Jay Barbree’s Latest Nonsense

Just when I thought he was starting to get it, off he goes on another ignorant piece about the “loss of expertise” at NASA, and the “inability” of the commercial crew providers to do it without them. He doesn’t seem to understand that companies and agencies don’t have expertise — people do. All of the people at NASA who know how to develop launch systems are dead or retired (because it’s been over three decades since NASA did one), and no one at NASA has ever known how to do one cost effectively. That experience resides at SpaceX, and other places. Clark Lindsey addresses the nonsense in comments over there.

Six-Dollar Gas?

It could happen, if the dollar continues to fall. And the White House seems determined to make that happen.

I have an idea for an ad campaign next year. Show a video clip of Obama back in ’08, talking back how “gas prices will necessarily go up” to carry out his green agenda, or about “bankrupting the coal industry.” Then end the ad with, “He got what he wanted. Did you?”

To The Consternation Of The Suits In Hollywood

Atlas Shrugged seems to be doing pretty well:

business has been brisk enough for producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro to expand from 299 theaters to 425 this weekend and to 1,000 by the end of the month. They don’t have enough film prints to fill all the orders.

“Things have turned for us,” Kaslow said. “When we started, exhibitors were not embracing the film like we thought they would. Now, we can pretty much go into as many theaters as we want. It’s just a matter of logistics.”

Unexpectedly!

Though he’s still cautious, this would bode well for Parts 2 and 3.

Back To CA

The conference was very interesting, and I hope useful in the longer run, and I want to thank the Cornhuskers for their hospitality. Stayed at a very nice hotel downtown (Cornhusker Marriott) that would have been at least three benjamins a night in DC, for only one. I didn’t blog it yesterday because I was busy finalizing my own talk on Civil Reserve Space Fleet, Space Guard, and my three rules of space policy which are:

Rule 1: Space is not important. Over the fold for the other two: Continue reading Back To CA

Thoughts On The Latest Thuggery And Brown Shirtery

in Madison. Glenn Reynolds has a pithy explanation:

Because to them, politics is sports and religion rolled into one.

I think that’s true as far as it goes, but it’s also an extremely intolerant religion, and the sports fans are like British football thugs.

[Late evening update]

“Why do “liberals” applaud awful behavior?”

Once you understand that they’re not really liberals, it becomes a little more clear.

CCDev Winners Announced

NASA wanted to wait until they had some certainty in their budget, so with the passage of the CR last week, they made the announcement today. I’ll be interested to see more details when I get some time, particularly as to what Blue Origin will do with their twenty-two million. But I found this statement by Ed Mango politically interesting:

“The next American-flagged vehicle to carry our astronauts into space is going to be a U.S. commercial provider,” said Ed Mango, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager. “The partnerships NASA is forming with industry will support the development of multiple American systems capable of providing future access to low-Earth orbit.”

While I agree with that (and it’s been true for years, really ever since Mike Griffin decided to waste money on Ares), it can’t thrill defenders of either SLS or MPCV on the Hill.

Space Law Conference, Monday Afternoon

Jean-Francoise Mayence, of the Belgium Department of Science, is speaking after lunch. Perspective of small nations.

Two traditional categories of space-faring nations: USA, Russia (manned launchers) and Europe, Japan and Canada. Second is “emerging” space-faring nations.

Space-Faring Nation: Space vision (national strategy), space R&D at a national and/or international level, space capacities (infrastructure, operations). Not sure whether Belgium counts right now. Belgian taxpayer invests quite a bit in space, but no infrastructure, just an R&D partner. Commercial spaceflight exciting because it offers possibilities of being in Belgium. Could establish headquarters there, and operate not just there but in the world.

Woomera been a launch site since 1949, initially by British and later by US. Second most heavily-used site in world at its peak. Founding member of COPUOS, early bilateral arrangement for tracking station development, fourth nation to launch indigenous satellite have been invited to be associate member of ESA. Late 1990s a lot of interest in new commercial site location, with relatively serious studies, and passed domestic space laws in 1998.

What is needed: place to operate, access to technology, technical support and guidance, validation, certification, authorization, license. Questions: is harmonization among States necessary, can the European institutional framework play a role? Because commercial spaceflight can use less infrastructure and existing technology, it may settle in countries other than traditional ones. New vision, multi-sector. Noting that ILS is suing Arianespace over subsidies, so may have to consider new rules of the game.

Have to deal with Single Market in EU — competition rules at both world and regional levels (including international trade rules — will spaceflight be covered by WTO?), regulation of products and services, air traffic control and security. Role of EU is harmonization of national legislation, certification of technology (EASA as discussed this morning), and the role of ESA. How far will ESA, which is completely independent from the EU (different member states) go in supporting? It currently has no regulatory power, but could provide technological support and certification of technology. It could also be a “user” (i.e. customer) for experiments, research, training and testing.

EU and ESA member states can provide legal regime, infrastructure, safety/security, export control. If multiple states involved, coordination and compatibility required, and MOUs may not be adequate solution in all cases (would not with Belgium — would have to be a treaty).

Matthew Schaefer notes that space launch is exempt from GATT, thus also exempt from WTO.

Steven Freeland, a professor of law from the University of Western Sydney, discussing the Australian viewpoint. Pessimistic about Australia and space policy. Gone from serious player in early days to floundering now. Have all of the potential for commercial spaceflight — vast areas of sparse population, launch site, work force, but don’t have any comprehension of importance or political will to take it seriously. Regional neighbors have been recognizing importance as Australia’s has declined. Premised on the assumption that Australia would become leading figure in space commercialization. Expected to become ten percent of commercial launch industry within a decade.

Australia heavily dependent on space technology — need to monitor large coastline with satellites, also major agricultural and mining country needing remote sensing. Despite this, compared to (say) the UK, commercial space development has been low national priority.

Laws were all developed around the development of a commercial space launch industry. Very clear from comments at the time of law passage that the legislators didn’t take subject seriously (“little green men,” etc.). Didn’t consider human spaceflight, considered only launches (Optus) and returns (Hayabusa). Had a model legal comprehensive licensing regime and a high degree of technical//administrative detail, but it was’t aligned with other national policy.

Lack of political will, poorly articulated policy, missed opportunities, failure to perceive space as integral to national interest, no defined purpose. Only major OECD country without a national space agency. Has had to field phone calls from people who didn’t know who else to talk to about Australia space stuff. With exception of communications, they are totally reliant on satellites from other countries (primarily US). Rumor of service interruptions because Pentagon wanted troops to be able to watch Super Bowl. Not good to depend on others, because sometimes even friends have other priorities.

Need to consider a regional space agency, perhaps similar to ESA. Need to recognize the changing nature of space, as demands for capability continues to rise.

A few green shoots. Senate Committe had recommendations a couple years ago: establish a space agency focus more on remote sensing, but space tourism not even on radar screen. Don’t see it as likely, or something that the government should be supporting with taxpayers’ money. Department of Defence has come out with white paper since, recognizing that they live in interesting times and and interesting area, in terms of Asian advances and interest in space technology. Recommended a top-down space policy (there never had been a focus), directed toward the strategic value of space. Again, nothing about commercial launch industry. Need to upgrade existing law, but none of the reports even talk about it. Existing legislation “works well” for what they’re doing, but it’s not adequate or sufficient for what is needed going forward. Need new law and incentives in remote sensing, communications, government/private partnerships, cooperation and intergovernmental agreements, special agencies, building commercial-based capacity.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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