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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, January 30, 2006

News From Around The Internet: Dateline Jan 30, 2006

  • NASA has a new "Lunar Sooner" plan to get us to Moon in 2017. The change to J-12 from the SSME as well as going directly to the 5 segment SRB is apparently part of this new speed-up. One wonders is China and Russia's Lunar aspirations are part of this plan.

  • The new Space Review is out. Among it's articles are:

  • NASA claims the lessons of the Space Shuttle will be used in building the new spaceships for the Vision. I hope so.

  • According to the Washington Post, OMB and the President may be pulling back financial support from the Vision. I don't agree, however. According to the report:
    "Industry and congressional sources said Griffin's acknowledgment of the shortfall was accompanied by news leaks that OMB was proposing to cut the number of shuttle flights to between eight and 11, retiring one of the three orbiters and reducing the shuttle workforce to free up money for the exploration vehicle."

    Cutting the Shuttle flights to me, only accelerates the Vision. The Shuttle/ISS part of the Vision was a political necessity, not a inherent requirement to go to the Moon. Just my opinion, though. Clark Lindsey at Hobby Space says there is strong support for COTS.

  • Florida newspapers seen to be in support of spending money to bring private space to the sunshine state.

  • The Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine has several articles on new space ideas, including suborbital tourism, space elevators, and supersonic thrill rides. (hat tip to Clark Lindsey at Hobby Space)

  • Rocket Magazine is now available for subscription. You can look at the current issues for free. It looks cool if you are into rockets. (hat tip to Clark Lindsey)

  • The Orlando Sentinel has a new blog from aerospace editor Michael Cabbage. His first post is an interview with Michael Griffin on just about everything. (hat tip Space Politics)

  • NASA is hoping for a May Shuttle Launch. I won't hold my breath.

  • In the new Ad Astra (the NSS's monthly magazine), Rick Tumlinson has some choice comments on NASA's decision to drop the methane based rockets. Come on, Rick, tell us what you really think. :)

Friday, January 27, 2006

News From Around The Internet: Dateline Jan 27, 2006

  • According to a Yale study, we are running out of metal here on Earth. Wonder were we could get some more... (hat tip to Curmudgeons Corner

  • The Rovers IMAX movie is out this weekend. According to Chicago Tribune and the Charleston Courier and Post:
    they felt like they were sitting through a big-screen "Nova" or Discovery Channel episode
    I would say the Science Channel was a better comparison, but either way, it is like my favorite TV on the big screen (kind of like Serenity).

  • The ProSpace March Storm 2006 is open for registration. This years agenda includes:
    1) Leveraging private resources to meet public objectives We will encourage Congress to support NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services effort as well as request the creation of a Center for Entrepreneurial Space Access at the Air Force Research Lab.

    2) Incentives for space investment ProSpace has authored exciting new legislation calling for the establishment of a National Space Prize Board. The bill is called "The SPACE Act" and calls for this new board "to use cash prizes as a means to accelerate the commercial expansion of economic, exploration, national security and scientific uses of space and spaceflight."

    3) NEO (Near Earth Object) Risk Detection and Mitigation ProSpace will request that Congress support efforts in detecting Near Earth Objects that may pose a future impact threat.

  • At the Rover's IMAX movie premier, Mike Griffin casually mentions a goal of getting people to Mars in 30 years.
    "If, 30 years from now, Ted, you're still showing this movie, you'll be showing it while there are people walking around on Mars, and they won't be the first people." That line generated a modest round of applause, and even a "woo-hoo!" from one audience member. Later, he added, "I, for one, cannot wait until NASA sets up a permanent exploratory base on Mars. But, preceding such an event, we have many preparatory events to execute before we get there."

  • John McCain and Tom Coburn are trying to force the Senate to vote on every earmark in a bill. Earmarks are those little amendments Congressmen put for their district on bills destined to pass, often called pork.

  • Today is a tragic anniversary. [correction 9:58am CST] Apollo 1 caught fire today. Challenger flew apart tomorrow.

