Friday, August 28, 2009

Global Warming Debate

I am posting this because my reply was just that good. :)

Someone asked this question: I have a question aimed at the general GW skeptics - why is it that when someone posts something that is idiotic and/or just plain incorrect, do you not post responses correcting their information. Is it because you sympathize with them and they are tools for an agenda?

My reply: I always challenge people who say something I think is wrong or idiotic, but only if I am somewhat informed on the topic. When it comes to GW, I have an opinion based on a myriad of readings I've gone through over the years. My consternation comes whenever alternative opinions are shunned, insulted and generally burned at the stake because they don't follow what the "in crowd" is preaching. That drives me nuts and is bad for science.

Are we having an affect on the Earth? I don't know. I'm certain when the Earth was more volcanically active, it was much worse, but we don't whine about that. The issue is not that the planet is in jeopardy, it's the PEOPLE who are in jeopardy.

This is NOT a "Save The Planet" issue, it's a "Save Our Own Ass" issue. The Earth has withstood heavy bombardment, wild tectonic activity, volcanoes, floods, hot periods, ice ages and more. It's us wimpy, yet wildly egocentric, humans that can't stand a little degree here and a little degree there adjustment.

Let's be honest about the concern before we start to go and pen legislation that reduces personal freedom under the guise of "Saving The Planet". It's quite easy to guilt trip people into thinking they are the problem for something that is tremendously more complex than they can comprehend, yet the world has fallen into this trap of guilt and repentance, at the expense of well established freedoms that have led to a better quality of life for humanity...in general. It's not our fault other countries of the world treat their people like crap and don't take advantage of the technological advances that have been developed to make life better.

So, for the debate to be honest, all sides deserve a fair shake, but for the longest time that has not been the case for GW. Now we are starting to see alternative ideas come to the foreground, which is all many of us GW haters have ever asked for. Let's spend the proper amount of time figuring out what the root causes are, but of course in the meantime do all we can to be as clean as possible.

It is easy to succumb to someone who calls you a planet hater if you disagree with their environmental ideals. I refuse to do that, because I know I LOVE this planet, I live here too, and we should be good stewards, because the Earth is fully capable of wiping us away without a second thought and move on for another 4 billion years, and we will have been a civilization that never existed.

Abandoned NASA Projects, What A Shame!

http://www.newscientist.com/gallery/abandoned-nasa-projects/

Look at how many of these programs were axed because of the stupid cost over runs related to the ISS. I support the station now, because it's there and we don't have a choice, but jeeze, what a cash hog! It would have been nice if our international partners would have ponied up a nice chunk of cash instead of just piggy backing on our dollar to get their stuff in orbit. I say, never again.

Water/Aluminum Motor?

http://www.popsci.com/military-aviation-amp-space/article/2009-08/fly-me-moon-water-ice

Water ice and aluminum powder as a rocket propellant, now there is something that is interesting, especially since water ice can be pulled from our Moon, other moons, certain planets and of course, asteroids. Talk about saving a lot of weight on fuel if this passes muster. :)

SpaceX Publicity

SpaceX has been receiving some significant publicity lately. With the upcoming test launch of Falcon 9 Heavy in early 2010, I'm wondering if certain aspects of the press is starting to understand how significant and important SpaceX is to the future of the space program, both public and private space.

Most recently, Popular Mechanics has two distinct articles about SpaceX

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/air_space/4328641.html
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/air_space/4328638.html

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sun Cycle Alters Earth Climate?!?!

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090827-sun-climate.html

NO SH%*!!!

I bet the entire study distances itself from saying a damn thing about climate change (formerly known as global warming until serious studies showed the Earth was actually COOLING during the time).

The more serious studies are done by scientists that aren't in bed with the politicians, the more we'll learn about how much natural events are driving our weather than the things we're doing.

Do we need to make every effort to clean up our act...ABSOLUTELY...but don't anyone dare try to force legislation down my fraggin' throat in some Godlike manner. Don't legislate my SUV away, just make it a cleaner and better SUV. :)

Addition to this article:

Here an article I found a while back...I can't believe I found it...that breaks down the fundamentally flawed logic being used by the Global Warmingists and sites a lot of great trend data, if ones eyes are open enough to see it that is.

http://www.climatephysics.com/GlobalWarming/GWScience.htm

Swanky Space Hotels

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/090826-tw-space-hotel-concept.html

As far as the basic tenant of the article, I think it's great that we're having people start to think about all the other things associated with inhabiting space for long duration. For a long time we've only focused on rockets and living in un-aesthetically pleasing tin cans. The ISS could use a good visit from Extreme Home Makeover, that's for sure.

If any of us are genuinely serious about getting humanity into space, creating visually and ergonomically appealing habitats, in addition to more user friendly and safe ones, is paramount to the evolution of the private space industry with respect to tourism and long term habitation.

At least this is geared in the right direction, and I applaud that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Would $700 Billion Do?

I have a simple thing for you to ponder. I could look at the overall entirety of the money spent thus far by the Obama Administration is their effort to "save" the American Economy, but I will focus on just one thing, the $700 billion Stimulus Package that was passed very rapidly after Inauguration Day, which was primarily designed to save/create jobs.

Since then, our unemployment rate has gone from 8% to 9.5% and is forecast do go double digit very soon. We've lost over a million jobs since January, and things have slowed, not gotten "instantly" better, which was basically what was promised and why the rush was on to pass such an expensive spending package...to instantly fix the universe.

I'd like you to think for a minute what $700 billion (almost 40 times the current NASA budget) would do if it was simply dumped into the space industry (Public and Private) with a concerted focus on the following:

1. Investing in the development of advanced launch systems (ex: mass driver) and propulsion systems (ex: plasma and EM drives). Basically COTS D on steroids.

2. Establish a Lunar Construction Foundation (not actually building anything yet, but laying the foundation with orbiting fuel depots around Earth and the Moon, robotic missions for Lunar Construction Analysis and Mining Operations, etc).

3. Private Industry assumes control of the ISS (US parts) taking the burden off NASA books, including manning ISS Mission Control. NASA still finishes construction with ramped up Shuttle Flights. Get it done in just 1 year!

4. Develop and launch private space industry hotels as proof of concepts and subsequent implementation by the private industry alone. The money helps them get rolling and build customer base.

5. Invest in Lunar Outpost Operations and Missions using federally laid foundation (robotic and manned operations).

6. Invest in serious Space Based Solar Power development, implementation and utilization.

7. Develop international partners to join in on the task and contribute FAIR financial investments to participate based on the role they play in whatever the operation is. We're not footing the bill for them.

All of this with the purpose of building and maintaining a MANNED private space industry in LEO, GEO and on the Lunar surface, using NASA ONLY as the foundation builder and high end R&D developer, not in operations and further development.

Apollo alone directly employed over 400,000 people, and gave rise to who knows how many ancillary jobs because those employees now had money to spend on other industries (cars, vacations, clothes, etc), keeping those people gainfully employed and working as well. Imagine how many people would be employed directly by such a large Lunar/LEO/GEO development program, especially since the program is more geared towards establishing the private space industry, so the jobs would stay and not just disappear when the program was over (like the issue we're running into now with the ramp down of the Shuttle Program).

Imagine the education lift in math, science and technology when young people see first hand the serious and palatable results of the industry being fortified, developed and used. They would KNOW their education could land them a job in space, literally. Now consider the technological advancements, the spin off advancements, that would benefit health care, energy, etc.

Just something to consider as we watch our government spend billions of dollars, yet we see little return on the huge investment.

S. Korea Rocket Launch Follow Up

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/090825-sn-south-korean-launch-failure.html

Well, now it looks like the satellite itself is missing. I call this a 50/50 win/loss for them. At least the rocket didn't blow up on the pad or in mid flight.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

South Korea Launches Its Own Rocket

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/sfn-090825-south-korea-launch-success.html

Finally, they did it today, launching their own weather satellite on their own rocket (with the help of Russia for the design and build of the rocket). I am all in favor of countries who do things the right way, are obviously intent on the peaceful use of space, and do things in a transparent manner so that the world knows they are being just and genuine with their space aspirations. Go S. Korea!

