Tag Archives: capitalism

Perry and other lawmakers blast Obama over shuttle retirement

Texas Governor Rick Perry, as well as other lawmakers from Congress, blasted Obama today over the shuttle retirement.

Bah. Perry claims to be a so-called small government conservative, yet he wants the government to spend a fortune to build and run the space program. Meanwhile, Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Kate Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) were around in Congress when President George Bush announced the shuttle’s retirement seven years ago. Their effort since then to fund pork through NASA and thus have NASA build a giant new rocket system, either Constellation or its new Congressionally-designed replacement, has been a disaster. Right now it would be better, and far cheaper, if they stopped fighting the new commercial space companies and instead get behind them, especially since the Obama administration itself has done a very poor job of selling this new industry.

A little support from Congress could go a long way to not only reinvigorating the aerospace industry, it could speed our country’s return to manned space, with multiple competing companies.

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The U.S. and the rising Russian space program

The Russians yesterday successfully launched their first space telescope since the fall of the Soviet Union. Here is a Google translation of a Russian article describing Spektr-R’s research goals:

[Spektr-R is] designed to study galaxies and quasars in the radio, the study of black holes and neutron stars in the Milky Way, as well as the regions immediately adjacent to the massive black holes. In addition, using the observatory, scientists expect to receive information about pulsars and the interstellar plasma. It is planned that the “Spektr-R” will work in orbit for at least 5 years.

Though this particular space telescope is probably not going to rewrite the science of astrophysics, its launch is historically significant. It indicates that Russia has just about recovered from the seventy-plus years of bankrupt communist rule that ended in 1990.
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Being tone deaf is not a good way to fund a government space program

Yesterday the House appropriations committee’s released budget numbers that included no additional funds for commercial space, limiting the subsidies to $312 million, the same number as last year and significantly less than the $850 million requested by the Obama administration.

This is what I have thought might happen since last year. The tone deaf manner in which the Obama administration has implemented the private space subsidies is leaving all funding for NASA vulnerable.
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The painful transition to private space

It appears that U.S. aerospace layoffs more than tripled in the first half of 2011.

The downsizing, prompted by cutbacks in defense and government contracts, jumped from 6,121 in the first six months of 2010 to 20,851 this year, based on planned layoffs announced by major employers.

Though I have always favored shutting down the government space agency and replacing it with privately-built rockets and spaceships, the manner in which this is being done now is disgraceful. George Bush declared the retirement of the shuttle seven years ago. Since then Congress, Bush, and Obama have all done an abominable job preparing the nation for that retirement.
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Mining the moon for water and nuclear fuel

Mining the moon for water and fuel.

Texas-based Shackleton Energy Company has already begun operations aimed at mining the Moon within the next few years. 

The company’s plans for mining and refining operations would involve melting the ice and purifying the water, converting the water into gaseous hydrogen and oxygen, and then condensing the gases into liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen and hydrogen peroxide, all potential rocket fuels.

Shackleton CEO Dale Tietz says the water extracted would be used almost exclusively as rocket fuel to power operations both within Low Earth Orbit (LEO) – such as space tourism and the removal of space-debris – on the Moon, and further out into space. ‘We are a for-profit business enterprise moving forward, and so we are only going there really for one reason and that is to mine, prospect mine and harvest water for rocket propellant production,’ says Tietz.

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Orbital Science rocket engine sustains damage in test

One of the rocket engines for Orbital Science’s Taurus rocket, to be used to supply cargo to ISS, was badly damaged in a fuel fire June 9.

The results of the investigation and prognosis for the engine and the Taurus II should come together by the end of this week or early next week, Beneski says. Two other AJ26 engines have completed hot-fire acceptance testing without mishap, according to the Aerojet website. Beneski said the engine mishap potentially affects the testing planned to get the Taurus II ready for operational missions to resupply the ISS.

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ATV burns up, Progress launched

Busy day for travel to and from ISS: The European unmanned ATV freighter Johannes Kepler burned up in the atmosphere even as a Russian Progress freighter was launched.

In related news, the U.S. and ESA are in negotiations to merge the European unmanned ATV freighter program with NASA’s manned Orion derivative. At the same time, Europe has announced its plans to test fly a reusable space plane.

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