  • New Mexico has appointed Ben Woods, senior vice president for planning, physical resources and university relations, to the Spaceport Authority.

  • Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, is out selling his Spaceport idea.

  • Brevard County, Florida has given Space Adventures $50,000in marketing funds to relocate there. At the same time, the Orlando Sentinel offers support for Gov Jeb Bush's $55 million package to bring more of the space industry to Florida.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

News From Around The Internet: Dateline Jan 26, 2006

Thanks to all comments. It isn't life or death, just my truck threw a rod so I had to miss a week of fire unit testing, I had to buy a new car (I highly recommend the Suzuki Reno, btw), my daughter is sick, and my builder moved our closing up to Monday without telling us, so I am running around trying to get everything ready. But it is somewhat settled down, now. Back to the news...

  • According to Nikolai Sevastyanov, head of the Energia space corporation, Russia is planning to mine Helium-3 from the Moon by 2020. Helium-3 is a proposed fusion fuel that is clean burning and prevalent on the Lunar surface.

  • And in a highly hyped press release Wednesday, astronomers found an extrasolar planet that is only 5.5 times the size of Earth and most likely rocky. It is also 2.5 AU around it's star. Previous rocky planets have all be both larger and very close to their star.

  • New Mexico is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for their proposed spaceport.

  • The CLV will use JS-2's rather than SSMEs. I think that is good, not being a rocket weenie.

  • David Kerr, a congressional aid, writes NASA should use private enterprise, like SpaceShipOne, and where it may take us. (from

  • Russia announced the Russian shuttle, Kliper, will be ready in 2012.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sorry for the lack of news updates

I have am having four crises in my life at the moment. Should be back to normal tomorrow.

Monday, January 23, 2006

News From Around The Internet: Dateline Jan 23, 2006

  • The new edition of Space Review is out.

    • Chris Gainor talks about the Science we gained from Apollo, and what more we could get out of the Vision
    • Jeff Foust reviews Chasing Hubble’s Shadows, by Jeff Kanipe
    • Taylor Dinerman discuss the difference of opinion between NASA and ESA
    • Mark Trulson (from Out of the Cradle), interviews Patrick J. G. Stiennon, on of the Authors of The Rocket Company
    • Jeff Foust provides an account of the New Horizons mission

  • Michael Belfiore has a copy of Popular Science editor Erick Adams' interview with CNN Headline News last Friday.

  • Dawn, an unmanned spacecraft set to visit two asteroids, has been postponed due to cost overruns.

  • US Space News (which sadly doesn't have permalinks) has the following stories:

    • If the Boeing/LockMart merger is approved, say bye-bye to the Delta IV

    • NASA is once again considering nuclear power for the planned Lunar Base. Apparently MSFC's plan came in 1/10 of the original $10 billion estimate.

  • has an interview with Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. I love this, "For a normal [Falcon 1] launch operation, the crew is actually only about 12."

  • Space companies are being wooed away from California to New Mexico, Colorado, and Florida. Did the wind just change direction...

  • Apparently there are some short-sighted politicians in New Mexico. Hopefully this is just one Senator holding back until he gets his Honda plant or something.

  • [sarcasm] If Joel McNally, a columnist at the Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, is an example of the population, we know why Wisconsin is such a center of new ideas and industry [/sarcasm]

Friday, January 20, 2006

News From Around The Internet: Dateline Jan 20, 2006

  • Popular Science Editor Eric Adams will be on CNN Headline News between 1 and 1:30 pm EST to talk about the Rocket Racing League. (hat tip to Michael Belfiore)

  • New Horizons is in space. After days of delay, the first probe to Pluto is on its way.

  • According to Alan Boyle, the rocket racing league is going to be headquartered in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Man, those New Mexicans just keep getting all the fun stuff. Here is the AP story.

