Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Real Men of Genius Video Posted

Okay, it's finally done. I was so pressured to make it that I finally did. lol. Thanks to Jonathan, my good voice over professional for doing the announcer bit. I'm the crappy singer, but oh well. Enjoy!!!

Lunar Concerts - Dragonforce on the Moon?

I was having a random conversation the other day with a friend and the topic turned to the various non-scientific reasons to be on the Moon. Space tourism is the one thing that typically comes up, like a hotel with restaurant that allows you to see the Earth rise while you dine on a nice juicy steak. :) But what about space entertainment?

So we painted a scenario. Wouldn't it be great to be the first band ever to play a concert from the Moon? Imagine the theatrical jumps and moves someone could make in 1/6th gravity? In my mind, a thrashing power metal concert would be quite impressive, especially since so many power metal bands have songs revolving around space and ethereal themes.

The band that comes to mind first is Dragonforce, closely followed by Nightwish and Lunatica. Yes, a concert on the Moon would be lacking in live audience members, but would be loaded with pay-per-view subscriptions to see the concert live from home. Talk about a global audience!

There is money to be made on the Moon, if we ever push ourselves to get there and make it happen before we gracefully bow out of existence. Do what you can to make it happen, get involved, and let's get Dragonforce on the Moon!!! :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Human Space Flight Review Last Wednesday

So HSF and the public sector had a little pow wow last Wednesday and yes, I watched it. With that said, there has always been this bickering back and forth among my friends, colleagues and those who post on various forums as to what idea is better. I have my opinions, and since this is my blog, here they are. :)

I like the Direct 2.0 idea (and 3.0 seems to be floating around now). So many people call it a paper rocket, that it can't work, but many of those same people fail to realize that the people behind Direct are also currently involved with the Shuttle and Ares Programs. However, because of nasty office politics in NASA, they don't want to risk losing their jobs to come out and publicly smash Ares.

Look, I don't care WHO Direct is. The idea is solidly derived by the very same people who are currently working on the Shuttle and Ares Program. It's not as if high school kids are punching this out. How can you possibly shoot down Direct and then praise Ares I? That's illogical.

The whole darn Direct thing is based on existing, flight proven systems. Period. That's all you need to see in order to instantly judge its feasibility. Notice that I didn't say functionality, I said feasibility. You still need to build models and run proper engineering tests, no different than what Ares is doing now, but the huge difference is that with Direct, you know what you have from thousands of hours of history. Ares...not so much.

Building something completely from scratch vs. building something from existing systems is a no-brainer. The existing system derivative wins. Not sure how anyone can't come to the same conclusion. Where is the common sense people?

As far as private space goes...I do not consider any of the major Aerospace companies as true "private space" businesses. They've been in bed with the government for so long that they have contracted the same diseases. SpaceX does seem to be the best contender for a U.S. based personnel and cargo transport system to the ISS, but at least they have other models that go beyond just being a government lackey, considering their aspirations to work with Bigelow, and whatever else they have on the table.

Virgin Galactic doesn't seem to give a rats butt about the government sector, which is great. We need some heavy players (as in deep personal pockets) that are willing to go it alone, without Uncle Sam in their grill. I know there are other companies, but you get my drift.

I strongly believe that NASA should focus on getting to the Moon with a heavy lift system and leave LEO to the private space industry. They can handle it. It's not like private space companies are employed by ex-Burger King fry-o-lator cooks. They do have professional Engineers, most former employees at NASA or the Big 3 (Boeing, Lockheed, Northrup), so to dismiss them simply because they're private space companies is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest.

Finally, the notion that anything space related is an all or nothing argument is stupid.

1. You need robots and probes to be the front liners, but you need manned exploration to pull out the details and learn at a vastly higher pace.

2. You need the government to do the stuff that is too expensive and too dangerous for anyone else.

3. You need the private sector to take the "simple" stuff off the hands of government so they CAN focus on the more dangerous and expensive tasks.

There is a key role to be played by everyone, if we can get past the pissing contest of "mine is better than yours is" childish nonsense.

Off to the Publisher We Go

Saturday I sent off the manuscript of my book to the only publisher I could find that accepted unsolicited manuscripts for space based topics. Most of the unsolicited places I found seemed to only be interested in fiction work.

Note: I feel a conspiracy between the major publishers of the world and these blasted Publishing Agents. lol. Why should I be forced to hire someone to peddle MY work?! Either you like the book or you don't, and if you're a big enough publishing house, then you should be able to afford enough proof readers to go through what you receive in the mail. To me this is a backhanded form of extortion, forcing you to spend money on someone else just so they can get your foot in the door. Bogus.

