Some graphs, like pictures, are also worth a thousand words. They do what a beautiful painting does while wandering in a museum, holding your stare like reading from a wall. For rockets and space travel, there is no shortage of figures and numbers and graphs, oh my. One especially telling figure came around in 2010 … Continue reading One word: Propellant
And what does any of this have to do with space exploration? 2004, a large, musty conference room at Kennedy Space Center, today holding only the six or so of us to mull over a question trickled down from on high. What is the *probable* year the Shuttle will complete another 22 launches? I'd been … Continue reading Monty Hall, goats, the odds, and new rockets
And what does any of this have to do with space exploration? Talianki, Ukraine, a thriving city of thousands, about a few hours away from Kyiv by car, but a much longer trip 5,800 years ago. Except, wasn’t the going story there were no cities that far back, at least as far as we call … Continue reading A book review – “The Dawn of Everything” by David Graeber and David Wengrow
It’s spaceships aplenty – and it’s all good. Contrary to popular belief, there is plenty of public data out there for what NASA spacecraft cost. Yet judging by regular NASA Inspector General or GAO reviews, this is all beyond obscure and confusing. There’s even a thought from NASA that not knowing what things cost saves money. (That is not … Continue reading Useful answers – the cost of NASA spacecraft
Inflation is a hot topic in the news of late. This is to be expected when daily experience brings a far-off abstraction home for a visit. Also unsurprisingly, this phenom happens more so when the news is terrible. A price dropping is fodder for a moment of amazement, good company with a happy grin about … Continue reading Inflation, NASA’s budget, and ambition
Soon, NASA will load propellants onto its new Space Launch System – the “SLS.” This test will span a few days, a whole shakedown and practice run, much like the launch countdown starting at T-72 hours for a Space Shuttle. This is an exciting moment, the end-to-end system seeing liquid hydrogen and oxygen for the … Continue reading Make good choices!
NASA just rolled out an expendable rocket nearly eleven years after the last launch of its Space Shuttle. This is a long time coming, a project where too often “next year’s” major milestones receded by about one and a half years every year. An expendable Shuttle-derived launch system will go down in history as what … Continue reading Life finds a way
Groucho Marx famously said, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member." Here the search for where you belong is not just a horizon you can never reach, but one you don't want to. As the world changes around NASA, there is no lack of similar questioning – what is … Continue reading NASA – join the club?
Two recent NASA reports, a study in contrasts. Are there two NASAs here? "What if we modified the main deflector to emit an inverse tachyon pulse, that might scan beyond the subspace barrier." In a pinch to explain something complex? Use technobabble, courtesy of Star Trek (TNG). Remember, there is no limit to the functionality … Continue reading Two reports, two NASAs?
It's over. They worked out an agreement. The boss stuck his head into the conference room to make the announcement. Judging from the look on everyone's face, clearly, there was some confusion. Interrupting our meeting and just blurting out late-breaking news does this. How could it be over when we were just getting started? February … Continue reading It ain’t over till it’s over
I ordered a book 972 pages long - by mistake. The heft was intimidating, yet it was so enjoyable it is among my fastest reads in recent years. At its heart, "XX – a Novel, Graphic" by Rian Hughes is a book about ideas, but these are as real and solid as ourselves and our … Continue reading A book review – “XX” by Rian Hughes
It was only some years ago I wandered upon the word “wonk” or “wonkish” as a reference to someone diving too much into obscure details. It's implied, annoyingly too much. First come the numbers, then come the graphs. The predictable debate comes right along – does X cause Y, or is it the other way … Continue reading Are you happy, on average?
Analogies. Everyone loves a good analogy, all the better when they cut right into the heart of a matter. Our space biz is not immune to the allure of analogies, chock full of complex backstories, technology, and eccentricities just begging to be simplified. Though when it's oh so clear, it's probably oversimplified. Elsewhere, the analogies … Continue reading Breaking the speed of analogies
Predictably, reports by committees read like a meeting with a few people speaking all at once. Why say something simply when saying it five ways keeps every contributor happy their suggested sentence remained intact? Yet even with this expectation going in, this year's NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) report is a refreshing read, saying … Continue reading A review of the ASAP review of NASA
The idea: How each step we explore beyond Earth can only happen if the previous step gets cheaper. I must back-track and unbury the lede from my previous post. Especially as we start the new year and NASA's budget continues at 2021 levels for 2022 (in beltway-talk, congress passed a "continuing resolution.") This idea, in the … Continue reading Unburying the lede