  • Mike Griffin continues to pull engineering work back in-house. Does that mean they are going to hire Engineers? I tried to for years to get on at NASA. I have given up at this point. Of course it doesn't help that I would likely take a 50% pay cut to work at MSFC.

  • Spirit and Opportunity continue to chug on. It is amazing what are essentially two big remote control cars can accomplish. Of course two geologist could have done the same in a few months...

  • SPACEHAB announced yesterday it will be trying for COTS.
    SPACEHAB, Incorporated, a leading provider of commercial space services, announced today that the Company will be competing for the opportunity to serve as NASA's supplier of commercial International Space Station logistics services.

  • Elmer L. (Bart) Forbath, has proposed a Nation Space Lottery in the new issue of Ad Astra, the Nation Space Society's monthly magazine. The lottery would offer space flights as prizes. Sam Dinkin at is already doing something similar.

  • More editorials about Jeb Bush's $55 million proposal to build up Florida's attractiveness to the space industry. Some members of the New Mexico Legislature should read this:
    The new space race isn't between superpowers on opposite sides of the globe. Rather, it's a battle for the jobs and dollars that the space industry spawns.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

My Alma Mater Gets Space Exploration Grant

"The department of electrical and computer engineering at Auburn University received $2,375,000 as part of the NASA Exploration Systems Research and Technology Program grant."

To bad I graduated :)

the four-year grant would help create circuits that would allow external environmental electronics to function in the extreme cold temperatures of space.

News From Around The Internet: Dateline Jan 19, 2006

  • Scientists at NASA's Johnson Space Center, where the Stardust probe was shipped after landing in Utah this weekend, are happy with the comet particles brought back by the StarDust mission.

  • New Horizons was scrubbed yesterday after a power outage at the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the probes operator. The next launch attempt will be Today from 1:08 to 3:06 p.m. ET.

  • The final version of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Demonstration Contract was released yesterday. The proposals are due March 3, 2006.

  • New Mexico's politicians are debating the planned spaceport. The Questions include cost and liability. Ironically, in Florida, Jeb Bush who has been chastised over not spending money to attract private space companies, is asking for $55 million to support space in Florida with $8 million going towards a new space port.

  • Robin McKie, the science editor of the New Statesmen, thinks takes a look at the sad history of the Space Shuttle. You only read it once a day -djs

  • Nick Allen tells us what he thinks of space tourism
    Spaceship Earth is fine by me - I don't need expensive tickets to travel on it, and I can also see outer space from it. It's the best spaceship we have. Rather than paying to leave it, maybe we should concentrate on looking after it - and all its passengers.
    I find this an ironic statement coming from an astrophysicist who's entire career is based on studying everything but Earth.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

News From Around the Internet:

Note: This is my first news roundup, which is going to be a daily item here at Space Pragmatism. It will become more consistent and polished as time goes on, so cut me some slack for a few days, 'k. -- djs

  • NASA remains popular with the general public. At least space exploration does, since most people still see NASA as the only avenue to space. I would like to see some questions about space in general and private space flights thrown in the mix. (from Curmudgeons Corner)

  • Michael Belifore's Popular Science article on Peter Diamandis' Rocket Racing League is out at news stands. I have read it and it is a good article covering the leagues' plans and technical aspects at a high level. As an engineer and space enthusiast, it leaves me wanting for more. I am sure Michael would have gladly given them more, if they gave him more pages. ;-)

  • NASA is going to attempt to launch the New Horizons probe again today. The launch window extends from 1:16 to 3:15 p.m. ET. The first ever probe to ice planet Pluto was set to launch yesterday, but high winds forced the cancellation three minutes before launch. The weather for today at Cape Canaveral is a 10% chance of rain with winds at about 18 mph during the launch. Keep your fingers crossed.

  • There is continued debate between Russia and NASA over bringing alcohol aboard the International Space Station. Russian space officials think "that a little nip would help cosmonauts relax after a tough job — and could even "replenish one's strength." NASA says alcohol and astronauts should not mix. I'll bet Sir Richard won't mind...

