Monday, March 30, 2009

Follow Up: An Asteroid Story

http://www.space.com/news/090330-possible-meteor.html

http://www.space.com/news/090330-rocket-debris.html

Just consider these articles as a follow up addition (Appendix A & B) of my article on March 26th. The main difference is no one saw this coming. It started off as a possible meteorite, now it's a Russian Soyuz rocket re-entry. My argument, however, still remains steadfastly the same: We're no where near ready for anything of decent size heading toward this planet.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Love to Laugh

I'm probably late on the bandwagon for this, but today I have discovered Demetri Martin, and he's funny as hell. His delivery is very much like Steven Wright. I love intellectual humor. Today was a great day for laughing. :)

Yes I know, not space related, but still, if you haven't listened or watched Demetri Martin, you should.

From Out There to Right Here: An Asteroid Story

http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090325/full/458401a.html

Okay, so not a full asteroid. 2008 TC3 was apparently a part of a larger asteroid. One unfortunate piece that got stripped away somehow and made its way directly to Earth. No, there was no risk or danger of catastrophe, unless you were some sadly unfortunate soul who found yourself standing directly in an impact spot in the middle of the desert in Sudan. What are the odds of that?

Still, this event back in October marks the first time we've been able to spot an object heading towards us with advanced warning enough to marshal up enough eyeballs to watch it flame out in the atmosphere and strike the Earth. Then, to add more to it, we go and pick up the pieces for further research.

This event helps prove a few good things: First, the eyes we have watching the sky and trying to catalog all these rocks are doing a great job. Second, our computers are pretty darn good with their calculations. And third, when it comes to global scrambling, we're pretty good at it.

Here's the "not so happy" part of the story. They admit that this particular type of rock isn't very reflective and hard to spot. Yes, we found this one, but only after it was only about 20 hours away from impact. Make this thing 10 times as big, and this turns into a completely different story, and there would have been nothing we could really do about it.

I will beat this drum until I'm dead; we absolutely have to put serious emphasis and support behind public and private space exploration and development in order to develop the technologies that can save us from a catastrophe. Only by living off world, or inventing serious early warning/detection systems that allow us to literally go move a threat, can we ensure the survival of the human species. And this needs to start 5 minutes ago. :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Similarities Between the Star Wars and American Political Stage

It all started innocently enough with a question I couldn’t pass up, “What happened politically in Star Wars anyway?” Oh boy! How can I pass this up? So, I started going over the galactic political landscape of Star Wars (yes, I am that much of a geek) and I started to notice some eerie parallels with what’s going on right now in America.

Let’s forget about the mystical aspect of Star Wars, such as the Force, Jedi, and Sith, and focus on just the political landscape.

The crux of the demise of the Galactic Senate in Star Wars was due to the influence of Senator Palpatine. Palpatine basically manufactured a war, tapping into the greed of the Neimoidians and their Trade Federation. The Trade Federation’s demise at Naboo led to an insurrection and establishment of the Separatist Army, using Trade Federation droids as warriors, which of course was also a creation of Palpatine by proxy of Count Dooku.

Palpatine used Count Dooku to run the Separatist Armies, influencing their movements and their attack strategies, and once he acquired the Clone Army, he maneuvered them (with Jedi Generals) into combat positions and affecting their strategic moves as well. Granted, his influence was mainly political, but you can easily hamstring or strengthen a war from the sidelines using political maneuvering. We’ve seen that first hand with the Iraq War.

Solidifying the Separatists as a significant threat, Palpatine used this to usurp more power and form the Clone Army. Pulling the strings on both sides, Palpatine fought a war between the Republic and the Separatists, using this as a means to instill fear of safety and security throughout the galaxy, and more specifically in the Galactic Senate. In doing so, he strengthened the government and positioned himself as the savior of the war, the ender of all suffering, and easily changed the political landscape from a Democratic Republic to an Empire with complete control and governed by one man, himself.

Now, one might think my parallel lies with the Iraq War, but it doesn’t. I’m looking at something that’s happening right here at home; this economic crisis we find ourselves in. Now for the record, I want it to be known that I’m just playing around here, but once you see the parallels, it does raise an eyebrow.

Let’s recap: A person, using political prowess and influence, positioned themselves in such a way that they were able to generate a crisis, come to its rescue, and reformat the political landscape to give themselves more power and control.

