That Was Fast

They must have had this ready to go, and were just waiting to find out if they were going to get the money they needed for Commercial Crew:

NASA intends to solicit proposals from all interested U.S. industry participants to further advance commercial crew space transportation system concepts and mature the design and development of elements of the system such as launch vehicles and spacecraft. NASA plans to use its ”other transactions” authority within the National Aeronautics and Space Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2451 et seq, to invest in multiple, competitively awarded, funded agreements. The funding available for awards will depend on the fiscal year 2011 appropriations; however, an anticipated funding level is expected to be provided in the Announcement. The agreements are expected to result in significant maturation of commercial crew systems with consideration given to NASA’s draft human certification requirements and standards or industry equivalent to those requirements and standards. This activity is referred to as Commercial Crew Development Round 2, or CCDev 2.

Finally, some real progress, assuming that the new Congress doesn’t try to kill it. I think that Boeing has even surprised themselves on how fast they can move, and cost effectively, when operating on this kind of contract. They’ve already developed an astonishing amount of hardware for the CST, relative to past programs.

[Update a while later]

Jeff Foust has more.

If Anyone Was Wondering

…why I was asking about ISS crew capacity, this is why:

The new space station would have an initial design life of about 15 years, Orbital Technologies officials have said. Soyuz spacecraft would ferry crews to the station, while unmanned Progress vehicles would keep it stocked with supplies.

The station will also fly in an orbit about 62 miles (100 km) from the International Space Station and in a similar inclination, or tilt, to make any transfers of crew or cargo between to two stations easier, the company said.

…The Russian space agency’s chief, Alexey Krasnov, added that a commercial space station could serve as a backup for International Space Station crews.

“For example, if a required maintenance procedure or a real emergency were to occur, without the return of the ISS crew to Earth, habitants could use the CSS as a safe haven,” Krasnov said.

If NASA was smart, they’d be buying a Sundancer or two from Bob Bigelow for the same purpose. With these kinds of co-orbiting facilities, you can have a true lifeboat, that doesn’t need to be able to enter. It might be Dragon based, or something else, but it’s basically a pressurized tug with life support and hatches (and perhaps an airlock), but it lives in space. And the ridiculous requirement that the entire ISS be capable of evacuating all inhabitants all the way back to earth goes away.

The Last Thing That Public Education Needs

…is more money:

The stimulus bill devoted $100 billion to education (about $80 billion of it for K–12). As Reason magazine notes, that’s twice the Department of Education’s annual budget. “Race to the Top” is less than 5 percent of this staggering gusher of money. It’s not “Race to the Top” that is the Obama administration’s signature education initiative, but spending that the teachers’ unions would only have dreamed of two short years ago.

These funds have kept school systems from having to undertake wrenching changes, or any changes at all. They have helped goose federal spending on education from $37.5 billion in the last year of the Bush administration to $88.8 billion in the second year of the Obama administration, according to the calculations of Jay Greene of the University of Arkansas.

While the private economy has shed 8 million jobs in a work force of 150 million during the downturn, the $550 billon education system has added jobs. It’s the great wonder of the American economy, growing during recessions and regardless of its quality. If everyone in America were a teacher, we’d truly be a worker’s paradise.

The spending would be justified if it correlated with outcomes.

But it never does. It was just a huge payoff to a huge Democrat political contributor, with money that we don’t have, but we’ll have to pay for eventually.

[Update a few minutes later]

Uniting political adversaries — against the unions. Public employee unions should be outlawed. They’ve destroyed California.

How Quaint

Thoughts from Jonah Goldberg, on the ridiculous notion that the left has that only the courts can or should assess constitutionality:

Newsweek’s Ben Adler was aghast at the clause in the GOP’s Pledge to America that Republicans will provide a “citation of constitutional authority” for every proposed piece of legislation. “We have a mechanism for assessing the constitutionality of legislation, which is the independent judiciary,” Adler wrote. “An extraconstitutional attempt to limit the powers of Congress is dangerous even as a mere suggestion, and it constitutes an encroachment on the judiciary.”

A progressive blogger, meanwhile, writes in U.S. News & World Report that such talk of requiring constitutionality is “just wacky.”

Before we get to the historical niceties, a question.

Does anyone, anywhere, think legislators should vote for legislation they think is unconstitutional? Anyone? Anyone?

How about presidents? Should they sign such legislation into law?

Yet, according to this creepy logic, there’s no reason for congressmen to pass, obey, or even consider the supreme law of the land. Reimpose slavery? Sure! Let’s see if we can catch the Supreme Court asleep at the switch. Nationalize the TV stations? Establish a king? Kill every first-born child? Why not? It ain’t unconstitutional until the Supreme Court says so!

And of course, that means the president can’t veto legislation because it’s unconstitutional, because that’s apparently not his job. Wouldn’t want to “encroach” on the judiciary!

Of course, reasonable people understand how absurd all of this is.

Sadly, the country is not run by (nor is the media staffed with) reasonable people.

Non-News In Space

People are making too big a deal of Lori’s statement yesterday that we are not abandoning the moon. This is not any different than NASA has been saying since February, though the message has been badly garbled, and the president didn’t help with his flip and foolish comment about how “Buzz has already been there.”

Flexible Path always meant just that — flexible, and that flexibility included the ability, eventually, to go to the lunar surface, just not as a first destination.

Now, as it happens, I don’t think that it’s as expensive to build a lander as NASA and the Augustine panel seemed to think, particularly if you have a depot at L1 or L2, and we could have even retained the VSE plan of return to the moon first, but it doesn’t really matter now, because some future administration and Congress is going to make that decision. The important thing for now is to focus on developing the technology and building the hardware that’s necessary for all BEO missions, regardless of ultimate destination, while the opportunity exists. And one thing that doesn’t include is a heavy-lift vehicle, but at least until we can get a sensible Congress (perhaps next year, but there’s a lot of education to be done on that front), we will have to waste money on it. But as long as there’s enough left over to do the things that do need doing, and we don’t starve them for funds (Mike Griffin’s greatest sin), at least we won’t have to waste any more time.

But Don’t Call Them Fascists

What were they thinking? It’s amazing to see them so willing to show their true totalitarian nature so blatantly. And it’s too late to pull it, despite the attempts. That’s the magic of the Internet.

[Update a few minutes later]

A comment that Iowahawk left at the Youtube page (and reposted on his FB page):

In order for your “No Pressure” advert to have been made, I am assuming several writers pitched a professionally-prepared storyboard to a committee, detailing shot-by-shot each second of …the film. The committee approved it, along with a minimum $250,000 budget to hire actors, director, & crew. Each scene probably took 3-10 takes, and weeks of post production by special effects wizards.

At no time did a single person involved in this clusterf**k say, “hey, maybe it isn’t the best PR to air our fantasies about detonating the people who don’t agree with us into a mist of blood meat and bone fragments.”

This has got to be the biggest FAIL in the entire history of the internet. Anyone remotely associated with the production of this film should forever be banished from any public institution in the English speaking world, and immediately referred for psychiatric evaluation.

I know what my evaluation would be.

[Update a while later]

More thoughts from a James Delingpole:

With No Pressure, the environmental movement has revealed the snarling, wicked, homicidal misanthropy beneath its cloak of gentle, bunny-hugging righteousness.

Again, what were they thinking?

They were thinking something like the things these people (who were finally brought to justice) were thinking. Because they’re all children of the first totalitarian, Rousseau. It’s what the left does.

[Update a few minutes later]

Spring time for Al Gore — the eco-Anschluss.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!