  • Stardust looks to be in good condition. It shall be interesting to see what comes of it (other than stupid arguments over manned vs. robot I agree with Ferris Valyn's comment "the debate isn't about humans vs. robots - its about exploration vs. colonization.

  • Rocketplane Ltd is hooking up with two marking agencies. Incredible Adventures and Pure Galactic (item via RLV and Space Transport News)

  • NASA is finding out that he new CLV is not as easy as they thought.
    These sources also talk about interest on NASA's part of moving to using a 5 segment SRB (Solid Rocket Booster) as the first stage of the CLV instead of the initial plan to use the current 4 segment booster used by the Space Shuttle. In so doing, NASA would now be creating what would, in essence, be a wholly new launch vehicle.
    Well duh! (from SpaceRef)

  • According to NASA Watch, the Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS) has finally been (officially) released. Of course it has been available through NASA Watch for three weeks.

  • Rich Karlgaard, as, thinks NASA's problem is not money but rather the lack of coolness they held in years past.
    In the 1960s, the two coolest places in America to work if you were a top scientist or engineer were NASA and Bell Labs. Ask yourself: How many MIT or Caltech grads lust to work for NASA or Lucent today?
    Rich sees a place where coolness flows and thinks NASA should flow to it with prize money.
    Why not increase the annual prize to $2 billion? The U.S. would get a lot more bang than it gets now for that $16 billion. Latest example of NASA bloated spending: The agency has already spent billions of dollars on the National Aerospace Plane, the X-33, X-34, X-37, X-38 and the Orbital Space Plane. None of these has flown.
    By comparison, Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne was built for less than $40 million and twice flew into space last year. It is amazing what talent and entrepreneurialism can do.

  • Let me just say Leah Hoffmann, at the same, needs a little education. She starts off okay with "But there are still a number of things standing in the way of private enterprise in space. The main problems? Cost and reliability". Soon, however, she steers into the incorrect fact pit. "Rocket fuel is currently the No. 1 reason that space travel is so expensive." No, Leah it's not. Rocket fuel on an expendable rocket runs about $9.82 per pound of payload according to When Physics, Economics, and Reality Collide The Challenge of Cheap Orbital Access. Then she goes on to say
    For the suborbital space flights of the sort that billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic hopes to run, energy won't be as costly. The vehicles reach about 50 miles above the earth, so they have no need to clear the gravitational field and require much less fuel.
    First of all they go at least 62 miles up and you have to go a lot farther than that to escape the Earth's gravitational field.

  • is on the space wagon to day. Besides the two above, articles, they have

    (with thanks to Space Today)

Do you like the format of this news burst? Comments and suggestions are welcome. -djs

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Blog Changes

I am going to start adding a round-up of daily space news each morning. By daily news, I mean news that I find interesting. I don't plan on being (which is a great site for space news, by the way). I just want to make my readers daily search of all things space a little easier.

Also, Marc Schwager at the Spaceward Foundation, the manager of NASA's Elevator 2010 a Centennial Challenge has made a request:

Now that we have the 2005 space elevator games under our belt, we are working to increase our visibility this year, and are looking for space-news / bloggers that are interested in consuming more output from us...

So about once a week or so, Space Pragmatism will be running these releases.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Space Cows

(I got this from Jon Goff at Selenian Boondocks)

Nell Boortz has a funny list of the politics of cows. But he left out two important groups:

You have one cow.
The cow just runs around in circles in the field.
You miss your old cow.
You can't rely on any other farmers (because farming is just too hard)
You retire your cow, dig up your old cows bones and wrap it in new leather.

Alt Space
You have fifty cow designs
Any one of your cows would put out 50 times the milk of government cows
If only you had money...

New Mexico gets it

This was in the Albuquerque Tribune written by Rick Homan, the New Mexico's secretary of Economic Development and chairman of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority.

