over a lunar orbit mission sometime in the mid 2020s. In my opinion, this repeat of Apollo 8 is the ultimate "look but don't touch" expedition. It is rather insulting when one thinks about it.
The 'Don't Touch Me!' Video

Friday, May 28, 2010

Paul Spudis takes the occasion of Memorial Day to remember America's space heroes, including one who, in the winter of his life, speaks truth to power about returning to the Moon where, a long time ago, he placed the first foot prints.

Link fixed.
NASA Image of BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (Video)
Did Bill Clinton Offer Joe Sestak a Job with Obama?
The Washington Post is reporting that the Obama administration is saying that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel asked former President Bill Clinton to ask Joe Sestak "whether he'd be open to other alternatives" than running for the Senate.
Elon Musk may need that government bailout sooner than anyone thought.
NRSC 'Never Again' Ad Against Obama and the BP Oil Spill Disaster
Senator Hutchison calls for investigation of ouster of NASA's Jeff Hanley from Constellation
Joe McGinniss Threatens ABC Reporter (Video)
'The Lost Boys: The Thirst' Coming Soon Direct to DVD (Video)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Once a long time ago a woman who was more personally charming than her politics loaned me a book called "Women of Power" which included Helen Caldicott, the mad cap antinuclear scold who is still surprised that Reagan didn't start a global thermonuclear war in the 1980s. The list went down hill from there.

Now we have a real Women of Power list or whom Sarah Palin likes to refer to as the "Mama Grizzlies."
Masten Xombie Engine Cut Off/Restart Test (Video)
Jeff Hanley, Manager of NASA's Constellation Program, Ousted
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden went before the House Science and Technology Committee and attempted to defend the cancellation of the Constellation return to the Moon program. However some news was made about the now former manager of Constellation.
Looks like Russ Feingold is in big trouble in his reelection bid. That happens when you do things like this.
More Third Season 'True Blood' Details (Video)
More 'Lost' to Come - Michael Emerson Aka 'Ben Linus'
It looks like Top Kill has worked, at least for now. But the administration will not escape some of the blame. I disagree with people who think the administration could not have done more, though bellowing about "boots on necks" was a bit silly. In any event, it might have at least not made things worse with regulatory red tape.

Addendum: More on Is the BP Oil Spill Disaster Obama's 'Katrina?'
Is the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico Barack Obama's "Katrina?" Even some conservative critics of the administration disagree with that surmise, thinking that there was nothing the President could have done anyway.
For all my gentle readers living in Houston, if you see a young gentleman with curly hair, wearing a yellow polo and tan shorts in the Space Center Houston commercial, that would be my nephew Julian.
Sony Reveals Roll Up Video Screen
Looks like Japan is not abandoning the Moon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'Terra Nova' - Steven Spielberg Takes Us to a World-Wide Jurassic Park
Details of "Terra Nova", a new TV series being developed by Steven Spielberg and Brannon Braga, among others, have come to light. Like "Avatar" an interesting concept is being ruined buy an environmental sub text.
Three Problems with the Obama Commercial Space Initiative
One of the more interesting features of the Obama space policy is the plan to commercialize space travel between the Earth's surface and low Earth orbit. The idea was that NASA would lease seats and cargo space on private, commercial space craft to send astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station.
For being overzealous in following the law, Constellation manager Jeff Hanley is being reassigned (i.e. window sat) so that room can be made for a more compliant manager who will help shut down the return to the Moon program. This may backfire, angering an already enraged Congress. Notice also that Bolden was not involved in the matter. Who is running NASA, anyway?

Addendum: Richard Shelby is not amused.
'Deadliest Warrior: Roman Centurion vs. Rajput'
'Deadliest Warrior: Roman Centurion vs. Rajput' pitted the iconic officer in the Roman legions against an East Indian warrior skilled in martial arts and a collection of strange weapons. It was an odd match-up, considering the roles of the two warriors.
'Justified' Season, 1 Episode 11: 'Veterans'
'Justified' Season 1 Episode 11 "Veterans' sees Raylan Givens trying to deal with the aftermath of the meth lab bombing and the fact that too many of the Crowder clan, Boyd and his father specifically, are out of prison.
Did the White House Offer Joe Sestak a Bribe to Withdraw from a Senate Primary Race?
The White House is denying that Congressman and candidate for US Senate Joe Sestak was actually offered an important office in return for his withdrawing from a primary race against current Senator Arlen Specter.
Stephen Colbert Jokes with Atlantis Space Shuttle Crew (Video)

Atlantis and her crew have returned to Earth, concluding the shuttle orbiter's last mission.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Now that we're agreed that one of the great flaws of Obamaspace is that it doesn't use lunar resources, Rand Simberg has a curious way of responding to that fact.
I agree that developing lunar resources should be part of the mix, though we have a lot of work to do to prove out the techniques to do so in a way that makes economic sense. But as I’ve said before, I’m not that concerned about abandoning that goal for now — it was many years off in any event, and if it’s the momentary price we have to pay to kill off the misbegotten Ares program, it’s one well worth it. We can decide to go to the moon any time, and it will be a lot easier with a low-cost infrastructure than with a high-cost one.

Roughly translated, we can go ahead and waste time and money doing something else that doesn't do anything because "some day" we can choose to do something useful. Of course "some day" never comes unless we choose to make it today. Rand's main concern was killing off Constellation, which he hates. Doing something else is not that important. That is the one thing that is really irksome about the supporters of Obamaspace. They are pretty sure what they are against. They have no clue about what they are for beyond platitudes or how to make it happen.
J.D. Hayworth: We Never Declared War on Germany
Joe McGinness Moves Next Door to Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin and family returned home to Wasilla, Alaska, after another tour of the lower 48 to what the former governor considers a nasty surprise. It seems that journalist and author Joe McGinness has moved in next door for the summer.
It seems that Machete is the most overtly, outrageously and unrepentantly racist film in modern Hollywood history.
'24' Series Finale: The Worst Bad Day for Jack Bauer Comes to an End
The '24' Finale may not be the end of Jack Bauer's last bad day, but was surely the end of his worst bad day so far. The '24' series finale was about bad choices, worst choices, and their horrific consequences.
The details of Project M, with the idea of putting a "Robonaut" on the lunar surface withing a thousand days is in a white paper. There are quite a few things to recommend such a project, including the partnership with private companies such as Armadillo.

One question arises: Didn't the President say that we shouldn't go back to the Moon because Buzz Aldrin has already been there? Or does that just apply to human beings?

Addendum: More on Houston's Johnson Space Center 'Project M' details emerge

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sarah Palin expands on previous thoughts about the BP oil spill, how the Obama administration fell down on the job, and what she would do.
Deval Patrick: Obama Opponents 'Almost at the Level of Sedition'
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a close friend of President Obama's, is the latest public figure to use the S Word, i.e. "sedition", to describe opposition to the policies of the Obama administration.
Fan Made 'Firefly' Sequel 'Browncoats Redemption' Soon to Be Released
Joe Biden - Brussels 'Capital of the Free World'
'The Tudors' Season 4, Episode 7
'The Tudors' Season 4 Episode 7 sees Henry getting married to wife number 6, the twice widowed Katherine Parr, and getting ready to sail to the Continent to kill Frenchmen. Both decisions seem to content His Majesty.
'The Empire Strikes Back' Circi 1950 (Video)
NASA's Atlantis STS 132 Departs International Space Station (Video)
'Lost' Series Finale 'The End'
Lamest Ending of a Series in Decades
The series finale of 'Lost', entitled simply 'The End' was possibly one of the most irritating series finales since the end of 'Quantum Leap' consigned its hero, Sam Beckett, essentially to Hell. At least the cast of 'Lost' is not headed there.
Jeff Foust examines the Twin hurdles for commercial human spaceflight. Here is one takeaway.
Some have argued that NASA’s plans may not meet the definition of “commercial”. Eric Sterner, a senior fellow at the Marshall Institute, noted at the institute’s late March event a definition for commercial space activities in NSPD-3, a set of guidelines for commercial space activities issued by the George H. W. Bush Administration in 1991:

Commercial space sector activities are characterized by the provision of products and services such that:

* private capital is at risk;
* there are existing, or potential, nongovernmental customers for the activity;
* the commercial market ultimately determines the viability of the activity; and
* primary responsibility and management initiative for the activity resides with the private sector.

“Are we there with commercial human spaceflight?” he asked, later saying that he was skeptical the commercial sector could achieve them. “I don’t think we’ve met those criteria yet, and I’m not at all confident that we will meet them ever.”

Of those, most attention has been on the second: the existence, or lack thereof, of additional users of a commercial human space transportation system. Finding other markets will be key to the success of commercial crew systems in any case, given the relatively small size of NASA’s crew transport requirements: as few as two missions a year, depending on the size of such vehicles and ISS requirements. That makes it essential to understanding the size of the market for commercial human spaceflight.

Some have been critical of NASA for not closely studying this market before making the decision to include commercial crew in its plans for the agency. “The administration claims that if we build up this so-called commercial rocket industry the private sector market will magically materialize to produce more expendable launches, at a lower cost, earlier than the schedule of Constellation,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), one of the more strident critics of the administration’s plans, at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing last month. “What NASA and this administration have failed to disclose to the US taxpayer is that NASA has no verifiable data to support this claim.”

That's a big problem that is being passed over by proponents of Obamaspace. If there are no private markets for commercial space launch services, then how can it be called commercial.

Jeff Foust also focuses starkly on the political battle shaping up.
There is a growing perception that the debate is one between Constellation and commercial, an either/or situation where there will be one winner or one loser. Speaking to a local television station just before the Atlantis launch, Sen. Nelson suggested that the funding in the White House’s budget proposal for commercial crew might be better spent on continued Ares tests. “I think the question is out there whether or not we’re going to man-rate commercial rockets and instead use that $6 billion trying to do a shuttle-derived man-rated system such as Ares,” he told Central Florida News 13.

Under the Bush plan, commercial space and space exploration were complementary. While the private sector slowly took over Earth to LEO operations, NASA would be free to focus on space exploration to the Moon and beyond. Obamaspace has pitted commercial space and space exploration against one another. Which ever one wins the cause of a space frontier will loose.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Is Germany about to rise again? If so, we're in for all sorts of trouble.
Sarah Palin Hits Obama for Oil Company Cronyism
Sarah Palin struck a direct hit on Fox News Sunday when she suggested that the Obama administration's ties to big oil explained its slow response to the BP drilling accident that has inundated large parts of the Gulf of Mexico.
Charles Djou Takes Hawaii House Seat in District Where Barack Obama Once Lived
Less than a week after a Democrat unexpectedly won a special House election in Pennsylvania, Republican Charles Djou won a special election in the 1st District of Hawaii, the very one where President Barack Obama grew up in.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

News of the death of Constellation is greatly exaggerated.
Edgar Mitchell, Apollo moonwalker, looks askance at Obama's abandonment of the Moon.

Addendum: An informed source reminds me that the "zero point energy drive" referred to in Mitchell's letter is considered the equivalent of a space going perpetual motion machine, i.e. impossible in the physical universe we live in.
Ann Althouse describes how the media is getting the Texas school text book story wrong.
Hillary Clinton Warns North Korea
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Tokyo where she announced that North Korea would have to "suffer the consequences" for deliberately putting a torpedo into a South Korean naval vessel, snuffing out her 46 sailor crew.
'Shrek: Forever After' Starring Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, and Eddie Murphy
"Shrek: Forever After" is certainly not as lame as its immediate predecessor in the series of fractured fairy tales about an irascible but lovable green ogre with a Scottish accent. The movie goes back to the franchise's roots, in a roundabout way.
'Stargate Universe' Season1 Episode 18 'Subversion'
In 'Stargate Universe' Season1 Episode 18 'Subversion', Dr. Rush is having another disturbing dream. One would wish he would stop doing that, as it only leads to trouble. In this case the trouble is suspicion of espionage and skullduggery.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Citizen lobbyists go to Washington to campaign for lunar return program
Paul Spudis rather effectively lays bare one of the great flaws of Obamaspace. While returning to the Moon would allow access to resources that would make deep space travel more affordable and sustainable, Obamaspace is kind of like "Apollo on Crack" as an effort to create a series of space firsts to generate excitement.
Alan Grayson - GOP = Al Qaeda (Video)
Mexican Pirates Terrorize Texas Border Lake
Ray Stevens 'Come to the USA' a Song About Illegal Immigration
A number of space organizations signed a manifesto that demonstrated how toothless and impotent they are.
We the undersigned, a diverse group of organizations with a vital interest in our Nation's space program, make the following statements:

* We strongly support the top line FY2011 NASA budget.

Really? A real space advocacy group would have noted how inadequate it was.
* We are excited by the increases in science, aeronautics and technology initiatives.

Why? These are no doubt good things, but some details about how this would be of benefit would be useful
* We believe both human exploration and research are important: destination, milestones, engagement and story matter.

It would be even better to note how these things do not matter in the Obamaspace proposal.
* We believe this is an opportunity for NASA to craft the exploration strategy in partnership with science and applied science that includes the International Space Station, safe and cost-effective access to low earth orbit, robotic precursors, and other missions. Heavy lift launch and in-space servicing enable new realms of exploration and science.

What about commerce and national security?
* We believe it is critically important that the American people can and must participate and be engaged in the journey of discovery and exploration.

How is that going to happen?

What a waste.
Charles Krauthammer muses on the fruits of weakness.
'Bones' Season 5 Episode 22 'The End in the Beginning'
In 'Bones' Season 5 Episode 22 'The End in the Beginning' our merry group of scientists and investigators at the Jeffersonian are all, in their own way, facing crossroads in their lives. It is the end of something and the beginning of something else.
On Civil Rights Act, Rand Paul Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot
Fresh from his victory in the Republican Senate Primary in Kentucky, candidate Rand Paul committed his first gaffe. He actually expressed some reservations about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Democrats, naturally,have pounced.
'Agora' Starring Rachel Weisz Coming Soon

Thursday, May 20, 2010

'Nikita' - Coming This Fall to the CW
The return of Looney Tunes.
The Texas School Text Book Wars - What is at Stake?
The move to revise what is taught in social studies textbooks in Texas has caused a nationwide kerfuffle with many on the Left raising the specter of a group of out of control right wing yahoos trying to ram down conservative ideology down the throats of children.
Why not retire the shuttle on orbit?
1) If parked near to ISS it would be safe haven for several astronauts for weeks at a time in the event of an emergency.

2) The retention of its own Canadarm would allow it to assist in any construction projects on or near to ISS.

3) It could provide reboost for ISS if docked temporarily.

4) It could substantially increase the lab area of the whole Shuttle-ISS system, especially if it retained something like a Spacehab module in the cargo bay.

5) If it did not have a module in the cargo bay it could instead be utilized as a hangar bay for all sorts of on-orbit assembly work.

6) If the orbiter were parked "ahead" of the station, it could provide some shielding from orbital debris by sweeping the orbit (another use for those shuttle tiles)

7) It could be used for what it was originally designed for, which is repair and inspection of satellites within a close enough orbital regime to its parking orbit.

8) It's the ideas that haven't been thought of that could come to fruition given the capabilities described above. I know what I am suggesting is heresy as far as NASA is concerned and all sorts of qualified people will tell me why it is impossible.
'The Good Guys' Pilot Starring Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks
'The Good Guys' Pilot is the first episode of a buddy cop comedy series produced by Matt Nix ('Burn Notice') that is being attempted in the style of Elmore Leonard with quirky characters and off beat situations driving the narrative.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dr. David Whitehorse says return to the Moon.
What if both sides are right and both Obamaspace and Constellation are nonstarters?
Keith Cowing has has uncovered another excuse that the administration is using not to build Ares. SRBs are not green enough. Some of the comments are debunking that canard.
The Los Angeles/Arizona Economic War Continues
Anger over the Arizona Anti Illegal Immigration Law has sparked a curious tit for tat argument between City of Los Angeles officials and a certain Arizona corporation commissioner named Gary Pierce. Hot Air has a good round up.
Sen. Russ Feingold Seeks to Stop Return to the Moon
Sen. Russ Feingold is trying to sneak into legislation that would expand the definition of "children" under a program called CHAMPVA from people age 23 or below to age 26 and below a ban on spending money to return astronauts to the Moon.

Addendum: Jeff Foust reports that this is not the first time Feingold has tried this.
The Return of the Ghostbusters Featuring Improv Everywhere (Video)
Rand Paul to Barack Obama 'Bring it On!'
Deadliest Warrior: Nazi SS Vs. Viet Cong
In Deadliest Warrior: Nazi SS vs, Viet Cong, two of the worst scourges of the 20th century are pitted against one another; Nazi against Commie. It is one of those rare instances in which one could hope both sides wipe one another out.
'Lost' Season 6 Episode 16 'What They Died For'
As 'Lost' Season 6 Episode 16 'What They Died For' starts the end game for one of the strangest series in the history of television has begun. Also, thanks to the Locke Monster, the body count is also starting to rise.
'Justified' Season 1 Episode 10 'The Hammer'
In 'Justified' Season 1 Episode 10 'The Hammer', Raylan Givens is trying to clean up the Boyd Crowder mess that he created by sleeping with Ava. He finds Boyd preaching the Gospel of Boyd to a group of backwoods folk.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Russell Feingold is trying to be sneaky by cancelling the return to the Moon in a amendment in which he proposes to explode health care costs even further by calling adults up to the age of 26 "children."
Keith Cowing is the latest to whine and complain that Charlie Bolden is about to get beat up by a couple of old men, i.e. Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan. My response is that if Obamaspace is such a great plan, Charlie Bolden should do great. And what is an "ambush announced in advance?" That doesn't sound like much of an ambush to me.

Finally, there is this.
And by the way, with all due respect for the accomplishments of all of these who have or will testify, but when is Congress going to call upon people to testify who will actually spend their future career living and working in the space program that is being discussed? Why is it that we only seem to hear from 60-,70-, 80-year olds talking about someone else's future?

One of the legends I have always heard is how NASA is really intolerant of dissent. If that is so, it would seem to me that people currently working in aerospace would be well advised not to testify before Congress and give freely of their opinions if such are against Obamaspace. It could be career limiting.

And what is this crack about "someone else's future?" Going back to the Moon ought to be everyone's future. It is one that has been too longed deferred.
Tea Party Favorite Rand Paul Wins Smashing Victory in Kentucky Senate Primary (Video)
Arlen Specter Defeated by Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania Senate Primary (Video)
Bristol Palin to Be Paid Up to $30,000 to Speak on the Virtues of Abstinence
Bristol Palin, the oldest daughter of former Gov. Sarah Palin, has signed up with a speaker's bureau and will command up to $30,000 to give speeches on the virtues of abstinence before marriage.
Rep. Mark Souder, Taken in Adultery, Resigns from the House
Just a short time after winning a hard fought primary against an auto dealer, Congressman Mark Souder R-Indiana has been obliged to resign his seat in the House, due to the fact that he has been taken in adultery.
Keanu Reeves returns to science fiction
Keanu Reeves has been tapped to star in Passengers, in which he plays Jim Preston, a colonist on a 120-year interstellar voyage to a distant planet; it's a project that's been in development for a while.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a glitch causes Preston to wake up 100 years early from hibernation, leaving him awake and alone on the ship except for a few robots. So he takes it upon himself to rouse another passenger—a beautiful female journalist—but problems soon develop with both their relationship and the malfunctioning ship itself.

Sounds excellent, though I hope it turns out to be better than the offensive remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still."
Atlantis STS 132 Space Walk on Mission Day 4 (Video)
Being beat up by a girl must be especially humiliating if one is an officer in the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Saudi Arabia. And what of the boy friend who fainted?
An informed and interesting critique of the Obama commercial space policy. The only thing lacking is an examination of the Obama bailout strategy to deal with failures of commercial space companies to step up. The previous administration, filled as it was by people who had actually run businesses, had a better solution--cutting loose companies like Rp-K that couldn't perform while retaining the public option of Orion/Ares 1 until an actual commercial space ship was ready. Going all in with commercial space at this stage may be a tad too risky.
'House' Season 6 Episode 21 'Help Me'
In 'House' Season 6 Episode 21 'Help Me' House, along with everyone else, is drafted to help in the aftermath of a disaster. A crane has fallen and has crushed a building, burying many people in the rubble.
The Stolen Valor of Richard Blumenthal, Fake Vietnam Vet
When the ethically challenged Sen. Chris Dodd was forced to retire, yielding his place to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, that was supposed to be the end of it. Blumenthal was ahead twenty points until last night.
'Tales of an Ancient Empire', Sequel (Sort Of) to 'The Sword and the Sorcerer' Coming Soon at Last (Video)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Woody Allen Wants Obama to Be a Dictator
Woody Allen, the famous comedian, actor, director, and accused pedophile believes that Barack Obama should be granted dictatorial powers. Thus Woody Allen manages to do something that should have been impossible.
Crew of Atlantis STS 132 Arrives at International Space Station (Video)
Robot Officiates at Japanese Wedding Ceremony (Video)
Longevity genes discovered.
Dr Barzilai told a Royal Society conference that the discovery of such genes gave scientists clear targets for developing drugs that could prevent or delay the onset of age-related diseases, potentially lengthening people's lives and keeping them healthier for longer.

