Category Archives: Space

Why June 21st?

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this previously. I’ve been thinking it, but may have been too busy to post.

Here’s my theory on why they picked the solstice. It has nothing to do with the fact that it’s the solstice. I think that it’s because thirty days later is the thirty-fifth anniversary of the first moon landing. Burt (and perhaps Paul Allen) seem to be big on anniversaries.

[Update at 3:30 PM PDT]

Andrew Gray has an even better theory in comments:

Unless I’m miscounting, thirty days *less one*; isn’t Apollo 11 generally taken as being July 20th? (which is also the anniversary, I note, of the eventual recovery of Liberty Bell 7…)

But on that note, July 21, 1961 – Liberty Bell 7’s flight, being the second suborbital flight, might be considered not inappropriate as a date?

That aside, this does beg the question… what is in the two weeks after that, if he’s so keen on anniversaries? It’d be unusual to not have one for the second flight, if this is his plan as you suggest…

He’s right on the arithmetic–I forgot about the old “thirty days has September, April, June, and November.” And it would be an appropriate anniversary.

But as for the fourteen-day one, they would be foolish to wait fourteen days for the second attempt. They’ll do it as quickly as they can, so they have some margin in case they have weather or other problems. The first time you have the luxury of choosing an anniversary date, but the second one has to be driven solely by winning the prize.

Not NASA’s Space Program

Here’s a UPI story about alt-space. The writer, Irene Mona Klotz (of whom I hadn’t previously heard), seems to get it. It’s great to see this kind of coverage in the mainstream press.

What’s even better is that it’s the first in a series on the emerging suborbital industry.

Not NASA’s Space Program

Here’s a UPI story about alt-space. The writer, Irene Mona Klotz (of whom I hadn’t previously heard), seems to get it. It’s great to see this kind of coverage in the mainstream press.

What’s even better is that it’s the first in a series on the emerging suborbital industry.

Not NASA’s Space Program

Here’s a UPI story about alt-space. The writer, Irene Mona Klotz (of whom I hadn’t previously heard), seems to get it. It’s great to see this kind of coverage in the mainstream press.

What’s even better is that it’s the first in a series on the emerging suborbital industry.

Hope Springs Eternal

Yes, Andrew, it’s just for one day, unfortunately.

And I assume that this means that the NASA briefing in response to the Aldridge report, which was supposed to occur on that day, will be postponed until Monday?

[Update]

A couple commenters aren’t reading my post carefully. I’m not referring to the Aldridge Report release, which is scheduled for Thursday. I’m referring to the NASA response to it, which was scheduled for Friday. Follow the link.

[Update late afternoon]

As another commenter points out, the whole thing has been delayed until next week.

Aldridge Results

The commission’s report will be released next Thursday, a little less than five months after the president’s announcement of the new policy and the formation of the commission. NASA will have a briefing on it the next day, a week from today.

What Was Tito, Chopped Liver?

Via Clark Lindsey, here’s an article on the upcoming SpaceShipOne flight that’s more than just a regurgitation of Scaled’s press release. It helped that the author interviewed Jeff Foust about it. I only found one problem with it.

The pilot, who will become the first nongovernmental astronaut in history, then will fly the craft back to Earth after it reconfigures from rocket to glider plane.

Emphasis mine. Apparently he’s never heard of Charlie Walker, the Japanese news agency guy, Helen Sharman, Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth…

It would have been correct to say that he was the first astronaut to fly on a non-government-developed vehicle, which is the real significance (particularly when one looks at the relative cost).

I also found this part interesting, because I hadn’t previously seen much of a hint about Paul Allen’s motives:

Crediting Rutan and the Scaled Composites team with accomplishing “amazing things” without government backing, Allen said SpaceShipOne proves that a privately funded space industry is possible.
“Every time SpaceShipOne flies we demonstrate that relatively modest amounts of private funding can significantly increase the boundaries of commercial space technology,” Allen said in a statement.

Foust said “modest” might be in the eye of the beholder, but Allen’s funding had shown that a relatively small amount of money — on the order of a few tens of millions — can fund development of a manned, reusable, suborbital spacecraft that could open new markets, such as space tourism.

It’s not clear if he has a business plan for follow-on developments, but it is clear that he’s been thinking about it. If he starts to compete with fellow Seattleite (Seattleinian?–are either of those correct, or even words?) and dotcom entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, things could get very interesting very quickly.