It would be shortsighted to think that New Mexico is building a spaceport just to take rich people into space. We are building a spaceport because we know that NASA and other international space agencies will be contracting with the private sector to take passengers and payloads to the International Space Station and the Moon.

We know that as space travel becomes more affordable, government agencies and companies will establish facilities in space to host visitors and conduct zero-G research in exciting new fields such as renewable energy, health care and pharmaceuticals, microsystems and nanotechnology and other industries that will provide significant breakthroughs for life on Earth.

And we know that frequent and repeated access to space is only possible using reusable launch vehicles, and these RLVs need an inland commercial spaceport, just like what we are going to build in New Mexico.

Exactly. This is just a thrill ride for the wealthy and those (like me) who are willing to mortgage there house to see space. This is the first step to industries we can even imagine.

I wonder if the balance of power in this country is shifting. Just as the west coast in the 20th century became an economic & cultural force in this country, I wonder if states like New Mexico are going to wield similar power in the 21st century.

I also found a blog on the New Mexico Spaceport by Mike McConnell. He has detailed (an understatement) directions to the Space sport site.

Mile marker 2.5 miles - Odell Ranch on the right. There is a big cell tower on Odell Ranch. Your cell phone will still work when you get to Upham and few miles further north.

Mile marker 3.3 miles - Cattle guard.

In a Free Mexican article on the spaceport, the AP reports that

What's clear, according to the studies, is that the state must act now. Several other states, including Texas and Oklahoma, are on New Mexico's heels.

So is the entire southwest region is chasing this spacport dream. I had never realized the geography of all the companies.

This isn't just about space either. These initiatives show me that these states are the place for new ideas and free thinking. New industries can be built here. The map below may show the new economic power of the US in the 21st century.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Rocket Racing League in Popular Science

Michael Belfiore has a cover story in the February issue of Popular Science. I read the article he wrote on T/Space in Popular Science as well as his blog at Dispatches from the Final Frontier and he is very good. It is definitely worth picking up. They didn't have it at Wal-mart yet, so I will run by Books-a-Million tomorrow.

Monday, January 09, 2006

SpaceX Falcon I Launch Feb 8 @ 4:30pm (PST)

Falcon I Launch is Feb 8 @ 4:30pm PST (6:30pm CST)
SpaceX update from Elon:

January 2006 Update

New Launch Time
The new launch time is February 8 at 4:30 p.m. California time with Feb. 9 as a backup day. We will actually be ready to launch earlier, but are planning to spend extra time reviewing and double-checking all vehicle systems.

Following the problem on Dec. 19, we flew a whole new first stage to Hawaii via C-5 just in time to catch the barge from there to Kwaj a few days before New Year's Eve. The new stage should arrive at Kwaj in about a week, whereupon we will switch it out with the damaged unit, which will be sent back to California for repair. The repair is not particularly difficult or expensive, but can only be done properly in a factory setting.

What Was the Problem?
As previously reported, we traced the problem to failure of an electronic component in one of the first stage fuel tank pressurization valves. Although we have triple redundant pressure sensors and dual redundant pressurization valves, when this component shorted, it caused the valve controller board to reboot, effectively eliminating the redundancy.

This is the first time in 3.5 years of hard testing that we have ever seen this happen. Moreover, the component in question has a cycle life and power rating far in excess of the theoretical load that it should see. To address this specific problem, we are replacing the component with one that has a quasi-infinite lifespan and taking a few other steps that will isolate any issue with this component if it goes wrong in the future.

However, as I mentioned in an earlier update, we are not simply going to address this particular point problem and then merrily jump back into a countdown sequence. Throughout January, the SpaceX team will be doing another full review of vehicle systems, including propulsion, structures, avionics, software and ground support systems. We will be conducting additional engine tests, stage separation tests and avionics tests to once again attempt to flush out any issues. Even if we find nothing, the exercise is worthwhile.

Wind Delays Suck (Literally)
It is worth noting that we would have caught the problem without any damage to the vehicle if we had entered the final countdown sequence as planned. The sucked in tank damage only occurred because we partly drained the fuel tank due to the hold for high winds.