Currently, we have an economic crisis, where the government is making decisions and enacting laws that give it more power and control. If a person, or a small group of people, were to want to increase government control, this would be a great way to do it instead of using another full blown war to do it.

So here’s how I break this down:

There is plenty of blame to go around for the current economic crisis, but there are a select few who are more directly culpable. Politically you have Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and George Bush. Financially you have Fanny Mae & Freddie Mac, The Auto’s, CITI Group, Bank of America and AIG. You can definitely name more, but I don’t want to go on forever.

So now let’s establish some equalities:

Trade Federation/Separatists = Financials (Fanny Mae & Freddie Mac, The Auto’s, CITI Group, Bank of America, AIG, etc.)

Palpatine = Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd

Republic Army = Bush and Obama

If you do proper research and check your political bias at the door, Frank, Dodd and Pelosi are knee deep involved in how the financial sector of America became over blown and crapped out. By enacting legislation a few years ago that literally forced banks and lenders to make high risk loans to people who definitely couldn’t afford it, they set up the playing field for a collapse.

As the collapse occurred, Bush, and subsequently Obama, jumped into battle as if given orders to do so, touting fear and desperation, laying blame against evil bad CEO’s and corrupt business practices, and instilling that same sense of fear to the public. Sound familiar?

In order to bring peace and stability, the same people who were basically responsible for the crisis stand tall and pound their chests to act as saviors. Pelosi and her crew (both Rep. and Dem.), with haste and under cover of darkness (sort of, since TARP was rushed and no one really had time to read that huge Stimulus Package either), push through even more legislation, thereby increasing the power of government over the financial sector of the country.

As every day passes, more and more acts like this are seen, to the point where it’s somewhat obvious that Pelosi and her crew are making an all out run on whatever they can get control of during this crisis, like nationalizing the financial sector, healthcare and whatever else they can imagine.

Now the story isn’t over. We’re not an Empire...yet. But if it plays out like it did in Star Wars, Pelosi, the far left and weak Republicans will effectively give the government so much power and control over our daily lives that it might as well be an Empire. At least none of them really have the Force, else we’d all probably have lightning up our wazzoo real soon.

Now, I’m not saying there is some nefarious plot going on here, but it does get you thinking. ;)

Space Renassiance Initiative Press Release

http://www.spacerenaissance.org/papers/Space_Renaissance_Initiative_Press_Release_01.pdf

Coming March 31, 2009 in England, SRI will announce its presence and establish its goals and agenda. This press release offers an overview of this great organization.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

STS-119 (Shuttle Discovery): More Than Just a Mission

After several delays related to bad valves and a hydrogen leak that should make anyone nervous, the space shuttle Discovery finally blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday and should be docking with the ISS later today.

So, what does this represent? Well for one, the ISS is finally going to have the ability to be near full power. Discovery carries with it the final solar arrays for the ISS. One might think I should say full power, but that’s not possible right now. Don’t forget, the Starboard (right) SARJ, Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, is still messed up on the ISS and won’t allow the solar array assembly on that side fully rotate properly. Therefore, it’s doesn’t really achieve max potential. Discovery is also serving as a taxi and resupply vehicle, providing a crew swap opportunity and giving the ISS some much needed supplies.

This is all the stuff you can read anywhere. Here’s what really matters: there are only 5 official missions now left on the books, provided nothing changes as of today. The shuttle program is winding down, making those in Florida nervous, and others involved with the program wondering if Ares and Project Constellation will actually provide the salvation they require.

The political environment is sketchy right now and Obama has yet to even name the next NASA Administrator. The more this delay occurs, the more you have to wonder if he takes space seriously or not. Space could be the answer to our economic woes, if treated properly.

Discovery’s current mission reminds me of several things:

1. The ISS is near completion and our obligation to be the world’s ferry boat for this monster is almost over. As you may guess, I’m not much of an ISS guy. It should have been completed long ago, using other heavy lift systems developed by other nations, but those nations decided not to lift a finger to develop their own shuttle system to help in the effort, leaving the United States to carry the burden of being the only option for ISS construction.

2. The shuttle program is coming to an end, and as of right now, there isn’t much of a light at the end of the tunnel for a new and improved program. Ares is still in testing, there are flaws with the vibrations they had to compensate for causing delays and cost overruns, and I personally am not fond of going backwards to a capsule on a firecracker system.

