Friday, May 29, 2009

The Fusion Push

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,522857,00.html

As the article says, "The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore Lab will focus 192 laser beams on a hydrogen pellet the size of a bead."

Great! New research in this technology is a definite step in the right direction to energy independence. Of course, you can't please everyone...

"We don't need this machine to solve our energy problems," says Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environment Research in Takoma Park, Md. "The main thing the National Ignition Facility has accomplished so far is to burn a hole in the taxpayers' pocketbook."

He's probably just pissed that he didn't get in on the action, or for some reason he thinks that research should be focused just on a select few paradigms. Bogus. Test everything. Never limit yourself. What a scientist this guy is.

Through fusion research we bring the Moon into play, because we can get He3 from the Moon and it then becomes a viable economic target. Once that happens, private business will jump on the Lunar Mining bandwagon and we will have genuine progress towards establishing permanent settlements on the Moon, which will then lead to further technological developments that will bring Mars into play. Yes, people say we can go to Mars now, but at what cost? At least with the Moon we have a more local target to learn from and give ourselves the ability to develop the proper technologies to get to Mars safer, faster and cheaper.

That's a discussion for another topic though. I look forward to seeing what progress is made later this year when they really push the limits of this baby (the NIF).

Full House

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/090529-iss-full-crew-arrival.html

Today marks a special day. After 10 years, the International Space Station now has a full crew of 6 people. Hooray 6! Now I want a Moon Base with 20. I'm never satisfied. :)

I can only hope this finally turns the ISS into a more productive orbital platform. Unless you are intimate with the internal workings of the ISS, and I am given that my first job right out of college was to become a Motion Control Instructor for the ISS, you cannot imagine how much of a pain it is to maintain daily operations of the ISS, try to conduct science, and keep yourself in shape and healthy with only a 3 person crew. Yes, they got some science done, but now with 6 people, I imagine the increase will be significant.

The crew of the ISS represent the space agencies of Russia, the U.S., Canada and Japan, as well as 11 countries of the European Space Agency. With all of the nonsense and bickering going on in the world today, the ISS represents what can be done when nations of the world focus their energies and resources on something constructive and not destructive. It's no coincidence, in my opinion, that the nations involved are also the peaceful leaders of the world.

Psychotic fundamentalists in the Middle East remaining hell bent on the destruction of humanity, while the majority of the world works together to try and make for a better place to live. Want to make significant efforts in changing the focus of the Middle East from violence to productivity? Develop some high profile astronauts from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, etc. and have them travel to the ISS. It would be a proud moment for their cultures and show them that their energies can be better suited for the purpose of science and exploration.

And this message should be overt, in your face, and obvious. It should be stated over and over, by the astronauts themselves, that there are better things to do in life than follow the radical views of the few who want to destroy the many. The older, more staunch radicals might not care, or even get it, but the younger generations would see that their lives could be worth more than a human weapon to fundamentalists. They would see international cooperation on a grand scale, in space.

Humanity's expansion to space is a vital link to bring together all nations of the world. I'm not talking about some Utopian concept, because there will always be differences and disagreements...we're human. But space is the one place where working together is paramount to survival and productivity. Space exploration and development will serve to improve many current issues, like economics, education, health care, energy, and more. If we can also use space as a platform for international relations and global cooperation, then space truly does become the one place where humanity finds, ironically enough, a common ground.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Moon Shelter

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090526-st-moon-blanket.html

This is a neat little article about some of the ideas for creating protective habitats on the Moon. I still think they over complicate things.

The solution: put a flat roof on a small crater and cover the roof with soil. Carve the interior of the crater to be more cylindrical and live in the crater. Make sure you can pressurize it and pump in atmosphere.

You've just saved a crap load of construction costs. Crater Capping, not my idea, but one of the most cost effective as far as I'm concerned. You don't need exotic materials to protect yourself from radiation. USE DIRT!!!

Now, when it comes to hotels and nice window views of the Earth, you will need to figure out something to use to protect you then, because you'll have to be above ground for that scenario, but for everyday living, time to become mole people. :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Finally Recorded

After a bit of delay, and my insane attempt to TRY and sound good singing...lol...I have made and posted an actual singing version of "Little Rover Bot Guys", an adaptation on Don McLean's "American Pie" for the rovers Spirit and Opportunity on Mars, that I wrote like a month ago.

