32 thoughts on “So He’s No Rocket Scientist”

  1. He did a great thing and will always be remembered. I happen to agree with him that “to discover whether there is life on Mars a waste of money.” We would get a lot more science done on mars after we establish a thriving colony there. But I’d rather NASA not be involved in starting that colony. Rather, I’d like to see NASA sponsor sending scientist to search for life to a already established colony. They’d get a lot more work done that way.

    “going to Mars [to learn about earth] actually makes no sense to me”

    His lack of imagination can be forgiven.

    I also agree that tax money for this kind of thing is in principle wrong (other than perhaps loans and grants that are so a part of our culture.) However, my taxes going to a good mars rover has some appeal. Could we produce a good budget if all tax payers indicated what areas of spending of their tax dollars they would consent to?

    1. Going to Mars to discover life is a waste may or may not be a waste of money. It all depends on how you do it. Details are crucial.

      Without knowing the details of the specific proposal Baumgartner had in mind or the question he was responding to, it’s hard to evaluate his answer.

      His statements may or may not reflect a negative view of human spaceflight. The statement, “I think we should perhaps spend all the money going to Mars to learn about Earth,” might be an indictment of spaceflight in general, or perhaps he would simply prefer to spend the money on suborbital science missions for the present.

  2. No more than 5 minutes after his jump the space community was tearing down Felix. I think it is no surprise that they are getting as good as they gave.

    We’re a vicious bunch of jerks who could learn a little about sportsmanship.

      1. I don’t recall anyone “tearing down” Felix.

        I did notice that Sir Richard Branson and Rick Tumlinson immediately jumped on the bandwagon and tried to gain publicity for themselves, which seems to have ticked off Baumgartner more than it should have. What did he expect?

        As for “sportsmanship,” I know you’re in Australia, Trent, but if you watch American sports (at least), you’ll see that fights are part of the game.

        1. Edward,

          That they would mind their own business instead of exploiting it for their own purposes?

          But then he isn’t familiar with the space advocate community and how folks like Rick Tumlinson make a profession out of exploiting any to do with space for their own goals.

      2. There was about a million stories that came out after Felix’s jump decrying the use of the term “space”. He was called everything from a fraud to an idiot. So obviously, when the very next person asked him about space exploration, his response was negative.

        1. I didn’t notice that.

          When I google “Felix Baumgartner” and “fraud,” I get about 200,000 hits.

          Looking at the first 40 or so, none of them seem to be actually calling him a fraud.

          Why would anyone be upset at Baumgartner for talking about space?

          1. Because the self-elected language police of our community don’t like people associating balloon flights with spaceflight. Apparently the high atmosphere isn’t “in space”.

            My analogy of this behavior is thus: oh, you live in Hawaii? That’s not in the USA. [WTF?] I mean the continental USA, but I refuse to say what I mean. [Douche bag] Huh? Why are you getting upset with me!!

          2. Apparently the high atmosphere isn’t “in space”.

            How do you define atmosphere? There are traces of atmosphere thousands of miles above the Earth. (Is ISS in space?)

            I wasn’t aware that Baumgartner had called his mission spaceflight — and I still haven’t seen that. I don’t find that verbiage on the Red Bull website.

            The closest I can find is “mission to the edge of space,” which seems like a reasonable description, if you accept the fiction that the atmosphere has a definable edge.

            The problem with people calling balloons “spaceflight” has nothing to do with Baumgartner. It’s the Space Frontier Foundation flying experiments on a weather balloon (instead of a suborbital RLV, which is what NASA paid for) and saying it is “suborbital science” and the first flight of its kind. Or flying teachers on a Zeppelin and saying it was a “Teachers in Space” flight (impersonating our program). Flying in an airship at 40 mph and a few thousand feet has nothing to do with space by any reasonable definition.

  3. ken anthony,

    Finding indigenous life on Mars will become impossible just about immediately, once human presence there becomes a reality. Or any other living presence, come to that.

    There might be a case for teleoperated robots doing the work, operating from a base on one of the moons perhaps. One of the problems with running anything on Mars from Earth is the enormous lightspeed lag for information from and commands to any Mars-surface machinery.

      1. I think it beats trying to do it from orbit, on one of the moons. One of the two most difficult parts of getting humans from Earth to Mars in any kind of healthy state is lack of gravity. Having them in orbit would prolong the problem.

      2. Ken,

        The problem is the bacteria they bring along could mess up the results. Scientists wouldn’t know if any life they found was contamination from Earth or true Martian life unless its really radical different.

        That is why the scientists will do anything possible to prevent humans from landing on Mars until the question of life is settled, or they figure out how to prevent humans from contaminating the landing site.

        1. Nonsense. If bacteria could live on the surface of Mars, there’d be bacteria living on the surface of Mars. We know of no bacteria that can live on the surface of Mars, therefore we have no expectation of finding bacteria of the surface of Mars.


        2. The problem is the bacteria they bring along could mess up the results.

          That really is nonsense. If they find subsurface life at the human landing site they will be able to know it is martian. If they use telerobots, these don’t ever have to go to the human landing site.

    1. And why exactly would that be?

      Martian life will be very different to life on earth. It will also be very adapted to its environment. So the chances of earth life wiping it out without a trace are zero for all practical purposes.

      If anything, earth life introduced to even the most friendly parts of the martian environment would barely be able to hang on, but would not reproduce like crazy like some neophyte in australia.

  4. “So I think we should perhaps spend all the money [which is] going to Mars to learn about Earth. I mean, you cannot send people there because it is just too far away. That little knowledge we get from Mars I don’t think it does make sense.”

    We already spend a ton of money on Earth sciences and cutting potential Mars funding does not mean it will go to where he wants it spent.

    I’m not sure why the green people always want more money. I am sure the green industry rolls over hundreds of billions a year.

    1. To put things into perspective:

      NASA budget for Earth Science — $1.76 billion

      NASA budget for Mars missions — $587 million (not including related technology and data analysis, which are buried in other budget lines)

      NASA budget for planetary defense — $5.8 million

      I think NASA could spend a bit more to protect the Earth.

      1. Thanks for the numbers.

        I bet if someone told Felix the budget breakdown, there is a good chance he would change his tune.

  5. One of his odder (to me) comments was

    He said that the idea of someone leaping from 400,000ft was “completely insane”.

    “You have seen on TV how hard it is to go up 129,000ft and how hard it is to come down.

    I don’t suppose he’s ever heard of rockets, or spaceplanes? John Glenn got higher than 400,000 feet in 1962.

    ‘Course the good Colonel wasn’t planning on jumping out at the time…

      1. then it’s not a “jump”.

        What were you saying about language police, Trent?

        Did Baumgartner actually jump, or did he simply step out of the gondola (much easier to do in a pressure suit)?

        In the 1960’s, there were concepts for orbital bailout kits like MOOSE. They were never tested, but they ought to be, because they might prove useful. No one will ever “jump” from orbit because they’re already in free fall. They’ll just retrofire.

        I don’t know if that would count for international skydiving records, and I don’t particularly care. To me, the tech development is more important than setting a record.

  6. Edward Wright – There is one possible way that a real jump from orbital height might work; but it requires the presence of a Beanstalk (at least a minimal one).

    This would be the ultimate in BASE jumps. The maximum height attainable would probably be several thousand miles – how many thousand I’m not sure, but the absolute limit would be GEO at about 22,000 miles. Step outside there, and you would float.

    Whether anyone would be insane enough to fall thousands of miles, deliberately, is of course another matter. :-O

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