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It’s a MAE MAE MAE MAE MAE MAE World…. November 26, 2010

Posted by shubber in Manned Space, military, NASA, public service announcement, space, space tourism, Uncategorized.
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4 comments

A recent article in TheStar.com discusses how space may be the first frontier for the next major conflict. By major conflict I assume one in which the US is engaged with another world power and not the sort of massively asymmetric warfare we are engaged in in the Iraq & Afghanistan.

Thinking through how a conflict might unfold – there are lots of scenarios that could potentially lead to the start of a shooting war between the major powers, such as China finally getting around to trying to “take back” Formosa (maybe they haven’t updated their maps to call it Taiwan..?) – the issue of how it starts is less relevant; what is more relevant is what might happen next.

China’s ASAT “test” (some prefer to call it demonstration) where they blew one of their own defunct weather satellites into smithereens was IMO the modern day equivalent of what the US and USSR did back in the 50s and  60s before the test ban treaty – a show of force that “we have nukes, too” just in case the other side had somehow forgotten about the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

Critics immediately decried the test/demonstration as irresponsible due to the cloud of debris that it immediately generated. There are currently over 600,000 pieces of debris floating around the Earth according to ESA, the remnants of satellite launches, debris from collisions, the occasional intentional destruction a la the ASAT test/demonstration, etc.  Our friends at NASA are currently tracking many of these to help keep our satellites, rockets, ISS, and astronauts safer.

So now I propose that a new doctrine is in play – one that supercedes the MAD doctrine (because c’mon, no one REALLY expects us to go nuclear against each other in this day and age, so those weapons are effectively just expensive museum pieces).  I call this the doctrine of:

Mutually Assured Exclusion (MAE)

The problem is that, unlike MAD, this doctrine is not well known or possibly actually factored into policy thinking as it should be – the fact that we already have 600,000+ pieces of debris is clear evidence of our lack of foresight and planning when it comes to littering the space around our planet.  But it is something that we must discuss now, in the context not simply of reducing debris from launches and other non-conflict-related space activity, but rather in relation to what might happen in a real conflict involving members of the space faring club on opposing sides (i’m going to ignore for the moment the scenarios of the “rogue nation” launching a nuke into orbit in some Dr. Evil-like plot to destabilize the world).

If we were to get into a shooting war with another major power, the first thing that the “weaker” of the two would do is to level the playing field as much as possible – in this case, by taking out our space-based superiority.  After all, depriving the US of GPS and spaced based imagery capabilities would have a non-trivial impact on our ability to wage a war “over there”.  Think Kirk entering the Mutara Nebula.   (“We daren’t follow them into the nebula, Sir! …. Our weapons would be useless!”)  Granted, you may still have a general or admiral who will cry, “Full Power! Damn You!”, but I doubt it.

 

Whatever the results of the shooting war on the ground, one effect that I haven’t heard much talk, but should be of supreme concern especially to those in the alt.space community, is that of MAE – the debris field created through the targeted destruction of numerous satellites could dwarf what is out there right now and make access to space virtually impossible for a long time.  If you thought they had it tough in the Millenium Falcon going through the asteroid field, you have no idea….

 

Propellant Depot Facts On The Space Show September 28, 2010

Posted by drspaceshow in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Propellant Depot Facts On The Space Show

September 7 and 23, 2010

For those interested in propellant depot facts, I would like to call your attention to two recent Space Show programs:

1.  Sept. 7, 2010 featuring Guest Dan Adamo who addressed not only depot facts, but the flight and orbital dynamics associated with depots.  You can hear this program at http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1420-BWB-2010-09-07.mp3.  You can read the write-up for this program at www.thespaceshow.com.  Go to the program dated Sept. 7, 2010. Comments about this program are welcome at the Space Show Blog at http://thespaceshow.blogspot.com

2.  The second program I suggest is a Space Show Classroom program that was aired on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010.  The featured guests included Dan Adamo, Dallas Bienhoff and co-hosts Dr. Jim Logan of NASA JSC and Dr. John Jurist.  You can learn more about this program and read the listener comments on The Space Show Classroom blog at http://spaceshowclassroom.wordpress.com/.  You can listen to this Classroom discussion at http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1428-BWB-2010-09-23.mp3.

