It’s a struggle not to write or talk in NASA-speak, a bad habit picked up from years of intensive training. Even with the name I chose for this writing space, plain English must rule. Still, before a next post picking up where I left off, here is an aside on how we laughed at some … Continue reading The flow managers glossary
First there was a forest, then just a smattering of trees, and finally just this one tree. On a specific day, at a specific time, someone came to the last tree. Maybe they paused. Then they chopped it down too. This is a version of the tragedy of the commons, a parable where incentives create … Continue reading Commercial space and six questions for a good story – Pt. 2 of 3 (wonkish)
In 2006 NASA went down a rather new path to get cargo to the International Space Station. No one could have imagined the end was so near for the dogma of space exploration as an expensive, exclusively government affair. Suddenly, getting cargo to the ISS meant inside baseball lingo about firm fixed price contracts and … Continue reading Commercial space and six questions for a good story – Pt. 1 of 3 (wonkish)
The reward is everyone's ability to go further. It’s not every day you are told your choices are not yours alone. Last year’s 2020 Space Council report did just this. NASA’s deep space exploration and the US commercial space sector are linked. The report was clear, a commercial space economy is “necessary” for NASA’s deep … Continue reading NASA’s human spaceflight strategy, sustainability and growth
Read the signs. There is a temptation to check off “sustainable” as a project feature merely because it appears to be likely to persist. Rather than this semi-circular definition, grappling with what is truly sustainable can move sideways. For one, sustainable space exploration and development can move to a measurable engineering feature - reusability. How … Continue reading Reusability, priceless.
Oddly, one of the first books given to me when I arrived at NASA was for acronyms. Not what systems did or how they worked. Not flowrates. That would come later. First, acronyms. NASA had so many new things needing new words that it had turned grouping words together into an art. Somehow using only … Continue reading Sustainability and Space Exploration
If everything we want is cheap, but everything we need is expensive, which is NASA? It was the late 90’s and everyone was so happy to hear the budget would remain flat, because after all, flat was the new up. A lot has happened since. Glancing at NASA’s recent budgets seems to show good times … Continue reading NASA’s (really) declining budget
Blue sky ahead. My job with NASA always meant looking ahead. Today I can’t help but look back. I am now retired, which I find an odd mix of calm, caffeinated and a sense “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.” I arrived at Kennedy Space Center in 1988, a wonderful world of huge machines, … Continue reading Technology stagnation and NASA – problem and opportunity