Saturday, September 18, 2010

Keep Space Only for Governments says the India Times

This is no joyride in The Times of India.

Manned space missions should only be carried out by agencies and professionals whose job it is to study space. It is only they who clearly understand the risks involved. Governments have a moral responsibility to protect their citizens from businesses that have no qualms about selling a potentially hazardous product.

There are several major problems with the proposition in this article. First, saying space should be left to the government is as ridiculous as saying the sea, land or air should be left to the government. Except that the area of space and the resources in space dwarf those of the sea, land and air combined.

Second, government funded space activity is big, expensive and dangerous because engineering decisions are made for political reasons. Government funded space has become a self justifying jobs program which is not required to actually produce anything and is not designed to actually do so. After 50 years of government funded manned space activity nothing has been done to actually settle and develop space. Not only do we not have Moon bases and space solar power satellites which we could have had if governments had made other choices. Humans have never even grown food in space and cooked it. What could be more basic to settlement, but no government funded manned space program has tried it. I am sure the private companies are planning to once they build permanent structures in space, since plants and animals naturally recycle carbon dioxide and other wastes produced by living humans, in recycling they naturally produce oxygen and food. With launch cost in the thousands of dollars a pound recycling in space is an obvious way to cut costs drastically. Unfortunately governments have never shown real interests in doing so since they are only interested in short term stays of small numbers of people in space.

Third, government has no moral responsibility at all. Government only have responsibility since it insists on taking our resources, government has the responsibility to use those resources for our benefit. Government should never attempt to protect citizens from themselves beyond providing information so they understand the dangers of choices.

Forth, Life without risk is not life. Many in the space movement would rather spend ten minutes in zero-gee or with their feet in Lunar or Martian soil then a millennium stuck on Earth. They have the right to spend their money to do that if they choose. It is their money and their life.

Fifth, The India Times seems unaware that the globe has a capitalist economic system. Even Castro has said communism doesn't work. To limit space to the government would assure that space would never be developed and we will never benefit from the vast resources in space.

Using the dangers and expense of government space activity caused by politicians doing engineering for political purposes such as creating jobs in the right congressional districts to justify keeping space only for governments is the most absurd proposition I have ever seen.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Don't let Pork decide NASA's future

Freeman Dyson: Congress Should Reject H.R. 5781

Freeman Dyson: Congress Should Reject H.R. 5781, Choose “Right Side of History”

The present House bill will delay the time when space can make a greater contribution to our national welfare. The most useful thing this Congress can do to lower the cost of launch is to create a market for space transportation services. The Kelly Act of 1925, which contracted for private air mail delivery, is a successful example. A consequence of the Kelly Act was the development of the DC-3. As students of history note, the commercial DC-3 ( re-designated the C-47) was an important element in winning WWII.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NASA Scientists Talk About Asteroids Passing Near Earth Wednesday


NASA Scientists Talk About Asteroids Passing Near Earth Wednesday

WASHINGTON -- Two asteroids will pass within the moon's distance from Earth on Wednesday, Sept. 8. NASA scientists will be available for satellite interviews Tuesday, Sept. 7, and Wednesday morning to discuss these near- Earth objects.

The Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz., discovered both objects on Sunday, Sept. 5. The Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., reviewed the observations and determined the preliminary orbits. The center's personnel concluded both objects would pass within the distance of the moon to Earth, approximately 240,000 miles. The asteroids should be visible with moderate-sized amateur telescopes.