3. The Federal government isn’t exactly stepping up to the plate with regards to space, especially when they could easily use the space program (public and private) as a way to invigorate the economy, advance education, enhance international relations, and more.

Still, with what may seem to be overflowing pessimism from me on this subject, I am always proud and amazed by what the shuttles do. I watch every launch, either live when I lived in Orlando, or on TV now that I’m in Houston. It is an amazing thing that we do for the advancement of technology, knowledge, and humanity, and we must continue to advance the cause of human space exploration and development for future generations. Tonight the ISS and shuttle will fly over my house...and I will be watching.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Space Renaissance Initiative

http://www.spacerenaissance.org/

This organization represents ideals that I feel are important to positive and productive human space exploration and development. They are all about space exploration for the benefit and survival of humanity. This is a human issue, not a political or economic issue, and although those and many more factors will be necessary to make it all happen, we cannot lose sight of the fact that humanity must explore and expand to the stars if we expect for the species to survive.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How Space Exploration and Development Can Save the American and Global Economy


The focus of this article is on America, the country I live in, am proud of, and have served (Navy). However, many of the opinions stated in here can apply globally for all nations. Yes, this article is long, but worth it, in my opinion.


I have talked before on how I think that this current economic depression gives us the greatest opportunity to change the direction of how America operates and does business. The days of invisible money, house flipping and banking/Wall St. shenanigans is over. It is time for America to become a nation of production once again, and not just a nation of consumers and spenders.


My solution, as some of you may know, revolves around the development of a serious space program that involves the entire nation. I am not talking about a quick fix, 10 year program like going to the moon in the 60’s. I am talking about a permanently established infrastructure system dedicated to the infinite reaches of space.


My solution tackles a few of the major issues confronting America today, such as jobs, education, health care and international relations. All of these are fairly high on the list of things that need to be rectified immediately. I plan to address each of these in greater detail than I have before, to drive home the point that this simple plan of action will provide long term, if not indefinite, stability for America.


Jobs


Currently, most of the world is familiar with the major American aerospace companies like Northrup, Lockheed, Boeing, United Space Alliance (which is really a Boeing/Lockheed company), Orbital Sciences, etc. Although large, they don’t employ as many people as you may think, so more needs to be done to increase the workforce of the space industry.


For the most part, these are government contractors who basically derive the majority of their profits from the tax payers by virtue of their contracts with NASA. NASA gets their federal budget and divvies out contracts to these companies for their services. These lions aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but they are also not really developing much in the way of commercial space either. Why should they, when their bread is nicely buttered by locked contracts with the government? Where the rubber really meets the road, and the average person, is private commercial space exploration and development. The jobs will be created here more than anywhere else.


Private companies, like SpaceX, Bigelow, Virgin Galactic, etc. have started the revolution, where the notion of going to space is not reserved for the select few as appointed by the government (our present day astronauts), but open for everyone to enjoy. They are also breaking down the walls of high cost, low return on space travel. One of the main reasons why space is so expensive is because we have so few players in the game, developing limited scope and unique products that only serve specific purposes. Mass production is what drives prices down.


For example, the rovers Spirit and Opportunity cost a few hundred million each just to design and build, but how much would that cost drop if you mass produced them, in assembly line fashion, with “plug-in” ports to hold vast arrays of scientific instruments? If you punched out a few hundred rovers a year in this format, the cost would drop significantly. Now marry this idea with long range rockets designed the same way (mass produced) and we could have rovers and probes exploring our solar system by the hundreds every year and where the costs are no more drastic than the cost of maintaining commercial airliners. Can you imagine the amount of science and discovery that would provide just in and of itself?


Now that is just a robotic example. The real job growth would come with manned exploration, development and recreation in space. We need to build better spaceships. For the past 30+ years we’ve sat on our hands, enjoying the iconic space shuttle, yet complaining all the way about its faults and its cost of operation. Yet all we did was complain, and never spent the time or resources to develop the next generation of shuttle or spacecraft to accomplish the task better, cheaper and safer.


Honestly, the government is not the arena where progress like this happens. It is the private sector that can and will develop proper spaceships. These companies will compete, grow, employ hundreds of thousands of people, and re-establish America as a manufacturing powerhouse. America needs to get into the business of building spaceships with a substantial infrastructure to support them. These craft would benefit the world, by providing low cost, high access to space for whatever scientific projects or recreational endeavors the world has in mind.


