Friday, February 26, 2010

Dry and Quiet Space Industry

Well, aside from mass conversation about NASA, Congress, Ares and NewSpace, which is pretty much boring me to death right about now, there's not a lot going on in the space industry. STS-130 went well, and the new view the ISS has is amazing (reminds me of looking out a TIE Fighter window), but even that doesn't really get much pub these days.

Blue Origin peeked its head out from the cave for a bit, and landed a small article on Space.com, but it wasn't very informative. Hush hush.

Virgin Galactic isn't doing much from what I can see, nothing press worthy anyway. Spaceport America is simply under construction, so no special news there either.

SpaceX is prepping for it's Falcon 9 test with wet runs, a static test fire, and whatever logistics they need to iron out with the Air Force and NASA, hopefully to launch in May, but this isn't really new or special news. The special news will be when they launch the darn thing.

Otherwise, there is nothing much going on. Isn't that sad. We have a whole globe loaded with space people who want great things to happen, and the strongest story point in the world is Government Space vs. Commercial Space in the USA, and the prospect of Russia jacking up Soyuz travel costs after the Shuttle goes away. :(

I go to arXiv.org every now and then to read research papers, but that would bore most people to death. It takes a special breed of nutjob to get into papers "On the angular momentum transport due to vertical convection in accretion discs." lol. Or "Micron-scale Fast Electron Filamentation and Recirculation determined from Rear Side Optical Emission in High Intensity Laser-Solid Interactions." Anyone ever wonder why research paper titles are so darn long? :)

Anyway, where's the news on plasma drives, or anti-gravity research, or what the hell is going on with CERN? Details, not bullet points. This is something I'd love to learn about, but I bet most of it is classified or under ground. So sad. Well, I hope something amazing happens soon, because it's awfully dry and boring around here right now.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A New Pledge

I pledge allegiance to humanity of which we are all a part of,
And to the cosmos in which we live,
One world, undivided, with prosperity and life for all.

Time to expand human thinking to be something more than just immediate geographical location. We are all made of star stuff, we shall all return to star stuff, and it's about time we all start recognizing the plethora of things we have in common, instead of focusing on the few contrived and falsely propped up things that divide us.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vegetarian Rant

Yes, this article has a scientific point, but you must get the full story to appreciate it. :)

So I was at a stoplight yesterday and the car in front of me had vegetarian bumper stickers. 'Go Vegetarian and save a cow', or something like that. That crap drives me nuts.

(Edit: For those who think the person was joking around, there was also a bumper sticker that said 'If you eat meat, you're a killer'. THOSE are the people that drive me nuts. Hope this clarifies why I'm ranting on this.)

What, are plants not alive? Last I checked, they intake CO2, and release Oxygen. They absorb nutrients from the soil and convert energy for the purpose of sustainment and growth. Yeah, they are alive and basically perform the same core processes that we do.

So basically what vegetarians are saying is that unless you have eyes, walk around and make cute little noises like moo, cluck or oink, you're good for food. I wish plants could bitch slap them, because what they're doing is isolating one kind of life as 'special', while focusing completely on another in herbicide! What a bunch of hypocritical crap. Just because broccoli doesn't give you "sad" eyes, it's not on the same level? Then again, maybe it's not about life, but about seeming all empathetic and kind. Blah.

We have sharp teeth for a reason, to gnaw and thrash meat. We're NOT gummy plant eating herbivores. What a bunch of political nonsense....for most of them. I do know several vegetarians who simply can't process meat very well. That is totally different. That is a biological restriction. My wife can't eat shrimp because she's allergic, ergo no shrimp for her. But the majority of this vegetarian, save the animals crap is ludicrous.

Now to the science part: Everything on this Earth is here for a reason, including the things which we consume biologically to survive. Until science and technology can make meat that looks like meat, tastes like meat, smells like meat, feels like meat, has the chewy texture of meat, and provides the exact proper nutrients as meat, then I'm fragging eating MEAT!

Now the moment science does develop Star Trekkian style food replication/synthesization that is indistinguishable from the real thing, I will have no reason to eat animals, or plants for that matter, so then everything can live as it wishes. I will then, and only then, change my natural ways. Until then, bring on the fillet with a side of broccoli, 'cuz I don't discriminate in the life I will consume to sustain my own. :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Have I Lost or Gained Focus?

Some of you may be wondering why I've suddenly started going off on the Monetary System, bashing the way the current global economic system works, when I'm supposed to be blogging about space and getting humanity into space on a more permanent basis.

