Category Archives: Space

“Wise Guidelines” For Space Policy

At first glance, these suggestions from my long-time friend Linda Billings seem sort of anodyne, but she gives away the game at the end:

Deep in my brain and in my heart I think and feel that colonizing other planets and exploiting extraterrestrial resources would be immoral at this stage of human development. I’m not at all sure that Eilene Galloway would agree with me. I wish I could talk with her about it.

I’m pretty sure that Eilene would disagree. I know for certain that I do.

Light Blogging, And Reusability

Things have been kind of quiet on the blog because a) I’m still busy renovating the house in Florida and more importantly, b) my bandwidth is limited here, as there’s no Internet service to the house, and I have to rely on tethering to my phone.

I didn’t post about it at the time, but my Twitter followers know that I drove up to the Cape on Saturday afternoon, with a press pass to the SpaceX launch early Sunday morning. It was the first Falcon launch I’ve seen on the east coast (I did see one pass through the clouds at the January Vandenberg launch).

It was impressive. I don’t know what the quantity distance is for that vehicle, but we were on a causeway in the middle of the Indian River at CCAFS, and I think the pad was only a couple miles away, judging from the time that I saw the ignition and started to hear (and feel) the roar. It was sufficiently bright that it temporarily shut down the center of my retinas, but I could see it all the way downrange past staging. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rocket naked eye that far downrange. It was very impressive, but I hope it becomes routine, including the landing, if it hasn’t already. The next step is to start reflying those stages that they continue to collect (six now). I told John Taylor that SpaceX now has a bigger fleet of reusable rockets than NASA ever had.

Speaking of which, Stephanie Osborn has a guest post from a fellow former NASA colleague with thoughts on the failure of reusability of the Shuttle.

I think that whether single pour or the selected segmented design, solid rockets on a reusable crewed vehicle were a mistake. And the fact that Jim Fletcher was head of NASA (and “Barfing Jake” Garn) is also part of the explanation for building them in Utah, Florida’s environmental regulations notwithstanding.

But as I’ve noted in the past, it’s a huge fallacy of hasty generalization to attempt to draw lessons about reusability of spacecraft from that program.

Why NASA Human Spaceflight?

Jeff Foust writes that that’s the question the media should be asking of the presidential campaigns. I agree; until we know why we’re doing it, it’s not possible to come up with sensible way of how to do it.

And this is an interesting parenthetical:

…perhaps, the answer would be not to spend the money at all: in the mid-2000s, the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative members of the House of Representatives, proposed cutting funding for President George W. Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration as part of a broader set of spending cuts. The chairman of the committee at the time? Then-Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, now Trump’s running mate.

Though there’s no requirement that it be the case, historically, the vice president has generally been responsible for space policy (going back to Johnson), though that has been much less the case in the second Bush and Obama administrations (thankfully, in the case of the latter).

Lunar Heart Disease

Does going to the moon increase risk of heart attacks?

I can’t tell from this study, because I consider it insufficiently controlled. For instance, they don’t say what generation they pulled the data from. A sixty-year old today is likely to be in a different state of health than one from thirty years ago. For all I know, the Apollo astronauts got their heart attacks from terrible dietary advice in the seventies, as my father did.

A Penetrating Critique Of Reusable Launch Systems

…from people who currently make good money building expendable launch systems.

In other news, the Buggy Whip Manufacturers Association saw no future in these newfangled “horseless carriages.”

[Update a while later]

Bob Zimmerman has some thoughts on the lie that is Orion, while Eric Berger discusses the GAO concerns about its programmatics.