NASA waiting on Da House to act

Suppose every time a civilian or pure research plane lifted off there was an obscure law, originally passed with good intentions, that had to be regularly re-authed by Congress or no more flights. And let’s just say that Congress became hyper-polarized, a do nothing body, where even the simplest, once uncontroversial acts morphed into a potential hot potato in a mid-term election year. Air traffic would grind to a halt.

Well, that’s a fair analogy for a bureaucratic hurdle currently faced by NASA, along with contractors and customers, all waiting on a critical reauthorization before a score of rockets can be duly licensed and cleared for launch in 2014. Follow me below, deep into the cosmic weeds, and we’ll review just how easy this should be to fix. [Read more...]

Things are definitely turning up, anyone live in DC?

I have a … well it’s not really a job interview so much as a private brainstorming session on Space Exploration with some trade associations and manufacturers next month in Washington, DC. But there could be a consulting role in it for me and even if there’s not, it’s an issue near and dear to my dark atheist heart. I really do believe this is the future of humankind, and whether I have only a year or two left on this Earth, or a normal healthy lifetime ahead as all signs currently point to, I want to spend as much of that time as possible doing something that matters and something I like. After three years in near poverty working in dead-end tech support job, leading up to this last year of abject financial desperation caused in large part by unending anxiety over health issues, there’s little in the way of low pay or lifestyle sacrifice that could scare me away.

If there are any readers who live in that area we might be able to get together for a cup of coffee or something.

Would someone please think of the whiskey?



Both gloves have fingers and thumb, a right-hand will fit only one

Both gloves have fingers and thumb, a right-hand will fit only one

Space has a lot of resources, technically it has all the resources. Some of them are obvious, some serendipitous. Aside from the mountains of platinum group metals or nickel-iron and oxygen floating around free for the taking, in addition to the nearly inexhaustible energy sources, micro-gravity is a new and to date poorly utilized resource in itself. Back in the 90s, research into drug production helped inform our friends in molecular biology about making pure isomers. Today similar experiments may yield kickass space whiskey. There are many other examples but there’s one big international obstacle, the Russkis. If politics makes strange bedfellows, and we can strain that metaphor to the breaking point, this deal has the GOP rolling in the hay with some strange denizens indeed. [Read more...]

Hawking is too generous

Giga-brain Stephen Hawking gives the species a millennia to get our shit together and get off the planet, presumably with heavy industry to avoid Easter-islanding the entire planet and all of us. I’ll go with the Elysium trailer above as far as predicting the time and look of the looming disaster: [Read more...]

Science Friday: Teachers stand & be counted … 3 … 2 … 1!

I remember the exact day when my teachers underwent a magical transformation. Christmas 1968, most of my family was dozing in the wee hours as we sped along a lonely Texas highway to a distant holiday rendezvous. My tiny body was easily stretched out on the rear console of a Ford sedan, gazing through an old-fashioned slanted rear windshield at a crystal clear night scape poured thick with winter stars. In a moment of pure synchronicity my father tuned into a recently arrived static filled season’s greetings sent a quarter million miles on the gossamer wings of invisible light. At the tender age of six years-old it would forever alter the trajectory of my entire life:

NASA Archive — “We are now approaching lunar sunrise … For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you”. … In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth …”

[Read more...]

Mars flyby conference streaming live at 12 Noon central time — Now

From the press kit, an artists'c conception of the fly-by vehicle.

From the press kit, an artists’c conception of the fly-by vehicle.

Link is here, not sure if you can see it without  registering press creds, I hope to have video and transcripts shortly. … There are candid details about the inherent risks, challanges, and mission architectures. But my favorite speaker so far has been Dennis Tito, the driving force behind this team. An example, paraphrasing to the best of my recollection:  ‘This is a “non profit mission,” meaning if it goes off as planned, “I will be much poorer,” but my grandchildren and yours will be much richer …’

Jane Poynter adds the sobering assesment “This will be like being crammed into a modest RV for a year and a half. With three thousand pounds of dehydrated food hydrated with recycled water … the crew will have to be doing hours of exercise every day while working on their life support system “. Full press kit and release below the fold. [Read more...]