Nevertheless, I hope the company I sent it to likes what I've written, because I find it to be very topical and important, as do several others that I've had proof the book, from family to friends to colleagues to secondary associates that don't know me that well. A lot of perspective helps. And since I have a connection or two at Fox News, I'm hoping to use that venue to promote the book when it's published. Hooray space awareness!!! :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Spaceport America Ground Breaking

Here we go! The start of something big and great for the future of private space flight. This is what it's all about, turning space from a governmental driven establishment into a private company and "every day" occurrence. I am more than thrilled to see this evolution take place in my lifetime, for I know that my daughter will be able to view the world in such a special way when she gets older.

Spaceport America will be doing its ground breaking ceremony today in New Mexico. You can go here to watch it happen live:

One thing is for certain, it's one sexy looking building, and after watching the video about the facility from the Spaceport America website, I'll most definitely be taking a family field trip to the facility once it's up and running. That promises to be an awesome visit. :)

I'm not certain if I will ever get the chance to go to space, although I will try my hardest to make it happen, but what I am confident of is that I think my daughter will. She's only 5 now, and I can easily see her being the generation that turns space into a thriving and new permanent frontier for ALL of mankind, not just a select few.

It is up to us, now, to make sure the spark turns into a raging fire. We absolutely MUST push our government to support space. We absolutely MUST push our children to embrace science and technology. We absolutely MUST use space as a way to bring mankind together, for a greater purpose. There is no question that space is limitless, as we humans see it, and Spaceport America serves as the springboard to the vast ocean of stars above. I can't wait to swim in that ocean.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Armchair Rocket Scientists - Real Men of Genius

Sometimes I get so tired of armchair rocket scientists on blogs or in forums who talk smack, without having the foggiest idea what they're talking about. Case in point, people reacting like idiots to the latest scrub of Endeavour because of the hydrogen leak, blaming NASA and calling the people who work there incompetent.

Someone wrote something that triggered the Bud Light commercial "Real Men of Genius", those funny commercials where they talk about all manner of funny things. So, I made one up. Remember, you have to read it like the commercial, even with the background singing guy. lol.

Announcer - The Space Program Presents...Real Men of Genius.

Background Singer - "Real Men of Genius"

Announcer - Today we salute you, Mr. I know everything about space from my couch guy.

BG Singer - Mr. I know everything about space from my couch guy.

Announcer - From the comfort of your home in your Underoos, you judge some of the most complex systems man has ever created.

BG Singer - Bringing down the gavel.

Announcer - All it takes is one small glitch, and you're ready to pounce like a cheetah on a lemur.

BG Singer - What the hell's a lemur?

Announcer - In your mind you know that without you, mankind would never have launched satellites, built a space station, or even landed on the Moon.

BG Singer - I can see my house from here.

Announcer - So sit back and crack open a cold one, because while you pass uninformed judgement, rest assured that the people with the real knowledge and intelligence are diligently working to make sure that all things space, remain safe.

BG Singer - Mr. I know everything about space from my couch guy.

Brought to you by The Space Program, Washington, DC.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Moon Water: What It Could Really Mean

The search for water on the Moon is something that has been going on for many years, and the debate rages as to whether or not it's really there. More probes are being readied for the task of finding water ice on the Moon, and articles about that can be found in several places. What I want to talk about is the possible results of actually finding water ice on the Lunar Surface, or subsurface.

Provided they do find adequate water ice on the Moon, this would be the spark necessary to make the Moon profitable. For a while I've debated how the Moon can be made profitable so that private companies would want to get in on the action, and therefore help propel humanity to the next level. Hotels, Helium 3 Mining, etc.

Well, water would be the most quick hitting, short turn around on investment scenario. Mining ice and turning it into potable water and fuel (Liquid Hydrogen and Oxygen) ON the Moon would generate huge amounts of cash. Every space faring nation in the world would want to use your Lunar gas station. They had better sell Gummy Worms and Code Red Mountain Dew though, else I'll be pissed. :)

With respect to this debate, there is always someone spouting, "I wonder what the cost of going to the Moon and mining/refining these resources might be? I doubt it'd be cheaper than launching it from Earth."

This depends on whether or not one is capable of thinking long term. In the short term, the set up is expensive as hell. In the long term, this would be highly profitable for many years, and play a major role in driving the costs down for a more sustainable and active space exploration program.

I find the start up cost argument amusing, so my rebuttal is this, how much does it cost to start up a business, get all the equipment you need, establish your suppliers, set up advertising, etc? By all accounts, and according to a short sighted, small time frame mindset, no one should ever start a business, because the costs to do so at the beginning are just so damn overwhelming.