Dr David Gems, a longevity researcher at University College London, believes that treatments to slow ageing will become widespread.

“If we know which genes control longevity then we can find out what proteins they make and then target them with drugs. That makes it possible to slow down ageing. We need to reclassify it as a disease rather than as a benign, natural process,” he said.

“Much of the pain and suffering in the world are caused by ageing. If we can find a way to reduce that, then we are morally obliged to take it.”

An anti-ageing drug which might be taken by millions of people, perhaps from middle age onwards, could be the ultimate blockbuster for the pharmaceutical industry.

As Glenn Reynolds is want to say, faster please.
Obama Administration Apologizes to China for Arizona Law
During talks on human rights, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner actually apologized to his Chinese counterparts for the Arizona anti illegal immigration law, among other things. Eyebrows are already being raised by the spectacle.
In Beyond Together Doris Hamill examines the problems of integrating new technology into actual missions, something Obamaspace does not address. The principles she discusses are as old as Prince Henry the Navigator.
In Where are we going in space Philip Stooke tries to flesh out the exploration program suggested in Obamaspace. He also suggests that the return to the Moon mission could come back an an international affair. The problem is, will international partners join in such a mission considering the erratic way we have so far conducted space exploration, with starting them stopping then revamping programs almost at whim? May be the next President will be trusted more than Obama and could pull it off.

Stooke also has some interesting insights into the old saw about how people just got bored with Apollo:
Would the public quickly tire of the spectacle, as supposedly happened with Apollo? It is debatable whether that really happened in the first place, but the world is very different now and the experience of the new exploration program would be different as well. I watched Apollo as it happened, and I don’t agree that “the public” tired of it. There isn’t one public; there are many. Most people who were interested in space exploration stayed interested, but many others were disinterested from the start. Some of those people were temporarily caught up in the novelty of Apollo, but their attention soon moved on to something else, as it always will. The problem for those who stayed interested was that media coverage became briefer and harder to find, and that served to discourage some from looking. This is very different from saying people lost interest.

Future mission coverage would be completely different. Everybody will be able to find all the information or spectacle they want from websites offering multimedia, streaming video, discussion forums, blogs and tweets, or whatever innovations replace them. The new program will be promoted more like the Mars rovers or the Cassini mission to Saturn are today, on official websites and a multitude of networking and enthusiast sites of all types. People will be watching EVAs on their phones over lunch. We may see a forerunner of this in the Google Lunar X PRIZE missions to the Moon as early as 2012. The teams most likely to make an attempt on that prize will make full use of the most current media, as publicity and public engagement are keys to revenue generation.

Very true. As an example, most people do not breathlessly follow everything that happens on the ISS. And yet it not only survives, but thrives.
'The Pacific' Part 10 'Home'
In 'The Pacific' Part 10 'Home', those who have survived the war head back to their pre-war lives. For some it is as if the war had just been an inconvenient, albeit very dangerous, interruption. For others, the transition is much harder.
'The Tudors' Season 4 Episode 6
In 'The Tudors' Season 4 Episode 6, Henry VIII is in a fine fettle. He is enjoying his new status as a bachelor. Chopping his most recent wife and her lovers has caused him to be disposed to be generous to those left alive.
Obama Nominates Donald Berwick to Run Medicare, Medicaid
President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs those two programs, is Harvard professor and advocate of a rationed, single payer health system such as Britain's NHS Donald Berwick.
Apparently 'Family Guy's' latest target for ridicule are Vietnam Vets.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

For a canceled rocket Ares 1 is going to be pretty busy these next few years, including manned flights in 2014 and 2015 if certain plans come into being.
Harvard Has a Muggle Quidditch Team (Video)
Bill Nelson may be ready to deep six the commercial initiative and spend the money on some form of Ares instead. If so, the administration has only itself to blame. The way it was being approached was dubious from the start. But the moment Charlie Bolden opened his mouth about bailouts, the scheme ceased to be commercial in any case.
Sarah Palin Touts New 'Pioneer Feminism' (Video)

Annie Oakley, Not Gloria Steinem
Rand Simberg has a very curious and quite anger filled article on the debate over Obamaspace and the cancellation of the Constellation return to the Moon program. He accuses space reporters of not getting their facts straight, which often means not agreeing with Rand Simberg. But then he becomes a little factually challenged himself, especially when he meanders into the space equivalent of "what is is."

For instance, to what extent is the Vision for Space Exploration and the Constellation program the same thing. Rand makes a fine distinction between the two, suggesting that even if one cancels Constellation, one can still be in favor of the Vision for Space Exploration. That, of course, depends on how much one thinks rhetoric equals reality. Obama claims he favors space exploration (i.e. VSE), but in fact he doesn't because he doesn't want to actually do space exploration. It is sort of like claiming to be in favor of the liberation of Europe in World War II, while canceling Operation Overlord. Obama's program to go to an asteroid by 2025 cannot be taken seriously. It would happen, if at all, during the term of Obama's successor's successor. Obama would not spend more than a token amount on human space exploration beyond LEO, leaving the real decisions on funding and such until after his administration. At least with Constellation real money was being spent and real metal was being bent.

Rand repeats the canard that Constellation is "unaffordable." If going to the Moon, something we have done before, is too costly and too hard, what does that make going to an asteroid and then to Mars? It just does not compute.

The whole by pass the Moon and go to and asteroid and then Mars is a flawed strategy in any case. The Moon provides enormous resources that would make deep space exploration and eventual settlement far more sustainable. Obamaspace is not so much "Apollo on steroids" as it is Apollo on Crack, with a series of one shot missions that don't really create anything of lasting value. Going back to the Moon leads to infrastructure and the first permanent human settlement on another world.

Rand falls down in his fine distinction between "Commercial space" and SpaceX. Technically he is correct that there are other players in the nascent commercial launch industry, but for practical purposes right now it is just SpaceX.

Rand does not, by the way, even address the bombshell Gene Cernan dropped about bailouts for Commercial space. Charlie Bolden, perhaps inadvertently, sent a signal to the commercial space sector that the current administration considers it not so much too big but too important to fail. That has effectively transformed companies like SpaceX from innovative, entrepreneurial enterprises to the space faring equivalents of Goldman Sachs. It doesn't matter if any commercial space craft come into being; the government will just keep pouring money.

