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Zzz…. zzz…. huh?… what…? oh… you’re still there? What year is it? July 6, 2014

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.

Having just had a delightful catch-up-after-much-too-long dinner with my good friend Dr. Livingston (no presumptions needed), it was agreed that it is time to relaunch the Space Cynics blog as, it turns out, the need for Cynics in this industry has not only NOT diminished, but apparently become even more apparent than ever.


So here’s a warning to all of you purveyors of various flavors of sugary sweet beverages that prey on the undiscriminating minds of those who love Space – WE ARE BACK.


But, as times *have* changed since the inception of the blog, and the mechanism of crowd-sourcing and collaboration and social media have become the dominant model in this decade, we are taking our next logical evolution from the Space Cynics you knew and loved to add you all to the rank of Cynics in training.  Guest posts will be welcome from would-be cynics – they must be submitted by tuesday COB each week, and we will (barring objectionable, or non-cynic-worthy, content which we will attempt to contact you about) publish them on each friday in time for people to enjoy and mull over during the weekend…


This isn’t a big change, but rather the next logical evolution – after all, I originally started this blog as a solo effort, but then expanded it to include fellow Cynics when I recognized that I wasn’t alone in the effort to dispel the rampant Kool-Aid that had coursed through the veins of the alt space community (and, to be honest, the Big Establishment space community as well).   So if you see/read/hear something which doesn’t add up, now you have a place to talk about it.







Tom Olson, Dr. John Jurist, Dr. Space “Bringing Cynics Back,” Friday, 6-22-12 June 22, 2012

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Tom Olson, Dr. John Jurist, Dr. Space “Bringing Cynics Back,” Friday, 6-22-12

Guests:  Tom Olson, Dr. John Jurist.  Topics:  The return to life of the Space Cynic blog, https://spacecynic.wordpress.com. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  We welcomed Tom Olson and Dr. John Jurist to discuss our plans to reactivate the Space Cynic blog, https://spacecynic.wordpress.com.  Tom started our Space Show discussion with an historical overview of why the Space Cynic blog was created by Shubber Ali and the three of us.  We talked about some of the past programs, themes we wrote about, the goal of the blog, and the Walking Eagle Award.  We mostly focused on the business side of issues, the engineering, human factors, and other issues that can make or break any venture, including a space venture.  We each mentioned some examples that highlight the themes we respectively focused on with the blog, including asteroid mining and space solar power.  We also talked about themes we have in common with one another. Each of us mentioned some new themes we are interested in once the blog becomes active again, probably by September at the latest.  A new feature of the rebirth of the Cynics blog will be the opportunity to be a guest Space Cynic blogger.  Details on this will soon be posted on the Space Cynic blog but we did mention of few of the obvious guidelines during our discussion.  We also talked about making comments on the blog and opening up the Walking Eagle Award to a blog reader nomination process.  Note that I will archive this program on Space Cynics as well as The Space Show blog but do understand that The Space Show has no formal relationship to Space Cynics other than as an individual, I am one of the four space cynic contributors.  We welcome your feedback on bringing the Space Cynic blog back to active life.

Post your comments on either blog or both of them.  If you want to email either of the guests on this show or space cynic founder Shubber Ali, you can do so through me and I will forward your email to the person of your choice.

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

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
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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.

Space Cynics & 10th Anniversary Space Show Program, Tuesday, 5-10-11 May 11, 2011

Posted by drspaceshow in Uncategorized.

