Saying the universe is vast is an understatement, though it sounds better than saying we have no idea about the nature or extent of everything we have no idea about. These are not your project’s unknown unknowns. This is where words fail. Recently, NASA revealed the first images from its James Webb Space Telescope. If … Continue reading Is this now?
Frustration oozes from the pages of “Escaping Gravity,” and rightly so. Seemingly at odds, but only if you’re not in the business of space exploration, there is also a determination to carry on and leave a positive impact throughout the memoir of Lori Garver, Deputy NASA Administrator from 2009 to 2013. If you have come … Continue reading A book review – “Escaping Gravity” by Lori Garver
Some years after the loss of Columbia in 2003, one of our interns focused on NASA's spaceflight supply chain. Naturally, if you're talking about a topic, he figured it would be a good idea to start with a definition of what he'd learned. "The NASA spaceflight supply chain is a bunch of groups and organizations," … Continue reading On the matter of NASA, supply chains, and time
“We have one data point. All we need is one more and we can draw a line.” This was one of our many meetings where we dwelled on lessons learned, the Space Shuttle, and what’s next in reusable launch. As far as jokes go, at least for number crunchers, this was a good one. Except … Continue reading Mind the gap
A curious thing happened along the way collecting data about rockets and spacecraft to see what patterns emerged over time. This week I published the mid-year “State of Play,” an assortment of graphs mainly, driven by the belief a picture does so much more to communicate than rows or columns or endless bullets on a … Continue reading The problems we want to have
If NASA commercial space is a thing, how much of a thing is it? Numbers can help provide part of an answer, but not all of the story. For that, we need context about NASA’s commercial programs, the rest of NASA, and the world in which NASA lives. Also, there is the 3rd law, where … Continue reading NASA commercial space, the 16%
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