A lot of Rand's problem, and it is shared by all supporters of Obamaspace, is the extent to which he uncritically trusts that Barack Obama means what he says. I am of the opinion that all of this talk of commercial space and trips to asteroids is just what Daniel Patrick Moynihan once called "boob bait for the bubbas." The promises are not worth the breath they took to utter them. The sooner that Obamaspace supporters like Rand Simberg come to realize this, the sooner that informed discussion of what space future if any can still exist in the wake of Obama's space policy can begin.
From the producers of '300', the Caesar Trilogy.
BBC Drama 'Outcasts' set on future space colony.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

'True Blood' Season 3 to Start June 13th (Better Than Twilight - Video Included)
Paul Spudis discusses Using the Earth to study the Moon
A science fiction, homosexual, Iraq war film. The mind boggles.
Two Pro NASA rallies held in League City, South of Houston

More analysis on Democrats, Republicans Support NASA, Return to the Moon in Separate Rallies in League City South of Houston, Texas
'Stargate Universe' Season 1 Episode 17 'Pain'
Stargate Universe' Season 1 Episode 17 'Pain' presents that great staple of space faring, science fiction television drama, the episode in which the crew has an alien infection and starts seeing things and acting strangely. Star Trek did it at least twice.
Ridley Scott's 'Robin Hood' Starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett
Ridley Scott's 'Robin Hood' starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett went through an odd development process. At one time Crowe was to play the Sheriff as a sympathetic character with Robin as an evil terrorist.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Part of the incoherent nature of Obamaspace concerns the idea of a precision landing robotic test mission.
To that end, managers at NASA headquarters are “pursuing” a robotic landing on the Moon or “other planetary body” within about four years to test precision landing as part of near-term planning for developing technologies that will be needed to enable deep-space exploration under the emerging Obama space policy.

But the whole point of the Obama space policy and it's embrace of "flexible path" or "look but don't touch" is that it eschews landing on bodies like the Moon and Mars, at least for the foreseeable future. So why spend time and money perfecting precision landing?
Alan Quartermaine in space.
The Strategic Importance of the Moon
Gateway to the Universe, a New Source of Energy, and the New High Ground

When President Barack Obama rolled out the latest version of his space plan for NASA during a speech at the Kennedy Space Center in April, one of the more annoying things he had to say was his justification for not returning to the Moon.
The 'Field of Dreams' is Up for Sale
Apparently, the actual 'Field of Dreams', the farm house and baseball field that were part of the famous movie, is up for sale. For $5.4 million one can have not only the farm house and ball field, but other farm buildings and two souvenir stands.
'Bones' Season 5 Episode 21 'The Boy with the Answer'
In 'Bones' Season 5 Episode 21 'The Boy With the Answer', Dr. Brennan and the Jeffersonian Team face off once again against one of their deadliest enemy, a former assistant US attorney known as "The Grave Digger."
John Holdren Slams Armstrong, Cernan, Defends Obama Space Plan
Adam Sandler to Make Patrick Jean Short 'Pixels' into Feature Film

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's fashionable in the Internet Rocketeer Club to call Senator Richard Shelby stupid. Mind, he is a little more flagrant about protecting parochial interests than most even when they conflict with national interests. Nevertheless, Shelby seems to be running rings around the smart folks in the Administration.
The Fall of Alan Mollohan
Rep. Alan Mollohan- D West Virginia is the latest incumbent to be told by his constituents that his services will no longer be required as the result of a
primary contest. The 14-term Congressman had made some bad choices recently, and they finally caught up with him.
UCSD Muslim Student Tells David Horowitz She Supports Extermination of Jews (Video)
Australian Man Andrew Leitch Holds on to Baby Son While Hit by Car (Video)
Highland Park's Girl's Basketball Team Denied Trip to Arizona Tournament
The latest kerfuffle to erupt over the anti illegal immigration law in Arizona concerns the decision by Assistant School Superintendent Suzan Hebson to cancel a trip to that state by the Highland Park High School girls' basketball team.

Addendum: Sarah Palin has much more to say about this.
Armstrong, Cernan Testify Against Obama Space Plan Before Senate Committee
The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on the future of American human space flight, specifically examining the Obama space plan rolled out last February. Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan were among those who provided testimony.
Florida Today urges Congress to get on with the job of hammering out an alternative to Obamaspace. While that certainly acknowledges that Obamaspace is, for practical purposes, dead, the proposal is kind of like herding cats, absent strong leadership.
Neil Armstrong, First Man on the Moon, Speaks Out Against the Obama Space Plan Before US Senate (Video)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Eric Cantor Offers 'You Cut' the Federal Budget (Video)
At the risk of eliciting more whining about being "abused on a daily basis", I have to say I take some exception to Rand Simberg's display of disrespect for a couple of American heroes.
The Senate hearings have begun. The first and last man on the moon will be testifying. While they’re certainly admirable men, I’m not sure what they have to contribute to this discussion. They know nothing about affordable or sustainable programs. They are in fact experts on those with the opposite characteristics.

Yeah a couple of guys who have explored another world, including one who taught astronautical engineering, certainly have nothing to say about exploring other worlds. In fact no one actually knows anything about "affordable or sustainable programs" by which I think Rand means space programs, because no one has succeeded in doing it insofar as going to low Earth orbit, not to mention beyond, is concerned.

My view is that all of this dumping on the Apollo astronauts who have come out against Obamaspace stems not from a fear that they "have nothing to say." Rather the fear is that they have plenty to say and lot of it inconvenient to people who embrace the Obama plan.

Addendum: Here is the money quote and why the Obama Zombies in Space are afraid of people like Cernan.
Gene Cernan testified that he had a telecon last week with Bolden and that Bolden said that he was determined to do whatever was required to make the commerical space portion of the new policy successful and that commercial space may need a "bailout like GM/Chrysler" and that it "may be the largest bailout in history".

Some folks on the Internet are already attacking Cernan for this, but it seems to me that Bolden is the one who needs to start answering questions. I don't think Cernan is lying. Bolden, on the other hand, has been a little too slippery in some of his answers to the Congress to fully trust.

Addendum: Keith Cowing shares some of my astonishment.
I find it rather astonishing that Mr. Bolden would say such a thing and then not recall saying it. Either he was freelancing (something that OSTP has had issues with in the past) or he was repeating something that the White House had told him. If indeed the White House has discussed this possibility and assured Bolden that he'd have their backing, then Bolden is all but admitting that he and the Administration are embarking upon a commercial strategy with substantial pitfalls (i.e. Chrysler/GM bailouts of $15-17 billion). Moreover, these pitfalls have, up until this moment, not been divulged in public or (apparently) to Congress. I am also confused as to what he means by "bail out" since GM and Chrysler have to pay this money back - is Bolden suggesting that these companies would pay this money back?

From a staff perspective, someone on Bolden's staff should have flagged this comment of Bolden's when he made it and made certain that he was (at a minimum) prepared to respond and explain - and not be caught off guard in the manner that he was.

It's time for those people who have hitherto supported Obamaspace to come to Jesus. Cernan was quoting from contemporaneous notes and thus I'm pretty sure he was not having a senior moment, as some of the Internet Rocketeer Club has suggested. We now have to ask, in what sense is the Obama commercial space initiative commercial? Not very much, sad to say.

