Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Potpourri XLVII

Articles here and here on Ares I-X...

Here's a list of things that have to go right to get human beings to and from the Moon safely. All of them must take place at extreme velocities, temperatures, or environments and require our greatest efforts to correctly. How is it that people cannot be inspired by the space program? How is it possible for a nation to make space exploration boring?

From a friend of Hu: a company that ships wine to Alabama legally. Better read the fine print first.

Here's the official White House press release on the nominations of Charles Bolden and Lori Garver.
Office of the Press Secretary
_______________________________________________________________________________________FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 23, 2009
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key administration posts: General Charles Bolden, Administrator of NASA and Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator of NASA.

President Obama said, “These talented individuals will help put NASA on course to boldly push the boundaries of science, aeronautics and exploration in the 21st century and ensure the long-term vibrancy of America’s space program.”

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:

Gen. Charles Bolden, Nominee for Administrator of NASA
Charles Bolden retired from the United States Marine Corps in 2003 as the Commanding General of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing after serving more than 34 years, and is currently CEO of JackandPanther LLC, a privately-held military and aerospace consulting firm. Gen. Bolden began his service in U.S. Marine Corps in 1968. He flew more than 100 sorties in Vietnam from 1972-73. In 1980, he was selected as an astronaut by NASA, flying two space shuttle missions as pilot and two missions as commander. Following the Challenger accident in 1986, Gen. Bolden was named the Chief of the Safety Division at the Johnson Space Center with responsibilities for overseeing the safety efforts in the return-to-flight efforts. He was appointed Assistant Deputy Administrator of NASA headquarters in 1992. He was Senior Vice President at TechTrans International, Inc. from 2003 until 2005. Gen. Bolden holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis and a M.S. in Systems Management from the University of Southern California.

Lori Garver, Nominee for Deputy Administrator of NASA
Lori Garver is the President of Capital Space, LLC, and has served as Senior Advisor for Space at the Avascent Group, a strategy and management consulting firm, based in Washington, D.C. She was the lead civil space policy advisor for Obama for America, and she helped lead the Agency Review Team for NASA during the Transition. She has intimate familiarity with the agency and knows well the challenges it faces. From 1998 to 2001, Ms. Garver served as NASA’s Associate Administrator of the Office of Policy and Plans. Reporting to the NASA Administrator, she oversaw the analysis, development, and integration of NASA policies and long-range plans, the NASA Strategic Management System, and the NASA Advisory Council. Ms. Garver also served as a primary spokesperson for NASA. Prior to this appointment, she served as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Office of Policy and Plans, and Special Assistant to the Administrator. Ms. Garver earned an M.S. in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from the George Washington University and a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Colorado College.
A Space Review editorial compares NASA to the automobile industry.

This one from the corporate office: the Baltimore Sun is reporting that you're going to need to pony up with your middle name when it comes time to fly. I actually inquired how much it would cost to legally change my name from Bartholomew to Bart because I sign my checks Bart but my mother and the State of Alabama call me Bartholomew (and the former only when she's angry with me). Why? Because the TSA was getting p!$$y with me about my driver's license not matching my credit cards. Parents beware: I won't be the only one to contemplate this change to save myself the aggravation at the airport. Another lesson in the law of Unintended Consequences from our government: make the law more intrusive and yoiu can even cause people to change their names.

This one from Nickomundo: Anderson Cooper believes the current generation is going to be shafted by the recession. Jeez, spare me. Every generation is screwed by a recession, usually temporarily, as the ability to make more choices and obtain more opportunities is reduced by slowed economic activity. Recession means your mom buys from the discount rack or sews your clothes when you rip them. Recession means you don't go to the Chuck-E-Cheese once a week or don't get high-end snacks with your lunch. Or that you don't buy your lunch. Or vacation gets put off a year. You're sad, you're disappointed. A couple of more fortunate, more shallow peers might laugh at your cheap, off-the-rack clothes. You're hurt. You move on.

Is NASA "over the hill" if the average age there is 49? All depends. People keep telling me that "40 is the new 30." Which means what for Gen Y? It means you'll be waiting another 10 years before you get promoted. (Just a little snark/humor to offer insight into how your elders might be thinking.)

Leonard David, whose brain I'd like to borrow for a week, has a blog on a new approach to searching for Earthlike planets.

The International Space Development Conference officially gets under way tomorrow. The Space Investment Symposium (SIS), which has become attached to ISDC since 2006, happened today. That's an event where they put wannabe space entrepreneurs and venture capitalists into a room and try to educate the space people on the right way to write a business plan to get investment money from the VCs. I first wrote about the SIS in 2007 and have been trying to keep up with it when I can. Lately I haven't been able to afford the leave time--or the ticket price. I don't complain about that--I got in gratis as a journalist in '06 and '07.

I see the SIS as a positive sign in the space advocacy movement because it shows that space businesses are becoming routine, part of the regular investment and business environment, like utilities or drug companies. However, I've heard complaints that this emphasis on business also raises ticket prices for space-related events and eliminates that "grass roots" touch/feel to the activity. I look at it this way, speaking purely for myself and from a strictly appearance-based point of view: more suits means more people taking space seriously. It's the difference between space advocates showing up in t-shirts or Star Trek outfits to lobby Congress and those same advocates showing up with suits, professional attire, and briefcases. Which one would you take more seriously? Apperances matter. And if that means that the space movement loses the "common touch" but gains credibility among the non-space-minded public, then I'm willing to make the sacrifice. If you want to wear t-shirts and Star Trek outfits, there's probably a science fiction convention out there waiting for you. If you want to make a serious effort to get civilization into space, leave the t-shirts at home and get ready to do business.

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