Flying On Its Own?

I’m getting well-sourced indications that the first SpaceShipTwo drop test will occur today, and that they’re taxiing in Mojave.

[Update a few minutes later]

They may be having problems. The vehicle is reportedly out on the apron, but all the engines have been shut down.

[Thursday morning update]

Well, whatever the problem was yesterday, they seem to have fixed it.


The Land Of Obama

Leads the way to fiscal meltdown:

The state of Illinois — broke, overleveraged, and still refusing to get its accounts in order — is up to something interesting: selling bonds to meet its pension obligations. As one of the many states that refuse to set aside adequate money to fund its public-employee pensions, Illinois is headed to the debt markets to raise $3.7 billion for pension liabilities to get it through the year. This is a double dip: In January, Illinois sold $2.4 billion in bonds for pension obligations. Actually, make that a triple dip: It sold $10 billion in bonds to fund its pension liabilities in 2003. “States don’t traditionally fund their pensions with debt,” says CNN in a nice bit of understatement, “but the practice frees up other money that can be used for operations.” The double whammy here is that Illinois’s pensions are in trouble because it already spent the money it needed for its pension contributions in past years on other spending: Which is to say, Illinois is borrowing money it will have to repay eventually to repay the pension money it already spent to pay for other spending it couldn’t afford then and can’t afford now. If you’re wondering where Barack Obama developed his fiscal finesse, you don’t have far to look.

And wasn’t it nice of them to send him to Washington where he can do the same thing to the rest of us?

An Urgent Call To Action

Thoughts on tomorrow’s Senate vote on NASA authorization, from Henry Vanderbilt of the Space Access Society:

…let them both know that you support full funding for NASA Commercial Crew, and full funding for NASA space exploration technology, and that you are very much against any new NASA heavy lift booster development as very likely being a massive waste of taxpayer dollars.

Read the whole thing.

[Post Instalanche update]

More background and related links here.

[Thursday morning update]

Clark Lindsey has some links to the latest on the bill, here, here and here.

He also has some thoughts on how it could have been a lot worse:

while I don’t want to sugar-coat this awful bill, I’m just saying that it is no cause for despair. My philosophy from the start of this website and blog has been based on a belief that progress usually comes in step-by-step increments. It will be disappointing if the 2011 NASA budget doesn’t make the huge step initially promised. Nevertheless, even this bill is a step forward.

I never have high hopes for space policy. The bill could be a lot better, but just getting rid of Constellation, and particularly Ares, is a huge improvement. I’m willing to take if for now, and start to educate the Republicans so we can get better policy when they take over next year, and hope that they don’t try to undo everything that Obama did, and restore the disastrous Bush policy, simply on partisan grounds. It’s important to have a serious discussion on what we’re trying to accomplish, and how best to do it, regardless of the genesis of various policies. It hasn’t happened yet, but hope springs eternal.

[Update a while later]

No word about the press conference yet, but here is Hutchison’s official statement.

A Magnificent Achievement

Thoughts from Victor Davis Hanson, on just how big Barack Obama has blown it:

What is strange about all this is how the clueless behavior only intensifies. We expect each day another crazy outburst from another fringe appointee, another “battle” to push through something the public does not want — all overseen by the “healer” of “no more red state/blue state” fame.

In short, in just 18 months, Obama has ended talk of permanent Democratic majorities and may well do to the Democratic party what Carter did in 1980 and Clinton in 1994, all while taking a once-obsequious press down with him. With idols like Obama, Mort Zuckerman, Chris Matthews, and Evan Thomas hardly need enemies.

I never had much hope for him, but I do have to admit that it’s quite impressive, and he’s done the Republic a great favor by putting a blast furnace under the kettle so that the frog noticed in time.