Those of us who have expressed skepticism about Obamaspace have been accused of everything from being racist to being socialist. It looks like the supporters of Obamaspace have been, if not socialists, crony capitalists.
Obama - Rush Limbaugh Can Go 'Play with Himself' (Video)
Deadliest Warrior: Aztec Jaguar vs. Zande Warrior
Deadliest Warrior: Aztec Jaguar vs. Zande Warrior pitted two of the most exotic warriors yet to appear in the series. While most people have heard of the Aztecs, not too many people have heard of the Zande, once the terror of Central Africa.
'Lost' Season 6 Episode 15 'Across the Sea'
In 'Lost' Season 6 Episode 15 'Across the Sea' was learned the origin of both Jacob and the being we have come to know as either Smokezilla or the Locke Monster. They are like Cain and Abel, Romulus and Remus in being light and dark.
'Justified' Season 1 Episode 9 'Hatless'
In 'Justified' Season 1 Episode 9 'Hatless' Raylan Givens, newly suspended from the Marshal's Service for various indiscretions, finds himself drunk in a bar. This condition causes him to do a stupid thing, which is unusual for him.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alan Mollohan of West Virginia is the latest incumbent whose services will no longer be required in the Congress.
Calling all Moonbots
Australian Girls to Auction Off Their Virginity in Reality Show
Inspired no doubt by the example of Natalie Dylan, an Australian documentary film maker named Justin Sisley is planning a reality TV show in which female participants will auction off their virginity to the highest bidder.
Lars Vilks Attacked for Drawing Mohammad as a Dog (Video)
Inspired by Galaxy Zoo, NASA has developed a web site called Moon Zoo in which people are invited to look at images of the lunar surface taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and mark out interesting features of scientists to study further,
Soldiers from Britain, United States, France March in Red Square (Video)
Apparently Lori Garver has has failed to get support from what are called "academic space organizations" for Obamaspace, at least in its entire form.
Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and other agency officials asked a gathering of mostly academic space organizations for help with the plan in Congress, after barring reporters from the meeting. But the groups decided not to form a coalition for that purpose, and as of the end of last week were still hammering out details of a joint statement that will endorse some — but not all — of the space policy changes embodied in NASA’s Fiscal 2011 budget request.

The secrecy with which this administration is conducting space policy deliberations is very off putting. When the GOP take over Congress next year, there really needs to be an investigation.
Mojave Cross Stolen by Vandals in the Middle of the Night
A seven-foot metal cross that constituted a memorial for the fallen of World War I was stolen by vandals Sunday night. The cross has stood for 75 years in the Mojave Desert and was the subject of a law suit brought by the ACLU.
The Attack of the 50 Foot Pelosi (Video)
'House' Season 6 Episode 20 'Baggage'
In 'House' Season 6 Episode 20 'Baggage' House is having another session with Dr. Nolan, his therapist, and has arrived late. This is something that Nolan finds almost as significant as House's new interest in hitting the bottle.
Rand Simberg says that NASA's future is getting murkier. At the risk of hurting his feelings again, I have to disagree. In fact NASA's future is becoming a bit clearer that Constellation in some form is going to survive. Obamaspace was a nonstarter from its misbegotten conception. Any murkiness that may remain shrouds what form Constellation will survive in as well as how long and with how much trouble it will take to assume its new form.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What if the Times Square bomb had exploded?
If the bomb planted in a green 1993 Nissan Pathfinder SUV on the evening of May 1 had exploded, here's what would have happened, according to retired New York police department bomb-squad detective Kevin Barry. The car would have turned into a "boiling liquid explosive." The propane tanks that the bomb comprised would have overheated and ignited into "huge blowtorches" that could have been ejected from the vehicle. The explosion, lasting only a few seconds, would have created a thermal ball wide enough to swallow up most of the intersection. A blast wave would have rocketed out in all directions at speeds of 12,000 to 14,000 ft. per sec. (3,700 to 4,300 m per sec.); hitting the surrounding buildings, the wave would have bounced off and kept going, as much as nine times faster than before. Anyone standing within 1,400 ft. (430 m) — about five city blocks — of the explosion would have been at risk of being hit by shrapnel and millions of shards of flying glass. The many who died would not die prettily.
Frank Frazetta RIP

Addendum: More on Fantasy Artist Frank Frazetta Has Died (Video)
Confirmed: The first man to walk on the Moon and the last man to walk on the Moon will testify against Obamaspace before the Senate.

Addendum: More on Neil Armstrong coming down from Olympus.
The thoughts of Neil Armstrong on anything concerning space will be listened to with great interest. Though the Moon landing was a collective effort of hundreds of thousands of people, Neil Armstrong is often mentioned in the same breath as other great explorers, such as Columbus, Magellan, and Lewis and Clark. It will be tough indeed for supporters of the Obama space plan to defend it as powerfully as Armstrong will likely oppose it.

Not that they won't try. "Dude, sure you walked on the Moon, but--like--you're old."

Unlike Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong seems quite comfortable about other people going to the Moon though he has already been there.
Santa Rita Art Teacher: American Flag 'Offensive'
An art teacher in a middle school class in the Santa Rita School District in California asked that her class draw anything they wanted. But one student got some unwanted artistic criticism for drawing an American flag with the phrase "God Bless America."
Plans are afoot to use the Ares as the basis of a new heavy lift vehicle to be built later this decade.
The Fall of Sen. Robert Bennett
The elimination of Sen. Robert Bennett for consideration for a fourth turn in the Senate has sent shockwaves through the Republican Party and through the Washington D.C. political establishment.
Obama Nominates Elena Kagan for Supreme Court
President Barack Obama has chosen his solicitor general, Elena Kagan, to be the next Associate Supreme Court Justice, replacing retiring John Paul Stevens. Elena Kagan was dean of the Harvard Law School previous to her current appointment.
General Lester Lyles thinks that Obamaspace spends too little money on human space flight where previously he believed that too little money was spent on the other than human space flight accounts in NASA.

The solution to this obvious problem is that we realize that things cost what they cost and, if we propose to do them, pay for them.
'The Tudors' Season 4 Episode 5
'The Tudors' Season 4 Episode 5 might well be called The Fall of Katherine Howard. The story of how Queen Katherine finally arrived at the block is a curious morality tale as well as a lesson in how government can work when there are no limits.
Doris Hamill suggests that the "Look but Don't Touch" exploration part of Obamaspace will require cooperation between NASA's research and operation sides. That would be true of any space exploration program, including return to the Moon.

Meanwhile Taylor Dinerman suggests useful shuttle missions that go beyond keeping the work force employed.
The one item that is now in production that would truly be exciting and would show NASA’s commitment to true “game changing” technology is the large inflatable Sundancer modules being built by Bigelow Aerospace. Based on technology that NASA decided not to use for the large TransHab module, putting one of these on the station using the last shuttle flight would dramatically increase living space available on the ISS and make it a more attractive place to work or visit.
'The Pacific' Part 9 'Okinawa
In 'The Pacific' Part 9 'Okinawa' the last and in many ways the worst battle of World War II is depicted through the eyes of Eugene Sledge and his friends. Okinawa was a hell of mud, rock, and rain paid for by blood.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

"Iron Man 2" Featuring the Return of Tony Stark
"Iron Man 2" sees Tiny Stark, aka Iron Man, seemingly at the top of the world. As Iron Man, Tony Stark has literally "privatized world peace" by using his combat suit to suppress all the troublemakers in the world.
Bill Maher Tries to Hit Back at George Will and Makes an Even Bigger Fool of Himself (Video)
'Stargate Universe' Season 1 Episode 16 'Sabotage'
"Stargate Universe" Season 1 Episode 16 "Sabotage" finds the crew of the Destiny in a world of trouble, as usual. Destiny is about to voyage into intergalactic space. For one thing, that means iron rations—again—until she gets to the next galaxy.
Methane Bubble Took Down BP Oil Rig
Texas Governor Rick Perry, a few days ago, referred to the explosion that took down the British Petroleum drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico as "an act of God." For this Perry was hooted at by many of his political opponents.