It is very simple to spark this kind of growth and development; make it attractive for space companies to start and grow in America. Nations of the world should be enticed to do business with the American Space Industry, because the costs would be reasonable. The best way to assure reasonable costs is to ensure the companies in America are at the top of the competitive ladder. This means tax incentives would be given to start a space exploration, development, or recreation company. Since these companies are private and not working on military or secret assets, ITAR would not restrict them from free trade with other companies of the world. This mutual interest expands foreign relations and strengthens peaceful ties among nations.


The government doesn’t need to contribute a single dime to make this happen. All they need to do is enact legislation to make it desirable to start a space company in America. From this point the companies begin building their offices and research facilities, spaceports would need to be constructed, and these companies would employ American workers, the best in the world, to drive humanity into the solar system as frequently as we fly around the world.

Education


A natural byproduct of creating space businesses in America is that there would be a serious focus on fixing our lackluster public education system. A highly educated workforce is essential to the survival of our nation. If students knew that the direction of the nation was math, science and engineering, they would have little choice but to focus on those subjects. The days of fast money business are over.


Knowing that hard work in school could lead to one actually living in space, because there are more serious opportunities to do so, is a very strong incentive to maintain the proper focus and excel in math and the sciences. Right now it seems more like science fiction, whereas we need to turn it into science fact.


It’s not just about engineers and scientists though. Space Law and Policy will have to be seriously addressed as we develop orbiting hotels, a lunar mining and research facility, etc. Space Medicine would become a completely separate discipline, because what you do on Earth is not exactly the same as what you would have to do in space to save someone’s life or perform surgery. Special schools may have to be developed to study topics such as these. And space business is a business after all, so there is marketing, finance, administration, and all other aspects of running a business that are involved. Many fields of learning are involved in this new direction.


This is where federal funding does come into play, but more importantly, a refocus on how education is administered. No longer should we cater to the lowest common denominator, because all that does is slow everything and everyone else down. High standards, based on strong individual (and in some cases group) effort, are needed in our school systems.


Standardized testing is a farce, where teachers are more focused on teaching just the elements of standardization and not concentrating on the overall picture of scholastic development. You either pass or fail, and not everyone gets an award. The focus needs to be on ensuring everyone receives the most challenging education possible, where failure is an option that serves to strengthen ones resolve. Failures do happen in life, and school is one of the first places to learn the lessons of humility, failure and rising to success. Those that struggle should receive additional assistance after school and on weekends. Reducing the standards does nothing more than destroy the overall potential of America.


It also wouldn’t hurt to run TV commercials, targeting young people to get involved with math and science for the commercial space business. Entice them with how it can be and how they can help make it happen. In addition, offer older people the opportunity to re-educate themselves and get involved. This would mark a new era in education and focus.


Health Care


This topic is covered very succinctly. With such frequent trips to space, the ability to conduct low cost space medical research would grow significantly. This would in turn help medical scientists address and solve some of the complex health issues we face today. Medical research in space offers great potential for breakthrough discoveries. It is this kind of space based research, on a large scale, that will help humanity become a stronger, more healthy and vibrant species. The best way to fix the broken health care system is to find ways to prevent sickness in the first place.


International Relations


Peaceful relations among nations is achieved on many fronts. One of these is free and open trade. America should be the leader in space exploration and development, providing hardware and services to the rest of the world to aid in their development and exploration needs. This is a significant economic boon for America, where we finally return to our roots of manufacturing and export. In the same way that we revolutionized the automobile industry and made it global, so should we revolutionize the private space industry, but in this case (unlike the auto industry) we should never lose our focus on striving to create the best and most affordable product possible.


Only through global cooperation can we as a species truly achieve a consistent space presence. Everyone has something to contribute, and these contributions should be used to fortify economies, stabilize relations, and most importantly, advance human space exploration and development.


Conclusion


Advancing the American space program, federal and private, is not just something to boost our economy, fortify international relations, strengthen our education system, or provide enhanced medical research opportunities. An advanced space program is necessary for survival.


It is no secret that the Earth is a fragile sphere. It is no secret that the Earth is not made of unlimited resources. It is no secret that overpopulation could strangle humanity with itself. Yet above all this, it is also no secret that there are objects in our solar system that could wipe out human existence in a matter of minutes. At some point, this stark reality must be faced.


Nothing we do on this planet matters if, in the blink of an eye, we are eradicated by an astronomical disaster. You can’t bring it with you if you’re vaporized. It is imperative that the human species expand to the stars, for survival. The time of large scale space cruisers carrying thousands of people to the far reaches of space may be a far off dream to some, but it must start somewhere, and governments alone will not get us there.


Private space exploration and development, through American leadership, innovation and determination, will make the advancement of humanity to the stars possible. The world will come with us, but we will lead the way, and although the greater reason for developing a strong and long lasting space industry is human survival, we can also bring ourselves out of this economic darkness, reinvigorate the American spirit and establish ourselves once more as the greatest nation the world has ever known.

Star Wars Meets Real Life

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/090311-tw-space-plane.html

Apparently England is stepping up to the plate and looking at alternative, more futuristic approaches to space travel. Actually, I hate the word futuristic. The future is NOW, and we should already be flying spaceships to LEO and the moon with regularity. Anyway, I digress.

Okay, so it looks like a cross between the Naboo H-Type Nubian and their N-1 Starfighter, but I think this is awesome and I truly hope it works. Steps like these are what will propel us to the next level of space exploration and transport. Whether or not this works is of medium importance to me. What matters is that people are trying, but I do hope it works.

I don't know why this hasn't been worked on before either. Maybe it's because there was a lack of funding. In fact, that's probably exactly the reason. You have to admit, people (governments) don't like funding projects if they don't see instant merit in them, or political advantage. I bet the typical reply to this option was, "We already have rockets. We don't need this stuff." You know, forward thinking political schmucks. lol.

However, it is being worked now. Better late than never.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hello New Followers

Welcome to the Blog. I appreciate your viewership. Take a trip back in time and have a look at my previous posts. Comments are welcome, as long as you follow the "be polite" rule. :)

Also, if you have anything you'd like to talk about, comment on that in here.

Thanks!

So Many Spaceports, So Few Spaceships

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Why_So_Many_Spaceports_999.html

This article talks about the political and strategic reasons why there are so many spaceports around the world. I want to address why these spaceports aren't being utilized more. For me, it boils down to this, we are currently more interested in launching rockets than spaceships.

To me, a rocket is not a spaceship. You may use a rocket to launch a spaceship, like the Shuttle, but even that is a flimsy excuse for a spaceship by my standards. Although, my standards are kind of high, so that's probably my fault. I guess I expect too much from the human race.

It's 2009, and we're still lighting fireworks to get to space. I would love to poll anyone over 70 and ask them what they thought space travel would be like in 2009 (or in that area) when they were 20. I bet you'd find that many of them expected us to be on the moon or Mars already, launching every day like the airline industry.

So, we have all of these spaceports, but no spaceships. Where are all of the spaceships? Why are we so underdeveloped at a time when we should be using space to unify, form a focal global goal, and work together to achieve it? This could be a global effort, something to boost local and global economies. I'm not talking about a utopia here, because problems will exist as long as humans exist. Life is hard, some people suck, make the best of what you can. Yet space offers a unique focus, without limits, to propel our world in a direction of expansion, exploration and growth.

I truly believe that this is one of those points in human history that will be recorded as a turning point, for better or worse, in humanity. I do hope and pray for the best, as I am the eternal optimist even though I possess a cynical approach to current events. I guess I'm just tired of the B.S. and wish for a wake up call to refocus us.

For me, that wake up call is simply a common understanding that the human race cannot survive on Earth alone, and that no matter what we do, space on Earth and its resources are finite, but our ability to reproduce is not. Expansion off world is the only solution. At some point it will have to be addressed.

So the question remains, where are all the spaceships?

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Brothel on Mars?

I'm a geek, and I watch the History and Science Channel frequently. With that said, over the past few years, and as recently as about three weeks ago, I've seen programs discussing this whole issue of long term space flight and the need for intimacy.

It is a psychological fact that people need personal contact. They crave it. It is a biological function that you just cannot simply repress. In fact, studies have shown that repression leads to increases in violent tendencies and depression. I'm sure someone could look up professional articles on all of this, but I remember these points the most.

My point is, an all male or all female trip to Mars is a bad idea. Suggestions have been made to send only married couples, but the pool to choose from is quite limited if you're looking for the "best of the best" for the mission. What are the odds that two of the "best" are also married and that you can find enough married couples to fill all of the roles required for the mission?