The link is on the left...My Videos...and it's the one on top. The thumbnail is all black now, but I've changed what the thumbnail will be so that you can at least see something. I wish YouTube would let you be more specific in what you want your thumbnail to be, and not just give you limited options. But just in case the link glitches, here's the direct path...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbiizPc-q3E

Anyway...

The actual singing lyrics are a bit different than what I first wrote and posted here on the Blog, but only for the ease of singing. Nothing major. Besides, I made this a video that shows the lyrics as the song goes.

If you can get past bad singing, I hope you enjoy it. lol. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Note to the Eco-Fascists

These are the people who drive me nuts by trying to regulate my life and pass so many laws that the government is more of my wife than my wife is. Screw that! I made a comment on this today and liked it so much, I decided to make it its own post. :)

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As far as "destroying the planet" is concerned. The planet is fine. It is we who are bitching because the things we've done adversely affect US, not the planet. Such selfish creatures are we.

Mother Earth has withstood asteroid bombardment, noxious gases in the atmosphere, volcanoes erupting throughout her surface, violent solar cycles, magnetic field shifting (leaving her ultimately vulnerable to radiation), and more. Yet she's still here, spinning as elegantly as a ballet dancer on a galactic stage.

The Earth is not sick, she's pregnant, and needs to birth us to the stars.

Moon vs. Mars - Destination First?

As per a few recent discussions I've been involved in, I have decided to chime in on this very important subject. As far as where we should go first, there are those who are 100% Moon and there are those who are 100% Mars.

Time will tell which is the better idea, Moon first or Mars. I for one prefer the Moon first, Mars second approach. By establishing a solid foothold on the Moon we will learn so much more about what would be necessary for going to Mars. I would rather KNOW than ASSUME when it comes to a trip of that magnitude.

Also, Mars requires WAY too much money right now to accomplish. We can't even afford LEO with the way Congress shoves money in all manner of stupid directions. You can have your ideology all you want, and I can have mine, but right now it all boils down to cash and international cooperation, neither of which are at the pinnacle of stability right now.

The current U.S. Administration is obviously more fixed on social construction and governmental power grabbing than space. The international world is more concerned with keeping their heads above water (financially) than space. Specific sectors of the world are more concerned with using their resources for destructive purposes than space.

I am on a mission to change as much of that as possible, but only through baby steps can that happen. Going to Mars is a "pie in the sky" aspiration right now, period. Good luck selling that snake oil to anyone in today's climate. At least the Moon, as inferior as some may consider it for a destination, is more local and directly attainable financially.

As far as how we can get there and STAY there, I do love the Nuclear Rocket angle. I have said many times before that if it wasn't for the eco-fascist hippie green bastards, we'd have already been to Mars and had a strong presence on the Moon. Nuclear technology, rockets and power plants, would have made it possible, and until a more exotic and efficient power/propulsion system is developed, I say GO NUKE!

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Friend's Most Excellent Rant

Yes, this is my Blog, but when a friend writes something this good, I HAVE to recognize it. He doesn't have a blog, but he posts on space.com like me. This is one of his best rants ever.
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As the overall leap frogging strategy would insist, Mars would be the death of NASA if entertained monetarily speaking--they can't even afford hardly to get off the ground as it is with a 20 billion dollar yearly super-crunch budget. As for any company heading there soon, what is the profit benefit--red instead of white sandbox material? Without any base of operations to make use of a whole new world, then the only return is exploration, and where is the monetary return in that--selling rocks on Ebay to make a profit?

Sending humans to desolation is the theme--for the fact of exploration--it is noble indeed, but with current "space tube" technology and lack of reasonable understanding of how to exist in deep space AT ALL since this has never been done--any crew sent there under current technology would likely result in one or more ways of a painful death.

As an example--we should imagine the toilet hypothesis--butt bacteria that collects on the inside of the bowl is continuously being bombarded with radiation in deep space and while buzzing Mars, as is all other collecting bacterial colonies on board our lovely (never-before built to perfection) deep space cruiser that folks suggest should be about the diameter--plus a couple inches--of the occupants chest cavities combined. It has already been proven that simple nasties that usually remain benign on Earth have in space turned into voracious human feeders that change over time and can really mess up somebody's day.