Friday, May 07, 2010

More studies about what sort of heavy lift rocket to build.
Keith Cowing is reporting that both Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan were briefed on a secret NASA study of the internal exploration working group. This buttresses the report that both moonwalkers will be testifying before Congress next week. It should be fascinating.
Rand Simberg is looking for a critique of his New Atlantis article with a view of turning it into a book. If anyone cares to offer any, be prepared for some snark. What Rand really means by critique he really means unconditional praise. I'm not sure what he means by "idiotic attempt" but perhaps it is this mention I made a while ago of some of the flaws in his reasoning.
The Declaration of Independence, US Constitution -- Now with Warning Labels
Blogger Eugene Volokh reports that a book put out by Wilder Publications has come with a parental warning just in case young children should happen to read it. What is this book that might warp young minds and traumatize them for life?
My suspicion that the "compromise" described here is the Bill Nelson plan, which involved the "flexible path" or the "look but don't touch" exploration program that doesn't involve visiting anywhere larger than a small asteroid. No Moon landings. No Mars landing either, at least for many decades. How this will be received, if there is anything to it, remains to be seen.

Addendum: Rand Simberg, on the other hand, loves it.
I don’t know whether he’s right or not, but it’s politically plausible, for the near term. If we have to waste a few billion continuing to pretend to develop an Ares-based heavy lifter for a few years to keep the Florida rice bowls full, I can live with that, as long as the orbital technology funding doesn’t get starved for it. I’m still hoping that eventually, and before we sink too much money in that money pit, we’ll realize that we don’t need it. As for lunar landings and bases, there’s also plenty of time to change peoples’ minds on that. Everything planned for the deep-space missions will support it, and all we’ll need is a lander (which Masten and Armadillo, not to mention Blue Origin, are developing prototypes of now). If a fueling depot is established at L-1, that’s a natural time to decide whether to use it as a staging point for lunar surface activities.

How we get from a "Look But Don't Touch" program with heavy lifters to a Return to the Moon program without heavy lifters, Rand does not deign to reveal. Mind the idea of a commercially developed lunar lander is an intriguing one and would be part of a fix to Obamaspace.
'Super 8' Trailer to Run with 'Iron Man 2'
One of the most talked about aspects of the new "Iron Man 2" film is about a mysterious trailer for a film called "Super 8" to be directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg that will be running with the film.
Sarah Palin Endorses Carly Fiorina, Catches Flack from the Right
Sarah Palin has aroused the ire of some movement conservatives by endorsing Carly Fiorina in the primary contest for US Senate in California. The winner would face Barbara Boxer in the general election.
The idea of an interstellar probe is being mulled over again.
Mike Griffin has a succienct word to describe Obamaspace--"drivel."
'Bones' Season 5 Episode 20 'The Witch in the Wardrobe'
'Bones' Season 5 Episode 20 'The Witch in the Wardrobe' starts with a C.S. Lewis pun and a cabin in the woods that has burned down and the skeleton on a middle aged woman in a wedding dress found in a clothing wardrobe.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Rand Simberg is genuinly shocked that Obamaspace has caused space policy chaos in the Congress. Tom Matula has some good things to say in the comments, though.
President Obama needed to work with Congress, especially members from the districts most effected, before rolling this out with his PROPOSED 2011 budget for NASA. A large part of this mess is because he appears to have not do so.

And Obamaspace may well have damaged rather than helped commercial space.
The really sad thing is that this change in policy was not needed for the future New Space wants to come about. Under the old policy its very likely COTS-D would have followed COTS, but without the pressure firms like SpaceX and Orbital now must operate under. And which may well break them and the COTS program. As for Constellation, it would have continued. If it was impossible for it to be successful, as many believed it would have died a natural death when commercial access started, and with only commercial left, it would have not been replaced, which is the desired New Space outcome.
California Students Wearing American Flag T-Shirts on Cinco De Mayo Sent Home
Some students at the Live Oak High School at Morgan Hill, Calif., found out that what they thought was a display of patriotic pride was, in fact, an act of cultural insensitivity when committed on the wrong day.
Houston Congressman Pete Olson criticizes Obama space plan in The Hill
'Cowboys and Aliens' a Film Coming in 2011
"Cowboys and Aliens" is a film now in preproduction that depicts an alien invasion of the Earth during the 1880s Wild West. American settlers, cowboys, and an Apache Indian tribe must set aside their differences to fight off the invasion.
Jeff Foust reminds us that there is a special reason for all those who think a space future is important to rejoice at seeing the backside of David Obey.
Hutchison of Texas, Kosmas of Florida present alternate space policy

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

More evidence that Obamaspace is collapsing in the Congress.
In A Trajectory to Nowhere', Scott Horowitz mounts a vigorous and well reasoned defense of the Constellation program. Horowitz repeats the wide spread belief that the cancellation of Constellation was politically motivated. Most controversial is his assertion that an Ares 1/Orion system would actually be cheaper to operate than any of the contemplated commercial options. He notes that Space X's Falcon 9 is behind schedule and over budget, something that many supporters of Obamaspace tend to miss.

The usual suspects are likely to sneer at Horowitz's analysis, without offering any counter evidence of their own. But Horowitz is likely to get a ready hearing in Congress. Also if Obamaspace goes forward and the new space companies fail to step up, Horowitz will seem prescient indeed.

Addendum: Clark Lindsey jumps in with both feet disputing Horowitz's analysis of the cost of using the Dragon/Falcon 9 system vs. the Orion/Ares 1 system. Quoting Elon Musk's estimate, which itself has been disputed by some other commercial space experts, is somewhat a debatable riposte.

In any case, the dirty little secret about making the commercial option work is that companies like Space X have to develop private markets for their vehicles to bump up flight rates, else their services are going to be expensive indeed for the government to pay for as sole customer.

