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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.

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 Forbes.com, 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 Forbes.com, 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.

  • Forbes.com 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

2 comments:

Danielle said...

Looking good so far, I'm seeing news I don't normally see (like Forbes.) That Leah girl makes my brain hurt though. (Reminds me of a joke email my dad was reading me last night, "watch out, these people vote!") Looking forward to future news-wrangling. :)

Paul Dietz said...

The 'NASA remains popular' bit tells only half the story.

Polls have consistently shown support levels like that for decades, when they ask about NASA by itself.

However, when they ask the public to rank different spending priorities, NASA also consistently comes out near the bottom, below all kinds of social spending, and even below crop subsidies. Support for NASA also drops if the question includes a phrase such as 'even if taxes must be raised', showing the public supports lower taxes over NASA.

What this means is that support is broad, but very shallow. Very few voters will decide whether to support a politician based on whether he voted for NASA or not.