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NASA vs. a 74-year old grandma October 24, 2011

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
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2 comments

Flak-vested deputies? Really?

I get that NASA feels the need to maintain the shrininess and sanctity of Apollo, especially now that they’re left bumming rides from the Russians after completely failing to plan over the past 3 decades for any sort of post-shuttle capability.

But going after a grandma who was trying to raise money for her sick son by selling an old piece of memorabilia using the gestapo tactics of local law enforcement?

Shame on you.

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.

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!

Well Said, Dr. Griffin April 22, 2009

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
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10 comments

A fictional space program will always be faster, better, and cheaper than a real space program.

- Mike Griffin, Goddard Award Dinner 2009

So Much For Space Tourism… March 5, 2009

Posted by shubber in finance, gauntlet being dropped, Manned Space, NASA, public service announcement, smack talk, space, space tourism, suborbital tourism.
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6 comments

When Dennis Tito flew to ISS, there was an outpouring of cheering from the alt.space community because the era of space tourism was finally here.  Claims were put forth about how the $10m price tag was only the start, to be followed by a decreasing price that would make space accessible to more and more of the masses over time.

Fast forward a few years, and with the flight of Anousheh, even more of an outpouring of cheering and “this changes things” was heard from the maddening alt.space masses.  This Cynic was blasted by not a few for daring to question what her flight did for the greater “space tourism” movement.  But the thickness of their heads is matched by that of my skin, so no harm done.

While it might be a good time to point out that the Cynics were right, and that the price of trips to ISS would (contrary to the economically challenged arguments of the alt.spacers) continue to rise, as evidenced by the most recent $10m hike in price to Mr. Simoniy, there is a more interesting note that has just come out of Russia.

It appears that the Russian Space Agency has decided it wants no more tourists going to ISS after 2009.  Bummer.

Then again, this could be that much-needed boost to Mr. Bigelow’s efforts to build a space hotel, now that ISS will no longer be a govt subsidized alternative.

</crickets chirping>

What’s next? A note from his Mom? January 1, 2009

Posted by shubber in Congress, CRATS, distracting PR, gauntlet being dropped, hot air, Manned Space, NASA, public service announcement, smack talk, space, Wasting Money.
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5 comments

mophoto1275-300_

So in honor of our 300th post, i was planning to do a detailed examination of where we’ve been in the past couple years since the Space Cynics blog was started, how the industry has/hasn’t matured, predictions we (and others) have made that have/haven’t come true, etc.

And then I read this little gem.

Seems that Mike Griffin has been fighting pretty hard to keep his job when the new Administration takes over – and now he’s recruited his wife into the mix.  The headline:

Don’t Fire My Husband, NASA Chief’s Wife Begs Obama

Really? Have you no shame, Mike? It’s not like you’ve presided over any great legacy at NASA in your relatively short tenure under President Bush. You are beholden to your special interests in the military industrial complex, and only grudgingly have allowed any form of innovation or private sector involvement to participate in our development of space when forced, kicking and screaming, to adopt Zero G flights over the Vomit Comet or fund COTS – and even then you can’t do it right.

But to send out (via priority mail) copies of your speeches, as if anyone would want to suffer through them a SECOND time, was priceless.  Granted, it’s not like the total cost of mailing was even a rounding error in NASA’s budget – it’s about leadership.  The CEO of an organization, which is what you are for all intents and purposes, sets the tone for the people who choose to work for him.  When you engage in such behavior, it reinforces the wrong sort of message to the rank and file employees – no different than when the President chooses to get a hummer in the Oval Office from an intern and then lie about it on national television.

It’s about Leadership.

You missed great opportunities to engage in development of true CRATS, real hypersonics research, support initial studies into SBSP (yes, even though I am very cynical about it, that IS part of NASA’s job IMHO), and to put nails in the coffins of both VSE and the ISS, freeing up billions of dollars to fund the hardest part of the equation – getting out of the gravity well.

So, perhaps I can weave in a bit of “The 300″ after all.   End your tenure with dignity, not sniveling before the next President begging for your job.  Or, even sadder, having your wife beg for you. DO your job, now, and then go out with pride.  If that’s still possible.

And there goes the Moon, or “Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!” December 11, 2008

Posted by shubber in bailout, Congress, economy, finance, hot air, Manned Space, NASA, smack talk, thanksgiving, Uncategorized, Wasting Money.
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7 comments

So, if the alt.space gossip lines are right, there’s trouble a-brewing in the halls of NASA these days, with the Administrator (Mr. Griffin) apparently not terribly interested in working with the Obama transition point person (Lori Garver).

Kudos to Al Fansome for pointing this out (initially on the SpacePolitics.com website, from which this was shamelessly pilfered).

Tensions were on public display last week at the NASA library, as overheard by guests at a book party.

According to people who were present, Logsdon, a space historian, told a group of about 50 people he had just learned that President John F. Kennedy’s transition team had completely ignored NASA.

