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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Space Divided can not Call

Amen. That is all I can say to Sam Dinkin's article in Space Review on The high road. Listen to this:

As Monte Davis recently said on The Space Show, we have to set aside our petty differences. Shut up about Moon vs. Mars, hybrid vs. liquid, SSTO vs. TSTO, alt vs. biz, tourism vs. military, private vs. public, orbital vs. suborbital, robots vs. people, and asteroids vs. space invaders. Start subordinating our unimportant grousing about other's companies and products to common goals. Start smoothing over our differences, agree to disagree, and push forward a positive message about our own and all competing products. Start teaching each other how to promote in a positive way and teach the media how to cover us in a positive way.

That is something Space Pragmatism can get behind (even if I am guilty of it occasionion).

Saturday, November 26, 2005

JAXA Gets their Piece of the Sky

Well an asteroid, really. This just in from UPI on the JAXA probe Hayabusa:

Scientists believe it collected the debris, but will only be sure when the craft returns to Earth, the BBC reported. Hayabusa was launched in May 2003 and has until early December before it must begin its journey home. It is expected to return to Earth and land in the Australian outback in June 2007.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Falcon I Now Scrubbed 'till Mid-December

According to Mark Trulson, who is live blogging the SpaceX Falcon I launch scheduled for today, the launch has been delayed due to both weather and LOX issues. The launch window has been extended until 7:00pm (PST) or 10:00pm (EST).

More as it happens.

Update 8:08pm CST: Bummer. This just in from the live blog:

5:21 pm (pst)

Strong winds and some troubles with the LOX refueling
tanks have forced the scrubbing of today’s launch. The attempt has been
rescheduled for sometime in the am Sunday.

As they get the time pinned
down closer an announcement will be posted on

I will try to
resume my live blogging as we get more info.

Update Nov 27 8:04 pm CST: They have to wait on LOX from Hawaii. Big Bummer.

Falcon I on the launch-pad

Thursday, November 24, 2005

SpaceX Falcon I Launch Delayed 24 hours

This from Elon:

Falcon 1 Launch Delayed by Army Range

In order to facilitate preparations for a missile defense launch, the Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) has bumped the SpaceX Falcon 1 maiden flight from its officially scheduled launch date of 1 p.m. California time (9 p.m. GMT) on November 25. The new launch time is 1 p.m. California time (9 p.m. GMT) on November 26.


Oh well, guess we'll have to wait until Saturday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Griffin can Talk the Talk...

I love his speeches, he always says what I would say if I were him. I think he is a true believer.

In a recent speech to the AAS, Griffin said:

If we are to make the expansion and development of the space frontier an integral part of what it is that human societies do, then these activities must, as quickly as possible, assume an economic dimension as well. Government-directed space activity must become a lesser rather than a greater part of what humans do in space.

He goes on to talk about ISS re-supply, crew rotation, and (gasp, be still my beating heart) orbiting commercial fuel depots. This is great stuff, the kind of stuff that could put Boeing and LockMart out of the space business for good (but not military). I think he means it and most of it may come to pass.

How do we keep anything in Washington D.C. that takes longer than four years to happen. Movement of "routine" orbital services to commercial enterprise has to happen quickly & become ingrained in American society before some less visionary President and another false prophet take control of NASA.

Michael Mealling also has some questions about what is going to happen after Bush and Griffin are gone. Good questions and now is the time to ask them.

Where to find Live Blogging of the SpaceX Launch

Mark Trulson over at Out of the Cradle is going to live blog the SpaceX Falcon I launch on Friday for us mortals who can't get out to El Segundo, CA for the web cast. Click on and enjoy.

Does Anyone have a Clue About China's Moon Program?

I would guess not. Voice of America is saying 2020:

Like the United States, China is planning a manned lunar mission by 2020 to
collect mineral samples and the isotope Helium 3, a potential energy source for
future missions to the moon.

Previous articles have said 2017, and 2035. Are we just guessing know? Even I can guess, so let's say 2006. That should make a stir (just kidding).

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Spacex Falcon I Udpate Out

Here is the update, just emailed from Elon:


This Friday at 1 p.m. PST (9 p.m. GMT), the Falcon 1 countdown to launch is expected to reach T-Zero. At that point, the hold-down clamps will release and it will begin its journey to orbit, accelerating to 17,000 mph or twenty-five times the speed of sound in less than ten minutes.

