Jeff Foust has a report. I have to say that so far, I like the guy. I don’t know if he’ll survive in the shark-infested waters of DC, though. And I wonder how much influence he’ll have over decisions going forward.
Alan Boyle has the story of yesterday’s flight. This is a key point:
Graham said that if Masten and his team could maintain the kind of accuracy they achieved today during their upcoming Level 2 flight, “they’ll beat Armadillo” for the million dollars. The best thing about today’s outing was that it proved there’s more than one prizeworthy competitor out there.
Armadillo hasn’t won first place for Level II yet, or even (for that matter) second place. If two other teams fly a better profile, they could still be shut out. Which would be tough for the Carmack team, but great for the industry.
[Update a few minutes later]
Shame there are no 3rd prize purses for either Level. Quite possible that one or two of the four teams will complete their flights successfully and still go away with no money.
They may, or may not. I think that anyone who succeeds has established their credentials for getting contracts, private or government, in related technologies, so it’s worth competing even if you don’t come away with a purse. Not to mention the psychic income. I’m sure the Masten people must be stoked, even without the money, and if Paul Breed succeeds, he’ll have something in which he can justifiably take great pride.
[Noon update, Pacific time]
A lot of congratulations over at the Arocket list, including this comment from John Carmack on the issue of third prizes:
This puts Paul in a very tough situation — it will be hard to beat Masten’s landing accuracy for level 1, but level 2 is a lot harder to complete successfully. I argued for a split-the-purse-among-the-qualifiers approach instead of determination based on accuracy, which I thought would have been more encouraging of successful flights.
That might be good, but an even better refinement would be a split purse with the proportion based on accuracy (e.g., if there were three competitors, and one was one inch, one was two inches, and one was three, you might divide it by six, give half to the closest, a third to the second closest, and the remaining sixth to the third. That would give everyone something, but still encourage accuracy.
In general, I was struck by the collegiality on the list from the competitors:
Date: Wed, 7 Oct 2009 12:11:23 -0700
From: David Masten
Subject: [AR] We Qualified!
To: Arocket List
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed; delsp=yes
Looks like 15 cm average accuracy. Good luck to Unreasonable and Bon Nova.
From: “Brian Feeney”
Subject: [AR] Congratulations to the Masten Team!
To: “‘David Masten'”
Cc: ‘Arocket List’
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”us-ascii”
Congratulations to the Masten Team – proof once again that hard work and persistence (lots of developmental testing) pays off!
Best of luck on the Level 2.
This industry knows that it’s still at a stage at which it has to hang together, or surely they will hang separately.
…there’s not much it can’t force us to do.
Masten landed within eleven centimeters of the target on one of their flights. Was there any wind? Would a breeze have been a problem, or does the guidance system know how to compensate? If the air was still, competitors will have to hope for equally good weather on their attempts.
…that Bill Ayers wrote Obama’s book. He now says he did.
How a gun-control case can lead to economic liberty. I hope that the DC gun-rights advocates make this argument — it would be harder for the court to ignore if they do.
And it reminds me that much of the “progressive” agenda is rooted in its racism. One of, if not the key, arguments in favor of the minimum wage when it was first passed was that it would protect the jobs of white men against blacks. And the purpose of gun control for much of its history (as Sullum points out) was to keep guns out of their hands, lest they protect themselves from Klansmen carrying out “justice.” And of course, the irony is that now, in DC, blacks are being murdered by other blacks on a daily basis because they are denied the legal right to defend themselves.
That’s what the people in Washington need (or at least it’s what we need for them to get). And here it is.
I also think there’s a big market for parodies of the “Mmm, mmm, mmm…” Obama song featuring (volunteer) kids.
[Update a couple minutes later]
And then we have this. We definitely need more cowbell.
[Update little while later]
What the heck, embedding is cheap and easy.
Some thoughts on the ongoing lie (which got the Dems elected last fall) that our problems were caused by “capitalism” and “deregulation.”
They’re now eligible for second place for Level I. Wish I’d gone up to see it, but I had a meeting this morning in Torrance. I’ll have to try to get up there for their Level II attempt.
I’m sure glad that they funded multiple awards. I think that this is going to directly energize a lot more companies than the X-Prize did.
Clark Lindsey points out the difference between the senator’s view of the space industry, and that of other industries. Somehow, I suspect that his views would be (or at least appear to be) more consistent if he were a Senator from some other state. But as is, the disparity is jarring.
[Wednesday morning update]
The latest mantra from the Ares defenders is apparently to pick up on Doug Stanley’s comment that the committee didn’t have enough time to properly evaluate it. The response to this, of course, is that if they didn’t, then Doug didn’t have enough time to select it, either, because he had about the same amount of time, if not much less. The Augustine panel worked this for most of the summer. ESAS only took sixty days.