Random thoughts on politics, current events, popular culture, and whatever else interests me.
Mark R. Whittington is a writer residing in Houston, Texas. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel of suspense Nocturne which he coauthored with his wife, Chantal, The Children of Apollo trilogy, The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories, Gabriella’s War, The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper, and Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?
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Monday, February 19, 2018
Study: NASA spending to double in the next 22 years
Just looking at the current budget proposal for #NASA, the outlook for the next few years seems to be pretty bleak. After boosting the #Space Agency’s budget to $19.9 billion, the Trump administration plans to drop spending back to $19.6 billion a year for the following three years. That means that NASA’s budget will be flat and its buying power will be steadily eaten up by inflation. The level of spending that the space agency is expected to go back to the moon on seems absurd, even given the expected contributions from the commercial sector and international partners.
I'll be on The Space Show Tuesday discussing, among other things no doubt, the Great Utah Moon Debate that I started in the pages of the Salt Lake Tribune. Times are 10 pm easterm 9 pm central.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Study suggests that people would react positively to the discovery of alien life
When alien first contact is depicted in fiction, the story is usually accompanied by worldwide violence as alien spacecraft destroy Earth cities, and humanity mounts a last-ditch desperate defense to save itself. “Independence Day” and “War of the Worlds” come to mind. However, a recent #Study published in #Frontiers In Psychology suggests that humans would react positively to a real-world discovery of #Alien Life, at least one that doesn’t involve mass casualties and destruction.
Saturday, February 17, 2018
India’s Chandrayaan-2 set to fly to the moon in April
The launch of the Chandrayaan-2 [VIDEO]has been set for April by the Indian Space Research Organization. The mission to the moon will consist of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover and is aimed toward the #Lunar South Pole. If weather or some other reason delays the launch, the next available window will be in October.
Friday, February 16, 2018
Will the SpaceX Big Falcon Rocket return humanity to the moon?
Sometime in the mid-2020s, a rocket ship sits gleaming in the south Texas sun. The #Big #Falcon Rocket, or BFR as it has been called, has been dubbed the “We’re Back” by SpaceX, which had been developing the launch vehicle for the past six or so years. It rises 348 feet in height, consisting of a booster stage and a spaceship stage. The "We're Back" is getting ready to fly to the moon today. The following is based on material from the NextBigFuture.com which is about the possibilities of using the BFR as a moon ship.
Thursday, February 15, 2018
In the wake of the Falcon Heavy launch can the Space Launch System be saved?
The first flight of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy [VIDEO], the prospect of seeing the Big Falcon Rocket as well as the Blue Origin New Glenn, has called into question that utility of NASA’s heavy-lift rocket project, the #space launch system. While the commercial heavy-lift rockets are becoming available for little or no money expended by NASA, the Space Launch System is costing the space agency $2.6 billion per year to develop, with the first flight now scheduled for 2020 and the first crewed flight in 2023. Moreover, the SLS can launch only once a year and will cost $1 billion to do so.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
‘Homeland’ takes a look at a Hillary Clinton-style presidency
Anyone who thinks that the Trump presidency is the end of the world would do themselves good by tuning into Season 7 of “Homeland,” a series that depicted the long #war on terror as a morally ambiguous struggle between aggrieved Muslims and a very flawed the United States. Former superspy Carrie Mathison, who had confronted various Islamist terrorists, Islamophobics in the horridly woke Season 6, and her own mental illness is now faced with her most formidable enemy yet. President Elizabeth Keane is providing the series a window into what a Hillary Clinton presidency [VIDEO]would have been like. It is not pretty.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
The bad news and the good news for Trump’s plan to return to the moon
Some bad news and some #Good News had come with the Trump plan to return to the moon. The bad news is that no date is set for astronauts to actually land on the #Lunar Surface, unlike other plans, such as President Kennedy’s challenge to land a man on the moon and return him safely to the Earth by the end of the 1960s. The good news is that the plan sets up partnerships between NASA and the commercial sector to foster privately operated lunar landers that would take instruments, then cargo, and eventually people to the lunar surface.
Monday, February 12, 2018
Is an Israeli intervention in Syria coming?
A clash between Israel and Syrian and Iranian forces close to the Jewish state’s northern border threatens to open a new phase in the multi-front #Civil War that has pitted an alliance of #Syria. Iran, and Russia against a coalition of Kurdish and Arab rebels backed by the #United States and an alliance of moderate Arab states. ISIS and Turkey are also players in the complicated conflict.
Sunday, February 11, 2018
The Falcon Heavy launch gets SpaceX’s Elon Musk new respect from the right
Conservatives have always had mixed feelings toward SpaceX’s #Elon Musk. On the one hand, they tend to gravitate toward swashbuckling entrepreneurs who push the technological envelope while making lots of money. On the other hand, some on the right feel a little queasy about Musk’s dependence on government subsidies. His high profile schmoozing with then President Barack Obama in 2010, around the time that leader had killed NASA’s deep space exploration program, did not help.
