All posts by Rand Simberg

X-33 Finally Bites The…Dust

According to Space.com, Lockmart’s bid to keep the carcass of the X-33 intact has failed.

Sensibly, it was decided that the whole was less than the sum of its parts, and have correspondingly distributed them among several other Space Launch Initiative programs. My opinion is that the value remains overstated, but at least now we don’t have to worry about the program being resurrected with Air Force money, as was being threatened a few months ago. It’s time to put this sad chapter in mismanagement behind us, and to move forward into an era of true commercial space transportation.

Liberals Worry Too Much

There’s a nice piece about left/liberal angst and pessimism in JWR by Dick “Toesucker” Morris. He seems to be on a real jag to redeem himself (or perhaps to redeem his soul from the devil to which he sold it in the 90s).

Here is, in Matt Welch’s parlance, the nutgraf:

How often must the left be proven wrong for it to start to figure that something is very wrong in its world view? How many Afghanistans and Gulf Wars must we win before they start to have a little faith in American prowess and technology. Now the left warns that aggressive United States action in Iraq will shatter the global coalition against terror and will leave our military alone, isolated in a grisly war with Baghdad. When will we stop taking the cautionary pessimism of the left seriously?

A Rare Find

The first review I’ve seen of LOTR that doesn’t extol its perfection. It’s written by an admittedly recovering Tolkien fan for the Irish Times, and it’s a good review. I’ve been a little leery of all the others I’ve seen, because they are so utterly uncritical that it strains credibility (I suspect that most previous reviewers have been so overwhelmed by a film that they were very afraid would be a mess, that when it wasn’t, they were blinded to any flaws at all). It still sounds like it’s going to be a great film.

More Space Policy

A reasonable piece on NASA’s future by Joel Achenbach in today’s Washington Post.

The only part that I found irritating was the following:

Talone said some costs already have been reduced. But a visitor to the space center can see that there’s nothing easy and cheap about safely putting people and hardware into orbit.

Well, certainly a visitor can see that there’s nothing easy or cheap about the way that NASA chooses to put people and hardware in orbit. But one might mistakenly infer from this paragraph that there’s no other way to do it, and Achenbach does nothing to allay that impression.

If you’re a traditional space program supporter, it’s pretty gloomy reading. But it’s necessary reading, for a reality check, and to understand that things have to change. What True Believers in the von Braun vision will find most disconcerting is the end:

At the close of Friday’s hearing, Nelson asked O’Keefe an open-ended question: “What is your vision?”

O’Keefe spoke for several minutes about “prudent management principles,” reinvigorating “the entrepreneurial spirits” of NASA, the importance of collaboration with other elements of the federal government, the need to be mindful of safety and the possibility of taking advantage of this moment when NASA is at a crossroads.

He did not mention space.

That’s OK. NASA doesn’t need vision right now–it had ten years of that under Dan Goldin, and the agency is now an utter shambles. What it needs is some management, and accounting systems, and accountability. O’Keefe is exactly the right kind of guy for that. After he sorts those problems out, and starts to privatize things like Shuttle and ISS, and gets the house in order, it will make sense to start talking about vision.

And at that point, the best vision to talk about will be how to transition the agency from a socialistic Cold-War dinosaur to one that can work innovatively to enable private enterprise to open up space to business and the people, more in concert with the principles upon which this country was founded.

The “Red” Planet

John Carter McKnight has a nice piece on why Bob Zubrin’s proposal for a government-sponsored Mars program would almost certainly be doomed to failure, as demonstrated by Zubrin’s own book. It also contains a good, but concise, description of why the space station was such a programmatic disaster. Highly recommended for anyone interested in space and technology policy.

The “Red” Planet

John Carter McKnight has a nice piece on why Bob Zubrin’s proposal for a government-sponsored Mars program would almost certainly be doomed to failure, as demonstrated by Zubrin’s own book. It also contains a good, but concise, description of why the space station was such a programmatic disaster. Highly recommended for anyone interested in space and technology policy.

The “Red” Planet

John Carter McKnight has a nice piece on why Bob Zubrin’s proposal for a government-sponsored Mars program would almost certainly be doomed to failure, as demonstrated by Zubrin’s own book. It also contains a good, but concise, description of why the space station was such a programmatic disaster. Highly recommended for anyone interested in space and technology policy.