Two Randy Vicars

Iowahawk has the sordid tale:

It happened that in Washingtown-on-Beltway there once ministered to the shire folk two vicars of remarkable and resolute piety. Polite history shall record their names and peerages as the Reverend John St. Edwards, Lord Plaintiff of Durham, and the Reverend Albert des Gores II, Earl Carbonet of Greenhouse. It shall likewise note well that each man, in his fashion, was a virtuoso upon his respective pulpit. What it shan’t record, however, is each man’s slavish indenture to the base desires of the flesh. As every schoolboy knows, as well he does his Latin infinitives, few are those men whose breeches are immune to the Devil’s disturbances. In the case of our two ill-fortuned subjects, Lucifer himself seemed to take particular delight in presenting ribald temptations and the debasing consequences that follow. Herein lies their tale.

Well, it actually lies at the other end of the link.

Saving Private CRuSR

Apparently, among the many other idiotic things that the Senate authorization draft does is to kill the CRuSR program, the NASA initiative to encourage more suborbital science, which will be helpful in growing the industry. There is an effort afoot to fix this.

[Update a while later]

Jeff Foust has more.

[Update a few minutes later]

John Gedmark of the Commercial Space Federation is sending out an alert:

URGENT: Commercial Space in Jeopardy — Call Your Senator TODAY

A new authorization bill for NASA includes major cuts to commercial spaceflight, but Senator Warner has offered an amendment to restore those cuts and move commercial space forward.

The NASA Authorization Bill being proposed cuts the proposed Commercial Crew Program by $2.1 billion (up to 66%), seriously affecting commercial space efforts by such companies as SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Boeing, and Orbital Sciences. Senator Warner’s amendment will restore full funding to the program, but he needs YOUR help to get support from other Senators!

The Warner Amendment will be voted on Thursday morning. Now is the time to call your Senator to say, “Please support the Warner Amendment for commercial spaceflight that will create over 10,000 jobs, and reduce our dependence on Russia!” This is your chance to make a difference in the course of space history! (The phone numbers for each Senator on the committee are below, so please check to see if you or your parents are a residents of one of those states!)

Rockefeller (D-West Virginia)-Chair – 202-224-6472
Inouye (D-Hawaii) – 202-224-3934
Kerry (D-Massachusetts) – 202-224-2742
Dorgan (D-North Dakota) – 202-224-2551
Boxer (D-California) – 202-224-3553
Nelson (D-Florida) – 202-224-5274
Cantwell (D-Washington State) – 202-224-3441
Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) – 202-224-3224
Pryor (D-Arkansas) – 202-224-2353
McCaskill (D-Missouri) – 202-224-6154
Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) – 202-224-3244
Udall (D-New Mexico) – 202-224-6621
Warner (D-Virginia) – 202-224-2023
Begich (D-Alaska) – 202-224-3004

Hutchison (R-Texas)-Ranking Member – 202-224-5922
Snowe (R-Maine) – 202-224-5344
Ensign (R-Nevada) – 202-224-6244
DeMint (R-South Carolina) – 202-224-6121
Thune (R-South Dakota) – 202-224-2321
Wicker (R-Mississippi) – 202-224-6253
LeMieux (R-Florida) – 202-224-3041
Isakson (R-Georgia) – 202-224-3643
Vitter (R-Louisiana) – 202-224-4623
Brownback (R-Kansas) – 202-224-6521
Johanns (R-Nebraska) – 202-224-4224

If one of these is your Senator, let them know.

Ten Technologies

…that should be obsolete, but aren’t.

I’ve previously discussed the landline fallacy. If you don’t understand why people like landlines, you probably haven’t used them much, and are clueless as to what good phone service is like.

With regard to the turntables, the digital-converting ones I’ve seen a) have a vinyl lathe for a cartridge and b) overcompress the music when they convert. Fortunately, there are still a few surviving manufacturers of quality cartridges, and my audio equipment still has audio inputs. And they’ll take away my Conrad Johnson tube preamp when they pry it from my cold dead stereo cabinet.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!