High winds are not a limitation of the rocket, which is designed to be essentially "all weather" and handle ground winds in excess of 50 mph (watch out for flying coconuts!). The ground winds limitation is actually due to the need to avoid a collision with the launch stand hold down arms, which grab the rocket at the base of the fuel tank, as the rocket lifts off.

To alleviate this problem, we have redesigned the launch stand so that the hold down arms retract out of the way on liftoff, activated by a breakwire. This gives us something very close to 100% winds availability from Kwaj. The retraction force is low, so even if there were an early activation of the actuator, it would not damage the rocket.

Another bothersome problem is the high rate of liquid oxygen (LOX) boiloff. This is not surprising when LOX is at -300F and there is a stiff wind impinging on the vehicle at 85F. To minimize boiloff, we will wrap the LOX tank in low cost cryo insulation attached with velcro straps that tear away on liftoff.

Lessons Learned on F1 Apply to F9
The challenges to date I think vindicate the strategy of building a small launch vehicle before a large one. If we had started out with an F9 class vehicle, the cost of every mistake would be multiplied by as much as an order of magnitude. As it is, we are able to overcome problems comparatively quickly and cheaply.

With the benefit of lessons learned on F1, it is taking far less time, effort and money to create F9. Despite the distraction of the F1 launch countdowns, I still anticipate a flight F9 first stage firing later this year and a maiden launch in late 2007.

Great Expectations Falcon 1 on the Omelek Launch Pad
Those familiar with the launch business will know that countdown scrubs are a way of life. It's often said that the safest time to schedule your vacation is around launch day and that's true more often than not. Even rockets that have launched hundreds of times from launch pads that are in heavy use have multiple scrubs. Not too long ago, there was a Titan launch that had eleven scrubs and Delta launch that had six.

Reasons range from hard to avoid technical glitches, like the Shuttle fuel sensor malfunction on its last launch attempt, to silly false alarms. A Titan countdown was once aborted when someone spotted a "bag of suspicious liquid" on the mobile service tower. It turned out that the latrine had simply been a bridge too far for one of the technicians.

Given that Falcon 1 is an all new rocket and is launching from an all new launch pad on a remote tropical island, countdown scrubs in the first few attempts were very likely. As it is, we have had one abort due to a launch pad issue and one due to the rocket. If this next attempt succeeds in getting to t-zero, SpaceX will be reasonably fortunate in the scheme of things.

Falcon 1 on Omelek Launch Pad


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sovereignty Part 2

The last post on what sovereignty means to an extraterrestrial colony prompted some comments and some references to the history of sovereignty. If you are interested, check out a discussion on sovereignty.

As I have had more time to think on it, perhaps this is a more general question. Certainly it is possible for a lunar colony to remain an outpost of a company or government with temporary residents holding earth bound concerns. But is that practical on Mars? How about further out moons or asteroids? At some point the people of a colony will be so far out and intertwined with their environment that the connection with their Earthly concerns will loosen and break.

I would guess this is true of most colonists who move their lives to a new land. This is especially for the generations born in that new land. So I say that extraterrestrial sovereignty is a foregone conclusion, at least eventually.

“Wait,” you may say. “We have no such problem today. People live in different countries without ever giving up the ties to their homeland.” That is true. We also have one day travel to practically anywhere in the world, telephones, televisions, and the wonderful stream of electrons you are reading this entry called the internet. There is no where on Earth where you have to disconnect from your place of origin to stay alive and prosper.

The distances in space are difficult to imagine. Jupiter and its interesting moon Europa never come closer than 365,000,000 miles to the Earth. Flying in a race car at 200miles/hr would get you there in roughly 222 years. That is far. (note: this is simplified so I don’t have to deal with physics at night-djs) The last mission we sent to Jupiter took six years to get there.

