Category Archives: Space

More Thoughts On Mars

…from George RR Martin:

Mariner’s findings thrilled scientists around the world and gave us a detailed and accurate picture of the nature of the inner planets, but for the readers and writers of science fiction, the excitement was mingled with disillusionment and dismay. This was not the Mars we wanted. This was not the Venus of our dreams.

I never wrote that Mars story. Nor any stories on Venus, or Mercury, or any of the worlds of the “lost” solar system of my youth, the worlds that had provided the setting for so many wonderful tales during the 30s, 40s and 50s. In that I was not alone. After Mariner, our genre moved to the stars in a big way, searching for the colourful exotic settings and alien races that could no longer be found here “at home”.

I think that there’s still too much romanticism about the planet.

Jay Gibson’s Talk On XCOR

I didn’t live tweet it, but here are some tweets from Jeff Foust on Gibson’s #ISPCS comments yesterday:

Hollywood And Mars

An interesting history.

[Monday-afternoon update]

Even the film-makers had doubts:

“If you had told me two years ago when we were walking into Fox to pitch the approach and what this movie would be, if you told me I’d be on the phone talking about how this is a big spectacle movie, I would have been delighted,” he tells Esquire. “At the time, we knew it was going to be expensive, but we thought it would be more niche than Ridley made it.” Nope.

What made The Martian unique also made it a difficult sell. It was not an action movie. The film’s star would spend his time farming potatoes harvested from his co-astronaut’s feces. The Rock would not show up to blow away aliens halfway through the second act. Mind would prevail over muscle. And that’s not easy to write for the masses.

I hope it will break some of the stereotypes, and make it easier to make these kinds of films.


Train Wrecks In Space

Thoughts from Wayne Hale (who I hope I’ll see tomorrow in Las Cruces) on how to avoid them:

I have a cheap seat view of the Orion/SLS development. My basic observation: those efforts are drowning in ‘process’. The biggest threat to their success is not technical; it is schedule and cost. If the design and development processes drag the projects out too far, Congress or a new Administration will throw up their hands and call a halt to the whole thing. They did once before; my intuition is that they will again unless something significant happens.

The secret of a good program – as a very senior spacecraft designer once told me – is knowing how much is enough and then not doing anything more.

Right now, inside NASA, we have trained our workforce to do it perfectly. And perfection is very costly and takes a long time. Over in the Commercial Crew Program, the senior leadership is making some progress in toning down the drive for perfection. It is a slow effort and uphill at all times. Over in the Exploration systems area, it all seems to be going the other way. Whatever anybody calls necessary for safety or improvement – without evaluating the real cost or schedule or other impact – seems to be adopted.

So I am guardedly optimistic about the commercial teams actually succeeding in flying humans in space in the next couple of years.
Not so much optimism for the exploration systems, drowning in ‘process’.

The sooner it’s canceled, the better, but I’m sure we’ll waste more billions on it before it happens.