Thanksgiving – and a (sort of) farewell November 27, 2009Posted by shubber in Uncategorized.
Tags: Alt.space, farewell, NASA, NewSpace, politics, space cynic
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.
SECOND SPACE CYNICS ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION October 27, 2008Posted by drspaceshow in Uncategorized.
Tags: challenges, Cheap Access to Space, Club of Rome limitations, Department of Defense (DoD), Due Diligence, economic driver, economic viability, engineering, Mag lift, military, national security, politics, R&D, science, Space Based Solar Power (SBSP), Space Cynics, Space Elevator, space policy, Space Solar Power (SSP), substitute technology, terrestrial energy, Van Allen radiation belts
THE SECOND SPACE CYNICS ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION IS HERE!!!
THIS TIME THE CYNICS FOCUS ON SPACE SOLAR POWER (and a few other issues).
Space Cynics Shubber Ali, Tom Olson (Tom’s Rants), Dr. John Jurist (Old Space Cadet) and Dr. David Livingston (Professor L) engaged in a roundtable conference call Saturday morning, Oct. 25, 2008 to discuss space solar power. In keeping with true Space Cynics fashion, this was a hard-hitting discussion addressing some of the fundamental challenges facing SSP and why the Cynics do not share the joy of seeing a future SSP world as do those promoting it. As we started the discussion, Shubber outlined three basic areas that we addressed: technical challenges, economic and political (policy) challenges, and those challenges represented by substitute technology. All of us were in agreement that the technical challenges can be met over time and with sufficient funding and R&D. All the Cynics believe that substitute technologies here on Earth will typically give the economic and policy advantage to terrestrial power over SSP. Furthermore, the economic, political, and policy challenges ahead for SSP are formidable and likely to be much harder, complex, and costly to resolve than many of those promoting SSP believe will be the case.
Since many listening to this discussion will not agree with some or even all of the points made, should you choose to reply, comment, or question what you hear, please do so factually. For example, if you are going to report or comment that the launch cost will be $200/kilo to GEO or some other very low rate, tell us how that happens so we can respond factually. If you are talking theoretical, please provide the support and basis for your theory. If you are expressing your opinion, fine, please do so, but remember that opinions are not fact or reality. By the way, this rule applies to the opinions of the Cynics as well. Another interesting point offered in this discussion came up when we talked about the need for low cost space access. Shubber made the point that the military does not really want cheap and easy access to space by the general public, thus it’s unlikely that there will be any government action taken to significantly change the way we access space.
For some of you, you may believe or even tell us that we are not helping the “SSP movement.” All of us have heard this before. So be it, but please tell us why our goal should to be to help any movement. Either individually or collectively as the Space Cynics, we discuss, report, and post on what we read, see, understand, and want to express. We are not posting to serve a movement of any kind. We are not obligated to serve any movement. We are obligated to study and understand an issue and report or discuss it as we see it and understand it. If some of you have ruffled feathers over that, please show us where our analysis or conclusions are wrong. We welcome such input and open discussion right here on the Space Cynics blog. Please see http://www.thespaceshow.com for a more comprehensive description of this program.