Clark mentions the huge development cost for Ares 1 as estimated by the GAO without mentioning that it is suppose to be part of a system that takes astronaut explorers to the Moon and beyond, which Dragon/Falcon 9 cannot do.
'Hitler Meets Christ' Trailer (Video)
David Obey, Chairman of House Appropriations, to Retire
Congressman David Obey D-Wisconsin, the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, is expected to retire at the end of this Congress, not seeking reelection, according to Politico. The implications are Earth shaking.
'Lost' Season 6 Episode 14 'The Candidate'
'Lost' Season 6 Episode 14 'The Candidate' contains a mystery in one time line and a series of betrayals and tragedies in another. Things are beginning to take form for the climax of one of television's strangest series.
'Justified' Season 1 Episode 8 'Blowback'
'Justified' Season 1 Episode 8 'Blowback' begins with Ava being interrupted at breakfast by the evil patriarch of the Crowder clan, who keeps calling her "daughter in law" despite the fact that she gave his son and her husband a 38 caliber divorce.
Deadliest Warrior: Jesse James vs. Al Capone
Deadliest Warrior: Jesse James vs. Al Capone pitted two of the most notorious outlaw gangs in American history in a fight to the death. In one corner,
Jesse James from the Wild West. In the other corner, Al Capone from Chicago of the Roaring 20s.
Keep Oil for Petrochemicals

In other words, even when we do run our cars with hydrogen, ethanol, or a Mr. Fusion Home Power Plant, there will still be a need for oil as feedstock to make things like cosmetics to paint, from cell phones to microwave ovens, from internet connections to televisions, from soap to ketchup bottles, from pesticides/herbicides that enhance crop productivity to the ink for printing that rarely printed picture to the insulation on the wire that brings electricity into our home.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Inspired by President Obama's reason for not going back to the Moon, i.e., Buzz Aldrin has already been there, a reader offers the following:
* "We don't need to go back to the New World. Chris has been there!"

-- Queen Isabella of Spain, 1493

* "We don't need to go back to the South Pole. Roald has been there!"

-- King Haakon VII of Norway, 1912

* "We don't need to go back to Paris. Lindy has been there!"

-- President Calvin Coolidge of the United States, 1927

Indeed. Flawless logic.
The Principle at Dicken Elementary School in Ann Arbor organized a field trip for students to hear a talk by an African American rocket scientist. The problem is, only the African American students were invited.

Those left behind were naturally rather resentful. But this is how identity politics is practiced in this country. It's not racist if certain groups of people are excluded.
Happy National Star Wars Day
May 4th has been declared "National Star Wars Day." Why this would be so surpasses understanding. The first Star Wars film premiered on May 25th, and a wonderful day it was indeed.
Clark Lindsey makes some interesting but contradictory points in response to the Charles Homan Washington Monthly article. After inveighing in the usual way against Ares, Constellation, and so on, Clark has this to say:
With respect to unmanned science versus manned spaceflight, I'll note some counter arguments
regarding their relative value:

A UK panel, which included noted theoretical physicist Frank Close who had not prior interest in manned spaceflight, concluded that the UK had made a mistake in declining to have a manned program. This hurt rather than helped funding for space science.

Similarly, if there had not been a large NASA manned spaceflight program, the deep space program [budget] would probably be comparable to, say, the high energy physics program, which gets on the order of a billion dollars. Space science produces lots of papers, for sure, but it's not as if it is making a big practical impact on earth. Without the shield of the manned program, it would be wacked down in no time.

Steve Squyres, the Cornell principle investigator for the Opportunity/Spirit mission, has no patience for those who claim robots can match human explorers: "they will never, ever have the capabilities that humans will have and I sure hope you send people soon."

I'm glad that someone else has noticed the Royal Astronomical Society study, which doesn't get cited often enough. But Clark should also realize that under Obamaspace, there will be no more large NASA manned spaceflight programs. That is the whole point of it.
The new Russell Crowe 'Robin Hood' is about a heroic soldier who, upon returning home from battle with Muslim fanatics in the Middle East, finds a tyrannical government that is raising taxes, spending recklessly, and generally oppressing the people. But of course the story line has nothing to do with the modern age, certainly not about the Tea Party protests.

Ale Party protests, on the other hand...
Scenes from the Nashville Flood
A VASIMR propelled probe to an asteroid? Sounds interesting.
Say, since LRO, Chandrayaan, Chang'e, and other probes have already been to the Moon, why are people so keen to send more of them?
Obama Calls Tea Party Protestors 'Tea Baggers'
It appears that in a new book about the first year of his presidency, "The Promise: President Obama Year One" by Jonathon Alter, President Obama referred to Tea Party protesters as "Tea Baggers," a term derived from an act of oral sex.
'House' Season 6 Episode 19 'The Choice'
House' Season 6 Episode 19 'The Choice' begins at a wedding, which is ordinarily a happy occasion for all involved. And so it is until the point arrives for the groom to say, "I do." Instead nothing comes out of his mouth at all and then he swoons.
Faisal Shahzad Arrested for Times Square Bombing Attempt
A Pakistani born American named Faisal Shahzad was arrested in relation to the attempted bombing in Times Square at JFK Airport while attempting to board a flight to Dubai by FBI agents and New York Police detectives.

Monday, May 03, 2010

In describing Obamaspace as "dangerous", Gene Kranz is clearly clinging to an anachronistic view of space flight where things actually got accomplished, missions were flown, and brave new worlds were explored. Clearly he is not a man who is with the current program.
'Trailer' for 'Rendezvous with Rama' Film Made by Vancouver Film Students (Video)
Charles Bolden and Mike Griffin found themselves in the same room at a banquet to honor mutual colleague Bill Gerstenmaier, the 2010 recipient of the National Space Trophy. If that were not entertaining enough, Griffin had this to say.
"It has become much to fashion lately to compare Constellation to Apollo, with the thought of course that we don't want to do anything that might look at all like Apollo," said Griffin.

"I wonder about that sometimes because Apollo made me pretty proud to be an American. That drive has sustained a couple of generations of space professionals. So, today we have a space policy choice confronting us. Do we want to do innovative, game-changing technologies? Or, do we want to do something that might look a little bit like Apollo?'

Some other blogs are jumping on this, claiming the Griffin is actually eschewing innovation for reliving the past. Actually I took his remarks to be in the form of a little sarcasm. The "innovative, game-changing technologies" program has been criticized by many, including Your Humble Servant, as a directionless, vague project that doesn't lead to anything like--well--actual voyages to other worlds. Apollo on the other hand accomplished a great deal. The tragedy of Apollo was that it was not followed through. Constellation which, in retrospect unfortunately, was called by Griffin "Apollo on steroids" is not so much designed to repeat Apollo as it is meant to pick off where it left off. The Obamaspace proposal does nothing.

Addendum: In the discussion on Nasa Watch, Jim Muncy, in the comments section, repeats the big lie of the debate over Constellation.
Repeating Apollo requires Apollo budgets. Whining that we should have Apollo budgets does not get us Apollo budgets. Therefore, repeating Apollo is a recipe for disaster.

Sorry, but no. Apollo, at its height, cost about double the current NASA budget, about 34 billion and change in 1965-66. Even the administration (supported by the Augustine Committee) has said that about five billion or so dollars extra would be needed to get Constellation back on track. Some of the cheaper alternatives suggested by the Augustine committee would cost about three billion extra. The means a 22 to 24 billion dollar NASA, not exactly a budget buster.

Muncy is the same person, by the way, who once boasted that the first person back on the Moon would be a private space traveler. A fascinating idea, but one that doesn't work in the real world. In any case under Obamaspace, which Muncy supports, no one will ever go back to the Moon again. After all, Buzz Aldrin has already been there.