Category Archives: Space

Barbara Mikulski

She’s retiring, after four decades.

Among other things, this is significant for space policy. She’s been a strong supporter of NASA over that period (particularly, of course, Goddard Space Flight Center in her home state), and of Wallops. Whoever replaces her as the next Senator from Maryland will probably be as supportive, but will have much less clout, at least initially.

Space Development And Settlement

A new alliance. This is long overdue.

I’m not sure about the prize idea, though. I’d rather the government actually purchase bulk items (e.g., water) on orbit. The goal should be a low cost per pound, not reusability per se. I’m pretty sure that reusability would naturally fall out of that. And reusable vehicles will have to be reliable to hit the cost goal.

SpaceX Versus Boeing

Yes, SpaceX actually has more recent and relevant capsule experience than Boeing.

As I wrote in the book:

When I worked in business development for a government space contractor, I’d always be amused by the standard section we’d always have to put in our proposals to NASA or the Air Force about our company’s previous experience and heritage, as though the people who’d worked on those programs in the sixties weren’t dead or retired.

Organizations don’t have knowledge — individuals do. And to the degree that NASA has any knowledge, it is because it has retained employees who have it.. But many of those knowledgeable people have gone to work for the commercial companies, so there really is nothing “unique” about NASA. But to the degree that there is, it is primarily that, at least with respect to safety, its procedures have resulted in the loss of fourteen astronauts in flight.

But I’m sure Palazzo et al will continue to think that Boeing is a better bet than SpaceX.