The launch will take place from Omelek island, which is in the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands. This mission's customer is DARPA and the Air Force and the payload will be FalconSat-2, part of the Air Force Academy’s satellite program that will measure space plasma phenomena, which can adversely affect space-based communications, including GPS and other civil and military communications. The target orbit is 400 km X 500 km, just above the International Space Station, at an inclination of 39 degrees.

On launch day, SpaceX will make history for several reasons:

  • Falcon 1 will be the first privately developed, liquid fueled rocket to reach orbit and the world's first all new orbital rocket in over a decade.
  • The main engine of Falcon 1 (Merlin) will be the first all new American hydrocarbon booster engine to be flown in forty years and only the second new American booster engine of any kind in twenty-five years.
  • The Falcon 1 is the only rocket flying 21st century avionics, which require a small fraction of the power and mass of other systems.
  • It will be the world's only semi-reusable orbital rocket apart from the Shuttle (all other launch vehicles are completely expendable).
  • The Falcon 1 first stage has the highest propellant mass of any launch vehicle currently flying.
  • SpaceX will have developed and activated two new launch sites, including the only American ground launch site near equator.
  • Most importantly, Falcon 1, priced at $6.7 million, will provide the lowest cost per flight to orbit of any launch vehicle in the world, despite receiving a design reliability rating equivalent to that of the best launch vehicles currently flying in the US.

We have done everything we can think of at SpaceX to ensure reliability, which is our primary goal, superceding cost. There were no shortcuts and when we needed to take extra time to test something, we did so even if it caused a significant delay. However, even multi-billion dollar programs executed conscientiously, such as the Ariane V, the Space Shuttle and the Delta IV Heavy, have had failures and it is certainly possible that will happen with the Falcon 1 too.

To prepare for this possibility, the first flight is highly instrumented with one megabit of realtime telemetry and a live video feed streaming back to the launch control center. If something goes wrong, we will discover and fix the problem, returning to the launch pad for flight two as soon as the solution is thoroughly tested.

--- Elon ---

Click here for more Falcon 1 maiden launch information

Which Science Fiction Writer are You?

I am:
Robert A. Heinlein
Beginning with technological action stories and progressing to epics with religious overtones, this take-no-prisoners writer racked up some huge sales numbers.

Which science fiction writer are you?

Couldn't have picked a better guy.
Go take the quiz yourself. (Got this from Mark over at Curmudgeons Corner)

Also From Robot Guy, this is also not a big suprise...
You scored as Serenity (from Firefly). You like to live your own way and do not enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you that you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Coming on December 1, 2005:

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? The Sequel

SG-1 (from Stargate)


Nebuchadnezzar (from The Matrix)


Serenity (from Firefly)


Moya (from Farscape)


Millennium Falcon (from Star Wars)


Enterprise D (from Star Trek)


Bebop (from Cowboy Bebop)


Galactica (from Battlestar: Galactica)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lunar Dreams

Apparently SpaceDev says they can do Lunar Missions for about ~$10 billion. They break it up into segments

  • launch to low Earth orbit (LEO)

  • Geo Transfer Orbit (GTO)

  • LEO and GTO to Lunar orbit

  • Lunar orbit to landing,

  • takeoff to Lunar orbit

  • Lunar orbit to LEO

  • return to Earth from LEO

Not really surprised by the cost savings. Governments are nothing if not expensive. Of course were is the $10 billion coming from? The way Griffin has been talking, he might be willing to buy seats from SpaceDev if they can get up there. Keep your fingers crossed true believers. (from a reader Jouth).

At the same time, I read an article this morning about Peter Diamandis (founder of the X-Prize) starting up a new company.

A company that Diamandis co-founded, which set up an office at Kennedy Space Center over the summer, plans to launch private suborbital flights by 2008. It plans to send private spacecraft to land on the moon by 2015, he said.

Hell that even beats China's rumored date of 2017. Todays news is good for my dreams. Hope the money starts flowing...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Falcon I Payload Blog

Jim White is blogging his experience in Omelek with the FalconSat-2. This is spaceX's first payload that will be launch November 25, 2005 about 1:00pm PST. Pretty interesting stuff.

One of the last things SpaceX will do is bolt the first stage engine nozzle and chamber to the business end of the rocket. They are going to do that while it's out on the pad, about 4 days from now. Then she is ready to shoot.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Falcon Launch Date - Netscape Moment

Nov 25 (next Friday after Thanksgiving) at 1:00pm PST (4:ooPM EST). They have a 4 hour launch window. Good luck and Godspeed.

-Update 9:03pm CST from Michael Belfiore's transcript of the press conference.

Q: What's next in the entreprenurial space field?
A: Lots of people doing
things--Paul Allen [who funded SpaceShipOne], Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin, John
Carmack with Armadillo Aerospace...Musk thinks we're heading toward a Netscape
moment, when someone turns a profit, and hopefully it'll be SpaceX, and then
investment capital will start to flow in.

Hmmm, investment never hurts.
I am ready to put some money were my blog is...

Iron Bowl (Not Space Related)

The Iron Bowl is tomorrow. Just had to put it out. War Eagle!!!! Go Auburn .

SpaceX First launch Date Today

Elon Musk, at a 2:00pm PST (4:00PM CST, 5:00PM EST) press conference, will give the launch date for the first launch of the Falcon I out of Kwajalein Atoll. I believe this to be not only important for SpaceX's credibility in the industry, but could very well be a historical moment in the space movement.

The Falcon V and IX will be more important to watch in the long run, but this is a huge reduction in cost. The Falcon I cost $6.7 million dollars vs $25 million for the next cheapest competitor. That is like being able to buy a new truck for ~$8,000 vs $30,000. Can't wait to see where this takes us (hopefully up fore it is finished).

I will let you know when it is...


Thursday, November 17, 2005

China Spends How Much?

I know everyone got in a hissy last week about whether China's space program is a threat or not, but I saw this and did a double take. According to,

...China does spend about one-half of 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on its space program, and since the nation's GDP has risen 30 percent since 2002 due to a booming economy, more funding is expected
.5% of GDP? Is that right? Tariq Malik may mean the Budget, but if not, wow. The US GDP in real dollars for 2004 was 11.743 trillion dollars (yes I said trillion). If the US spent .5% of GDP on NASA, their budget would be 58.67 billion dollars a year. Not to mention, if it was tied to GDP, it would grow at an average of ~3% a year. I guess China is serious...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

NASA Needs a Public Relations Overhaul

While going through my after lunch review of all the space news on the web, I ran across this statement Mark Whittington made as a comment to Rand Simberg's post of Iraq and Space.

Not enough is being articulated about the economic benefits of doing so. Of
course, NASA public relations has been dysfunctional since the birth of the
space agency.

Now I have been an advocate of NASA having better PR for a while now. I had kind of given up hope, but I have been thinking about some stuff lately and this prompted me to put fingers to keys, as it were.

How many of you watch NASA TV? If you are like me, you wish you did, but
its like watching public access TV with cable rates. What are they
thinking? Let's go through the problems one by one.

#1) No schedule - I can even pull PBS up and see what shows are coming on a week in advance. With NASA TV I can't even tell what is on right now. It is either Video File (which means whatever crap they have laying around) or ISS Coverage (which is usually shots of mission control). Even if you are putting on random crap, at least tells us what it is. We might be interested in some of it. Get an intern to do it. You are already broadcasting a digital signal, how hard could it be.

#2) No Plan - it is obvious to me after about 3 hours of watching NASA TV that there is no plan on how to use this forum. Does NASA want a PR vehicle, a information channel on space science (much like the science channel), or a CSPAN like just shoot everything we do. (Note: CSPAN, at least, usually has some kind of schedule). I would vote for a PR vehicle, but I would take anything organized.

#3) No interest - Now this is a bit subjective, I admit, but I am a science/space guy. I watch the discovery channel, science channel, Nova, and congressional hearings on space (on CSPAN usually). I am the ideal NASA TV viewer. And yet I almost never watch it (except for the occasional press conference on the Mars Rovers). What does this say to us? Why not, at the very least, use this medium to promote the ESAS and space in general to your base. Show your plans. Show simulations of Mars missions. Show debates on exploration architectures. It doesn't have to be Hollywood, but at least make an effort.

Now, before you go calling me a complainer, I have some ideas that NASA is welcome to take and run with.

#1) Reuse existing programming - Make with deal with Discovery or PBS. Get some documentaries about space, rockets. Play them every day at some specified time.

#2) Have some general information shows. VSE or whatever. But play to adults. So much of the stuff is video of an astronaut talking with a 3rd grade class. Adults like this stuff. We pay taxes. Get us excited about your plans. Don't let the newspapers tell us what you are doing with all the bias they bring to the table. Tell us directly.

#3) Space Movies. Some stuff that paints space exploration in a good light. Old stuff is fine. I am sure Tom Hanks would help.

Anybody else have any thoughts.