Imagine living on a colony away from your home and it takes six years to get back. Would you go home for Christmas? Maybe not. Would you go home at all? I don’t know about you, but I get restless driving six hours to the beach. I don’t think I could take six years.

Now the visionaries among us will say, but what about Star Trek? With super-duper-warp-hyper-drive-ftl-fairy-dust engines these far out colonies will be a few moments away. Perhaps in eons to come, but initially we will crawl in our clunky and slow spaceships. The world was not settled after we invented airplanes. It was settled on foot and by boat. Even as late as 1492, when Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue, it took three months to cross the Atlantic. During the American Revolution, it still took the English eight weeks to cross the ocean (if the weather was good). That is how colonies have been settled throughout time and there is no reason to believe space will be any different.

So having established that far reaching colonies will be cut off from their place of origin, where are we on the question of sovereignty? From all the comments and historical research I have been given since my first foray into this topic, it seems to me sovereignty means this:

Other countries either believe in is in their best interest to leave you alone or don’t have the resources to do anything about it.

Let’s take the Unite States of America and France as examples. There are, perhaps, many countries who would love to destroy America’s sovereignty. They just don’t have the capability. On the other hand, the US could destroy France relatively easily, but then who would make the wine? (just kidding :)

So given a colony of humans living years away from Earth, whose children only know of Earth through night-time stories, what are the chances anyone on Earth is going to expend the resources to quash their little rebellion. And if they do, the colonists have years to prepare. Call me pessimistic, but it’s hard to keep a supply line 365 million miles long.

My purpose in thinking about this, as always, goes back to the Outer Space Treaty. If a colony declares its independence to the world, are they bound by that treaty? More importantly, can nations on Earth recognize their independence without violating that treaty? I am sure many countries and corporations with no presence on said colony would gladly support there separation. So is a declared sovereign nation, who has never signed the Outer Space Treaty, bound by it or do they have to win a battle with the world first?

So in conclusion, I think as we go further out into space, humans are going to have to deal with multi-world politics. Can we then discuss the solarization of humanity? I can see the bumper stickers now:
Think Solarly, Act Locally

Newspace News at SFF

The new edition of Newsspace News at the Space Frontier Foundation is out. Check it out.

Return to the Moon - Review

It is finally here:

Return to the Moon – Edited by Rick N. Tumlinson with Erin R. Medlicott

Return to the Moon is a collection of short essays about different aspects of our return to the moon after thirty years. In the words of Mr. Tumlinson:

It is an anthology of essays by more than 20 authors covering a broad spectrum of ideas and concepts revolving around a permanent human return to the Moon.

This book is a good introduction for the beginning space enthusiast who doesn’t understand the difference between the approaches prescribed by private space and NASA. While most of the essays lean towards the private space argument as a whole, both sides of the debate are represented. While a hard-core “alt-spacer” might not get as much out of it as a someone new to the debate, I think that all these concepts put together in place could generate a lot of new ideas.

The essays in this book are varied and interesting. There are many ideas I had not heard or considered along with some standard points on the economics of space flight and colonization. The essays flowed well together and the book was easy to read. Rick Tumlinson’s comments about each author at the beginning of his/her essay were very helpful in understanding the author’s point-of-view in the debate.

Some of the ideas will seem fantastic, such as Dr Mike Ryan’s nuclear idea of throwing hazardous waste into orbit with a mass driver. Other essays had me yelling at the book, like Robert Zimmerman’s characterization of the Virginia as a “miserable and wretched place to live” which offended my southern sensibilities. While there are some questionable assertions made in many of the essays, this book inspires intelligent debate and that is always good.

The photos and artwork in the center of the book were done well and I think overall the book was layout well. However, there were some typos in the book that were distracting. Also, it would have been nice to have each essay’s title at the top of the page.

Overall I would recommend this book to anyone interested in going to the moon.

Commercial Space Flight Book

Michael Belfiore has a new book coming out on commercial space flight called "The Entreprenauts." His post gives some of his history in reporting on the private space industry. It is pretty interesting stuff.