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.

1 comment:

Norman Copeland said...

For everyone who is interested...

time period between 4.14/4.20

Then watch the video/s...

Michael Jackson - Earthsong

Because I have learnt the physics and actually been a member of these social business circles, beleive me, some things are very obvious.