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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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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