WITHOUT that simple knowledge of what happens even to colon bacteria in a dirty space toilet for about 3 years hangin around, being radiated and genetically altered in space while a "camping we will go", knowing what the almost worthless (yet expensive) space tube station has shown already with its own ACCIDENTAL growth experiments (a byproduct of being in the environment and learning) to go beyond the safety of mommy Earth for the first time ever--are we believing that the nasty wasty microbes y'all keep worrying about really would come from MARS? Or should we first be thinking about being attacked on board our own tube ship from some hydrated black swamp monster genetically altered from each poor saps (sorry--I mean to say first Mars explorers) own ass bacteria that mated and mutated and consumed them as human pods?

For a sci-fi thriller, each returning crew member would house a portion of this highly evolved bacterium creature and come back to earth and alter the entire human race back into dinosaurs, before it returns to the swamps, mutating humanity back into the originally intended life forms before the UFO creatures started tinkering with dinosaur genetics to create humans.

It would actually seem that the real sci-fi would be the humans returning. THE TECHNOLOGY TO GO THERE AND RETURN MUST BE PERFECTED...AND WE DO NOT DO THAT ON EARTH--WE DO THAT ON THE CLOSEST SAFE ENVIRONMENT WE CAN. WE EXPONENTIALLY IMPROVE OUR SCIENTIFIC CAPABILITIES...AND THEN WE ATTEMPT IT. Note--ATTEMPT. WE BEGIN ON A MOON BASE and test. Otherwise you would volunteer the worst criminals and send them like in the old days of exploration, to help empty your jails.

Oh, I'm full of it--we can make it work right?!

Here--imagine--you have never baked a cake before. You know the list of the ingredients and the instructions on the back of the box are plain but are you an expert on cakes? Certainly you say--so you try it and it turns out like a pancake, because you didn't know that jumping up and down and shaking it caused its collapse. Or, adding a little more salt made it taste like crap, but you thought it better to add salt because you like salt. You try another and don't pre-heat the oven or you leave out an ingredient you don't want. As time goes on...and more crap cakes...eventually you get how to make a good cake everyone likes...to the point you begin to understand what goes in when and how much and start to devise your own cakes if you so choose--like a fine garlic cake for example.

The comparison is that also; heading an interplanetary cruiser to another planet nearly a year away without any tested background knowledge whatsoever of the consequences or the potential for ANY disaster and how to mitigate it. If the space shuttles or Apollo missions have proven anything in all their decades, it is certainly that our best technology we rely on screws up from time to time. Is space the safest way to fly that we can journey now to other planets after really only less than 10 years of true human space exploration. LEO don't count--planes can simulate zero G.

When we as bonafide space explorers are still worried about Earth weather when it comes to scrubbing or delaying launches, do we really have it together yet? How about a zinging 7 hundred thousand mile an hour pebble ripping your friggin hull in half? Get out the plumbers putty right? Or say you make it to Mars, all seems well--you pitch your tents and stay for a while--all seems well the first month...but then you look over under the plastic log firelight and notice your colleague's faces are sliding off their cheekbones and onto their freeze-dried ice cream due to radiation poisoning from overexposure. At least in the old days they sent monkeys and dogs, or even mice or rats--for today we believe we are experts--now that is science fiction.

I understand that we are fond of shooting our ashes off into space, but rocket technology is simply so...NAZI. And our best idea for radiation protection is an 8 meter box to protect against solar flares in a small ship in space...and last checked, Mars one way is 9 months average with butt-blast technology (or rockets). Even at 6 and 6--that's 12 months not including staying on planetary surface time, plus the escape craft needed to leave Mars if that is the intention, and like one gentleman stated, we haven't done a successful Mars surface extraction in about 4 decades of Mars poking and prodding in the driest of dry desolate sand, but we should be considered deep space/planetary experts in going to, staying and coming back? Weird conclusion of expertise in a field. Yes, I lift up rocks and pick up bugs--I am expert in entomology--not.

I see. Perhaps there is freezing cold red sand in my eyes, but last I checked we couldn't even stay on Moon for more than a total of a week with multiple missions--and so we circle in a metal hamster tunnel, dodging Chinese satellite frag grenades, while for decades of wasteful uselessness, learning next to nothing about real space habitation, while Hubble does more science in a week of snapping photos with broken cameras and backwards mirrors.