Space Cynics & 10th Anniversary Space Show Program, Tuesday, 5-10-11


Guests:  The Space Cynics with Dr. David Livingston, Dr. John Jurist, Tom Olson.  Topics:  A general space policy, economic and technology driven discussion.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming.  The Space Cynics got together to celebrate with The Space Show on  its tenth anniversary with a 2.5 hour marathon space discussion without a break. We were sorry that the Space Cynics founder, Shubber Ali, could not be with us due to illness.  As we kicked off our discussion which largely focused on the future of human spaceflight, the Cynics linked current U.S. and global economic problems to space policy and NASA budget issues.  We also had much to say about Space X and its outstanding accomplishments to date.  Later, I asked fellow Cynics about SSP.  Tom said maybe 30 40 years but the solar sats would be around the Moon or Mars, not orbiting Earth.  To combat some of our earlier tone about the severe economic problems facing the US and our space program, we talked about existing and future innovation and ongoing private investment into entrepreneurial activities.  The Cynics referred to space cadets and our extended community as living within a space bubble.  Tom suggested many inside this bubble were fighting tooth and nail new policies that would transform the job creating potential of space as well as the technology and innovation. Both John and Tom suggested that many within the bubble were in denial about the extent of our economic problems and the probable impact on space programs.  Our first caller from Jersey City asked several questions about NASA shrinking budgets and Space X.  Rich Godwin called in to talk & inquire about old business paradigms changing to new paradigms.  One of his points was that an  SSTO RLV was not as economic as a string of big dumb boosters.  Another issue brought up by a listener email dealt with the addition of new people to space advocacy groups and who actually attends the conferences.  We had a good discussion on rocket economics and Rich sent in an analysis of the Apollo era & Saturn V costs adjusted year by year for inflation to 2011.  I read part of the analysis on air.  John also shared some of the research he is currently doing regarding rocket economics & efficiency factors for a government program, then extrapolating to Space X.  I suggested a book to the listeners, “Leo On The Cheap” By Lt. Col. John London  (www.dunnspace.com/leo_on_the_cheap.htm).  We talked about leading fantasy drivers such as the $10/lb cost to LEO if only this or that happened. The Cynics had a lot to say about this and fantasy space ideas in general.  Toward the end of our discussion, I was asked to reflect on the past ten years of The Space Show. Those of you who are frequent listeners will not be surprised by my mini talk as I covered the usual grounds including fantasy, solid foundations for building the future, education, students, civility, and more.  I also addressed some negativity traits I bring to the table & how I sometimes see things in the negative light.  However, overall, the Show is a demonstration of hope and & faith in space and our future and is a positive force for change.  While I am extremely critical of things and how I see the world, were I not ultimately optimistic and hopeful for our future, I would wind The Space Show up now and move on to something else.  John and Tom each provided closing comments to our marathon discussion.  This program will also be archived on The Space Cynics blog, https://spacecynic.wordpress.com.  Please post your comments on The Space Show blog and you can do the same with the Cynics blog.  If you have questions for either of the Space Cynics, use the blogs.  If you do want to email Tom or John, you can send your note to me and I will forward it to them.

Space Cynics Reunite For Special Space Show, Tuesday, 5-10-11 May 7, 2011

Posted by drspaceshow in Uncategorized.
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Space Cynics Reunite For Special Space Show, Tuesday, 5-10-11

The Space Cynics are reuniting for a special 10th Anniversary Space Show discussion, Tuesday, May 10, 2011 from 7-9 PM PDT.  You can hear the program live, just visit www.thespaceshow.com and click on the Listen Live link near the top of the home page.  We will be accepting email and toll free phone questions from listeners.

Don’t miss this special Space Show and Cynics program, Tuesday, May 10, 2011.

Dr. David Livingston, Host

The Space Show


Let There Be Light (and the end of Space Based Solar Power?) January 23, 2011

Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
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The Cynics need your assistance – calling all Junior Cynics!

We are looking for any interesting links to current/cutting edge research and products in the area of terrestrial solar power:

  • Have you heard of a new fabrication technique being developed in a lab?
  • Have you seen an article/blog post on a company that’s selling solar power kits for the home?
  • Do you have links to economic analysis on the cost of power generation with solar (of various kinds)?
  • Can you send in (or point to) information on the different types of solar generation and an overview of each?
  • Do you have anything else interesting in this area you’d like to share?
  • Are you involved in a company doing one or more of the above and want to be interviewed by us (or know someone who does?)

If you can do any of the above, let us know.  There’s a prize (real one, from the scrappy company that dethroned Microsoft in market cap not too long ago) involved for the best/most useful submission.  And we will thank everyone for their contributions (unless you want to remain anonymous).

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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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.
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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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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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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:


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.