Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
I'm going to start this off by saying NASA is doing the right thing by delaying the shuttle launch until they are absolutely sure they can launch.
It's good for tourism - all the people that were in Canaveral on wednesday probably stuck around after the first delay for the weekend, and now that the launch is delayed again, some will stick around til next week, and even more will come then.
If it were up to me, I'd institute a "shuttle tax" on everyone that comes to see the darn thing lift off, who (obviously) still believes in paying for it. I agree with Rick Tumlinson of the Space Frontier Foundation (from a piece called Scuttle the shuttle
"Pouring billions into the Space Shuttles rips off the taxpayers - and betrays NASA's hardworking employees - by feeding a dying beast, while simultaneously starving a newborn industry and NASA's future exploration efforts."
It's not been a good day for me to be encouraged about NASA's future plans for manned spaceflight, either. The Crew exploration vehicle for the return to the moon, is just Apollo, warmed over
The Battlestar CEV isn't a serious design for returning to the Moon. It's the kind of proposal you slap together cheaply at the last minute for a dumb program that you know will be cancelled – rather like LockMart's late X-33 program. But I don't blame the engineers or managers at LockMart for this idiotic design. They are just responding to an idiotic Request For Proposals generated by an idiotic planning process set up by NASA's late idiotic administrator Sean O'Keefe.
More and more I regret not doing something drastic when I met O'Keefe
at the SpaceShipOne launch. Via the Worldcom Ebber's case, I've just learned you get a day in jail per million you defraud your investors - and that man should be doing time. I rue the day we put accountants and administrators in charge of NASA. Where's a Von Braun when you need him? It gets worse:
The CEV is laden with a variety of weighty systems that Apollo somehow got along without: wings, airbags, super-expensive titanium structure, an absurdly thin "Orbital Debris Shield", reusable RCC thermal protection, "active thermal control", elevons driven by huge electric motors, even a "Fire Depression System".
During the period of maximum development, NASA spent about $16B/yr on Apollo (in modern inflated dollars). This is about the same as the projected TOTAL budget for all NASA activities during Plan Bush. Nobody in their right mind thinks that there will be any significant increase in this funding level. At most, about half of this could be devoted to the manned program (given lots of unpopular cuts in other NASA programs).
Not sour enough yet today? Try: Doom and gloom won't sell space
. I've tried to capture the excitement in exploring space with profit - with strange new views out your office window - and I've tried to avoid both the "space greens" and the "space warhawk" scenarios. And still, I get depressed when I see a 1960s photo of a working ion engine and the nearly identical version flying in some "modern" spacecraft. No progress since they laid the last saturn V on its side. None.
Lastly, a bit of satire, to close the day on an ironic note, on "Big Brother's Space Program"
.... Did you catch the media spin on the launch of the Delta 4H last year or were you not paying attention
Have a better one.
I'm Mr. White Chocolate Taht Shmoovee
, and I need a little respect!
Every so often I get homesick for where I grew up - Ocean City, NJ. I miss the warm ocean, the jampacked beaches, my old friends, the hot rainy afternoons, tootling around the island on a boat with a 6 pack of beer on board...
I know I can't go back there to live for two reasons - no jobs
- and I don't know what kind of job I could do that could justify the high housing prices there. I have difficulty swallowing Valley prices, but the house I grew up in is now fetching upwards of 1.5m - amazing.
One major lesson I've learned this lifetime - coastal real estate is just about the best investment there is - so long as you don't get hit bad by a tsunami or hurricane. OR get in at the wrong time.
I got a tour of the new high school the last time I was there from one of my old teachers. She showed off the computer gear (more than one computer per student), the surveliance gear, the magnificent theater, the totally modernized labs... I was quite jealous of all they had - why, when I was there, all we had was an ancient mainframe, with punch cards!
Empirical evidence against outsourcing
A cry for competent tech support
Hey, out-of-touch-with-middle-class-America Board members and C-level execs: Just because it is cheaper does not mean you are getting the same thing. Just like you can tell the difference between Krug and Dom Perignon; those of us buying your products can tell if the support person has been trained to do their job or not. How is it those of us out here can see it, but you get the golden parachute?
pramipexole tied to compulsive gambling
I always wondered what compelled hundreds of thousands of the aged to get on a bus to Atlantic City and spend a day pulling at a slot machine.Now I know.
Phrack is dead
Phrack is intending to cease publication
I confess. I used to get phrack and 2600 via various means through the 80s - never you mind how.
