Baking is not cooking, the same way rocketry is not flight. Or at least, that would be a first impression, to constantly hear about the extreme precision required to get to orbit or anywhere after. In contrast, right after takeoff, an airplane can lose an engine, or even both, only to glide along and land … Continue reading Rocketry – is it more like baking, or cooking?
It’s not surprising to see studies again showing optimism can help us live longer. There is a circularity here. Any news about being optimistic and living longer promising to live on quite a while. Good memes, by definition, persist, going from trending to chitchat, back to studies, and then appearing again in the news. There is … Continue reading NASA, aerospace, and optimism – in search of the right setting
It was my pleasure to be interviewed by Dr. Fermin Romero Vazquez on this week's "Cafe Espacial." We covered space technology, economics, public policy, partnerships, NASA, advanced projects, space exploration, opportunities, Latin America, and more. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8cSdX-oLdo Click to view it on Youtube.
Recently, a SpaceX Starship ran into a setback that’s been ongoing for a couple of years now – tile popping off. We get to see all this, as SpaceX runs a very open program, much of Starship taking place in the sights of a paparazzi of cameras and drones. We see that sticking protective tile on … Continue reading About Starships, and the (not what you think) reusability we need
The first Martian to visit Earth is a young boy, a twist on visiting the old country of your parents. To him, Earth is a distant place, with an odd blue sky, and sparking some anxiety. This was the premise of a short film at the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex in the early 1990s, … Continue reading Of Starships and spaceplanes, and roads less traveled
"Would Boeing make a bet like that again, on a low-cost space launch vehicle," asked our team leader. Suddenly, thirty or so people burst into a tower of babel, everyone talking at once as if a spark set off a conflagration. Mostly the cacophony of replies leaned toward "no," or jumped right into statements - … Continue reading Financial risks, spaceflight, and the questions we ask
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?