Griffin responded, in a loud voice, “I wish the Obama team would come and talk to me.”

Alan Ladwig, transition team member who was at the party with Garver, shouted out: “Well, we’re here now, Mike.”

Soon after, Garver and Griffin engaged in what witnesses said was an animated conversation. Some overheard parts of it.

“Mike, I don’t understand what the problem is. We are just trying to look under the hood,” Garver said.

“If you are looking under the hood, then you are calling me a liar,” Griffin replied. “Because it means you don’t trust what I say is under the hood.

Just remember, folks – you heard it here first, though: the Moon program is a bunch of hot air and will be cancelled with the many budget realities that are now facing the incoming administration, including the never-ending bailouts.

Hey, maybe Big Aerospace should ask for a $100 billion bailout (make up a reason) and use that to launch someone to the Moon?

SHUBBER ALI ON THE SPACE SHOW October 1, 2008

Posted by drspaceshow in Uncategorized.
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19 comments

Listen to Shubber on the Tuesday evening, Sept. 30, 2008 episode of The Space Show. Shubber is hard hitting, witty, and at times, in your face with reality and facts. We had a surprise caller, Thalia.ad.astra! Listen to her questions and answers in her own voice. Yes, she is a real, independent person who called in from Seattle. During this show, you will hear Shubber do a hard analysis on our nation’s economic crisis and apply the consequences to space development now and for the future. Shubber dissects space solar power from the economic perspective, pulling the rug out from underneath those that belong to the Church of Space Solar Power as we discussed during our Cynics discussion roundtable at ISDC at the end of May. Other topics that Shubber addressed included the Zubrin plan for flex fuel engines to become energy independent, the gap, space tourism, both orbital and suborbital, space investment, venture capital, and financing. Other favorites, such as spaceports, were dissected with Shubber’s hard hitting, reality based analysis. If you listened to the program by means of this Space Cynics link and if you have comments or questions for Shubber, the callers, or for me, please post them right here on the Cynics blog, do not send them to me at my Space Show address. This is a transparent process, so please post right here. If you do send them to me, be advised that I will immediately post them on the Cynics blog as a comment, name and all. Also note that this is a Space Show program and as host of The Space Show, I obtained permission to link this Space Show program here with Space Cynics.

Listen Here: http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1027-BWB-2008-09-30.mp3

THE SPACE SHOW AIRS THE FIRST EVER SPACE CYNICS ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION FEATURING A CLOSER CYNICS’ EXAMINATION OF SPECIFIC ISDC 2008 TOPICS AND SACRED COWS. June 8, 2008

Posted by drspaceshow in NASA, space tourism.
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75 comments

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/957-BWB-2008-06-08.mp3

Space Cynics Shubber Ali, Tom Olson, and me (DrSpace aka Professor L) met in the hotel coffee shop for an in-person discussion featuring the Cynics’ view of several of the topics discussed at ISDC 2008. This was the first ever in-person Cynics discussion and program, but we hope to offer you more at future conferences or retreats. Unfortunately, our fourth Cynic, Old Space Cadet, could not be with us this time, but as he has already heard the discussion, he wanted everyone to know he was on board with it all and listeners should consider The Old Space Cadet as being fully in sync with his fellow Cynics. We were also joined by Reda Anderson who was both crowned and dubbed Honorary Space Cynic after her stellar performance in offering wise comments, sharing experiences, and otherwise demonstrating her astute business capabilities at all times during this discussion. The gloves were taken off and our discussion was hard-hitting on many topics. We talked about several sacred cows, including the VSE and lunar development plans, space solar power, spaceports, suborbital tourism, and more. Your comments and feedback are welcome, but do it through the Space Cynics blog for all to see, right here at http://spacecynic.wordpress.com/. If you do send a note to drspace@thespaceshow.com, be advised that I will copy and paste the note to the comments section on the blog for the announcement and link to this show, so please, put your comments directly on the Cynics website. All of your views and comments are welcome, even from those of you who will strongly and rudely disagree with all or part of our discussion. You are still respected and welcome to comment although you may not feel that way after one or two Cynics address your question or comment in the true style of a Space Cynic. We hope you appreciate this candid and very frank discussion. A word to the wise, shooting the messenger does not bode well for making your discussion points with us or anyone else for that matter. We, the Cynics, are not the issue, so save your attacks on us. Instead, don’t venting your anger or frustration on a particular Cynic or all Cynics (as tempting as that may be), rather go after what has been said that pushed your buttons. State your facts, make your case, present evidence to the contrary. Make it a learning moment for us all. Shooting the messenger may be lots of fun but it does not make your case as to why you disagree or take issue with what you heard during this discussion. As Sgt. Joe Friday said decades ago, “Just the facts, Ma’am, just the facts.” Try it, I bet it will work outstandingly well, even better than an ISP Kool Aid charged Power Point!

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