After I moved to california and the internet exploded it got easier - why, 2600 was carried openly at Computer Literacy and you didn't even need to carry it around inside a little brown bag to hide it from the feds.
Now a legacy of the underground computing world is going... and I kind of miss the good ole days.
Spectra of Deep Impact
I really thought we'd have a spectrogram of the two impact flashes by now. It was only a small fraction of a second long, and we'd have to discard the copper line... but some data on it - even pictures - would have been nice. perhaps it was too short to get a good analysis?
I was wearing my Xprize "Crew" T-shirt in a bar last wednesday when a guy walked up to me and asked if I had anything to do with SpaceShipOne winning the Xprize last October. He'd just seen the TV special... (which I still haven't seen)
"Yes, I was there
. Twice. We helped change the world. And we're still working on changing it. " I said. "But all I did was park cars and guide guests to their seats in the Mojave for the launches."
Notwithstanding my minor role, probably not hearing me describe what I'd done, too deep in wishing he too had been there somehow... he shook my hand, with that glistening look in his eye I've come to know well. (from looking at other space enthusiasts, and from looking in the mirror!)
Afterwards, outside, later, he introduced me around his circle of friends, explained the event I'd been a part of, and 4
people shook my hand and wished me further luck on the conquest for space.
I've never been so friggin proud to have parked cars and vetted guests around a spaceport in my life. I swaggered
out of that bar.
The first ever Xprize Cup is coming up in October
. It's going to be more of a tradeshow than a racing event, at least this time. Armadillo Aerospace is working on a new engine
:We have committed to doing demo flights at the X-Prize cup event in October of this year. While they would have been fine with us just dusting off our 2’ diameter mixed-monoprop vehicle (the “flying crayon”), we are going to use this as a firm deadline for having the new LOX vehicle in robust flying shape. We will be aiming to do several back to back 15 second boosted hops to demonstrate operational efficiency. Flying on a biprop, this should be quite exciting.
It looks like we are going to use our last 15 degree crush cone as the aeroshell for the little vehicle, which will make it look like a little SSTO model. We would be a lot more aerodynamic packing it into a 2’ diameter cylinder, but I want to give it a wider base for better landing stability.
I'm toying with the idea of going to new mexico for the cup, but there are a few other conferences that I'd rather attend elsewhere. When they start flying serious new hardware, though... I'm there.
Shuttle launch payload constrained by orbital inclination
I get edgy when there's both a hurricane and a shuttle launch
brewing. I try hard not to think about all the millions of parts that have to work perfectly to get Discovery and her crew to orbit, carrying 15 tons of equipment for the ISS.
I sure wish we'd developed a pilotless version of the shuttle. The Soviets did, with the Buran, but they only flew it once. Now - the city government of Moscow is funding development of their own shuttle!
What's next? Los Angeles funding asteroid missions? New York developing a space traveling garbage barge?
I sure wish our politicians hadn't moved the orbit of the shuttle from one that was good for the US (26 degrees above the equator) to one that was good for Russia. (51.6 degrees above the equator). If ISS's orbit was more suitable we could haul twice the tonnage to the ISS at a time from our launch facilities in Canaveral.
... and if we'd put ISS where we'd intended Space Station Freedom - 29.6 degrees - we wouldn't have had two shuttle tank redesigns and we might not be short one shuttle and 7 crew
."ISS is russian revenge for spending us broke with SDI"
- anonymous Russian engineer
I just looked over a post of the space station budget from 1991
, and I just have to sigh.
Who actually won the space race, anyway?
Why do we have to spend billions developing a spaceplane/shuttle replacement to get to LEO when we could just buy the rockets from the Russians and the French - and get on with the important stuff -building craft to explore the worlds beyond earth orbit
Labels: asteroids, gto, iss, nasa, orbits, solar system, space, space05, spacecraft
working with rosegarden
With the exception of my still ongoing ua-1000 saga, my downstairs office is basically complete.
I started working with rosegarden again. It's got pretty good. I've got a dual monitor setup - my laptop on my desk and a separate monitor above the piano. Xinerama isn't working and I still haven't figured out how to enable running rosegarden as a normal user with realtime privs, but I'll get there. Until then I run as root.
I worked on a couple songs, and also revelled to a really good midi version of "Drops of Jupiter".
I should have managed to weed more of the garden today but I vowed to make sundays a writing day, and write I shall - whether it be music or text or about nothing at all - but write - something will come.
... and happy birthday, mom!