As I write this, ISS Mission Coverage (replay no less) is running on NASA TV.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

NASA is Cutting Science, the Bastards

According to Keith over at Nasawatch, Yet Another Mission Sacrificed for VSE? Oh wait, is that all there is to this story?

"They basically said that we should slow down or almost stop the development
while they decide to take a look at it and make an investigation," Russell said.
"They got concerned by the number of problems that they saw that we were

I guess it could be the problems they are having actually building the system. No that couldn't be it.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I have a confession to make

As much as it pains me to tell you all this, I feel I must. The truth is I feel there are more of you out there like me. You may be afraid to show your feelings, or afraid of being laughed at by your other space geek friends. But today I say to you, fear no more.

I don't like rockets. I don't mean I am against them for any reason, or that I am waiting on a space elevator, as I don't really like them either. I mean I am not enamored with them. I don't lay awake at night comparing the various ISPs of LOX or hybrid engines. I don't think about VTVL various air launch. I just don't care.

I am a space nut. I love space and more than anything I want to go to space, live on the Moon or Mars, and see the mighty king Jupiter up close. But like a man about to take a car trip across Europe, I only care that whatever transportation I use gets me to my goal. He doesn't care if it is a bus, a Ranger Rover, or an F15 so long as he reaches his hotel each night. I feel the same way about space transportation.

Now, you may wonder why I bring this up. I have no problem with people liking rockets. Actually, I need you to, so one day one of them will carry me and my family up to the heavens. But, you may not realize the peer pressure one feels when posting about space.

I feel an expectation from others to understand and even enjoy a rousing discussion about the various pros and cons of different rocket architectures. Truth is I neither understand it nor enjoy it very much. I have never really gotten that delta-v thing and the difference between various engine types bores me to tears.

So, to sum it all up, do not expect aerospace information from Space Pragmatism. I refuse to even fake it. We are all about the destination here.

Okay with that said, carry on...

Friday, November 04, 2005

China: I can take that moon in 12 years, Bob...

According to Reuters, a paper in Guangzhou, the Southern Metropolis News, is reporting China now plans to put a man on the Moon in 2017. Curious number don't you think? I wonder if President Bush and Mike Griffin are going to shoot for 2016 now. Might be fun little race.

Course you have to take what a Chinese paper says with a grain of salt, so who really knows...

(Hat tip to Curmudgeons Corner)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What do I think about NASA?

Okay, after getting blindsided by Mark at Curmudgeons Corner, I thought it necessary to clear up some things. Apparently Mark thinks am an "alt.spacer blubbering about NASA's plan to return to the Moon continues."

I'll admit I have leanings towards private space flight, but I am certainly not a libertarian anarchist. I may be the most socially conservative space nut you have ever met.

So to clear all this up, I need to explain how I feel about NASA and about space in general. I am a big fan of NASA. I watch all the launches I can. I watch whenever Griffin speaks to Congress. I was very excited when President Bush gave out the Vision last year. I am happy to pay my taxes to support NASA exploring. Not only is it expanding out knowledge but it is certainly better than most of the useless crap our taxes go towards.

That having been said, the point of my post was not to bash NASA but to simply say why I am not more excited about ESAS. As Mark said himself:

The purpose of the space program is not to get me and mine a trip to Club Moon
but to spread human civilization beyond the Earth. If I get to go, fine. If not,
sad for me but it doesn't matter in the large scale scheme of things.

Exactly. NASA's goal is not to get me or my wife or you into space. As excited as I may be about NASA's 13 year out plans to put a group of men on the Moon (which I am), it doesn't immediately help my cause.

Well, I actually do care if you get into space, especially if you share my
values about Western Civilization. The purpose of the space program is not to
get me and mine a trip to Club Moon but to spread human civilization beyond the
Earth. If I get to go, fine. If not, sad for me but it doesn't matter in the
large scale scheme of things.

And while I congratulate you on your altruism, I simply don't share it. You don't care if I get into space, you care if Americans in mass get into space. I would love that (if I was one of them). But you know what, I want to go to space. I am passionate about it. It is my greatest dream. And quite frankly I think you cheapen dreams in general to say my dream should be for western civilization and not personal. Real dreams only happen at the personal level. I bet all our space nut forefathers wanted, personally, to go to space. That is why they worked so hard to make it happen and why we are where we are today.

Okay that was a little bit of venting, but I believe the core of America is personal dreams, not the greater good. The greater good piggy-backs off of personal dreams. So no one should feel bad or selfish for their personal visions of anything, especially space flight.