Space: Burt Rutan, Gene Krantz, Rick Tumlinson
After going to the Xprize last year, somehow I missed Burt Rutan's remarks
Over the last 25 years it has become increasingly, increasingly obvious that the kids who dream—and I consider myself still a kid—that they can go up and see these views [of Earth from space] have diminishing hope, diminishing dreams. I look at all those little kids who are excited about going to space and who want to be an astronaut: there are a lot of them still out there, but you look at them and think, “What am I going to tell them? What are his chances?”
I'm loving The Space show
podcasts. Yesterday I listened to podcasts of Ed Buckbee
and of legendary flight engineer, Gene Krantz
. Krantz has such a authoritative, reassuring voice - he could run my mission control anytime - and points to all the good things that happened on the flight test of the Discovery earlier this year
I understand the tragedy inherent in risk-taking; I witnessed the fire aboard Apollo that killed its three crew members. It filled us with anger at ourselves and with the resolve to make it right. [...] Does the "quit now" crowd really believe that abandoning the shuttle and International Space Station is the way to keep America the pre-eminent space-faring nation? Do they really believe that a new spacecraft will come without an engineering challenge or a human toll? The path the naysayers suggest is so out of touch with the American character of perseverance, hard work and discovery that they don't even realize the danger in which they are putting future astronauts. Not to mention our nation.
Gene still believes NASA can do the job. Others don't. There's been a bunch of good op-eds in the space press this past week - Rick Tumlinson, full of vitrol
I humbly [ha! ed] offer a couple of observations and ideas for what to do next. First, regarding the so-called Apollo on steroids (or as I call Apollo old, fat and ugly): It's dead Mike. That horse won't run. That dog won't hunt. The fat lady has sung. Or, to bring it closer to space, I'll quote Bill Paxton in the film Aliens: "Game over man!"
The bloated, business as usual, cost-plus, pork-based, design-bureau use-it-and-throw-it-away approach to space is a failure. The excitement and momentum that might have existed when the president aimed us toward the Moon, Mars and beyond has been squandered. It has been worn down by the dumping of vision in favor of pork, and the jettisoning of the President and Aldridge Commission's declarations that frontier infrastructure building based on commercial enterprise is a prime goal.
And Jeff Bell chimes in with a detailed analysis that I'd link to if I could find it this morning. Bell has become something of a beta noir of the alt.space community, his articles spark debate (to say the least!). Jon Goff has a detailed counter-proposal
And the Russians claim to be able to make the moon for $2b
Whatever the heck we do in space, let's make it right
. I like the gathering support for a fuel dump
as the next interim goal of interplanetary flight... and I wish all the rocketheads would pay more attention to momentum-exchange tethers...
I've had occasion
today, as I figure out what charity to donate to this christmas season, to reflect on the words of Davy Crockett, regarding the use of public money
. [...] I proposed to give a week's pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men-men who think nothing of spending a week's pay, or a dozen of them, for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased-a debt which could not be paid by money-and the insignificance and worthlessness of money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000, when weighed against he honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it."