Then there's the option that you just have a 50/50 split, where everyone has an understanding that personal contact is more of a survival requirement than some deep seeded emotional connection.

The sticky part is when you introduce religious beliefs and societal morals into the equation. America is a very sexually repressed nation publicly. Behind closed doors is a different thing all together though. Just look at how many sex scandals there are, especially amongst political figures and "famous" people. However, publicly we never come out and embrace sexuality.

My kudos to Europe on this. Their commercials are quite risque and show nudity for crying out loud. No one cares. They aren't as sexually repressed and don't view nudity as some vile or OMG thing that should be covered and never spoken of again. If they see a billboard with a naked woman selling a cologne, they're like, "Hey, have you tried that cologne?"

Biologically, we're just advanced animals. We just happen to be the most advanced animals on the planet and dominate. The root of our being though is primal, sexual and protective. Survival. Religion and Societal Norms serve to quell and/or focus the animal. Could the crew accept that sex, or any intimate contact, is not a product of marriage, love or religious upbringing, but that it's a physical and psychological requirement for stability?

I apologize in advance if you don't know this show, but this reminds me of Red Dwarf, a hilarious British comedy show, where Rimmer and the crew of Red Dwarf find a Holoship for Rimmer to join. On this ship, they actually have scheduled sexual encounters amongst each other, like scheduling lunch. Everyone is with everyone, because it's known that open sexual interaction leads to a more stimulated mind with reduced mental and physical drawbacks. It is understood that sex in this unique environment is a mental and physical release, and nothing more.

If we are going to go to Mars, or anywhere else away from Earth for that matter, we must address this and other difficult topics. Everyone is always so focused on the scientific and engineering challenges, but their heads are in the sand with respect to the human emotional, sexual and psychological aspect to this very important step in human exploration. It's time to pull our head out and look at this, before something bad happens as a result of our reluctance and shameful inability to address it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

ITAR - The Noose Around America's Private Space Program

http://www.newsweek.com/id/182544

The article above covers the details. It boils down to this: How can you possible expect the United States to prosper, grow and cooperate with the international space effort if we are so ridiculously hamstrung by ITAR, especially with respect to commercial satellites?

The paranoia of America is asinine. Look, if we can't track what we sell, then what the hell are we doing anything for then? It's not THAT hard to track what you sell and whom you sell it too. ITAR is killing our competitive edge.

We are losing BILLIONS of dollars in business with other peaceful nations we're supposed to "trust" because we can't sell anything to them. Ooh. It may end up in the hands of the bad guys. WAKE UP! The bad guys are going to get advanced technology from somewhere, no matter what. Trust, but verify. Open the market, let the trade flow, and keep your eyes open.

As the article states, "In 1998, the year before ITAR took effect, U.S. firms accounted for 73 percent of the world market. Two years later U.S. market share had plunged to 27 percent." Nice way to kill the economy. It's things like this, piled up over time, that have destroyed the American economy. We are the technological leader in the world. We should be profiting on that effort via international trade.

ITAR serves a purpose for military grade technology related to weapons. You don't want advanced military technology getting into the wrong hands, so that is understandable and responsible. But to inflate ITAR to include commercial satellites and private space exports is idiotic. Period.

You want a way to boost the economy real fast and for the long term? Tell your Congressional Representatives to deflate ITAR and have it focus on what it should, and not over reach its arms into the private commercial space industry. There's a hundred billion dollars back into our economy. Not bad.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

America's Economic Situation & The Solution

There comes a time when the obvious becomes obscured by a fog of distraction, disinformation, and good old fashioned ignorance. There is no doubt that the current economic climate is more frozen than Pluto (even during the summer months) and that the American public is desperately searching for solutions to bring America back to the forefront of economic and global leadership.

The reasons for this current economic situation are well documented. It covers all party lines, and is pretty much the result of lazy partisan lawmakers, greedy bankers and wall streeters, people who bought way more than they could afford, and a general gambling mentality of "let it ride". Well, the ride is over. Was it fun for you?

However, this economic catastrophe gives us an opportunity to change America's direction, from a service based consuming nation into a powerhouse producing nation once more. Isn't that how it used to be? America became the leading nation in the world because of what we produced, not what we consumed.

