Thursday, July 30, 2009

Oddities in Our World

Sometimes we find things that just totally screw up our historical time lines and our accepted notions. When you find "man made" objects that are 400 million years old, this completely destroys so much of what is considered accepted and true history.

At what point do you start to consider the following:

1. Humans have been around a LOT longer than assumed right now.

2. Aliens have been here in the past to either assist or be somewhat involved in our development.

3. What we assume to be fact may, in fact, be totally bunk!

The universe is a strange and weird place, including our own home and history. I love it! :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

World Peace Through Space?

A comment in one of my previous posts has triggered this post. Here's the comment:

"Join as One. World Peace through Space Exploration. Start a world space Federation."

This is one of those instances where you have to balance politics and science. Let me first say that I think this is a great idea, as long as it is completely isolated from all politics. But one must really know that world peace is a true impossibility, really. Humans bicker, for whatever reason. I guess it all depends on what your definition of world peace is. Are you so grand as to want to stop all physical violence completely? Good luck with that, because if someone breaks into my house and threatens the safety of my family, you can bet your ass they are going down. Or are you more realistic and simply view the quelling of major global conflict as the milestone for world peace? That could be more attainable.

Seriously, what do we fight about in the world? Resources and religion are historically the main players in conflict, and the same is true today...especially religion. I'd venture to say that 90% of the world is peaceful and just goes about their business of living. The other 10% is made of mentally defunct jackasses who still believe that power is attained by violence and oppression. Chiefly among them are the Islamic Terrorists, who have twisted a religion to the point of insanity; North Korea, who are basically the 3 year old in the house who pitches temper tantrums to get attention; and Iran, whose shady treatment of nuclear technology causes most of the world to raise an eyebrow in suspicion, but whose people are now finally fed up with their backwards oppressive government and are trying to do something about it.

That's about it. China is an economic threat maybe, but they aren't brandishing weapons at the world, although we would like them to adopt better human rights standards. Still, consider that in an entire world of 6+ billion people, only 3 groups are really causing the problems, with the terrorists being the most direct threat to life on a regular basis. The other two groups are possible threats, but have taken no action.

There's not much you can do about the terrorists. I don't care how many olive branches you extend, psychotic is as psychotic does. These idiots have distorted their religion to the point that it cannot be reasonable. Join us or die? Ha! They sound like the Sith from Star Wars, but thankfully without the power of the Force. You cannot reason with insanity, you can only abolish it. Press on. As for the other nations, if you give them something else to focus on, they might actually become constructive members of the global community.

This is where the notion of a World Space Federation would come into play. THIS IS NOT A WORLD GOVERNMENT IDEOLOGY!!! I hate that ideology. A one world government is the worst idea ever, period. If you think governments are inept now, why would you want to blend them all together?!?!?! Talk about thickening the bureaucratic nightmare, adding more fraud, waste and abuse to the mix, and increasing corruption to a ridiculous level. We already have enough issues in the world with power hungry bastards as it is, so I am not about to accept the creation of an even more powerful and enticing prospect that would feed the power struggle via a one world government. And let's not even get into the Big Brother scenario, where a severe lack of checks and balances would cause the government to become more powerful than the people it's supposed to serve, completely screwing the freedoms of humanity that are naturally imbued upon them at birth. No thanks.

However, a World Space Federation would be an entity where space organizations around the globe (governmental and private) would work together and pool resources for space related missions. These would be manned and robotic missions, but in my bias I would want to see more manned than robotic, that's for sure. I guess one could consider this a United Nations for Space. All nations of the world would come together, not to iron out political disputes, which are highly subjective and emotionally driven anyway, but to advance scientific progress, which is strictly adherent to the laws of nature, the finite nature of math, and the true and honest explanations of the universe (of which we live in and are a part of, no matter your nationality, religion, etc.).

