January in space
Biggest news of last week was New Horizons
got launched. I awaited the launch with decidedly mixed emotions. (I didn't watch the launch, I watched the first two scrubs while I thought about them. The metaphysical relationship between me watching launches and their actual launch rate is getting to me. I'm not going to watch the Feb 8th Falcon 1 launch for this reason)
Pluses: great test of the Atlas V, nice spacecraft, well done mission.
Minuses: Billions spent. Very low data rate. 10 years of planning, years of development, 9 years of mission before the first result comes in, years and years of analysis - of Pluto!! - a rock so distant that we'll not do anything more useful with it for a hundred years - a body that I consider to be just a wayward, very cold asteroid...
While waiting through the launch delays I kept thinking what I could do with an Atlas V and the same amount of fuel - notably - launch 16 identical Near Earth Asteroid explorers - have preliminary results at high data rates back inside of 12 months for each explorer - then go onto another asteroid, and another, and another...
With that one launch, and in less than 5 years, we could do a complete survey of EVERY known asteroid spectral class in our local neighborhood, of asteroids rich in the materials of life (carbon/water) and of commerce and construction (nickel and iron) Instead, we twiddle our thumbs spending 9 years going to asteroid Pluto.
At least NASA didn't have the gall to keep calling the probe "Pluto Express". That piece of marketing claptrap really stuck in my craw. Wake me up in 9 years, I look forward to seeing the pictures of the icy thing.
I note that I'd settle for a couple secondary payloads on cheaper rockets of near earth asteroid explorers. Less risk and cost and more targets that way. But, man, am I jealous of that Atlas V.
Over at Chair Force Engineer: The Crew Launch Vehicle has run into some problems...
Yep. My principal criticism of "the Stick" is simply that we could buy manned launches from the Russians forever without even touching the principal for what it's going to cost to develop a new manned launcher.
Elsewhere - The Europeans are apparently buying into kliper
. I don't know what to think about that.
doing a lot of things right, COTS for example
. I especially love how basic and non-glossy the COTS web site is. To me - that means business.
Lastly, Stardust landed, making the fastest re-entry ever. Another kudo for NASA.
I really, really wish that the parts of NASA I like could be separated from the parts of NASA I don't.
Labels: asteroids, nasa, space
Catching up on 2006
Another week, no blogs from me.
I'm so busy working on some space related engineering that writing about anything pales by comparison. And... I can't write about what I'm doing, 'cause it's confidential. I don't feel like writing about anything else...
Busy. Busy. Busy. I'm trying to get enough work done to take a vacation next month. I have a backlog so big that even if I took on no additional assignments, I'd still be swamped in April. I'm also redoing my bathroom. (aformentioned vacation may well be spent laying tile and catching up on work)
I still haven't finished my (fairly long) retrospective on last year. The plus was that I finally got Dragon Dictate to work on Linux under wine, which makes generating large amounts of a first draft easy. I got a good ways along and then misplaced my Dragon Dictate license key. !@#!@ license keys and the windows world. Yuck. Either I find the key or I spend another 200 bucks.
I have switched to consuming my daily dose of blogs via RSS newsreader. The pluses: I am saving on many mental context switches a day in favor of one big mainlined dose of blogs at the same time - easily giving me back 10 hrs a week of useful time.
(my dad told me recently that he'd long thought me crazy for getting all my news via USENET and the web - and confessed he was getting all his news from the web now. I didn't have the heart to tell him I was getting all my news via RSS)
The minuses: The lack of context on the "article lumps" I get via RSS is disconcerting. I think I'm definately going to change my own blogging style. The RSS tool I have is great for reading blogs but not so hot for writing new ones.
Infuriated after I lost my last post, I started doing was setting up wordpress on my own server and fiddling with templates (why, oh, why, do 99% of templates fix your screen display to 800x600 and 1024x768? An online posting should look good at 320x200 and at 1600x1200). So this blog may be moving the day after I get a template I like going.
But I gotta write to stay healthy and clean my mind. Since it's 4AM and I have a suspicion that I might be awake for a while, here goes: