Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Non-Voters Support Me

Obama’s presser today reminds me of this Usenet classic:

To the tune of “My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean”.

The lurkers support me in email
They all think I’m great don’t you know.
You posters just don’t understand me
But soon you will reap what you sow.

Lurkers, lurkers, lurkers support me, you’ll see, you’ll see
off in e-mail the lurkers support me, you’ll see.

Oh it’s true, and you know they support me.
There’s thousands of lurkers out there!
They all understand my intentions
you posters are not being fair!

Lurkers, lurkers, lurkers support me, you’ll see, you’ll see
off in e-mail the lurkers support me, you’ll see

The lurkers support me in email
“So why don’t they post?” you all cry
They’re scared of your hostile intentions
they’re not as courageous as I.

Lurkers, lurkers, lurkers support me, you’ll see, you’ll see
off in e-mail the lurkers support me, you’ll see

One day I’ll round up all my lurkers
we’ll have a newsgroup of our own
without all this flak from you morons
my lurkers will post round my throne.

Lurkers, lurkers, lurkers support me, you’ll see, you’ll see
off in e-mail the lurkers support me, you’ll see.

Good times, good times.

George Nield

#NSRC2013 Makes an interesting point that spaceports should be more proactive in expanding industry. Don’t just maintain facilities and wait for customers to show up. Take cue from flight schools and start similar programs for spaceflight. Also, will think that Mojave is a thriving spaceport when there is more spacecraft hardware than windmill parts in the hangar.

The Kickstarter Is Closed

Thanks to all who contributed, but as I wrote in my last update:

I’m over 25% over my goal, but I was hoping for a lot more than that. I’m not sure what this will mean in terms of publicizing, specifically the symposium/presser in DC in February, and distributing books to policy makers. I won’t be able to support it at the current level, though everyone who contributed and requested one will obviously get a book. I’m open to comments as to how to do another Kickstarter for specifically that (e.g., what would the rewards be — more books?).

I guess the next question is (absent a massive flood of last-minute donations) — can I do a press conference or symposium as “performance art” and sell it to Kickstarter on that basis? They rejected my original proposal for this project because I mixed the book publication with the publicity — not clear whether or not they’ll accept a project just for publicizing, because they like to emphasize “creative” projects.

Actually, when it closed, it ended up being 32.5% over the goal, but that, unfortunately, isn’t enough to change the message.

One of the things I’m thinking is to donate X number of books to congressional offices/think-tanks/journalists for each Y bucks in Kickstarter contributions (X and Y being dependent on the economics, as I better understand them), perhaps with book plates indicating the donor. As part of the Kickstarter I’d lay out the costs (e.g., the Washington event in early February will be at least a grand in travel expenses, ignoring costs of the venue, and the cost per book which depends on whether I go offset or not). But I’m welcome to more suggestions, both here and at the Kickstarter.

That NASA Subpoena

Some people think that this is such an Important Story that it’s worth making fools of themselves and threadjacking to point it out. I agree with this commenter’s take:

Congress: We demand that you say 2+2 = 5. Oh, and in metric — no, English – no, wait Metric — tonnes.

NASA: Uh… What?

Congress: Well, we just passed a law that says you must say that 2+2=5 metric-English tonnes. You have one month to get back to us.

One month later…

NASA: 2+2=4.

Congress: Stop lying! You have another six months to think this over and come to the correct answer.

Six months later…

NASA: Well, we found that “2+2…+1 = 5 metric-English tonnes.” But, we’re having another guy look at it, to be sure.

Congress: Stop lying! Subpoena!

NASA: ….

I imagine that the teddy bears (or dogs, or whatever they are) will have something to say about this soon.

A Posting From Bizarro World

So I was reading comments at Paul Spudis’s Apollo anniversary post, and I saw a trackback to this:

As we contend there, if we can put a male on a moon, because can’t we get people to stop creation bad analogies with putting group on a moon? But on this anniversary, a some-more touching defence is, if we can put a male on a moon, because can’t we put a male on a moon? We did, after all, have a devise to do so until Constellation was canceled final year. But there was a good reason it died — it was an try to repeat Apollo (quite literally — NASA director Mike Griffin described it as “Apollo on steroids” when he rolled it out over 5 years ago– a word he no doubt came to regret). The problem was, it was function though possibly a coercion or the bill of that project. As heavenly scientist Paul Spudis points out during Smithsonian Air and Space magazine, a genuine problem is that we have never figured out as a republic because we have a space program.

It’s as though someone took my anniversary piece and put it through a word blender. Does anyone have any idea what’s going on here?

An Advantage, Not A Vulnerability

I was at the Reinventing Space conference yesterday, and an AF general gave a speech saying that space is currently an advantage for the nation, strategically, but he fears that it is on the verge of becoming a vulnerability.  We have to come up with a new way of doing business.

Anyway, I was thinking about going over today as well, but the Internet was dead when I got up this morning, so I had to hang around here waiting for a Verizon guy to show up. It needed a new modem.

The President’s “Sputnik Moment”

Even without hearing the president’s speech tonight, as a space policy analyst, whenever I hear about a “Sputnik moment” from a politician, I shudder, because I can be almost certain that it will have nothing whatsoever to do with Sputnik, let alone space policy. It will likely be guaranteed to be a foolish and false analogy, just like “…if we can land a man on the moon, why can’t we…”.

Sputnik (like Apollo) was a unique event in American (and perhaps even human) history. It was the heart of the Cold War. We were in an existential battle with an enemy (the Soviet Union) about the capability to bombard each other with nuclear weapons. Both adversaries were developing rockets, with help from captured Germans from the recent world war. We got the cream of the crop, because Von Braun had decided that he had better prospects to pursue his dreams of planetary exploration by humans with the American ideals, and had consciously escaped to the west with his hand-picked team. He was ever the pragmatist with his ambitions (including his looking the other way at Dora and other Nazi work/death camps that supported his rocket program during the war).

But of course, the president’s speech had nothing to do with that. It was about…other things…that have nothing to do with Sputnik, in either analogy or reality.

Sputnik was about pure, raw, technological skill, in an area in which we felt vulnerable at the time.

It had nothing to do with what made America exceptional.

Look, if the president wants to talk about space, then I’m all in favor of it. But, given his political proclivities, I’m glad he doesn’t. Let’s just not talk about what a “Sputnik moment” it was.

Space Guard

The most recent disquisition on the idea is now available on line, as a PDF.

[Update a little later]

Yes, it’s long and wonky (it’s an appendix of a Space Policy Institute study), but once past the first couple pages it gets more interesting.

[Late evening update]

For those not aware, “SSA” is a TLA for “Space Situational Awareness.”

[Update a few minutes later]

I read this several months ago, and only passed it on in a hurry this morning on my way out the door, but by way of encouraging interest in the article, here is a representative sample of it:

Throughout the early days of aviation, there was a network of mutually supporting connections between the predecessors of the Air Force and the aviation industry, including both aircraft manufacturers and the airline operators. All parts of the aviation world generally supported each other. Due to NASA’s peculiar status as the sole civil government space organization for the majority of its life, NASA on the one hand has tightly controlled its contractors and discouraged robust discussion of means and ends when such collided with perceived NASA organizational goals. Meanwhile it viewed the emergence of private entities providing service directly to customers with hostility, or at a minimum an awkward uncertainty as to how such efforts should interact with the agencies. A USSG would be able to start with a clean slate and strive for a more balanced relationship with an industry whose existence and prosperity is part of its charter and rationale. A USSG might better be able to have comfortable and useful interactions with the Air Force, NASA, and the commercial space sector.

Really, read the whole thing, if you’re into space policy.