For those of you interested in orbital propellant depots in various locations, these two programs should clarify and add to your factual understanding of issues facing depots, their locations, economics, and more.

Dr. David Livingston, Host

The Space Show (www.thespaceshow.com)

We’ll apologize when we’re wrong January 5, 2010

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
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15 comments

See, see the determined sky
Marvel at its big crap brown depths.
Tell me, Karl do you
Wonder why the hairless cat ignores you?
Why its foobly stare
makes you feel dazed.
I can tell you, it is
Worried by your felgercarb facial growth
That looks like
A mold.
What’s more, it knows
Your frak potting shed
Smells of snot.
Everything under the big determined sky
Asks why, why do you even bother?
You only charm a baby’s dirty diapers.

As for Masten making the cover of Aviation Week – good for him.  Seriously.

As for those of you who think this “proves us wrong” somehow in our awarding of the Walking Eagle to MASTEN SPACE (and not Dave) back in 2008, kindly take a class or three in reading comprehension before your next visit to the magic kingdom known as the World Wide Web.

We gave them the Eagle, if you recall, for touting commercial capabilities/products/services IN THE PRESENT TENSE on their corporate website. And while they scored a great coup last year, those commercial capabilities/products/services STILL DO NOT EXIST.

Since i don’t expect we’ll receive an apology from those comment lice who inhabit other space websites, i’ll have to fall back on my emo space poetry.  And you thought Vogon poetry was bad…

Thanksgiving – and a (sort of) farewell November 27, 2009

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
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6 comments

Many (or few, depending on how many people visit this blog from time to time…) of you have i’m sure noticed a significant drop off of posts on this blog over the last few months. While i can’t speak for my fellow Cynics, I can at least provide some clarity as to why my own activity has diminished in this arena.

At first, it was the transition in my role at my real day job, which added a great deal of responsibility to my work life, and thus little time for blogging about space issues.

Then it was work on my backyard, as I was relandscaping and it took up a big chunk of my summer.

Then there is the startup company that i’m busy building with a few close friends/colleagues (more on that in a future post when it’s ready for primetime).

Then it was the birth of our twins (boy and girl) which has made the past few months a bit of a blur (they are 11 weeks as of this morning!).

This morning, after a multi month hiatus I visited the Space Politics blog that Jeff Foust has maintained for a good long time – a very useful place to go if you are interested in following the real drivers of space development in the US (his tagline about the most important orbit being inside the beltway is spot on).  I read a couple of posts and the comment sections for each, and it hit me:

I’ve been rationalizing.

The real reason I don’t spend much time blogging is, frankly, I’m tired of space.  I left the industry ten years ago because I realized that nothing changes, that it’s driven by hidden agendas, incessant sniping, lack of real executive leadership, and fueled in part by gullible outsiders who are regularly schnookered by the snake oil salesmen in our midst (and we all know who they are). That no one in power is willing to honestly discuss the real issues, but instead we have commission after commission that ignore the main reasons for the current structure of NASA and the “big space” industry (hint: jobs and votes) that will prevent them from doing anything meaningful in manned space.  That there is no compelling reason to go to Mars, the Moon, or an asteroid RIGHT NOW – and that  latest version of the argument that  “I think that the survival of humanity is a good rationale for why we must become spacefaring” which is now coming from within NASA is just moronic on so many levels.

What disappointed me as well was that, when I read the comment section at Space Politics, I had a sense of deja vu.  Except it wasn’t a sense – it was real.  I’d seen this before.  At the Advocates Board that the SFF used to run, and at other boards before that.  The nature of the discourse had devolved into ahe-said/she-said cacophony, something that in past space community board meltdowns was driven by particular religious-like beliefs about specific technologies or programs (SSTO vs TSTO, for example) but in the current form is now more akin to what we see in the broader world between the right/left wing echo chambers.  Is this really what the level of dialog in our community has come to?  If so, I can sum it up in one word:

Sad.

