Here's the latest on space, and my opinions on it...
This is the legacy site, with blog
entries from November, 2004 through June, 2011.
Updates after June 9, 2011 can be found at http://spacewhatnow.com/SWN
Sunday, July 30, 2006
I Passed 8th Grade Science!
The Bad Astronomer
2:44 pm est
pointed me to a website where I could check my science knowledge. As He points out, there are some typos and headscratchers
in the questions, but I'd be curious as to how well the average American would do on the test.
You Passed 8th Grade Science
Congratulations, you got 8/8 correct!
Saturday, July 29, 2006
How do YOU Define the "Doneness" of a Reusable Rocket?
5:24 pm est
Given that Orbital Sciences has teamed up with Rocketplane Kistler
, I've been poking around Rocketplane Kistler's website
, and came across their claim that the craft is 75% built. Sounds great, doesn't it? Yet the graphic
(Acrobat required) shows a viewgraph version of a cartoon rocket with real pictures of components that are either flight
tested or validated separately summing to 75%.
I contend that the last 25% (or maybe the last 5%) of the construction is the hardest part, and what really counts. I remember
an old addage in software engineering (maybe it's applied elsewhere, but I haven't heard it): "95% of the work takes 95%
of the time. The last 5% takes another 95% of the time."
Further discussion on the topic here
Friday, July 28, 2006
Oh the CEV is a Changin'
5:58 pm est
(sung to the lyrics of Dylan's "oh the times they are a changin'")
It's amazing what a day off does for posting ability.
I found this
at NASASpaceflight, talking about the latest redesign of the CEV, making the service module smaller and some other weight-saving
changes. I find it interesting that there's talk of switching to the upper stage engine on the Delta II, when there was originally
an uproar over using engines from uncrewed vehciles. The engine in question, the RS-68, has now been chosen for use on the
Ares V, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
Gold Watchin' it?
This kind of article
3:15 pm est
always strikes me funny. NASA is in a budget hole this year, so they're looking to cut where they can. What's one option
to look into that's sure to bring out headlines? How about cutting science on the International Space Station? Never mind
the fact that ISS research is touted as necessary for the next steps to the moon, Mars and beyond. I don't really buy that
argument, but without it there isn't a solid reason to finish the ISS.
I've heard this approach called "Gold watch-ing" an issue. You offer to give up something very dear to you to show your sincerity
at cost-cutting, yet giving up the item in question doesn't make any sense. Like offering to sell a priceless family heirloom
when money gets tight, even though there are many other items that could go first.
12:19 pm est
I believe I've mentioned before that when I first saw the Ares I
(on the right), or Crew Launch Vehicle, I thought it was a media mistake or some sort of joke. Roll control, stability due
to it's length, and the fact that it just looked goofy were all factors feeding my initial misgivings. I was quickly corrected,
with someone pointing out that, in fact, an SRB-based booster was under consideration. The latest design-revision, making
it even longer, merely reinforced by inital misgivings.
has an article
about an alternative under study. These guys have posted things before and then retracted them, and this idea is listed
as being only in case of "serious problems" with the CLV development. Of course, such a course change would lead to further
I hope that people know more than I do in developing the CLV, that my misgivings are purely those of an uninformed bystander,
but I'm concerned that some new facts are coming to light, leading to this alternative design.
The Chair Force Engineer has more thoughts
, and, being anonymous, he's a little more blunt about it.
Monday, July 24, 2006
New Space Summary
8:33 pm est
Looks like Rand Simberg
had an active internet connection during the conference and took some copious notes. Here are some highlights, though he
covered other sections as well.
Apparently, The Space Frontier Foundation used the conference to announce their new paper, as profiled by
a Space.com article
. The gist of the paper apparently is "Change course now, NASA"
The paper is not available on the web from here
(July 25 entry)
Friday, July 21, 2006
Ready for More Gear Grinding?
10:12 am est
The last time there was a major change in space tourism (when Dennis Tito was training to fly to the space station), NASA
sat, stunned, seemingly of the mindset of "If we ignore it, it will go away." At first they refused to train Mr. Tito, and
at press conferences the repeated statement was "Partners need to work together." Well, it looks like we're getting set up
for another round. Here
is a press release from Space Adventures, saying they're now ready to offer spacewalks to customers. Any thoughts on what
NASA will say?
In other news, besides the Pope still being Catholic, a non-selectee for the COTS contract has some negative things
to say about the selection process.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Continued Light Posting but...
8:25 am est
Between work schedules and my training for the Disney Marathon
, my posting time has been particularly limited. I know, the marathon is in January, but I'm trying to fit training in now
so later potential interruptions in the future are more tollerable.
Anyway, I just spotted this dodad
. Assuming it works as advertised, the Sky Scout
is essentially a space-based star tracker used on satellite, only
you hold it in your hand. When you turn it on, it takes a location fix using GPS, then either identifies whatever you point
it at or takes you on a tour of the 10 coolest things in the sky at that time. Pretty cool.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
A New Moon Rising
9:56 pm est
Looks like Bigelow Aerospace
got a good ride on its retired Russian booster, with inflation and solar array deployment looking good as well. Bigelow's
release is here
. Lots of talk about it here
This has the potential of becoming something big.
Saturday, July 8, 2006
The Space Show: Quick Reference Links
7:43 pm est
I'll be on The Space Show
on Sunday at 3pm ET, along with the artist from I Want to go to Mars
, Marilyn Glass. We'll be discussing the book,
and anything else that may come up. Here are some handy links for some topics we may hit:
6:15 am est
I suppose I've been remiss as a space interest website in not saying something about Discovery's
flight. I was at
work on launch day, and turned on the proceedings on NASA Select, but haven't followed much since.
I'm happy that we're flying again (and, that we appear to plan to continue to fly. I haven't heard about any more "stand
downs" due to foam), but want to see if the nature of the coverage will change. Right now the big focus seems to be "Whew...made
it!" In many ways, this is valid, but the fickle media resorts to this kind of coverage after an accident. After a couple
more flights the tone is likely to change again. Any delays will receive the same treatment as earlier ones, basically saying
"What's wrong with NASA?" Of course, covering all the nuances of that in anything less than an hour-long program would be
a waste of time.
In the meantime, as Shuttle moves towards retirement, NASA and their supporting contractors will have to support continued
operations under more difficult personnel conditions. Working on a program that's moving towards retirement just isn't a
popular choice for most workers.
On an interesting note, I picked up through casual conversation that the new inspection boom
, used to check out the thermal protection system after launch, uses so much bandwidth to download its information that ground antennas
(sample link) have become important again for downloading "other" information. Of course, before the inspection boom came
into use, that "other" information was critical stuff. For me, day to day, this situation translates into one of our ground
stations constantly name dropping their support of "Shuttle" in our setup talks. Amusing, but annoying.
Thursday, July 6, 2006
Another First Image?
7:01 pm est
As frequent readers know, my posting's been light lately. It's likely to remain that way through the end of this month, as
I'm still pulling weird shifts to support GOES 13. Today, we made another step towards checkout of the spacecraft, by releasing
the first public image
from the Solar X-ray Imager
. I'm not sure what I'm looking at (besides the obvious) but the picture looks pretty to me.
Tuesday, July 4, 2006
Book Gone Final
I Want to go to Mars
7:50 pm est
is now in its publicly-releasable form. Click on the book title to purchase, click here
for additional information. The book is only available directly through lulu.com
. Hopefully, other options will come soon.
Space: Search Now! with Google
|Tom and Discovery
|Taken During a Tour of KSC on 6 Oct 2010
|Click on the picture to go to the Mars Society TEMPOł Page
|Solar System Ambassadors
|Click on the image above to see Tom's SSA profile
Email Comments to tom [at]
|Latest book! Click on the cover to purchase
|I Want to go to Mars is a picture book for beginning readers
More information on I Want to go to Mars
can be found in the devoted section
of this web site.
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