I LOVE the idea of Human space exploration--never get me wrong there, but damn those with the money, power and capability not to have gotten it right all along, leaving us all to mercilessly spin around the planet wishing on a star and floundering, wasting time. Those that say that establishing a Moon base of operations first would set us back centuries must have been born from the womb speaking multiple languages and never needed to learn anything before doing.

We should remember Nazi Germany and their drive for technology and successes when they concentrated their best minds on task. Though they overstepped their bounds with so many enemies and lost, thankfully, their scientists became the entire foundation for NASA in the 40's on and ultimately got the United States into space and onto the Moon in the first place, as they were about 25 years ahead of the world technologically. They set up a test base and put their best minds to work on singular technological goals, using vast resources of brilliant men and materials and gained incredible technical knowledge of the time, and had they been further able to implement it, the entire world might be speaking German right now. We should be of the same dedication to space establishment to accomplish great things..in order of succession.

If we concentrated on only a few foundation areas of testing in a Moon base where such tests could be conducted quickly and properly, we would soon discover how to overcome issues of space adaptation to make bigger and bolder trips outward. As we simply have not overcome the smallest of issues and anything we tried to do to get to Mars right now would be a test in progress, likely resulting in major issues, likely failure and likely death.

We should have had the MOON BASE established in the 70's so that I wouldn't have to keep repeating this to my universal colleagues, but we were trained on the Vietnam made-up political B.S. war Kennedy was opposed to before THEY offed him to allow his VP in, who DID want to kill his own citizens by draft. For it was a good idea to send men into the battlefield of a country we had no business with, whose average lifespan on the front line was 15 seconds. Nice work there you Johnson. Hope the Freemason's gave you good honors and a ceremony in D.C. for that murdering effort to get our attention off Kennedy's space program and finally lose Apollo funding through re-focusing of attention, and creating an entire generation of drug addicts and mentally unstable folks.

With a Moon base, by now we would know all manner of space protections, mobility, "how to's" and have an active establishment for all we do in space. The solar system would be the limit--plus we would as citizens have all the spinoff technologies that usually follow dedicated scientific studies, especially as a necessity. In life we must learn through practice--flying a plane, baking a cake, shooting and cleaning weapons, building and launching rockets.

We act as if Mars is some next step to human space exploration--considering the monumental economic investment and basically no return on that investment, only possible recognition and exploratative value, why should NASA or others at this starting line of the race endeavor to go there and skip over our own Lunar resource that is much closer and much more valuable than Mars ever could be as a first step to true human space testing and eventual other-world establishments and exploration? Mars is a bucket of sand that might have life like any other more viable moons of Saturn or Jupiter...

And as an offshoot of having something viable near mommy Earth, we would have 200 times more tempted to explore like Elon Musk WHO CAN DO IT, as well as contractors to the government(s) responsible, offering their own business resources just as we do now on current space explorations. Wouldn't Hilton hotel or others be interested in the first lunar hotel for vacationers--one small step for business....look through your telescope and always see Neon COCA COLA or other symbols of commerce dotted on the lunar surface from any place on the Earth. Yeah, sure, commercialism, but it has to start somehow to get us there and keep us there for a reason.

If money rules this game, you first need interested players, a base of operations and growth opportunity. Mars ain't it folks--vacationers would have no jobs on the return trip even in the best of economic times. Just visiting Mars would seem like a sliced vein that doesn't close and an adventuresome company investing money in the idea should already know that. Never say it won't happen, but I would say that unless it could bring in some type of financial return, I can't see private business willing to waste all those billions in design, testing, sending and return. The reason why NASA does it first...because they are not based on monetary profit.

As with being ON the Moon as experimenting RESIDENTS, all manner of medical, safety and life support issues could be in real-time resolved or at least being worked on, sharing equal or actually more acute potential exposure being closer to the sun, so our shielding should be better designed on the Moon.

Fact is fact--NEVER HAS A SINGLE HUMAN OR ANIMAL EVER LEFT LOWER EARTH ORBIT EXCEPT WHEN WE LANDED ON THE MOON.

All the rest is called gambling...and given the state of state lotteries, casinos and the stock market--and many comments--yeah, we like to lose a lot at gambling.

Orion vs. Shuttle and Going to Mars...Now!