Saturday, February 10, 2018
Elon Musk slammed for launching a car into space by Planetary Society writer
Is #Elon Musk threatening to contaminate Mars by launching his used Tesla Roadster electric sports car into interplanetary space? Could he have made better use of both the Falcon Heavy launch [VIDEO] and his car? And what’s a white guy like Musk doing anyway by accomplishing such a thing on his own, without a by your leave (except a launch license by the FAA)? Those and other questions were asked in a recent post on the #Planetary Society’s blog by Jason Davis, the digital editor of that organization.
Friday, February 09, 2018
Not everyone likes how Elon Musk launched a car into space on the Falcon Heavy
The reaction to #Elon Musk’s launching his used Tesla electric Roadster sports car into interplanetary #Space on a Falcon Heavy [VIDEO]. And, why not? Not only does the successful flight of the newest heavy-lift rocket hold such promise for a new age of space exploration, but the image of Starman at the controls of the sports car as the Earth recedes in the rearview mirror is so utterly cool that it almost defies description.
Thursday, February 08, 2018
Ted Cruz provides upbeat assessment on space, but also with a couple of warnings
Sen. #Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness gave the keynote address at the 21st Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference. His speech was mainly an upbeat assessment of how legislation was passed last year that advanced the cause of commercial space and the future of space exploration. However, the senator did offer a warning about administration plans to withdraw from the International Space Station and a plea to confirm Rep. #Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma as NASA administrator. A report by NASA Watch was used for material in this article.
Wednesday, February 07, 2018
How SpaceX’s Elon Musk is helping Donald Trump clean Barack Obama’s NASA mess
SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon Heavy, which not only sent a used Tesla Roadster sports car with a mannequin dubbed “Starman” toward Mars but featured the simultaneous landing of the two strap-on boosters. The only failure of the flight occurred when the core first stage, instead of landing on a drone ship, instead crashed into the ocean at high speed. Nevertheless, the first flight of the Falcon Heavy is being universally hailed as the beginning of a new era in space exploration.
Tuesday, February 06, 2018
Canada’s Trudeau mocked for ‘peoplekind’ correction
Americans who feel triggered continuously by things that President Donald Trump says and tweets can comfort themselves about one thing. They could be Canadian and thus in a constant state of befuddlement about how Justin Trudeau became that country’s prime minister, besides the fact that he is the son of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, another madcap Canadian politician who made the late 60s and the entire decade of the 70s so entertaining up north.
Monday, February 05, 2018
What to do about a problem like California?
#California, once the state where the future began, as an engine of economic growth and prosperity, is increasingly becoming a problem for the rest of the United States. The #Los Angeles Times notes that despite (or perhaps because of) the generous spending the state makes for anti-poverty programs, poverty has gotten so bad that California is now the worst in the nation when adjusted for the cost of living. The New York Times notes that a quarter of the nation’s homeless resides in California, living on the streets, under bridges, and in parks in the glittering cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.
Sunday, February 04, 2018
Rep John Culberson expresses reservations about Trump space station plans
Rep. #John Culberson, R-Texas has weighed in on the Trump proposal to end NASA participation in the #international space station. His reaction [VIDEO] is far more nuanced than that of Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida. [VIDEO] However, Culberson’s opinion on the ISS matter carries a lot of weight. He chairs the House appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA and would, therefore, have to approve of any plan to transition from the ISS to a commercial low Earth orbit infrastructure that may or may not include the current space station under private management.
Saturday, February 03, 2018
The incomparable Paul Spudis continues the debate on the settlement of the moon in the pages of the Salt Lake Tribune in:The poles of the moon are the most valuable real estate in the solar system
Previous articles in the raging debate include:
How Rick Scott could use space as an issue against Bill Nelson
Politico notes that Governor of Florida #Rick Scott, a Republican, is making moves to challenge Sen. #Bill Nelson, a Democrat, for his Senate seat. Scott is considered a popular governor, and Nelson is one of the more vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Republicans hope to pad their narrow majority in the Senate in the upcoming midterm elections. The Florida race is one area where hopes are running high.
Friday, February 02, 2018
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy would open the door to the outer planets and the moon
With the first launch attempt of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy [VIDEO]drawing nigh, a number of media outlets are beginning to relate the implications of the rocket and its capabilities for space exploration. While the #space launch system will have much greater capabilities, it is years away from entering operational service and will cost as much as 10 times more to launch than the Falcon Heavy. If the launch goes as planned, the Falcon Heavy will be available now. A report by the Verge provided a lot of the material used in this article.
Thursday, February 01, 2018
India to be the next country to land on the moon
Now that the Google Lunar XPrize is history [VIDEO] and the efforts of private groups to land on the moon delayed to some undetermined future date, it looks like that the next mission to the #Lunar Surface is going to be conducted in the next several weeks by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The journal Science has a rundown on the Chandraayan-2, due to launch in March.