Category Archives: Business

Lunar Resources

Is there a conflict between science and sustainability?

Meanwhile, there is a symposium on space settlement in DC today. You can follow the livestream.

[Late-afternoon update]

I know this is what you’ve all been waiting for: The Slate article about this crap.

Though most of the symposium was actually useful and interesting, ignoring the nonsense about colonialism in North America.

Buzz Speaks Out

Yes, this would be a much better architecture, but unfortunately, while Buzz is probably the most famous moonwalker, he’s also not taken as seriously by many in the industry.

Two comments: I’ll have to ask Eric where he gets the $1.5B/flight number for SLS. And is he proposing to do this in the ISS orbit, or at a lower inclination?

[Update a while later]

Meanwhile, Bob Zimmerman reports that NASA is preparing us for another SLS delay.

The First Moon Landing

What most people don’t know about it.

As I’ve noted for years, the reason that we haven’t been able to do Apollo again is that we just barely did it the first time, and it’s extremely unlikely that the stars will align to allow it to happen again. And that is as it should be, for America. There was a very powerful sense in which Apollo was not the right thing for a country based on entrepreneurialism and free enterprise to be doing.

I’m reading Roger Launius’s new book, in which he talks about four perspectives of Apollo. I noted to him privately that there was a fifth, that he didn’t address:

I felt a little left out. I think I represent a fifth perspective, in that I believe that Apollo was both necessary and not a waste of money for what it accomplished (a major non-military victory in the Cold War), but that it set us back in human spaceflight for decades (and continues to do so, as witness the current ongong Artemis fiasco).

He didn’t disagree.

The Coming Boeing Bail Out

I thought at the time that it was a bad idea for the Pentagon to push for consolidation in the 90s, and in particular for the FTC to approve the sale of McDonnell Douglas to Boeing. History has proven me (and others) correct. The article doesn’t talk about space, but NASA’s procurement practices have been as bad as the Pentagon’s, in terms of encouraging and rewarding poor performance.

The Big One

Is Los Angeles ready for it? Probably not. There’s still a lot we don’t know about how structures will survive in such an event.

I found this interesting, from the perspective of my book:

Structural engineers point out that no building will ever be 100 percent safe.

We don’t know what’s going to happen to the ARCO Towers, or any of the other steel moment-frame buildings across Southern California. They could be OK when the Big One hits.

Or maybe the ground motion, soil composition and brittle welds will cause some of them to collapse or partially collapse.

How much of a risk, as a society, are we willing to take? And once we determine that a type of building could be dangerous in an earthquake, when do we act?

I posed this question to Bonowitz, the structural engineer who didn’t think a mandatory retrofit program for WSMF buildings is necessary.

“It’s a little bit crass, but suppose I told you that 99.9 percent of anyone in greater Los Angeles is going to survive the big earthquake. Is that acceptable to you?” he asked.

I told him I thought we should probably try to do everything that we can to save every life.

Bonowitz pushed back.

“I think to posit a large earthquake in an urban environment like Los Angeles and say it’s unacceptable if anybody dies in that earthquake, I think that’s unreasonable,” he said. “Especially if you have limited public money to put toward reducing the losses.”

Yes, we have to make a rational assessment. It’s the price of having a major metroplex in an earthquake zone.