Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cassini Flyby

So NASA's Cassini probe "buzzed the tower" over Enceladus last night. I look forward to seeing what the data shows, well, at least reading the reports on what the scientists say the data showed. I can't wait until we actually drop a probe that drills down and unloads a cute little robotic submarine to go snooping around. Now THAT should be...maybe...headline news worthy stuff. That is unless some political scandal or ridiculous financial shenanigan is going on. Funny how we focus on the idiocy more than we focus on advancement. Such a shame, but hey, at least us science geeks are out there trying to do something to better humanity and its knowledge. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Obama NASA Speech Reactions

Interesting video. I like how they bring several sources into one piece, showing different angles. I still stick by my thoughts on this issue, and completely disagree with people who dislike commercial space for LEO operations. I don't think NewSpace is ready to build Moon bases or conduct Mars missions yet, but NASA sure as hell is. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Obama Addresses NASA

Alright, so I decided not to make a canned blog article that I could post 10 seconds after the speech. I listened to the whole thing, did my best to remain objective, and have concluded thus:

Although I do like the mission ideas (human asteroid visit and Mars orbit), the time frame is way too long. Congress will mess this up within 10 years, and that's the real problem. When an organization lives and dies, financially, based on political ebb and flow, there is no way a plan spanning 20+ years is going to work. Period. I'm pretty sure that's why Kennedy wanted the Moon in 10. At least then he could have the chance to oversee the majority of it directly.

Hell, it took just 8 years for NASA to fall under the gun for the Constellation Program. I admit, I didn't like that plan myself, but it's always politicians (who for the most part don't have the foggiest clue about science, engineering, or technology -- other than the on/off switch) who jump in and screw up the process and the flow. Lawyers and bankers have no business regulating that which they have no knowledge.

It would be more prudent to just give NASA HSF a lump sum of $60 billion and give them a more definitive goal set and time line. At least then Congress can't muck it up. Here's what I think is a solid plan of action (based on historical evidence that we can move fast if given the resources). This also includes using international partners AND bringing China, India and other aspiring nations into the mix. Nothing should boost national pride more than WORKING with other nations to do amazing, peaceful things in space.

1. Establish a Trans-Lunar Infrastructure by 2015. Spacecraft (commercially developed), Orbiting fuel depots around Earth and Moon (NASA developed) and dropping supplies on the Lunar surface for phase 2 (both). Work on phase 2.

2. Build Lunar Base for 15 people by 2020. Both commercial and NASA partnerships to be used by NASA and general public scientists (globally as well, but as a rental space).

3. Spend the next 5 years (up to 2025) learning how to maintain, hold, operate and expand the base. 5 years to learn lessons AND inspire. Actually having a base there manned full time would kind of be a big deal for kids.

4. Mars landing by 2030. Use those lessons learned for the next main step, Mars mission. Probably just a landing for a month, depending on the orbital trajectories used, but a mission nonetheless.

At least in this manner, you have something big happening every 5 years. Things are being built, established, done and move forward. Yeah, NASA might need more money after the initial $60 billion, maybe not given commercial and international involvement, but either way at least we'd be getting things DONE! That's the problem with the current way of thinking...will we ever get anything actually done before it's messed with?

As an aside: For NASA doing R&D on advanced systems, I think it's about time we demand the military (Air Force especially) to reveal and employ all the Top Secret crap they've been working on with respect to space based assets. No more cloak and dagger nonsense. It's time to grow up and use what we've already paid for.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On the Eve of Announcement

So Obama will be giving a speech tomorrow at the Kennedy Space Center, and it appears that a small amount of back peddling is underway as politicians scrap and fight to do what they can to "save" space...more like save their jobs from pissed voters.

I think it would be more prudent to base all decisions regarding human space exploration not on what makes Florida happy, ergo Florida voters, but what's in the best interest of the longevity of human space exploration and the advanced technology it develops, our passion and desire to learn and do complex things, and our ability to pass that spark to future generations who will, without question, be the ones who implement and drive the bus.

So let me see if I get this right:

1. Orion is back in a light form to act as the ferryboat for the ISS. Didn't we have CRV (X-38) on the table for this? And CRV was canceled in 2002

2. The new system does nothing beyond LEO. How nice...more laps around the same track.

3. It looks like Lockheed makes out rather well in all this. I wonder how much their lobbyists got paid for pulling this one off?

4. NASA is going to put serious focus on R&D for beyond LEO operations. Okay, as long as there is a good amount of 'D' being done and not just a bunch of 'R'.

5. And just how do we get our own people up there to use this lifeboat (if necessary) in the first place? Build the lifeboat, then the crew launcher? Or, what's missing in the data, are we relying completely on SpaceX ET AL for that bit? Which is fine by me, but just not stated.

What we have here is a supreme failure to announce a mission, a mission with substance, drive, passion and goals. I am getting very sick and tired of lawyers and bankers determining my fate, my future, the future of humanity and the future of space exploration.

I am getting sick and tired of people who don't have a clue about anything regarding space to be the ones who dictate how space is funded, what we do there, and hold the strings of who's put in charge.

I am getting sick and tired of risk averse pansies who don't have the courage to step up and announce that space is difficult...duh...but vastly rewarding, and every astronaut or person who wants to go into space is well aware and fully accepting of the challenges. BRING IT ON!

But oh, someone might get hurt. PEOPLE DIE BY THE THOUSANDS ANNUALLY IN CAR ACCIDENTS, YOU IDIOTS!!! Do you see Congress regulating that sector as they do space? In fact, I'm sure you can come up with many other things that are far more dangerous and deadly than what we've experienced in space exploration.

When is enough enough? When do we step up and demand better? When do we elect better (not that we really have a choice with who we're presented with, do we)? Will we EVER be educated enough to understand how damn important things like this are, and how completely incompetent the people are that we put in charge? All the while we struggle to survive daily, our world view so narrowly focused on just making it through the week.

THIS is why we are in need of a system change. We're being herded, blinded and led by jackasses whose personal political and financial interests trump common sense, reason and logic...oh yeah, and OUR interests and survival without stress or dominance from controllable forces.

Vision, focus and clarity would be nice right about now, something that inspires...not just placates.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bob Lazar's Vindication?

Okay, maybe not, but still, the development of making a few atoms of element 117 is pretty cool.

Oh, and if you don't know who Bob Lazar is, just Google him. It's interesting stuff, and great fodder for alien lovers and conspiracy theorists about Groom Lake. Nevertheless, his element 117 notions and the 'island of stability' are interesting, so there may be a kernel of truth to be found yet, no? :)

Ocean Power

So a question here would be, can this technology be used on Europa? I know the thermal differences are vast between here and there, but if the material in the system that expands and contracts can be made to work with the temperature differences on another world, then maybe we could power an other-worldly submarine that way.

Of course, maybe a simple RTG system would be a more logical approach, but hey, it's something to think about. :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Robotic Winged Space Plane

I find this to be fascinating and annoying both at the same time. Fascinating because I love advanced technology and pushing our knowledge to the next level. Annoying because of all this top secret, cloak and dagger bull crap associated with anything done involving the military.

I want to know what this craft is, what it's supposed to be doing, what data collection capabilities it has, and what the purpose of the craft is anyway. It's not like they're punching out future versions, and up sizing it to carry people has already been's called SpaceShipTwo. lol.

So in short, I'm fascinated and annoyed. Time for some coffee.