I am very interested to see how N. Korea acts about the fact that the world supports S. Korea, but condemned them when they launched their rocket several months back. Then again, the N. Korean government is a bunch of secretive, nefarious bastards. So I'm okay with shunning them until they wake up and play nice with the rest of the world. :)

Apparently they didn't exactly reach their orbital target, but exceeded it. Science and technology minister Ahn Byong-Man said it was not following the designated orbit, hampering communications with mission control. "All aspects of the launch were normal, but the satellite exceeded its planned orbit and reached an altitude of 360 kilometres (225 miles)," Ahn said.

Overachievers. :) Still, better than burning up halfway there and crashing in the ocean...ahem...N. Korea.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Private Space CAN Do It!

I got into a debate with someone who thinks private space is not suited for the task of taking over space. Of course, I disagree, so I broke down his points bit by bit. Enjoy. :)

HIM: How do you propose that private space enterprise will do the exploring and colonizing? It takes hundreds of billions of dollars to venture outside of Earth's orbit. Where is that money going to come from? How will those that invested in that venture get there money back?

ME: Privates don't do the initial exploring, that is the only role the government should have. NASA is the Lewis and Clark and private business are the settlers on their heels. You start off by letting private industry take over ISS, which is a plan under consideration by the Augustine Commission, and one I fully support. This basically lines up with COTS, but should be allowed to go further where we lease ISS space to scientists. Now it's a profit center.

Get the ISS off the NASA books as much as possible, save for OPS and Mission Control, but then again private companies can provide the bodies to man those existing facilities, thereby relieving the burden further. The money comes from investors who see the potential in space. You act as though no rich people in our history have every taken a risk and invested in something that was unknown or overtly risky. Which leads me too...

HIM: Doing things in space is difficult, dangerous and, full of failure. Does the private sector have the patience and stamina to see through those kinds of odds?

ME: Yes, the private sector has more balls than people seem to give them credit for. Do you think settling the old west was easy? Do you think traveling over thousands of miles of crappy terrain, loaded with hostile weather, bugs, critters and pissed Native Americans was non-risky? However, businesses did it anyway, people went there, and they've profited. The gold rush...special resources...is one of the driving factors that fueled the expansion of the old west, and special resources will also play a key role in the profitability of the Moon and asteroids.

The problem has always been the heavy federal restrictions placed on the private industry, making it virtually impossible for them to get into space on their own. The government has maintained a nice monopoly on space travel, thinking they are the only ones capable of doing it. ITAR prevents international cooperation on many levels, old FAA restrictions made life difficult, and it was generally ridiculous to try and fight that uphill battle. However, in recent years, these restrictions have been lifted, or are currently being looked at for overhaul so that private businesses CAN get into space more readily.

HIM: What is there to make money on in space?

ME: LEO orbiting hotels. GEO orbiting hotels. Resource mining of the Moon (precious metals and especially Helium 3). Resource mining of asteroids, loaded with all kinds of materials we can use away from and on Earth, all acquired without damaging one single thing on Earth to get it.

HIM: No one is going to invest in Asteroid mining without a customer. No one is going to invest in Helium 3 mining without a functioning fusion reactor design that is commercially viable. No one is going to fund the colonization of Mars especially when there would be such heated debate about the possibilities of life and its destruction especially when we don't even know if there is any.

ME: All of this will happen, but you have to do it in the right order. It's stupid to think we'll be going from LEO to mining asteroids right away.

Step 1 - Privatize the ISS, giving private companies (of the world) significant experience in everyday space operations. At the same time, let the governments of the world press for developing systems and technologies for the Moon.

Step 2 - Once seasoned (10 yrs max I believe), private companies will take on the larger risks, and the greater rewards, of going to the Moon for 2 major reasons: Lunar tourism and mining operations.

Step 3 - It's not much of a leap after that for asteroid mining, considering how fast technology develops and that by exposing ourselves to the moon on a consistent basis, we will learn more about what technologies we need and can use.