Oh wait...there's profit on the other end to be made? You mean I'd go from red to black in X number of years, after recouping my initial start up costs? You mean that the entire world would use me as a stopping point, paying huge amounts of dollars (but still much cheaper than bringing it themselves) to refuel and buy my water? Welcome to Business 101.

Let's play with some numbers just for fun. Let's say it would cost $10 billion to set this kind of facility up, and you know no one company would do this, but a partnership among several companies. Now let's just look at the potable water part (not the fuel part), which is only half the scenario and most likely the less profitable of the two commodities one would provide. I would venture to guess that selling fuel would be the biggest profit maker.

But still, let's focus on just water. Currently the average cost is $100,000 a gallon to get water to LEO ($10-15 thousand a pound at 8 pounds per gallon of water). Logic would dictate that to sell it, you'd have to go much less than that, else what's the point. So let's sell the water, on the Moon, to buyers at $25,000 a gallon. That's one HELL of a savings for the buyer. Now let's say you mine and refine 1,000 gallons of water a month. That a profit potential of $25 million a month -- $300 million a year.

With just that alone one would break even in 34 years, and everything after that is just plain profit and growth. I readily admit that I'm not considering operation costs, but I also think I'm grossly underestimating the amount of water that could be produced monthly. I am also not considering the bigger of the two commodities, the fuel. This would be the cash cow, not the potable water.

With 5 major national space programs and who knows how many private space companies as customers, one can easily see how this is a viable and attainable next step for humanity. Additionally, with an operation like this on the Moon, there would be a significant increase in flights. Why wouldn't there be, since the costs would drop drastically? All one has to do is be a true visionary and look 50 years down the road, not 5 minutes ahead on their watch.

Monday, June 8, 2009

$670 Million cut from NASA Budget Request

Here we go! The process has just started and already the cuts have begun. I don't give a damn what their excuses are, as said in the article, "Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), the subcommittee's chairman, described the move as a "time-out" in the budget process..."

The only "time-out" I want to give is a permanent one to all those bastards in Congress that do nothing but give billions of dollar to failing crap ass companies and then shave large percentages off of programs that really f'ing matter. Son of a mother F...S...damn....AARRUUGGHHH!!!!!

"Following the markup, the subcommittee posted on its Web site an exhaustive list of earmarks sought by its members. According to the document, money tapped for NASA earmarks totaled close to $15 million."

What we're the fraggin earmark totals for all the bullsh** that Pelosi wanted for her stupid bird in California, or the thousands of other earmarks that were added to the first Stimulus Package that was so rapidly and stupidly rushed through Congress? Oh wait, NOW we give a crap about earmarks? Bullsh**!

"Hawes said one area on which the panel will focus is the role international cooperation plays in U.S. manned spaceflight."

The only good point I found, because that matters a lot. No one nation should foot the bill for going to the Moon or anywhere else for that matter. The task is too big and complex for it NOT to be a shared endeavor.

The Private Space Movement is now the obvious answer to all of this crap. What a way to start my Monday!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Human Expansion: NASA + Everyone Please

A discussion today occurred with respect to the new NASA Administrator (Bolden) and his potential ability to govern NASA to the goal of getting us set on the Moon. This in addition to Garver, the Deputy Admin. Someone brought up that we haven't had a great NASA Admin since Webb, of Apollo days fame.

Webb may have been great, but he also had a huge budget and was being supported by the entire nation in the endeavor because of the time in which he presided. Neither of those are very apparent today, so the climate matters.

A successful person in history is justified by two distinct things -- the character of the person and the time at which they exist. Turn any one of those things negative and that person stands a snowball chance in Hell of doing anything great.

You may be an amazing person, but live in the wrong "time" and your vision will most likely go unfulfilled. You may live in the best "time" in humanity, but have not the character to invoke the proper progress.

NASA cannot go to the Moon on its own, and I don't care what anyone says. The Administrator, no matter who it is, cannot move mountains, change the NASA culture overnight, or wave a magic wand to suddenly increase the funding necessary to actually pull off the task in a reasonable time.

A partnership between the international community and our own home grown Private Space Industry is what will be necessary for a serious and sustained presence on the Moon, or anywhere else for that matter. Why is this so difficult to understand?

We are talking about a movement that takes humanity OFF Earth for permanent residence. This is not just a project. This is not just a short term PR move. This is not a flash in the pan. Well, it shouldn't be anyway. What makes anyone think that one nation alone can foot the bill or complete the task within one lifetime?

Sure, countless baby steps over the course of a few hundred years could suffice for the development of one nation expansion, but is anyone who is serious and interested in human exploration and development that patient? If you want a Moon base in 20 years, then dammit, we need an all encompassing global initiative to get the job done.

If Bolden can push to that end, then fantastic. If Garver can join him, then fantastic. But I have little faith that either one of them can do proper justice if they maintain the status quo.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Shameless Plug

Okay, I have to do this. Soon, the new and improved version of the website for the Star Wars Fan Film I'm making will be up and running.

With that we have a new Forum related to the film.

So, if you find this project interesting and want to follow it, that is how. :)

Shameless plug done.

Where's My Space Entertainment?

In conversation among space geeks, it's easy to cover basic current events and generally everyone knows what you're talking about. Bring that conversation to a general room of people, and the question marks above the heads start to look like something out of the SIMS.

There is a severe disconnect between what the space industry does on a regular basis and what the general public is aware of. One would think that the most recent Hubble mission by NASA and the subsequent ferry boat ride Atlantis just completed from California to Florida would spark a fire of interest in the space program and what it does. Sadly, even if this happens, I bet it's fleeting.

One of the primary problems the space industry has is a severe lack of PR. They have no idea how to promote themselves on a regular basis to the general public. People just don't realize what space does for them.

When is the last time we had a good Sci-Fi TV show that was space based on one of the major networks? If we want to boost the interest in math, science and technology among young people, then we need some kind of PR push (commercials, TV shows, web based programming) that is entertaining.

Whether you like it or not, most people would rather be entertained than informed, if you give them a choice of the two. What you must do is make entertainment informative. I cannot fathom why NASA, as the American Space Industry figurehead, has not tried to work with Hollywood to develop a TV series that showcases real technology and real future technologies for the sole purpose of driving people to the space, science and technology sector.

Imagine a kick ass space show, where you have "infomercials" trailing the breaks, or preceding the continuation of the next show segment, that discuss what's going on in the show and how it equates to real life research and development. A link, bridging fiction with reality, such that people watching would see what's going on in the real world, how it will affect them, and how it's coming along. Yes, the show would be about the characters and their adventures, not the gadgets and technology used, but the infomercials would be used to bring attention to certain aspects of the technology in the show. One of these could go like this:

"In the last segment, Johnathan Rey used a micro-particle accelerator aboard the Linstrom to stop the engine reactor from going critical. Currently we don't have micro-particle accelerators, but here at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research located on the Franco-Swiss border, scientists are accelerating particles to extreme velocities, hoping to break apart atoms and see what's inside. Dr. Hugebrain explains..."

This infomercial would also provide information on what disciplines are involved, what education is needed, and would promote a dedicated website for those interested to go to and learn more. Not some boring website either, but something interactive and entertaining as well. The show would be entertaining, but the substance would be real and hopefully drive people to pursue a career that helps to make what they see in the show a reality. And the whole thing would be just 30 seconds, enough to tease and move on.

Space pops up on the radar only a few times a year, like when we have a Shuttle Mission, another country does something space related, or something bad happens related to space. The rest of the time people have no idea what's going on, what new developments are coming, and what those developments can do for them. It's time to change that.

If we're ever going to make serious efforts to grow the fields of space, science and technology, we must find a way to make it entertaining and exciting. Old dudes in lab coats sitting in a sterile room doing advanced math calculations sucks and is boring, no matter the fact that that is part of the process. Kids don't want that! People aren't entertained by that. A show rooted in real physics, using plausible technologies, but with an exciting story line with fun and interesting characters provides the kind of format to not only entertain, but educate and hopefully drive young people to become scientists and engineers of tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Zero-G Wedding

So a couple has decided to tie the knot in Zero-G. Not space, which is what they really want, but on the Vomit Comet of the Zero-G Corporation. Okay, so they get 30 to 45 seconds to do the wedding, kind of a time crunch and not a lot of room for vows, but hey, they're FLOATING!

It'll be like the quick quick version of a wedding in Spaceballs. "Do you? Yes. Do you? Yes. Good, kiss her." lol.

I hope this gets some good pub in the news. It's great PR and if they talk about actual weddings in space, some people might try to use the ISS for that platform. If they allow gamer tourists to hang out on the ISS for a week, they could easily allow a wedding to happen.

Once the ball gets rolling with stuff like this, people will start to see the market open for space related ventures. All it takes is a few "crazy people" to do stuff like this to start others thinking about it too. Good for them. I can't wait to see the video.

Bigelow could seize this opportunity too. He could launch an Orbiting Wedding Chapel, work with SpaceX or Virgin Galactic to get people there, have the wedding and come home. lol. Sweet.

Of course, this has to lead to the discussion of sex in space. I mean, when is NASA or any organization going to seriously study the implications of human sexuality in space, especially when it comes to long duration missions that last 3+ years. What, we're all professionals? Keep it in your pants? Yeah right. Even the arctic expeditions ship condoms to the bases, knowing full well that you can't suppress nature.

When will they grow up and address adult issues like adults?