Sometimes, the best stuff to post on this blog are the conversations I have with others in the space.com forums. lol.

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http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/090511-sts125-launch-day.html

This was about Orion vs. Shuttle, or more specifically why we have not designed another better shuttle an reverted back to a water landing pod. My comments are predicated by a hyphen. I typically write what the other person said, then comment on it, to keep up the context.

Aerospace_Cadet said to MCerc, "The shuttles were designed for 100 flights or 10 years. They all are way beyond their design life."

- So that's 1,000 flights. Um, have we reached even CLOSE to 1,000 flights? We've barely crested 10% of that, so no, the Shuttles have not surpassed their design life. Congress has underfunded NASA for so damn long that they're living on budgetary scraps, while the bastard politicians funnel money to their pet projects like Spotted Owl and California Rat bullsh**. I'm sick of the whole damn lot of them, the self serving, power hungry sh**heads.

You also said, "A new Aircraft Carrier looks very similar in design to ones they had 50 years ago. Are you saying that the new ones since they look similar but are bigger aren't better because they look the same?"

- But the new carriers are nuclear powered with advance radar and computer systems, reinforced hull structures and have better aircraft. You're right in this, that form follows function, which in this case sucks. I don't want water landings. It's ridiculous and more costly since you have to send a whole bunch of ships to not only go get the pod, but also set up a defense perimeter around the pod so "bad guys" don't try anything. This is why Shuttle was designed to land on land, because the Apollo people understood the cost and logistics savings by just landing on a runway.

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http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090514-am-humans-explore-mars.html

The article is basically about how we have the technology to get to Mars now. We're just dragging our feet. There was a lot of discussion here, but some things are more poignant, as related to the notion of explorers, the dangers, pansy people whining about contaminating Mars with bacteria from Earth, etc.

fireflyMel said, "You know what that led to? It led to trans-Atlantic trade!"

- I like your thinking, and most of your posts, but there's one flaw with this analogy too, as there is with many Earth based analogies regarding this topic. The America's had people living there before anyone else arrived from Europe. The Europeans had instantly usable resources and the trade you speak of was mainly trading cool and weird "savage people" goods to the rich elite of Europe, who thought it would bring them status to own something from those "savage people" of the Americas.

Mars has no people, no cool stuff to trade in that manner. All Mars offers is scientific research and plausible resource extraction. The Moon is the same. Now I think those are good enough reasons to me, but I'm a science geek. The challenge is selling that to John Q. Public.
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Eco-fanatics? More like eco-fascists.
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topnotch said, "Our explorers had a baby to take care of. I'm pretty sure the astronauts won't have that problem."

- Wow chica wow wow. :) Otherwise, great points. You almost defeated my point to fireflyMel about how Earth based analogies don't work well for trips to the Moon or Mars.
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fireflyMel said, "There is a difference between science and a political agenda -- you know that aspect of competition I told you about -- trust me, look behind the green movement and you will find big business interests who cannot compete in the current market who are attempting to leverage fear into the advantage of preferred government treatment and funding -- show me a political agenda and I will show you a bunch of people behind it who expect to get rich."

- Oh SNAP! Perfectly said.
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HiGh_GuY - Terraform Mars? You're on that bandwagon too? No disrespect, but you're dead wrong! You cannot terraform a planet with no EM field to protect it from the solar radiation. Period.

Any atmosphere you try to naturally create will just get stripped away by solar wind and high energy particles. The best you can hope for is to manufacture "atmosphere" at the same rate that the sun strips it away, creating a man made equilibrium. That is not terraforming, that is Artificial Atmospheric Control.

And to do that you'd need a crap load of machines scattered throughout the planet, all spewing huge amounts of atmospheric gasses into the sky for God knows how long before that equilibrium point would be reached.
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fireflyMel said, "In terms of trade I was thinking if we engaged in colonization, then local industry would be forced to grow, and that industry would need to trade for items manufactured on earth."

- Kind of a catch 22 there. You need to bring stuff with you at the beginning to set up a colony, which costs a lot for industry, but why set up a colony if there's nothing immediate to return to that same industry?

Mars is a 20 or 50 year return on investment scenario, and most businesses look at just 7 year return cycles. They want their return quick. We have to figure out how to make Mars profitable in just 7 to 10 years (10 could probably be acceptable), such that the investment is worth it.
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Delphinus100 said, "And again, we are going somewhere after Mars, right? Excessive single mindedness for one specific target, rather than building up an overall spaceflight infrastructure and capability is part of what got us where we are now."