Your lack of faith in the private sector is astounding to me. It's the private sector that represents the backbone of this nation, not the government. It's the private sector that represents the drive and desire to turn nothing into something, or at least give it a shot. Exploring space is no different that exploring new continents was 500 years ago. If you did an actual cost analysis of how much it cost Columbus to finally discover...well...South America, you'd be amazed at how much in today's dollars it would be. But Chris was backed by the Crown, so that's not a fair comparison, just food for thought. If you want to look at a private entity that assumed the risk and bore the costs, the East India Company is better suited for the logic argument.

Point being, to undercut the drive and desire of private space development is just as ridiculous as assuming the government will do any better.

Lying Robots!?

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,540721,00.html

This is just plain cool. It goes to show that self preservation is more than just a biological norm, but permeates everything. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dark Energy Takes a Hit

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090817-dark-energy-alternative.html

THUMP! What was that? Maybe a nail in the coffin of Dark Energy? Who knows...we shall wait and see if the peer review process is conducted fairly and justly, or if the "powers that be" do all they can to suppress, discredit and destroy this, or any alternative theory that doesn't fit their budgetary guidelines.

What am I talking about? Oh, sorry, I just get exited when more than one idea is finally publicized. :) In a nutshell, and you can read the article for greater detail, a group of scientists has theorized that the reason why it "looks" like everything in the universe is accelerating away in all directions is because we're all riding a huge universal space-time wave, and so objects on that wave will appear to be accelerating away from other objects on that wave.

I don't know if this will hash out to be plausible, factual, whatever, but I am very happy that we finally have some scientists bucking the system and not drinking the dark energy Kool-aid that the scientific community has embraced so passionately that it's almost like a religion. Time will tell if this pans out to be more logical and probable than some elusive and invisible energy culprit.

With that in mind, Gedanken time: Imagine, if you will, that the Universe is a spinning toroid. Not a sphere, or a flat plate, but the largest donut you can possible imagine, where all of us and all the stuff rides on the outer skin in a constant state of curvature going around the toroid. Constant curvature all the way around, ergo everything seems to be accelerating no matter which was you look. Spinning universe, imparting spin on everything else. Hmm. A fixed size, shape and spin requires no limits, boundaries or this concept of infinite expansion, because that's not happening.

Additional: Don't care how the toroid was made. Don't care what's beyond it, or what's inside it. Embrace infinity in both directions, infinitely small and infinitely big, including infinite existence. Always has been, always will be, enjoy the ride and stop worrying so much about that which you cannot reason within the infinitesimally small existence you inhabit along the infinite space-time time line.

Back From Vacation

So I was hoping to maybe stay on top of the blog during my vacation, but that didn't happen. I felt like Gumby, being pulled in every direction by friends and family in Florida, so I had no time to even check email, much less blog. lol. However, I am back and looking forward to pontificating on all things space. :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Martian Spelunking

A thought I've pondered for a while:

Caves, caves, caves! Why are we not looking at Martian caves? Should people do it, or just robots?

I like the human exploration of caves on Mars thought, but then again we run into the cost issue. I guess if we're going to send people to Mars, that should be their mission mandate? I would think that it would be a serious option. Either that, or landing them close to Cydonia just to really see what the hell is down there. :)

About the caves though, I bet the risk of spelunking on Mars is better suited for rovers. Now, the people on Mars can drive the rover in real time, doing better research by bringing samples out to them and not having to deal with time delays, but actually going into an unknown area with a clunker of a space suit...hell, regular cave exploration on Earth is risky enough without that extra baggage.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Space PR Follow Up (COLBERT and Defying Gravity)

In a small continuation of the comments I made regarding Defying Gravity, the new ABC show, I give you this...

Science is nice for those of us who have chosen it as our profession, or have some inner fascination with it, but this is not true of most people. The scientific community is not that big compared to the rest of the population, so you have to figure out ways to target them (and their support) in other ways than by boring them with science.

