Category Archives: Technology and Society

The Latest Safety Insanity

OK, so I read this, and the steam that shot out of my ears took the fresh paint off the wall of the kitchen on both sides of the room:

His committee recommended that NASA and the other ISS partners should plan for ways to operate the station with a reduced crew if commercial crew vehicles aren’t ready to enter service by the fall of 2019.

“Given these schedule risks, we recommend the partnership pursue plans to protect for a minimum crew capability to ensure ISS viability during the flight development phase,” he said. “NASA’s biggest priority is maintaining the U.S. presence on the ISS in case the commercial crew launch dates slip.”

One option he mentioned at the meeting is “providing training to Russian crewmembers on the USOS critical systems.” That training, he said, would be provided to cosmonauts scheduled to fly to the station on Soyuz missions in September 2019 and March 2020.

So, let me get this straight: In order to avoid any risk of loss of crew (and there is no way to do that), we are going to not only make ourselves more dependent on the Russians, but further reduce, if not eliminate any actual utility we’re going to get out of a facility in which we’ve invested over a hundred billion dollars and, as a bonus, put that facility at risk.

All because “safety is the highest priority.”

This is insane.

Block 5

Loren Grush on the significance of today’s launch.

At this point, SpaceX rules the world on expertise in developing and operating space transports. BFR is largely simply scaling up current systems. And rockets scale up quite nicely, within facilities limits.

[Update a few minutes later]

More from Doug Messier.

[Update a while later]

And more, from Chris Gebhart.

This will be an historic day if the flight is successful. Or even if it’s unsuccessful. Only way it won’t be historic is if they scrub.

[Update Friday morning]

OK, they scrubbed yesterday, and have another opportunity today. I haven’t heard yet if they found the problem, but here’s a transcript of a very interesting telecon with Elon yesterday.

[Bumped]

[Afternoon update]

I did a little tweetstorm.

As I note over there, in terms of opening space to humanity, historians will record that today was a more significant day than July 20th, and the most significant event in spaceflight since Sputnik and Gagarin. We’re finally making spaceflight routine and affordable to others than governments, over half a century after we first started.

[Monday-afternoon update]

More from Jeff Foust over at The Space Review today.

[Bumped]

Akins’ Laws Of Spacecraft Design

I’ve known Dave for decades, but this is the first time I’ve seen these.

I particularly like 39(s):

39. Any exploration program which “just happens” to include a new launch vehicle is, de facto, a launch vehicle program.

39. (alternate formulation) The three keys to keeping a new human space program affordable and on schedule:
1) No new launch vehicles.
2) No new launch vehicles.
3) Whatever you do, don’t develop any new launch vehicles.

Shame that NASA and Congress can’t learn this.

America The Weird

Victor Davis Hanson on the appeal of the West:

America remains the exceptional Western nation, whose influence and stature transcend the size of its economy and population, and its vast land mass of rich natural resources. Its cocktail of property rights, unfettered oil and gas development, muscular national defense, gun rights, religiosity, free-market economics, limited government, philanthropy, and great private universities is, again, unlike anything in the West.

Likewise, its excesses that arise from the marriage of free-market affluence and constitutionally protected unfettered expression, in the eyes of the world, appear often as license and indulgence. Certainly, the First and Second Amendments, the National Football League, rap music, the U.S. Marine Corps, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, the Ivy League, or 24/7 cable news could not originate elsewhere.

The result is that America exists both as the world’s refuge and its beacon, the sole place where individuals can find a safe harbor. Only in America can the individual remain free and able to live his life under the assumption that the major decisions of his life are his own and not predicated on state approval. Only in the United States does the rags to riches story still exist, given that neither regulation, the deep state, nor an entrenched aristocracy can fully suppress entrepreneurs or aspiring capitalists.

A key goal of my Outer Space Treaty project is to extend this to the solar system. Speaking of which, Michael Listner has an analysis of the latest U.S. legislation along these lines.

Rejuvenation

This seems like a very promising approach. First dogs, then use the revenue to do clinical trials on humans. I’m holding up pretty well for my age, but I’d really like to set the clock back.

[Update a few minutes later, after reading]

I’d note that one of the “diseases of aging” listed is diabetes. I think it’s pretty clear at this point that this is mostly a problem of poor diet, based on decades of criminally terrible nutrition recommendations, and can largely be reversed by simply going keto. In fact, they’ve found that it can even be an effective treatment for Type 1 (and it was, prior to the development of insulin).

[Thursday-morning update]

New at Analog: Can we reverse aging?

[Via Gary Hudson]

[Bumped]