Jon Goff has another post up on utilizing the upper atmosphere of Venus.
Note the implicit but not necessarily valid assumption — that in order to do space activities, you have to launch from your own soil. For instance, I’d bet that Kodiak would be happy to lease some real estate to them for high-inclination launches.
Lileks has a righteous rant on the subject. Buck-sucking fail boxes indeed.
A new protein has been found that may be effective against them.
Jon Goff has an interesting blog post. Also, scroll through recent entries for a lot of useful speculation about utilizing Venerian resources. In many ways, Venus is a more interesting candidate for colonization than Mars is.
What headlines would look like there.
Obviously, I disagree with the one on global warming. “Consensus” is not a scientific term. And even if it were, it’s not close to 90%.
I didn’t expect the book to be available for purchase at Amazon for another couple weeks. This is the first thing in this project that happened ahead of schedule.
Working on e-versions now.
Looks like Google is serious, if they’ve hired Cynthia Kenyon.
This, like opening space, is something that the government isn’t going to do, for the same reason. There are too many powerful interests invested in the status quo.
We’ve come a long way.
Despite the fact that the project is essentially dead, the state is continuing to move forward with eminent domain.
Why you shouldn’t buy one this year.
In addition to the standards issues, I don’t think there’s much content yet.
I’m glad that the idiotic project is dead, but it should have died for sensible reasons, instead of being strangled by California’s (and the federal government’s) own red tape:
Our legal systems are increasingly so cumbersome, so slow and so expensive that they are a serious drag on productivity and growth. Just as teachers unions oppose reforming public schools that cost too much and do too little, professors and administrators fight to preserve a dysfunctional university system, and a multitude of vested interests drive up costs in the health system, the “legal system lobby” is more interested in the financial health and social power of its members than in the public good.
The whole system, both in California and in DC, needs an overhaul.
Here’s hoping that this is the death blow:
California Gov. Jerry Brown can not spend state bond revenues on President Obama’s signature transportation project until the state can identify how they will pay for the entire $68 billion project, a California court ruled Monday. The decision almost certainly spells death for the project.
This August, Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled that the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) “abused its discretion by approving a funding plan that did not comply with the requirements of the law.”
Abusing their discretion to not comply with the law is what Democrats do. Fortunately, they haven’t completely packed the judiciary. Yet.
A new one.
I think they’ll find, as they did in Key Largo, that they’ll have to put curtains on the windows for those people who aren’t exhibitionists, and don’t want the dolphins to watch them copulate.
ObamaCare isn’t one:
The technocratic idea is that you put a bunch of smart, competent people in government — folks who really want the thing to work — and they’ll make it happen. But “smart, competent people” are not a generic quantity; they’re incredibly domain-specific. Most academics couldn’t run a lemonade stand. Most successful entrepreneurs wouldn’t be able to muster the monomaniacal devotion needed to get a Ph.D. Neither group produces many folks who can consistently generate readable, engaging writing on a deadline. And none of us would be able to win a campaign for Congress.
Yet in my experience, the majority of people in these domains think that they could do everyone else’s job better, if they weren’t so busy with whatever it is they’re doing so well. It’s the illusion of omnicompetence, and in the case of HealthCare.gov, it seems to have been nearly fatal.
Remember, Obama was a better speech writer than his speech writers, knew policy better than his policy advisors, would make a better chief of staff than his chief of staff. He is the Dunning-Kruger effect personified.
As is noted there, Krugman told us Enron was working fine, too.
I think that the FDA is a much greater danger to public health than DNA testing. It needs to be reined in.
The webcast has started, and they’re currently go for launch in about half an hour. It will take a while before they know if they’re successful, because they have to do a restart this time — it’s a mission requirement.
[Update a couple minutes later]
This is a little annoying. The webcast stalls every few seconds, and I have to hit pause/play to get it going again.
Thoughts on when the franchise died.
Frankly, I was never that big a fan. I thought it was highly overrated by a younger generation.
All appearances to the contrary, the managers involved in this debacle aren’t dumb. But they come from a background — law and politics — where arguments often take the place of reality, and plausibility can be as good as, or better than, truth.
What engineers know that lawyers and politicians often don’t is that in the world of things, as opposed to people, there’s no escaping the sharp teeth of reality. But in law, and especially politics, inconvenient facts are merely inconvenient, something to be rationalized away.
When our country has accomplished great things in the past, there has usually been a great engineer running the program: Hyman Rickover with the nuclear submarine program, or Wernher von Braun with the Apollo space program, for example. Rickover and von Braun were famously stern taskmasters, but they did not substitute wishes for reality.
Which may be why they were able to launch submarines, and rockets that astounded the world. While today, we can’t even launch a website.
Of course, they ignore economic reality as well.
The idea that “failure is not an option” is a fantasy version of how non-engineers should motivate engineers. That sentiment was invented by a screenwriter, riffing on an after-the-fact observation about Apollo 13; no one said it at the time. (If you ever say it, wash your mouth out with soap. If anyone ever says it to you, run.) Even NASA’s vaunted moonshot, so often referred to as the best of government innovation, tested with dozens of unmanned missions first, several of which failed outright.
Failure is always an option. Engineers work as hard as they do because they understand the risk of failure. And for anything it might have meant in its screenplay version, here that sentiment means the opposite; the unnamed executives were saying “Addressing the possibility of failure is not an option.”
This is a point I make in the book. Which will be released (finally!) this week, in time for Christmas.
[Update a couple minutes later]
This is a good point as well:
It’s certainly true that Federal IT is chronically challenged by its own processes. But the biggest problem with Healthcare.gov was not timeline or budget. The biggest problem was that the site did not work, and the administration decided to launch it anyway.
This is not just a hiring problem, or a procurement problem. This is a management problem, and a cultural problem. The preferred method for implementing large technology projects in Washington is to write the plans up front, break them into increasingly detailed specifications, then build what the specifications call for. It’s often called the waterfall method, because on a timeline the project cascades from planning, at the top left of the chart, down to implementation, on the bottom right.
Like all organizational models, waterfall is mainly a theory of collaboration. By putting the most serious planning at the beginning, with subsequent work derived from the plan, the waterfall method amounts to a pledge by all parties not to learn anything while doing the actual work. Instead, waterfall insists that the participants will understand best how things should work before accumulating any real-world experience, and that planners will always know more than workers.
This is a perfect fit for a culture that communicates in the deontic language of legislation. It is also a dreadful way to make new technology. If there is no room for learning by doing, early mistakes will resist correction. If the people with real technical knowledge can’t deliver bad news up the chain, potential failures get embedded rather than uprooted as the work goes on.
This is also a crucial distinction between “new” space and old.
Within a decade? I’d say “Faster, please,” but that seems pretty damned fast, and hopefully fast enough for me, given that I don’t have any current known problems in that regard.
I just put a new install of Fedora 20 (yes, I know it’s still beta) on a brand-new Western Digital 2T drive, and it boots into emergency mode. Here’s the final output of journalctl -xb:
[Update in the afternoon]
[Update a couple minutes later]
Whoa! Now that I look through that enire output of journalctl, I see a lot of file system errors on the /home partition. Guess I’ll run e2fsck and see if that fixes it.
[Update a while later]
Welp, that was the problem. I ended up just doing a reinstall, and let Fedora decide how to partition. I’m not real happy with it, because I’m not sure that fifty gig is ultimately big enough for root and I don’t want to have to resize later, but at least it’s working now.
…is leading to a boom in distributed energy.
I haven’t checked gas prices here lately, but it makes me toy again with the idea of getting a generator, given electricity costs here. It would have to be a quiet one, though.
It’s off to a rocky start.
Jon Goff has some thoughts on utilizing its resources.
[Update a while later]
For the record, I think that Venus is a much more interesting destination than Mars, but that’s because I don’t suffer from a desire to redescend into a gravity well. It has much more light for solar power, and as Jon points out, easy-to-harvest resources in the upper atmosphere. I think that habitats floating high in it could be nice places to live.
Joel Achenbach reports on Tito’s plans.
He wants to use Cygnus, but how does he propose to enter? Guess I have to read the paper. I think he’s crazy to stake the mission on an SLS flight.
[Update a few minutes later]
Jeff Foust has a more detailed description. I think it’s crazy to rely on unbuilt NASA hardware.
[Update a while later]
This makes so little sense that I am compelled to think that it is driven by politics. I smell Boeing/LM behind this.
If I were Tito, I’d be working with SpaceX to do the mission with a dual-heavy concept, and use Dragon, not Orion. I’d order a stretch Centaur from ULA, or use two of them. I’d also bypass OSC and go directly to Thales Alenia for a PCM. The changes needed are so extensive that it doesn’t make sense to start with a Cygnus.
So Tito and Taber MacCallum had a phone call with the press afterwards, and said that they couldn’t make the case close commercially, that the solutions didn’t have the margins they wanted. Question: Did they ask ULA if they could demo orbital fueling within three years? Of course, Boeing/Lockmart would never let ULA do that, which is why it would be good for the space industry to force a divestiture. You have a commercial space company that’s hamstrung by its cost-plus-contractor parents.
Obviously, I disagree.
“Ray” over at the Vision Restoration blog writes about the ridiculous discussion last week on SLS/Orion:
This past week rewarded us with a panel discussion Removing the Barriers to Deep Space Exploration. The subject of the panel turned out to be the SLS heavy lift rocket and the Orion spacecraft. Surprisingly, in spite of the title of the panel, the discussion was not about cancelling SLS and Orion to allow funding to go to the robotic precursor missions, exploration technology development, and affordable space infrastructure needed for actual deep space exploration that have largely been squashed by the SLS/Orion pair. In fact, the discussion really didn’t seem to be about barriers to deep space exploration at all. Instead, it seemed like a snugglefest of love for the expensive capsule and even more wildly expensive rocket.
I weary of even writing about it any more, it’s so unutterably absurd.