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That NASA Subpoena

Some people think that this is such an Important Story that it’s worth making fools of themselves and threadjacking to point it out. I agree with this commenter’s take:

Congress: We demand that you say 2+2 = 5. Oh, and in metric — no, English – no, wait Metric — tonnes.

NASA: Uh… What?

Congress: Well, we just passed a law that says you must say that 2+2=5 metric-English tonnes. You have one month to get back to us.

One month later…

NASA: 2+2=4.

Congress: Stop lying! You have another six months to think this over and come to the correct answer.

Six months later…

NASA: Well, we found that “2+2…+1 = 5 metric-English tonnes.” But, we’re having another guy look at it, to be sure.

Congress: Stop lying! Subpoena!

NASA: ….

I imagine that the teddy bears (or dogs, or whatever they are) will have something to say about this soon.

A Posting From Bizarro World

So I was reading comments at Paul Spudis’s Apollo anniversary post, and I saw a trackback to this:

As we contend there, if we can put a male on a moon, because can’t we get people to stop creation bad analogies with putting group on a moon? But on this anniversary, a some-more touching defence is, if we can put a male on a moon, because can’t we put a male on a moon? We did, after all, have a devise to do so until Constellation was canceled final year. But there was a good reason it died — it was an try to repeat Apollo (quite literally — NASA director Mike Griffin described it as “Apollo on steroids” when he rolled it out over 5 years ago– a word he no doubt came to regret). The problem was, it was function though possibly a coercion or the bill of that project. As heavenly scientist Paul Spudis points out during Smithsonian Air and Space magazine, a genuine problem is that we have never figured out as a republic because we have a space program.

It’s as though someone took my anniversary piece and put it through a word blender. Does anyone have any idea what’s going on here?

An Advantage, Not A Vulnerability

I was at the Reinventing Space conference yesterday, and an AF general gave a speech saying that space is currently an advantage for the nation, strategically, but he fears that it is on the verge of becoming a vulnerability.  We have to come up with a new way of doing business.

Anyway, I was thinking about going over today as well, but the Internet was dead when I got up this morning, so I had to hang around here waiting for a Verizon guy to show up. It needed a new modem.

The President’s “Sputnik Moment”

Even without hearing the president’s speech tonight, as a space policy analyst, whenever I hear about a “Sputnik moment” from a politician, I shudder, because I can be almost certain that it will have nothing whatsoever to do with Sputnik, let alone space policy. It will likely be guaranteed to be a foolish and false analogy, just like “…if we can land a man on the moon, why can’t we…”.

Sputnik (like Apollo) was a unique event in American (and perhaps even human) history. It was the heart of the Cold War. We were in an existential battle with an enemy (the Soviet Union) about the capability to bombard each other with nuclear weapons. Both adversaries were developing rockets, with help from captured Germans from the recent world war. We got the cream of the crop, because Von Braun had decided that he had better prospects to pursue his dreams of planetary exploration by humans with the American ideals, and had consciously escaped to the west with his hand-picked team. He was ever the pragmatist with his ambitions (including his looking the other way at Dora and other Nazi work/death camps that supported his rocket program during the war).

But of course, the president’s speech had nothing to do with that. It was about…other things…that have nothing to do with Sputnik, in either analogy or reality.

Sputnik was about pure, raw, technological skill, in an area in which we felt vulnerable at the time.

It had nothing to do with what made America exceptional.

Look, if the president wants to talk about space, then I’m all in favor of it. But, given his political proclivities, I’m glad he doesn’t. Let’s just not talk about what a “Sputnik moment” it was.