Neither asteroid will hit Earth. Asteroid 2010 RX30 is estimated to be approximately 32 to 65 feet in size and will pass within approximately 154,000 miles of Earth at 5:51 a.m. EDT Wednesday. The second object, 2010 RF12, estimated to be 20 to 46 feet in size, will pass within approximately 49,000 miles at 5:12 p.m. EDT.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

An Open Letter to President Obama

An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

Your words are visionary but they are not being followed with action by the agencies in your administration. Three agencies in your administration are unwilling to even acknowledge a promising alternative energy source, space solar power. The concept of space solar power has been around for 40 years. Space solar power is the concept of putting large solar collectors in Earth orbit, using wireless power transmission, either microwaves or lasers, to transmit the power to customers on the Earth. This is a truly revolutionary clean source of energy which could be used to obtain nearly limitless amounts of clean, greenhouse gas free power, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week which could easily be exported. Yet space solar power has only gotten a total of $80 million of funding from the US government since the 1970's, none of it in the last decade. The Europeans and Japanese are working on space solar power. The Japanese committing $21 billion to the technology. The Russians, Chinese, and Arabs are also interested in space solar power.

In your speech on June 15, 2010 remarks to the nation on the BP oil spill: "The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny. This is not some distant vision for America. ... Scientists and researchers are discovering clean energy technologies that will someday lead to entire new industries." Yet agencies in your administration are ignoring space solar power, a concept which has only waiting for government attention and commitment to become a new vast new industry which will create millions of jobs, and bring America back to being energy independent and an energy exporter again.

In your April 15th speech at NASA's Kennedy Space Center you said "We will invest in cutting-edge research and technology. We will set far-reaching milestones and provide the resources to reach those milestones." Yet NASA is not investing in a space technology which will push the boundaries of energy technology. NASA's goal should be to become relevant to America's needs. NASA's goal should be to use space and space resources to make the United States not only energy independent, but an energy exporter again. NASA knows space solar power can do this but has chosen a different path for decades.

In your Transparency and Open Government Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, you called for the US government to become transparent, participatory and collaborative. Yet NASA, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Energy are ignoring the results of the Open Government Ideascale. The most popular idea for all of government, for NASA, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and for the Department of Energy-."Space Solar Power Conference - Hold a conference on space solar power which brings together NASA, the Department of Energy, The Department of Commerce, University researchers as well as corporations such as Solaren, PowerSat, Space Energy, Space Island Group, Boeing etc. Also inviting the Japanese, European, Russians and Canadians who are who are working on Space Solar power. The conference would develop ideas on how best to bring this technology to reality. Space solar power offers unlimited, green, base load power. It is now time to turn this futuristic concept into reality with NASA in the lead." Despite the popularity of this idea with the public nothing is being done.

Unfortunately in the United States, Space Solar Power has a policy dilemma, The Department of Energy considers space solar power to be space not energy and NASA considers space solar power to be energy not space. Although NASA is working on biofuels which are clearly energy and not aeronautics or space and the Department of Energy has worked on nuclear power for space applications which is clearly space. The Department of Defense would like space solar power since to would greatly reduce fuel truck causalities but space solar power is definitely not in their mandate. Also the DOD is developing lasers and microwaves for military use so they can not be involved in a civilian program to develop wireless power transmission. Space Solar Power has to fall in some agencies mandate.

As President of the United States your words automatically become national policy, yet your agencies are not following your lead. You have called for the development of clean energy technologies which create new industries yet your agencies will not fund development of space solar power. You have called for agencies to push the boundaries of technology yet the Department of Energy, NASA and the Office of Science and Technology Policy are unwilling. You have called for participatory and collaborative government yet your agencies remain closed to new ideas pushed by the public despite there popularity. Mr. President, please direct you agencies to hold the interagency conference on space solar power, proclaim that one agency is responsible for developing space solar power, and direct funds for space solar power research and development, such as, an end to end systems study, lab work, flight tests and tests from the International Space Station, followed by a space solar power pilot plant able to generate power in the megawatt range. Now is the time for the United States to seize the day and develop space solar power and secure our future freedom and prosperity.

Karen Cramer Shea
Space Solar Power Information Service

How Far Have We Fallen?

How far have we fallen in terms of exploration when NASA's Newest Exploration Analog is miners trapped in a cave? How about we explore by studying people in prison?