Wayne Hale dropped a memorial piece this week. As he sees it, Americans sin by playing imported video games and doing finance. We’re pissing on the graves of dead astronauts with our dull everydayness. Fortunately, we can atone for our shortsightedness simply by tossing billions more at an agency that has spent $1 trillion and killed three crews in the pursuit of…well, six people in lower Earth orbit and a handful of day trips to the moon.
Mike Kelly submitted two patents in 1997 and 2000 detailing a tow to launch architecture. Dryden teamed up with KST in the late 1990s for Eclipse, which demonstrated the concept’s fundamental soundness for existing lifting bodies in the subsonic regime. KST (or a descendent team after it went belly up) pursued the X-Prize, lost, and apparently reconstituted under new management. Not sure what happened to Mike Kelly, or who owns the patents.
In any case, is there any particular reason why tow-to-launch hasn’t been explored more vigorously? Not sure what the cost of the Eclipse test was, but the follow on contract went for $1.2 million at the time. Isn’t this the sort of potentially low-cost, high trial rate approach to a problem that produces breakthroughs?
The latest (maybe last?) entry makes the case for the Moon’s superiority over asteroids as an immediate source of extraterrestrial resources.
Here’s the first two posts (Part 1, Part 2) in Paul Spudis’ new series, “Destination: Moon or Asteroid.” Part 3 promises to touch on resource utilization, though no word on whether it concerns mission specific ISRU to support exploration of the outer system or broader exploitation for future human settlement.
The press release:
Astrobotic Technology Inc. today announced it has signed a contract with SpaceX to launch Astrobotic’s robotic payload to the Moon on a Falcon 9. The expedition will search for water and deliver payloads, with the robot narrating its adventure while sending 3D video. The mission could launch as soon as December 2013.
The Falcon 9 upper stage will sling Astrobotic on a four-day cruise to the Moon. Astrobotic will then orbit the moon to align for landing. The spacecraft will land softly, precisely and safely using technologies pioneered by Carnegie Mellon University for guiding autonomous cars. The rover will explore for three months, operate continuously during the lunar days, and hibernate through the lunar nights. The lander will sustain payload operations with generous power and communications.
Blood libel. Glenn Reynolds couldn’t have picked a better term (incidentally, the day after someone else did). Conservative bloggers quickly latched on to the war cry while liberals, either oblivious or uninterested in the challenge, petulantly carried on about gun control and the Fairness Doctrine. That is until a certain someone got in front of a camera and drove the dumb bastards into an all too predictable frenzy.
But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
“That…that bitch! How dare she!” And within hours, we were inundated by:
- endless unsolicited history lessons on the origins of the term (seriously, in the age of Wikipedia we’re still doing this?),
- the ridiculous theory that her speech, which mentions not one attack hurled her way, was nevertheless all about her,
- the insistence that Palin somehow doesn’t get something, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Palin wasn’t the target.
Now that Palin’s called a spade a spade (she’s reloaded, as they’re putting it), we’re to pretend that this is nothing more than a little bit inside baseball between a “polarizing” politician and the media that makes bank on her ups and downs. But that’s a lie. Before Palin spoke, she wasn’t the target. The bastards whining in the aftermath of Palin’s speech spent a weekend smearing those “who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food, and run our factories, and fight our wars.“
The coastal pansies are afraid of Palin. She and a new crop of national conservatives have no interest in instructing the unwashed middle to forgive and forget. And that’s why Palin calling their “blood libel” for what it is has them running scared. Palin’s constituency is the one that drives the economy, that feeds the cities, and most importantly holds the lion share of of both privately owned and government issued firearms. Defiance and anger may not be enough to get to the White House, but it’s damned useful at drawing a line the Left dare not cross.