Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Monday, July 30, 2012
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Roger Ebert takes the occasion of Ride's passage and her sexual preference to take a shot at Mitt Romney. I suspect Romney is like me and most other people: Don't ask. Don't care.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
Sunday, July 22, 2012
For a company to spend six years and start up money developing a needed launch system, only to abandon it just as success and profit is at hand, is difficult to sort through. One could be forgiven for imagining that the development of the Falcon 1 as a commercial launch system was never intended but rather a pretext to flight qualify the pieces (specifically the Merlin 1 engine) used in the nine-engine cluster that powers the Falcon 9 launcher. Interestingly, others have noted that the now-cancelled NASA Constellation Ares I launch vehicle (“The Stick”), purportedly designed to launch the new Orion spacecraft to LEO, likewise appeared to be more of a development effort than a flight project, in that its various pieces (e.g., cryogenic upper stage, five-segment SRB) were all needed to build the large Ares V heavy lift rocket.
Meanwhile, customers in need of low-cost options for launching small payloads are out of luck. Falcon 9 has yet to launch an ounce of commercial payload and Falcon 1 is not for sale. Of course, one can launch small satellites using Orbital’s Taurus launch vehicle, but its ~$50-70 M cost and recent record of unreliability (e.g., the Glory satellite launch failure) engender neither comfort nor confidence. More significantly, after investing in the R&D effort of a new, unproven company that was offering a low cost, small launch vehicle, SpaceX’s original DoD customers, banking on the creation of a quick, inexpensive capability to launch small satellites, saw their support of Falcon 1 go by the board. It appears that SpaceX dropped their initial operational vehicle for the promotion and promise of far more ambitious and distant goals.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
"Fight for Space" is a feature length documentary film that explores the current state and future of the U.S. space program. Since the Apollo era of the 1960s, NASA's budget has been shrinking and our ambitions in space have been decreasing. We are producing a documentary that will examine the reasons why our space program is not all it can be. We are also going to show that space IS worth the time, money, and energy that it needs, not for only exploration and scientific reasons but for economic, planetary security, and cultural reasons as well. Many problems have occurred in just the past 10 years that have lead to the consistent underfunding of NASA, the cancellation of multiple space programs, and the decline of America's role in space.
We are not producing your average space documentary where we show restored footage from the moon landings and CGI galaxy renderings. We are covering the real political and economic issues of the recent past, today, and tomorrow. We are covering both sides of the argument and we promise to produce a fair and objective film.
The fact is, the United States as a nation has lost our edge in space, not just as a leader but even as a participant. We want to know the real reasons behind why we are in this scientific slump and what we can do about it. We are asking hard questions to the people that know what is going on and we will not stop until we receive real answers and real solutions to these problems. We are also speaking with everyday citizens off the street, so we can discover how the American public feels about space exploration. In our democracy, all voices must be heard.
Rand Simberg, of course, pans the movie without having seen it and, indeed, before it has been completed. I can only suggest that Dana Rohrabacher, who is one of the interviewees in the film is likely to hold up the commercial space aspect. I suspect there will be more interviewed along that line if they get funding. The producers indicate that this is so. In any case Simberg's knee jerk response is worthy of a Brian Ross, in my humble opinion.
Just in passing, by the way, I suspect that if one put a few drinks in Elon Musk, he might express complete agreement with Neil degrasse Tyson's One Percent Solution for NASA, if only because there would be more money for subsidies and contracts for SpaceX. One thing that the New Space Visigoths forget, a well funded NASA would be a more prosperous customer for the commercial space sector.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Monday, July 16, 2012
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Friday, July 13, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Once again Mike Griffin and Scott Pace are using a third party forum to (1) whine about the big game they lost in high school and (2) advance their personal views - views that may or may not represent the Romney campaign - which is (3) an organization that they may or may not represent depending on how they (4) want the media to report what they say or did not say so as to (5) stay in the news so that (6) one of them gets to run NASA (again).
I wonder, first of all, about the mentality of someone who thinks that the ongoing debate about the future of the American manned space program is a big game in high school. It certainly shows where Keith is coming from
As for the rest, both Griffin and Scott Pace have the right to express themselves about anything, especially about space policy, and in any venue that they want and will have them. Finally, strangely after the Bolden/Garver fiasco, the idea of either Pace or Griffin as head of NASA does not frighten me as much as it evidently does Keith
Monday, July 09, 2012
Sunday, July 08, 2012
PT 73 departing...
Saturday, July 07, 2012
Friday, July 06, 2012
Thursday, July 05, 2012
Still, what a lovely end to that modern Thermopylae or the Alamo.
Just as a note to the gentle readers, if Liberty makes the final cut, the entire purpose of the huge government subsidies that have been paid out under the commercial crew program is called into question. ATK and Astrium will have built their rocket ship on the own dime, in the traditional commercial way, and not as a drain on the tax payers.
Allahpundit is skeptical that it was polonium.
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
Monday, July 02, 2012
Addendum: Paul Spudis weighs in.
Sunday, July 01, 2012
That having been said, I have to note some of his talk was upon the subject of what is wrong with space policy. He divides that enemies of what is good and pure into three groups, the farmers, the committee, and the Tinkerbells
I'll likely have a more extensive analysis in due course, but I have to mention that in Albrecht's view the Tinkerbells are "--people who believe that if Americans just knew how great NASA was, 'the money would come pouring in and all of these things could be solved.'"
I interpret that as a slam against Neil deGrasse Tyson and his outside the box idea for doubling NASA's budget. I think there is a case to be made for that, if done gradually, and with changes within the space agency to allow it to absorb such an increase effectively.
This leads us to the ever entertaining Rand Simberg, who notes:
And in comments over there, Mark Whittington once again demonstrates himself to be a tinkerbell. [Update late evening] Hilarious. Tinkerbell has showed up in comments here, whining about being aptly named, and cluelessly clapping her little hands to keep the useless SLS/Orion alive.
One hardly knows where to begin. In his evident desire to be the Bill Maher of space advocacy, Rand has apparently accused me of being a fairy, even referring to me with the feminine pronoun. I'll leave it to the gentle reader to imagine what he must be implying.
I can only say that Rand has no idea how he appears when he behaves this way. One would wish he exercise a little more self control and a lot more self examination. He's done quite a bit of damage to the space cause over the years by making it appear that space advocates are a bunch of nut jobs who like to engage in flaming each other. His recent public performance when he mumbled and stumbled through his half baked space property rights proposal does not bear close examination either.