I/we have blogged on so many of the major themes out there – from RLVs (needed) to Space Elevators (crack-inspired fantasy) to Space Solar Power (great idea, but a LONG way away for reasons that most don’t want to bother themselves with, as anyone who visits the Howard Bloom thursday night love fest could see) to.. you get the idea.

I have little interest in blogging about the same issues over again – you can get my perspective from simply going into the archives.

Which brings me to the fundamental point: life is too short.

I have many things to be thankful for – the addition of our children to our family being the most recent (and best).  When I look at how I want to spend the time I have in this world – the calculus is simple.  Space is a waste of my time, making the world a better place for my children, spending real time with them (as I type this my daughter is sleeping on my lap), and doing the things I love is what matters to me.

As I have told many people in conferences past when I was fortunate enough to have a chance to present – you can replace virtually anything. My father long ago told me to get as much education as possible, because it was the one thing you couldn’t lose – and with it you could always start afresh.  Time is the only thing you can’t ever get back (note to those of you working on time travel: good luck, and let me know if you succeed…).  So make the most of the time you have.

I have my close friends, my friends, and my acquaintances in the space industry – and I will keep in touch with all of you. And please do keep in touch with me.

I may from time to time, if truly inspired, come back and post another entry here at the blog.

Good luck to you all in whatever endeavors you choose to pursue.

Definition of a cynic October 31, 2009

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
2 comments

A cynic points to the reality which others wish to ignore.

- Ambrose Bierce

 

There’s a whole lot of ignorance in the newspace community…. just go read the recent email threads at mapcom, advocates, or the ever hilarious self-appointed “Space Development Steering Committee”.

I swear, this guy is one of us August 3, 2009

Posted by Thomas Olson in CRATS, hot air, investment, offworlding, space tourism, Wasting Money.
2 comments

Much love to Cynic-in-waiting Paul Contursi, who offered us this very cynical take on on-orbit refueling by Rob Coppinger. Equally entertaining are the comments.

CRATS, solved June 26, 2009

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
1 comment so far

kudos to the Money Cynic for passing over this truly cheap, reliable, access to space approach…  although the “astronauts” should have brought their space suits.

CRATS

Domo Arigato, Selene June 23, 2009

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Watch the video.  Very cool HD imagery of Selene’s final descent to the lunar surface.

THE SPACE SHOW AND OLD SPACE CADET RESPOND TO MATT’S APRIL 28, 2009 POST REQUESTING WHAT POSITIVE ACTION CYNICS AND OTHERS CAN TAKE IN SUPPORT OF THE NEWSPACE INDUSTRY June 2, 2009

Posted by drspaceshow in Uncategorized.
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1 comment so far

THE SPACE SHOW AND OLD SPACE CADET RESPOND TO MATT’S APRIL 28, 2009 POST REQUESTING WHAT POSITIVE ACTION CYNICS AND OTHERS CAN TAKE IN SUPPORT OF THE NEWSPACE INDUSTRY

On April 28, 2009, Matt Colborn responded to the April 22, 2009 Cynics post entitled “Well Said, Dr Griffin” with the following comment:

3. Matt Colborn – April 28, 2009
Hi — I’ve read the ’space cynics’ blogs for a while, and also listened to your arguments on the Space Show. I think that there is much truth in your arguments, and that the new space people need a reality check. You detail well what we should NOT expect from the space program in the near future.
However, once one has accepted this, where do we go from here? The subtext to much of your writing seems to be;
1. To give up on space entirely, especially human space, and do something else.
2. To pour scorn on those poor fools who refuse to do (1).
You’re very good at telling us what is not plausible, but what SHOULD we do? What IS realistic? Is space a lost cause, forever? Is that what you’re saying?
I think that you should write a little more about the *positive* action people should take, even if this means giving up on human space and concentrating on something else. Endless negativity just pisses people off eventually, even those of us (like me) who are sympathetic to your arguments….
Puzzled, Matt

The Old Space Cadet replied to Matt and his reply can be found at the top right of the Space Cynics page using the tab “old space cadet’s view.”