- Damn right! I want my Imperial Fleet...five minutes ago! :)
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Screw it, let's build a program where its goal is to get humans to Pluto in 3 months. If we can do that, then every other planet in the solar system is covered. After Pluto...well...those distances become a bit more problematic and require more exotic propulsion systems, and I want to invent them. :)
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Any eco-fascist bitching about polluting space should protest by tying themselves to the sun. Problem solved.
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That last line got some laughs, but it's oh so true. :) Might be why it's so funny.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

POW...Take That Dark Matter!

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Study_Plunges_Standard_Theory_Of_Cosmology_Into_Crisis_999.html


I just love it when Dark Matter receives a black eye based on actual science. :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

STS125 (Atlantis), Private Space and Star Trek

Today was a pretty exciting day. Well, anytime we have a launch it's exciting, perks of being on the inside. :) Although I do feel that the Shuttle is old and in need of a modern and advanced replacement (NOT ARES!!!), I still get goosebumps every time she launches.

Hopefully all goes well with the TPS inspections and my baby, Endeavour, can roll from Pad B to Pad A and get ready for her STS-127 Mission. Ya know, being 2 missions at once is a paperwork nightmare. lol. I've been to so many meetings this past month related to STS-400/127 stuff, only because of the contingency STS-400 aspect. Sheesh! I can't wait until my one bird has just one mission. Of course, that will also mean that Atlantis is fine and I won't have to polish my resume, because if we have to go rescue the crew and leave Atlantis behind, you can kiss the federal space program goodbye. :(

Of course, that always leaves private space. So, when do I get to ride up myself? I am sick of waiting and we REALLY need to push for some legislative adjustments in order to fuel the private space movement fire. Yeah, Virgin Galactic is nice, but that's Sub-orbital. I want the whole tamale! :) Orbit and beyond, baby!

This brings me to Star Trek. I saw that this weekend. I liked it. Yes, I'm a Star Wars geek, but I'm not a Star Wars purist. I enjoy all manner of space sci-fi, if it's good. Finally this Star Trek had more action! Well what do ya know, kinda like Star Wars, which has always been more action oriented. Good job JJ. :) Now, I want some serious funding to go into making Star Trek, or Star Wars technology a reality! Stop screwing around dammit and let's get it done!

If nothing else, a million people should just storm area 51 and Groom Lake and figure out what the hell is really around there. They couldn't stop a million people all flooding at once. :) Of course, now I need to be on the lookout for a black van.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Extending Shuttle?

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/05/nasa-present-two-shuttle-extension-options-to-lawmakers/

As many of you may know I work with the Shuttle Program, so this might seem self serving at first, but rest assured that I do believe that at some point the Shuttle needs to be put to pasture.

My concern with retiring the Shuttle has always been doing it too early and leaving this ridiculous gap between when Shuttle is retired and Ares becomes fully operational. It's bad enough that we didn't advance the Shuttle design for the 21st Century and make a better one, regressing back to some dad blasted capsule design, but that's another topic.

Ares is already delayed and over budget, no shocker, so to assume that the gap would be only 5 years is naive. I'm also not thrilled with the alternative of hitching rides on other systems from our global partners, especially when specific ones, like Russia, don't always behave in a manner that befits an honorable superpower.

I am all for global cooperation, but not at the expense of eliminating our ability to do our own thing. At least then we have leverage so as not to get screwed. Independence is kind of one of the biggest cornerstones to the American way of life. Our space pursuits are no different. We need to ensure that our replacement takes over right away, not some uncertain date after the fact, so the Shuttle needs to remain operational until such time.

If the government is willing to throw billions of dollars at failed businesses, then why can't they consider "propping up" our national space program, which offers thousands of hi-tech, highly educated jobs? We threw money at Chrysler and they went bankrupt anyway, which is what all of the autos should have done so they could clean house and start over, without the millstone of legacy costs around their necks.

The space industry provides a far greater service to humanity than the auto industry does, for without the space program many of the technologies you take for granted every day would not exist. The Shuttle is part of that and deserves to be extended such that when it does retire, the replacement is ready to go.