Face it, not everyone is that into science. They use instruments derived from it, but care less how they got them and definitely don't care about the details of how they work. Science and space exploration is not some sacrosanct institution that has to obey strict laws regarding how it popularizes itself. Where do people get this notion that in order to promote science, it MUST be scientific. You can skirt the edges and appeal to a larger community.

A case in point would be the new show on ABC called Defying Gravity. Is it completely scientifically accurate? No. Does it have some scientific merit is places? Yes. Does it have interesting characters and attractive plot lines? Yes for the first part, but who knows for the second part as it's still developing and new. Still, a prime time show like this is exactly the kind of thing the main stream public needs exposure too, to entertain them WHILE immersed in the realm of space!

Additionally, you have the COLBERT Treadmill which will fly to the ISS on STS-130, which was recently "awarded" to the comedian Steven Colbert (from the Comedy Central show The Colbert Report) by NASA after he mounted a campaign to have the Node 3 segment named after him, following the guidelines set forth in NASA's most recent naming PR campaign. Well, even though he won the actual contest, NASA still didn't use his name, but knew the PR hit would be terrible if they completely discounted him all together, which would have been ultra-stupid, so they gave him the treadmill. At least it all turned out to be positive.

If space is on the collective conscious of non-space people, then real life space based initiatives are easier to realize because people are more familiar with the subject matter, even if it's not EXACTLY like how TV portrays it. Hell, Star Wars and Star Trek have motivated MANY people to become scientists and engineers just so they could try and make Sci-fi into Sci-fact!

As far as I'm concerned, any positive publicity is good publicity. I'd rather be talking about the COLBERT or Defying Gravity than budget cuts or space disasters.

Progress on Surface Nuclear FIssion Power Technology

http://www.onorbit.com/node/1327

Consider this post as a link to a great article. Nuclear power, whether for habitats on the Moon, Mars, etc. or on the rockets themselves for propulsion, is essential if we're going to seriously explore our solar system now; at least until we develop even more exotic and powerful propulsion/energy systems.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Defying Gravity (New ABC TV Series)

For those of you complaining about the sexual overtones, the "unrealistic" science, and any other complaints you have against this new series: Stop being boring science geeks, put away your dorky pocket protectors and embrace the fact that there is a sci-fi show in prime time that at least touches on the possibilities of long duration space missions! You bunch of closed minded, tight collared whiners. Loosen up.

To the average person, space flight is not so much boring, but simply over their head and complex. Actually, I bet it IS boring to them because they cannot connect at all, even though it may interest them. If you don't bring in the human element of intrigue, interpersonal relationships (good and bad), etc. into the mix then all you have is a boring NOVA episode that might be fun for science geeks and completely crap for everyone else. I mean seriously, what the hell do you people want? The NASA Channel is all about science, and it's ratings are through the roof...oh wait...no they aren't!

It's not about being 100% REAL, but real enough to get the imagination flowing. For Christ sakes, Star Wars and Star Trek are totally not real in virtually every way, but those movies and series' alone helped to motivate a crap load of people to become engineers and scientists, just to try and make Star Wars real, and we've had a lot of innovation because of it.

In the past it was all about books with sensational characters, now it's TV. Yeah, Buck Rogers was so real wasn't he, or Flash Gordon. Puh-lease, it's entertainment mixed with just enough plausible science that it could be used as a means to enlighten the public AND entertain them with respect to space travel. How the hell else do you expect the public to get behind something they generally don't understand?

Just look back at every single classic sci-fi comic or book from the past and you'll find elements of everything that was seen in this TV series, the only difference is that most of you are so stuck up (or old) to appreciate the modern entertainment demographic.

Commercial Space Growing

http://venturebeat.com/2009/08/02/a-netscape-moment-for-the-space-industry/

The above article is quite good, so why try to rewrite what someone else did so well? :)

My take on this is quite simple, as investors start to see the serious potential in the private space industry, it will lead to stronger growth and higher aspirations from the private space companies. Investment begets growth. LEO is but the first step on the ladder, and as long as the U.S. government, and governments around the world for that matter, help to make it possible for the private space industry to solidify markets and build the industry, we will see the New Space Movement become the next major evolution in the economy of mankind.