The Old Space Cadet, Dr. John Jurist, was then the guest on Sunday’s Space Show program (see the direct URL to the program above) where he discussed his posting and a comprehensive reply to Matt’s good question. Our show today is described as follows:

Dr. John Jurist returned to The Space Show to offer a response to a Space Cynics comment posted on the Space Cynics blog on April 28, 2009 by Matt Colborn. Matt asked what the positive action people should take regarding pushing towards our becoming spacefaring. Dr. Jurist responded to Matt’s question and you can read his response at http://spacecynic.wordpress.com/old-space-cadets-view/ . Our discussion proved stimulating and challenging as listeners not only asked questions about the Jurist action plan/view, but they also wanted a good definition of NewSpace, wondered why the term exists at all, and suggested other terms to represent space development activities. One caller, Thalia, asked what the NewSpace dogma was. You will want to hear how both Dr. Jurist and I answered that one! Dr. Jurist offered concrete suggestions ranging from stopping several negative and personal attacks on people who put forth different views, analysis, or bring different perspectives to the table. We also talked about the possible differences between NewSpace advocates and NewSpace businessmen and businesswomen. This is an important discussion you will want to hear. One of our callers, Jack, an economics student in Texas, talked about markets, the killer application for human spaceflight, and the economics of the launch rate. Don’t miss this discussion, it’s a good one. One listener asked Dr. Jurist for a reasonable test by a NewSpace participant regarding putting forth a positive impression with accurate rhetoric of say a particular project. One idea put forth by John was to more openly discuss issues by submitting papers to reviewed conferences and mixing it up idea-wise with peers that may not always be part of the church choir for NewSpace. I urge you to read the full article written by Dr. Jurist on Space Cynics at the URL above. If you have comments or questions for Dr. Jurist, please post them in the comments section after John’s Cynic’s article. Any comments or questions sent to me here at The Space Show will be posted on Cynics on the Old Space Cadet tab as I am asking you to do.

A Response (part 1) May 6, 2009

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
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4 comments

A number of recent commenters/visitors to the Space Cynics blog have asked if we could put forward our view of what “should” be done, rather than simply critiquing what we see out there in our (somewhat) regular postings on the blog.

Initially, I was going to respond “if you read the damn blog, you’d see that we actually do this, across many posts.”

The reason? At some point even Sisyphus has to get tired of pushing his rock, and I get tired of saying the same “here’s how you should do it, here’s why A won’t work but B has a shot, etc” mantra.  It’s a key reason why I walkd away from the industry for so long (and remain detached from it other than to stay connected with the many good friends I made whilst working in old and new space).

However, that isn’t fair  to the readers…

Before I get to that, though, let me just say “Thank You”.  Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this blog, to listen to the contrarian voices in the wilderness, to challenge our thinking and our positions, and for adding to our perspective on space.  At our cores (surrounded by that caramel and nougat goodness, of course) we are passionate about space, and really want the frontier to open.  Not speaking for the others, but only for myself, I will reiterate that if I had $35,000,001, i would spend $35,000,000 on a ticket to ISS – even if it meant starting over building my retirement again.  I have always been a space tragic, and will have it carved on my tombstone someday.  While I may disagree with many of you on the details, I believe we all share a common goal, which is why we come back and push the rock, week after week.

When I get to a new blog, one that is “new” to me but may have been around for years, I am often frustrated by having to go back through months (or years) of postings simply to get up to speed on the POV of the author(s) and feel like I can join in the discussion.  And yet, to an extent, our response to you who have asked about our position on X are often instructed to do the same thing (go back and look it up).

In order to be fair to our readers, occasional visitors, and accidental link-clickers (welcome anyways!), I have decided to put up a static “page” that will list out our positions and suggested approach for all to reference.

This may take a little while, though, and will require the input of my fellow Cynics.  As such, I have named this “Part 1″.

Consider it the equivalent of a movie trailer – although not nearly as cool as the second trailer for Star Trek, with the great line “Why are you talking to me, man?”.

I can’t WAIT to see the movie this weekend!

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