Would someone please think of the whiskey?

600px-A_Glass_of_Whiskey_on_the_Rocks

 

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...]

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...]

Golden Spike to announce flights to lunar surface (Updated)

A company called Golden Spike may confirm swirling rumors that it intends to land humans on the surface of the moon by the year 2020. It may sound like pie-in-the-sky, but this is no fly-by-night outfit. Reports are the company is staffed by some of the most accomplished engineers and mission planners to ever turn dreams into reality. Word is that includes Dr. Alan Stern of the New Horizon’s mission to Pluto and Beyond (Interviewed here), and former Apollo launch director Gerry Griffin.  [Read more...]

SpaceX engine fails catastrophically, but it still makes LEO

Yet again the engineers at SpaceX amaze me. It’s hard enough to accelerate tons of payload to several miles a second through a soupy fluid and then coast gracefully in blistering and frigid vacuum. They lost an engine on the way up, at about the worst time as far as aerodynamics stresses. Most other rocket designs would have blown to bits. The whole thing is on video: [Read more...]

A word on newspace vs. old

 

Rocketdyne's F-1 engine, five of these powered the first stage of the Saturn V that carried Apollo 11 to the moon

 

The SpaceX-Dragon launch drew the nation’s eyes’ the newspace vs traditional aerospace over the weekend. That’s mostly good news in my view, but I saw some misconceptions being bandied around by talking heads and bloggers. Some people are skeptical of corporations, which is not only understandable in my view but essential to reality in ths day and age. It kinda broke down into two groups, more or less, one that prefers the traditional government approach and one that prefers privatization. The problem with that, they’re arguing over fictional assumptions. NASA already pays out most of its money to private contractors, the big change in the air is how those contractors are going to be paid, cost-plus developmental programs versus flat fee for product or service. There’s one further twist on it, but that’s about it. [Read more...]