We didn't technically invent the automobile, a historical error stated by President Obama in is Congressional Address a few weeks ago, but we did revolutionize the mass production and manufacturing process for the automobile, and shortly thereafter we improved the car to where America was the gold standard in the automobile industry. We are the fathers of aviation and basically developed the current commercial and military aircraft industry. We are also the fathers of space exploration and development, albeit for the purposes of cold war competition, but nevertheless pioneered the challenge of space in a way that no other nation could or has.

Yet over the past 20 years, we have become a nation where it's more profitable to do business elsewhere than to do it here. There are so many laws and taxes in place that doing business in America is irresponsible. Additionally, we are so focused on "fairness" and "political correctness" that is serves as a detriment to reasonable progress. This is real life, and not everyone gets a trophy at the end of the season. There are winners and losers, and the losers, if they have any self-worth and pride at all, will pick themselves back up and try again until they succeed. THAT is the American way, a way which we have lost sight of.

Every time America has faced the dragon, we have slain it. We always find the means to produce our way out of seemingly catastrophic circumstances. This case should be no different and now is the time to take the lead once more. So the question then becomes, what should we do?

The 19th century marked the Industrial Revolution. The 20th century marked the Technological Revolution. The 21st century should be marked by the Space Revolution, led by the United States. Invention, production and development is what will propel America out of our current economic condition and give us a new solid base to build on for years to come.

America needs a focus, not on flipping houses or trading invisible money in the hopes that profits will be made, but a focus on making something, doing something, producing something tangible for the benefit of the country, and in turn, the world. Privately driven space exploration and development is the answer! Companies like SpaceX, Bigelow and Virgin Galactic have already started. The government would help by manipulating laws, taxes, etc. to make it enticing to get into the space business, thereby creating more companies, more competition and more advancement for the benefit of all.

Imagine a United States with 10+ spaceports throughout the nation, where companies employ (directly and indirectly) tens of thousands of people. Now factor in the companies competing against each other for the development, production and maintenance of spacecraft (manned and robotic). Factor in the scientists doing research to make space travel better, or learn more secrets of the universe as a result of numerous spaceflight opportunities. Consider the engineers designing, manufacturing and improving systems. And factor in the countless other ancillary industries that would be involved in such a massive, long term, long range national endeavor.

Consider how much costs would drop as mass production makes space travel considerably more cost effective and affordable. Imagine trips to LEO hotels that are as common place as trips from NY to LA right now, or trips to the Moon or Mars for science and recreational purposes. Imagine living in a United States where WE are the world leader in building and maintaining spaceships launched around the world; a United States where we build things, do things, learn things, and help advance the human species to the stars?

One cannot possibly argue that a direction like this would not save and grow the American economy, fortify and expand our educational base, and provide the kind of foundation for America to grow on indefinitely. Space does not stop. Space is the one place where innovation, development and advancement have no bounds. There are no borders to space, there are no limits to space, and there is only the opportunity for growth and expansion.

If America wants to save itself, and in doing so save the world, then we should embrace a direction that has no finish line, that has no limitations and that offers constant growth and opportunity. And that direction...is up.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Iranian Space Program - Dial 911!

As much as I want the Iranian space program to be a peaceful venture, I just can't bring myself to believe that Ahmadinejad doesn't have some nefarious plan in mind.

You just cannot trust someone who wants to literally wipe a culture off the face of the map for no reason other than religious differences. I'm sure the majority of the Iranian people okay, but their leader is not.

Check mark goes to skepticism.

http://www.space.com/news/0902304-iran-space-ambitions.html

Monday, March 2, 2009

Asteroid Flyby

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090202-asteroid-2009-dd45.html

Whoa! What was that? Buzzed my hair man. Well, not exactly that close, but an asteroid whipped by close enough that it should have made more of a headline than just an afterthought article.

Look, one day, it will happen. The question is, when are we going to start taking it seriously as a species and realize that all petty squabbling is insignificant compared to the power of a devastating asteroid?

The advancement of the space program is not a science thing, or a personal thing for me, or a political thing for nations to use against each other. It's a survival thing, of the human species. If we do not develop the technology to get off this planet in an easy and sustainable way, like driving your car, then we are basically inviting extinction.

Only when we are in our most desperate hour do I think we'll make the proper strides to save ourselves. Only then, will it be too late?