If anyone does not think that money and space are directly linked, then I have no idea what world you live in. Money affects everything, especially space and the proper development and use of technology. Case in point:

http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15543675

As much as I advocate for Commercial Space, part of me wonders if the costs will EVER come down to reasonable levels. As stated in the article, "Mr. Bigelow’s price is just under $23m per astronaut. That is about half what Russia charges for a trip to the international station, a price that is likely to go up after the space shuttle retires later this year."

Even if the costs come down by a factor of 100, the cost is still ridiculous. When do I get to go? When do YOU get to go? When the hell can we afford to let every human have the glorious opportunity to visit space and see this awesome world from afar?

Every time I turn around I see money as the noose around the neck of true space development. It's not knowledge, we have that. It's not resources, we have that, and we can go get more on asteroids. It sure as hell isn't motivation or willpower, because there are MANY of us who have ample amounts of that. One could say it's governments, but not really. They have motivations based on the real problem...money.

Budget restrictions, cost concerns, cost/benefit analysis crap, etc., etc., all reduce our potential. How many awesome projects have been canceled because of money? I bet all of us could name 3 or 4. How many great ideas never got started because of money? How many innovations were squashed and hidden because of money?

I can't get away from the fact that everything we want to do in space is possible right now, but we're always told we can't AFFORD to do this, or AFFORD to do that. I'm sick of the excuses. I'm sick of human expansion and knowledge being sequestered by a system made up of fake, bogus bullshit money that's not even based on anything real anymore. I'm sick of having the future of humanity determined by a myopic few who value money over humanity. I'm sick of all the crap, the greed, the stealing, the lying, the crime and the artificial state of social stratification that is brought about by the system we're stuck in.

Who the hell said the Monetary System was the best thing ever, and that nothing could ever be better? From what I can see, we are immersed in a load of problems, nearly every one of them linked to money. Yes, it served its purpose for a while, under certain specific conditions, but it is WAY overdue for a shelving, as those conditions have completely flipped. Time to evolve to the next level.

I want to go to space. I want to stay at a hotel on the Moon for my 50th anniversary, sipping Lambrusco wine, eating a nice chicken dinner with my wife. I want my daughter to be able to visit Mars whenever she wants. I want the same for everyone. Shouldn't we all?

No, I've not lost focus. My eyes are still fixed on the prize. I want humanity to become a space faring civilization, to grow and prosper as we explore this amazing universe. To use the great technologies we develop for that purpose for the betterment of all mankind, no matter where they live on the planet. My focus is strong and my resolve even stronger.

The questions are, are you willing to cast aside old ways for the pursuit of the same? How is your focus and resolve?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Social Evolution is Coming

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18516-seti-opens-up-its-data-to-citizen-scientists.html

Global resource utilization. Hmm, that sounds familiar. In this case, it's human resources all working together globally to achieve a goal, which is helping SETI search the universe for signals from another world. Great use of human power...mind power. Now, it does NOT require a large jump to notice this can also apply to all resources.

I'm telling you, for anyone stuck in the 50's, or even the 70's way of thinking, you're in for a rude awakening, because the majority of my generation and those before us are NOT products of selfishness and close mindedness.

We are children of a world that is more united than divided. We are part of a global community striving to be a universal community. We are part of something bigger than ourselves, and understand our place in the world of sharing ideas, processes and global talents for the betterment of the many, over the betterment of the self.

Our global connection enables a new mindset of collaboration over competition, of benefits to all humanity over asinine divisions among us, of true growth of the human condition over your self-destructive systems and old world ways. All of which will lead us to the stars, to a better home on Earth and to a future worthy of positive contemplation.

Social evolution is coming. Ride the wave or be drowned by it, for there is no sitting on the sidelines hoping it will simply pass.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Question for Capitalists

I have a question. Yes, this is somewhat long, but details and explanation are required to help provide full context for the argument.

Since Capitalism, and the more general fundamental concept of the Monetary System that the entire world employs, relies on the supply and demand model, how do you address technological advances that eliminate scarcity and provide surplus supply with limited and in some cases zero manpower required for daily operations? Especially since the current system was developed several hundred years ago in an Agrarian society where human toil and hand tools were the primary source for all work done for all purposes, so purchasing power was directly related to human labor, and justifiably so...back then.

For example: We have the technical capability to build solar powered, fully automated robotic food production facilities that require no people to run. They can be outdoor or indoor facilities, so they can be built anywhere no matter the climate of the region. They can use soil or hydroponic technologies, with hydroponics being overall better in the grand scheme of things since that technology prevents soil depletion (like what happened to the soil of Haiti and why it's so prone landslides). They can, like cars do now, be programmed to notify a local technical staff when they require maintenance, so production would never cease, and they can be programmed to produce vast amounts of food (both plant and animal) 24/7/365 in all locations of the world.

Capitalistic self preservation requires that businesses prevent this kind of technological use, because of it was used in this most humane and amazing way, every man, woman and child on the planet would have access to vast amounts of food all produced on a local level so as to reduce needs for shipping internationally. The multi-billion dollar a year food industry would completely disappear, because in effect, all food would now be as free as the air we breathe. You cannot sell air because it's plentiful for all. The use of advanced technology can do the same for food, shelter, transportation and a lot more.

So how does one address the situation where we have the technical means to provide plenty for all, but the system under which we live requires that a false sense of scarcity be in place to ensure "price" remains at an acceptable level, even if that means people must starve? Just look at the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, where during the Great Depression, even though we had surpluses of food throughout the country, the government purposefully destroyed food to ensure farmers maintained proper market prices, even though people were starving. What kind of crap is that?

I'm just using food as one example, but there are other industries where this is just as valid. I believe we are ignoring a fundamental truth, which is that throughout all of human history up until 1782 (tens of thousands of years of human history), humans could never produce more than they could consume. In most cases, they produced much less. But now, with advancing technology (thanks largely in part to the space and computer industry), we can readily produce more than we consume, which is in huge conflict with the supply/demand system of economics.

So Mr/Mrs Capitalist, what are your thoughts on this?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

If I Were President

Scary thought, no? :) But, I need to vent. Here is what I would do on a few topics if I were in charge:

Jobs and Economy:

Science and Technology is the present AND the future. It is time to usher in the 21st Century, and the best way to do so is to embrace the advancement of humanity in every way possible.

1. A REAL Infrastructure Project: First figure out where the top 20 cities in the nation are that export the greatest amount of goods to the rest of the nation, our nations top 20 producing cities. This is a national distribution thing, not an international shipping thing. Now, make every one of those cities a hub for a major MagLev Rail Station and connect all of those cities with each other by building an advanced MagLev High Speed Rail system.

To do this, LOAN...not give, but LOAN money to the private sector to facilitate the construction of the system in 20 years or less. Get it done fast. Those companies have to pay back the loan at a very mild interest rate. This is exactly what the government did for the construction of the intercontinental railroad, so let's employ it again. The government will take the money gained and ONLY use it to buy down the national debt, and the nation establishes a major high-tech, low pollution, reliable and advanced transportation system that travels nearly as fast as an airplane (~300mph), but at a far less operational cost. It's also quiet, requires no gas or oil, and can run constantly 24/7/365.

Nuclear power facilities would be appropriately built to cover the energy requirements of the system so as not to strain the existing grid. The design, construction and operation of this system would employ vast numbers of people immediately in a variety of well paying jobs and help drastically reduce domestic shipping costs. It's also a long term project, stimulating employment over a long period of time.

2. NASA and NewSpace: Have NASA, its research partners and its international partners focus on building the Moon Base (and invite CHINA and INDIA to help!), establishing the Lunar living facilities, water reclamation and distribution system, transportation system and a fuel manufacturing, storing and distribution system. Rely heavily on robotic construction practices as much as possible before sending humans to tidy up the place.

As its envisioned now, have NewSpace assume LEO operations to and from the ISS and any other orbiting platform (Bigelow Hotel, etc) in a LEO orbit, but also have them work on building all the spacecraft to get to the Moon, but don't design them for just a Moon trip. Design them as if they were going to Mars.

This would be funded by 50/50 LOANS that the companies would pay back over time, much like how we'd establish the MagLev Transportation System. What I mean by 50/50 is that the government would match every dollar the private industry would raise, assuring the companies have a vested interest is not blowing government money, because they'd be out a lot as well. The companies can use those rockets for whatever they want, but they must give free rides to the government to bring all the Lunar Infrastructure items to the Moon, and provide a certain number of initial NASA Astronaut trips. After that, NASA maintains an operational, science and research division on the base while NewSpace is the taxi paid to get them there, as well as other paying customers who wish to go, NOT just NASA.

Additionally, reform ITAR so that private space companies can work with international partners in the same way the governments work with each other. The peaceful commercialization, exploration and development of space is NOT a national defense issue. Missiles, bombs and guns belong on ITAR, not peaceful space transportation systems. Also ensure that there are reasonable regulations in place that govern the commercial space industry responsibly, but that aren't overtly restrictive.

These two things will not only upgrade America to the 21st Century in a hurry, but employ tens of thousands of people in the process, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, pushing our youth to embrace those fields. As the nation goes, so go our youth.

Environment and Energy:

Stop cutting down trees to build houses! How stupid is that in today's technologically advanced world? You want to help the environment, start by replacing 19th Century methods with 21st Century ones. Part of the Lunar Base program is to develop advanced construction techniques WITHOUT the use of wood, in faster amounts of time, and with less waste! This would be employed on Earth to drastically reduce construction costs, improve living conditions and help under developed nations to develop.

Also, as noted earlier, build Nuclear Power Plants to reduce our dependence on oil, domestic AND foreign oil, and put serious focus into all forms of renewable energy (solar, space based solar, wind, tidal, wave, geothermal, etc). Require that every major city be 25% (or more) powered by renewable energy by 2030. Use colleges, universities, private industry and part of the military budget to facilitate this endeavor. After all, everyone says energy is a national defense issue, so use national defense money to help get it done.

Health Care:

4 simple bills with absolutely NO additions, attachments, pork or ANYTHING added to them, at all. Short, simple and to the point legislation. I know, hard to fathom these days, but possible if the public is involved and eyeballing the process, especially if this is stated publicly right off the bat so that everyone knows what's expected.

1. Tort Reform Bill, fixing all the legal garbage that financially inflates the health care industry.
2. Insurance Portability Bill, allowing health insurance to be just like car insurance, where you can get and use your coverage in any state.
3. Pre-existing Condition Bill, preventing insurance companies for being bastards and denying people who need coverage, or drastically inflating their costs after they get sick. The purpose of insurance is to protect you when you get sick, not screw you after you've gotten sick.
4. Medical Record Digitization Bill, using the internet and proper military style security to completely digitize all medical records, saving a load of paper, and allowing any doctor anywhere to bring up your medical records from a database. Never again would you have to fill out any forms whatsoever when visiting any doctor, anywhere. They can bring you up in the system in seconds. And if the military can protect its digital infrastructure, then they can help create a protected health care records digital infrastructure.

There...done. Now watch the costs drop!
____________________________

Well, there you go. This should stir up some conversation. :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

NewSpace 1 -- Govt. Space 0

Okay, not exactly zero. NASA still serves a vital role in the advancement of humanity into space, but WOW, I find it hilarious that there are so many people who consider Obama's new direction for space as a death blow to NASA. If you're one of those people, quit crying in your beer for a moment and think about this:

The politicians most affected by this new direction will fight for NASA, not because of their love of space, but because of their passion for getting re-elected. They just want to make their constituents happy by "fighting for their jobs", even though it's obviously time for NASA to move into a different and more productive direction. This is exactly the kind of nonsense that gives NASA ulcers and prevents them from doing all things for all people. Politics screws up everything, period. This is mostly the reason why I'm shocked at this new Obama stance on space, because he's actually encouraging the privatization of space, versus expanding the government part. Somewhat against his character as of late, but I'll take it.

Commercial space should have been supported and developed for LEO operations years ago, and NASA should NOT be building rockets anymore. I guess one could say that they don't build them in the first place. Boeing, Lockheed and the other major contractors build the rockets, but NASA provides the requirements and has their noses in the mix every chance they get. Rocket science is no longer rocket science, if you know what I mean, and there are more competent players in the game than just NASA.

As I said in my last blog article, 'Former NASA Administrator Speaks About HSF Future', NASA engineers are not smarter than engineers at the private space companies. They all have quality educations and can produce results. The key is, which ones are bogged down by the political winds, and which ones aren't.

NASA should be building Moon Bases, and/or long range spacecraft to asteroids and Mars. The only way to do that is to shed off tasks that are no longer required, passing them to an industry that will drive our national economy in the direction of advanced technology and a true space age.

This is finally the right move. I'm not happy about losing the Moon return, but I knew this would come at a price. My hope is that Commercial Space will see all that new found water on the Moon as a lure, and cause them to want to build a base there, with or without government help.

As for those of you who question going back to the Moon, what did we really do the first time? Drive a dune buggy, hit a golf ball and bring back some rocks? Seriously? We didn't really do anything ON the Moon, we just went there to lay flags and footprints in an effort to one-up the USSR. Whoopie fraggin do.

The reason to go back is to USE the Moon, not just visit it. To make it a research station, to make it a vacation spot, to make it a fuel station, to make it whatever else is beneficial to the advancement of science, knowledge, and exploring further into space. THAT is the reason for going back to the Moon, and it needs to be done. If the governments of the world don't want to work together to make that happen, then NewSpace will.