Friday, July 31, 2009

Potpourri LXXXIV

What's next? How about a bill to investigate behavioral modifcation to change the way your kids consume energy?

Ridley Scott is going to direct a prequel to his visceral (literally) movie Alien. Can someone explain what consumer need this meets?

Here's a summary of recommendations made to the Augustine Panel by Robert Lightfoot, Acting Director of Marshall Space Flight Center:

First, we need to extend the ISS. We continue to use this magnificent platform to learn how to live and work in space. Whether it is studying the effects of long-term exposure on the human body or whether it is simply learning how to do maintenance of critical systems that have issues, we are building a ton of “scar tissue” which will help us make those next steps in longer duration and longer distance space travel.
Second, we need to get out of low earth orbit. I believe the Constellation architecture is one of the possibilities to do this, and we’re making progress every day but – however you frame it – we need a heavy lift capability. However, no matter what recommendations you provide, I would hope you set an expectation that there will be bumps along the way and that should not distract us from our goal.
Third, as has been stated in just about every one of these Commissions and reports, I would hope you would state again that any policy has to come with the resources.
Fourth, I believe there is more room for collaboration with the international partners, commercial operators, and other government agencies. I think if we can get past the tyranny of “or” – “commercial or NASA” – and recognize the power of “and” – "commercial and NASA” – we will go a long way toward taking advantage of the space economy.
Finally, I would hope each of you would think about what got you interested in human spaceflight and for a brief moment move away from the architectures, the scenarios and budget and ask yourselves “Why human spaceflight?” I believe a section in your report dedicated to “Why human spaceflight?” and presented to the President from such a highly respected group would be a powerful message indeed. A lot of us “grounded” explorers lived the experience of human spaceflight through those that got to travel like Dr. Chiao and Dr. Ride, and while we cannot share the same feelings, we can share the sense of accomplishment of turning the impossible into the possible. It will inspire the next generation, as you heard from our students. It provides us a place of leadership as a country – something we have given away in so many areas – and it will provide technical and economic benefits that we can’t even begin to predict.

Speaking of the Augustine Panel (yet again), the Space Frontier Foundation put out a press release hailing the Panel's belief that "the underlying reason why we do human spaceflight is the extension of human civilization beyond Earth." Great! That's more or less the vision and mission statements of the National Space Society. One wonders what shape our human spaceflight program will take to achieve that end.

NASA and the CAFE standards people announced an efficiency contest today to spur development of fuel-efficient aircraft. This program might actually work.

From Frank at MarsDrive, a pretty good blog on some of the ugly facts facing the government-run space program. Ugly fact #1: THE PUBLIC AREN’T INTERESTED IN SENDING PEOPLE TO MARS.

And that'll do for now. Happy Friday.

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