A paper of mine was published last week in the New Space Journal, “Ingredients and Anticipated Results for Characterizing and Assessing NASA and U.S. Department of Defense Partnerships and Commercial Programs.” Yes, that’s a mouthful. I often write about what’s next for NASA, the commercial space sector, and how these must move ahead together. My … Continue reading A checklist for commercial space and NASA
NASA press releases often come and go where the world is left to ponder a message one step removed from chicken bones strewn on the floor-mat. If it’s not the acronyms, it’s the lingo or the leaning to put out only the facts, not what they mean. But if NASA ever buried the lede, it … Continue reading Starships mean gas stations in space, and so much more
Graphs with a lot of space launch data can be a bit of a Rorschach test, including the part about seeing angels or demons. The lonely data point, on the other hand, is easy to employ to jump to about any answer, and nowadays, there is no lack of these unique space sector events. In … Continue reading Commercial launch trends – what do you see?
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
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
"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
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
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
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?
Before “commercial space” there was “cost-plus space”. It was in this Byzantine world that whistle blower Ernie Fitzgerald said back in the 1960s “There are only two phases of a program. The first is ‘It’s too early to tell.’ The second ‘It’s too late to stop.’” While today’s trending topics in space exploration are about … Continue reading Revisiting commercial space and NASA
On my shelves sits a childhood book “Planets and Spaceflight” published in 1957 by General Mills. The front cover is “Planets” and the rear “Spaceflight”, full of vivid descriptions and beautiful artwork of so many places to go and how we will get there. The publisher being best known for Cheerios leaves me sure the … Continue reading What’s old is new again – more on refueling in space
Range anxiety was invented by NASA. Well, perhaps not (or Velcro), but space exploration gives new meaning to an obsessive awareness of how much further you can go when there is not a charger on every corner. Now imagine that feeling in outer space, or back on the ground watching your spacecraft, not just for … Continue reading The rise, fall and rise again of refueling – in space