The WSF would not be a political organization and have no ties to any one government. They would be autonomous, but not invincible. Laws and rules would apply, and to ensure that the organization didn't set out on some nefarious scheme (after all, humans would be running it, and sometimes people suck), they would be audited every few years or so by a randomly chosen member government (but never the same government 2 times in a row). The audit, and basically everything the WSF does, would be made public and readily available online for anyone to see. It would be the ultimate in anti-corporate security. Anyone, anywhere can see what's going on and how it's being done. I'm kind of making this up as I go for the sake of an example, but the option is real and possible.

The point is, that if you were to focus the world on something bigger than itself, then petty bickering and nonsense would dissipate. If you are ultra busy trying to work with others on solving the complex and difficult tasks of building a colony on Mars, then you wouldn't have the time to be a jackass. A lot of the problem nations in the world are just, in my opinion, bored and non-contributive to the world. They are like the bored kid in class who acts up for attention, or because there's nothing better to do. Let's give them something better to do!!!

Join the WSF, where the power of the human mind will unlock the secrets of the universe!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bolden and Garver (A New Chapter for NASA?)

I am fortunate to work in a place that is directly associated with space. I do it every day. In fact, my assigned shuttle (OV-105), or Endeavour to most people, is currently attached to the ISS and doing some amazing work for the advancement and increased capability of our global space station. For me, space is more than just my career. I strongly believe that it is the foundation for the prosperity of human civilization on this planet. Space = Survival. This is why I embrace the New Space Movement for the commericalization of space, and why I long for a Federal Government that recognizes our national space industry as a leader, and not just a supplemental addition to the budget.

With that level of seriousness, and a strong passion for what the future holds, I have been on pins and needles about the recently appointed NASA Administration and Deputy Administrator, Charlie Bolden and Lori Garver, respectively. Not because of political ideology, which many people try to bolster up as reasons to oppose anyone, but because there is so much riding on the shoulders of NASA that we cannot afford to have anyone in charge that does not understand, revere, appreciate and feel passionate about the future of what space means to America. In this, I will be completely nationalistic, so you have been warned.

The United States is by far the most powerful country in the world for the promotion of liberty, freedom and prosperity in all walks of life. We enjoy a special and amazing standard of living because we have busted our ass to get to that point. We have stared tyranny in the face, and slapped it. We have looked oppression in the eye, and poked it. We have confronted challenge head on, and prevailed over it. There is no doubt in my mind, no matter what political dealings cause temporary disruption within our borders, that the common collective of the American Citizen will do what is right for the future success of the natural existence of this nation, which is to promote freedom, liberty, justice and fair treatment of EVERYONE on the planet, period. We are that shining light on the hill, and I'll be damned if it goes out on my watch.

One of the best contributions we have made to the world has been our desire to use space for peaceful purposes, and eventually bringing in many other nations of the world to enjoy the same. Through space, we have developed technologies at a staggering rate, because the conditions mandated by space automatically cause you to design and build systems that you would not otherwise conceive of. It has been by overcoming the challenges of space travel that we have stumbled upon so many key advances in technology, whether they be medical, communications, materials, etc. I do not see this changing anytime soon, and greater destinations and goal is space will drive future advancements the likes of which we cannot even imagine of right now.

With this in mind, and after hearing Bolden and Garver talk, not just publicly, but at their simple introduction today that was aired on NASA TV, I am quite pleased with the direction our national space program might be headed. I say "might" only because you could always have the best people in the world in the lead chair, but circumstances beyond their control might derail their best intentions. Time will tell.

What I'm referring to is attitude, the way they speak and the way they relate to me as a listener and a member of the space fraternity. I cannot ignore my personal pride that Charlie Bolden is a former Marine. I may have been just a squid (Navy), but I have a significant amount of respect for any person who has honorably served our nation in the military. Additionally, military experience is something that cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the civilian world. There is a certain way of doing things, getting things done, and ensuring that everyone is safe that is especially prevalent in the military. This can be brought to bear on NASA and Bolden is the kind of person who can do it.

I instantly felt connected to Lori Garver as well, because of her obvious passion and concern for making NASA a better known institution around the kitchen tables of America. It is vital that people understand how NASA affects them in their daily lives, and this is something she directly touched on today. I was very pleased to hear this right away and early on in their positions.

I cannot predict what the future will be, but as of today, right now, I am in support of and fully behind the new leadership at NASA. Maybe now, after many years of barely treading water, or in some cases sinking, NASA will become the entity that we all know it can be.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Space Settlement Blog Day

Forty years ago today marked one of the greatest achievements in human history, when mankind broke the terrestrial bonds of Earth and set foot on another realm. The Moon was, and sadly still is, the furthest humanity has ever traveled. Oh yes, we've sent robots to do our bidding to the far reaches of our solar system, and some are still elegantly drifting into the cosmos (Voyager), but mankind stopped short and has yet to venture into the deeper waters again.

There are those who advocate for a direct target of Mars, some of them being the former astronauts who set foot on the Moon. As recently as this weekend, former astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, et al made it very clear that their eyes are fixed on a trip to Mars more than a return to the Moon. In the specifics I disagree, but in spirit I completely agree. We need to get our butts in gear and do the things that set us apart from all others, and not for pride or boasting, but for the advancement of all humanity. That is what America does!

The July 20, 1969 Moon landing was nothing more than a toe touch in the deep end of the pool. We have yet to dive into the far reaches of space, spending our time wading in the shallow waters of Low Earth Orbit with the Space Shuttle and ISS. We should not take such an avaunt guard approach to going further. There are far too many things we need to learn and perfect if we are to tackle the daunting, long range and long term goal of setting foot on Mars, which is something I truly long for in my lifetime.

Could we do it now? Of course. This is the United States of America, and we are fully capable of doing whatever we set our minds too, no matter how much we bicker amongst ourselves, as long as there is a solid understanding of what's involved and a serious commitment by those who fund it. It's not a question of "can", but a question of "should" we target Mars over the Moon. Logically, the Moon rests as our best proving ground for Mars technologies. There are things that you simply cannot duplicate on Earth, reduced gravity for more than just 30 seconds being chiefly among them, and what we cannot do is have Mars be a repeat of the Moon, where we came, we conquered and we left!

To be honest, by now we should have a Moon Base, but when the government runs the space industry, it fall upon politicians to set the direction, and politicians are well known for dropping the ball, having A.D.D. when other issues arise, or losing focus when something "more important" falls into their view. As far as I'm concerned, there is NOTHING more important than space exploration and development, because through the space industry, we have developed many key advances in other Earth based technologies.

Technologies like the CAT Scan, Cell Phones, Velcro (I have to include that one), all came from the space program. Granted, private industry took those initial technologies and developed them further, but that's standard practice, and also an economic boon. Has anyone considered the positive economic, educational, employment and technological advancement possibilities of a serious and sustained long term space industry fortification in the United States? The space industry needs to become the cornerstone of America, much like the auto-industry was in the early 20th century.

As I said, the Moon is our best testing ground and Mars isn't going anywhere. We could, if we really wanted too, put serious focus on the Moon and build a permanent habitat on the Lunar surface (or Lunar subsurface which would be a lot safer). And I strongly believe we could do this in 10 years or less if, and only if, we work with our international partners AND include the private space industry in the mix. A joint venture between government and private industry is the kind of partnership that would accomplish such a task in such a short period of time.

Learning to transport, construct, maintain and live in a reduced gravity and harsh environment is no trivial set of lessons to be learned, and very important to the success of any long term approach to Mars. What do you want to do, visit Mars for a month and then just leave the moment to the history books, or colonize Mars and offer your children and future generations the chance to consider Mars as another destination option on their vacation calendar? Do you want to leave something more for them, or just maintain the status quo?

The first step is the Moon, because even though "we've been there before", we didn't do enough the first time to consider it a solid accomplishment. We must learn and grow our capabilities so that any mission to Mars has adequate and knowledgeable support. However, understand this, SPACE IS NOT FOR THE WEAK HEARTED OR THE WEAK SPIRITED!!! Space is dangerous, risky, harsh and unkind. Space is dangerous, challenging and expensive (at first, but can and will get cheaper as private industry refines processes and production). Pansies need not apply. We are the United States of America, the best nation this world has ever known for producing people that take risks, understand the consequences, and also appreciate the rewards of their ventures.

There are times in history when humanity was faced with a choice; to remain in the cave or venture out for food; to remain nomadic, or congregate in groups for survival; to linger in the dark ages, or innovate and develop ourselves out of squalor. This is now another point in our existence when we have a choice to make. We can either withdraw our imagination, our drive and our vision, or we can embrace them and venture out, advancing humanity to its next level of existence among the stars. Which decision do you want to make and be remembered for?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stupid Media

FYI: Nothing is grounded. The media is stupid and has no idea what the hell they're talking about. I can't believe the stuff they are allowed to print these days. Ridiculous.

Wanna know why the ET shed more foam than usual? In my opinion, cycling the ET multiple times to troubleshoot and solve the Hydrogen leak, in addition to having the bird sit on the pad for a month of strong storms, hail and lightning, mixed with more cycling while trying to launch several times due to weather delays, all compounded the situation to be what it was. No ET has ever gone through all that. Abnormal circumstances lead to abnormal behavior. Nothing to get all freaked out about as far as I'm concerned...and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Remember, I WORK HERE!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Avanti Bails on SpaceX

So basically Avanti didn't have the sack to stick with the cheaper ride option, having to raise 68 million to go with Soyuz or Araine. From a biz perspective, I can actually appreciate that. Falcon 9 hasn't done anything yet, and Falcon 1's track record isn't stellar. One can hope that Falcon 1 lessons were applied to Falcon 9, and that its launch will be just fine the first time. But when you've got millions, if not billions of revenue potential riding on the launch of your satellite, hoping isn't good enough.

Now, when SpaceX does show everyone they're ready (and they will), they will destroy the competition. Come on...68 fraggin million extra to ride a different rocket? You know there will be plenty of business for SpaceX once they're fully online, and the other people will be shaking in their boots. :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Potpouri of Space News

Between the end of my summer college semester and the 4th of July holiday, I have been somewhat out of touch with respect to this blog. Sorry. Sometimes real life can grab you by the happy sacks and easily divert your attention. So, here's a makeup post. :)

1. COLD!!! ESA has parked the coldest object in space right at the L2 point (Lagrange Point 2). The Planck spacecraft has an operational temperature of -459.49 degrees F, that -273.05 C, about 0.1 C above absolute zero!!! The objective is to study the Cosmic Background Radiation in an effort to better understand the Big Bang Theory, Galaxy Formation and a host of other question marks. I look forward to seeing the results of the data.

2. Mars Phoenix speaks again, sort of. At least some of the data has been analyzed and the results of which were printed in the July 3rd issue of the journal Science. Yup, there was water ice, odd amounts of perchlorates and a host of other findings. Time to send people now, please. :)

3. New Moon pics. New Moon for New Space. NASA's LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) has snapped some pics that were released last Thursday, July 2nd. The shots are pretty good, and will only get better as the craft settles in it's official orbit and starts taking the really good pics. :)

4. ISS Traffic Jam. Well, let's park Soyuz over here (done July 2nd), so when Progress 33 comes back from loitering around the station (July 12th), it has a spot. And make sure to leave that spot open over there for Endeavour, which should be arriving Monday (July 13th). And what do we do when Progress 34 arrives (July 27th)? Dunno, jettison something? lol. This is great, the ISS is becoming more like DS9 every month. Okay, not exactly, but still logistically interesting.