"We went to the Moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians." --Edgar Mitchell

"We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth." --William Anders

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Eulogy

On Monday, the world lost a master bard and we will be forever changed. Anne McCaffrey, author of The Dragonriders of Pern, The Rowan, The Ship Who Sang, and around 100 other works of fiction, died of a massive stroke at her home Dragonhold-Underhill in Ireland. She was 85 years old, and …

Monday, July 11, 2011

Letter to Congressmen Regarding NASA Budget Cuts

     Photo Credit: Associated Press

I'm postponing working on my entry about my trip to see the last shuttle launch, because something much more pressing came up.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Hundred Year Spaceship... ON CRACK

I was reading an interesting article involving the shifting of tectonic plates, and it got me thinking: what if one person were somehow able to see the before and after?

So... I really don't want to do the math (and I can, just so we're clear), but I'm fairly certain that there is no way that a single person could last that long, even taking into account relativistic speeds. But let's pretend anyways, okay? Either we're bending the laws of physics so that this hypothetical person(s) could go faster, we're imagining a world with true anti-aging medicine, or we're dealing with some kinda wizard (or Methuselah).

Can you imagine what it would be like to return to a world literally transformed? Not just society, but the face of the planet. I suppose recognition would hinge on what part of the world was seen first; if our Methuselah saw the North and South American continents first, recognition would be relatively easy - they are the same shape, after all. But then, after a moment, uneasiness would set in... There are islands there that shouldn't be. And Antarctica is just... wrong. As more of the surface is seen, it would become painfully obvious that this is not the world that was left behind; same physical planet, but everything would be different. Too much time had passed.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Priorities, or Why Congressional Budgets Are Bogus

Organizing my thoughts when politics is involved feels a lot like organizing rocks. Or herding cats. Which is a rather appropriate metaphor for the whole charade, I suppose. The biggest contribution that politics has to the space program, at least once we really got started, is that Congress is where the funding comes from. Which also happens to be my biggest problem with politics.

I imagine this'll turn into a rant on the perceived cost of the space program versus the actual cost of the space program. I know that this has been covered before by other people, but I like to do my own number checking.

So let's establish some facts about the cost of the space program, shall we? NASA's budget for 2011 was just under $19 billion. Compared to your average household income, that's quite a lot!! But remember, there are 307 million people in the United States (you can find this out with a Google search), which amounts to about $62 a year per person. But that's counting dependents and those without income, so let's just look at households: with about 115 million households, that's $165 a household per annum. That's still quite a lot, but amounts to about half a dollar a day, per household. Most of those I know who are passionate about space would gladly pay twice that or much, much more! It would certainly cost less than the gaming habits of some people I know.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Reading Between the Orbital Lines

I read an article/press release/whatever on what's next for NASA today, and I have a few thoughts on it:

First, I love that it was made perfectly clear that NASA is still in the business of manned spaceflight and exploration.  I can't tell you how frustrating it is to hear people say "oh, well, NASA's not going to have a manned spaceflight program after the shuttle retires."  Uh?  HELLO!?  There are still American astronauts, employed by NASA, on the International Space Station.  Right now, that defines our manned spaceflight, as the shuttle has basically served as a high profile ferry to this orbital laboratory.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Priorities, or Why We Can't Take Education For Granted

Let's just get this out in the open:  I think we should colonize other worlds, and I think we should do it yesterday.  There is no greater aspiration that I have than to facilitate the beginning of a diaspora of the human race to the rest of the solar system, and even (or especially) beyond.  Perhaps "trickle" would be a better word than diaspora, though, to begin with.

And that's all I feel I need to say about that, if all that stood in the way was the engineering.

Except that there are so many other things that go into such a feat.  Some things I can think of off the top of my head are education, politics (unfortunately), and public interest.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Brass Tacks

You know, I'd always thought the phrase was "brass tax."  And that made sense to me; I mean, when you get down to the real business of things, that's what pays the bills, and I'd always associated the phrase with that concept.  But I digress.

I seem to have figured out how to make the imaginary people that read my blog less imaginary, and more real.  Before I wrote my last entry, I had a grand total of eight page views, EVER.  And most of those were probably myself (I have since turned THAT off).  You can see why I thought, and will still think, for the most part, that you are imaginary.  Five hours after I posted the last entry, I had about 25 views!!  Real people!  Some of them possibly German (although that may have had something to do with my surname).  Internet "popularity" is heady.  (I've never had more than three people read any one thing that I've written, so this is huge.)  Let's let it go to my head, shall we?

But back on topic: now that I have the nitty-gritty business of introducing myself out of the way, I can turn my attention to other things.  As in why I am actually throwing this nonsense into the internet?  Doesn't it already have enough of its own? Well maybe I like the noise.  But there's also more to it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Fresh Start

I have decided to restart this blog (well, mostly). Even though no one reads it, I decided I wanted to go a different direction with it, and there weren't very many posts to begin with. I left the most recent entry because it explains a lot about me, and why I do what I do.

So this fresh start gets to launch with a little bit of an introduction, oh Imaginary Reader. Which probably means I'll end up telling you more about who I want to be than who I actually am. I suppose we'll have to start with the facts, and go from there: