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17 April 2012


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The Twisted Genius

I like this. Let private enterprise handle the more mundane, routine and less risky aspects of space flight. NASA can concentrate on space exploration.

One of my son's worked on the "We Chose the Moon" website for the JFK Center celebrating the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. He's also responsible for the dancing caveman Geico TV ads.



TTG, are you saying your son is responsible for part of what little TeeVee (Geico ads) is worth watching??

I ALWAYS send a mental thank you to whoever made those ads.


I have known & know (from the German rocket team to astronauts to "kids" in their 20s today) many NASA people (never worked there) & they certainly aren't dumb. As to NASA as a bureacratic institution, well, I'm as much a (constructive) critic as anyone, & my observation is that there are even less effective (even, less cost-effective) ones around... {There must be some algorithm that integrates time / function / leadership / staff talent / performance, that could illuminate why some agencies do well while others are so problematic. As a product of the technocratic era, w/ heavy national security & political overtones, NASA makes a fine study.}

Where functions such as life & death (the Nation's & its citizens; as individuals & in groups) is literally & clearly at stake, gov. seems to perform better over time (military, medical research, exploration). New agencies seem to perform well (for awhile).

Anyway, we need to do something about national / civil service (now a multi-generational micro-economy), don't we? figure out how to "sunset" agencies that are long past their expiration date - maybe that's what Jefferson meant when he referred to "a revolution every 20 yrs". As to co-opting by narrow private interests, well, when there's a $ or a career to be made, that's human behavior for ya...

For me, NASA is an object lesson confirming the rule that in the advance of human knowledge & scope, it is from interaction of secondary & tertiary outcomes where lasting value (or meaning, or change) is drawn, moreso than the original intent.


And this may be what they see when they get there:




I'm really looking forward to this flight. I know a lot of the people there at SpaceX (almost took a job there a few years ago), and they're a sharp, very hard-working crowd. In fact, I think I've been within a couple of feet of the capsule they're sending up on this mission. If you're ever down in the Hawthorne, CA area and want a tour, I can probably swing you an introduction.

I'll be keeping all the fingers and toes crossed that I can when they light the candle this time around. Opponents of commercial cargo/crew flights (and there are a ton of them in Congress and industry) are putting a lot of weight on the success of this next flight, so I hope it goes as flawlessly as a test flight of something this sophisticated every does.



Could someone post on DIA stuff for a change?
I hear they have a new nominee to be director.
Some General named Flynn


The Twisted Genius

Wow! We have a real rocket scientist at SST. Jon, I hope you can keep us informed of some of the projects and accomplishments in this field. I share your enthusiasm for the success of commercial space flight. (OK, probably not as excited as you, but still pretty enthusiastic.) The sense of adventure reminds me of the early NASA. As kids, my friends and I would follow the early manned flights religiously. We drew up designs for rockets and built all the rocket models we could find. We were camping the night Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. We laid in our sleeping bags and watched the moon through the pines while Walter Cronkite described the events. I think it was a better experience than watching it on TV.


Dear Colonel,

I would generally use the word constrained to describe NASA when it tends to act counter-productively.

Wish space-X luck.




Glad to have you here. I am a backer of space programs, commerce, etc. Feel free to post here. pl


Pat, he was here before, writing the most informed comments on the Washington Times article, if I remember it correctly.


LeaNder's right--I've been following this blog for a couple of years, and post occasionally. I had been just using my name, but then I saw the sign-in with Twitter option and decided to start using that.

But yeah, I'll pipe in when I have something relevant to say. For most of the topics on here, I'm interested, but don't feel like I have much to add. But if something space related comes up, I'll toss in my two cents.

Also, when I find the time (which is less frequent these days since I run a spacecraft robotics startup), I do space policy and technology blog posts over on www.selenianboondocks.com

~Jonathan Goff

Byron Raum

Forgive me for being somewhat naive, but why would anyone who is not a politician be _opposed_ to commercial space flight? What difference does it make to someone; if they are not interested, no one is forcing them to be.

Indifference I can understand, but opposition?



In a sane world, everyone would be rooting for the success of commercial space. But I've actually seen three classes of people that really are opposed to commercial space:

1- People who are financially tied to legacy systems. This includes some NASA and DoD contractors. Not all people who are financially tied to legacy systems oppose commercial space, but a good number of them do. This is probably the smallest group.

2- People who believe that only big government programs like Apollo can actually get astronauts on other worlds. This is probably the largest group. They feel that NASA should be subsidizing their "edu-tainment" by sending people out to do cool stunts on other worlds. They (correctly, IMO) see commercial space missions as threats to the funding of bloated government programs, and thus oppose them. Unfortunately they've gotten some very significant support from former Apollo astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, both of who've publicly testified at Congress about the danger of trusting commercial companies with something "as risky as launching astronauts." Quite frankly, I'm not sure what's going to make this crowd go away short of natural attrition--as Max Planck once put it, it is often the case that "science progresses one funeral at a time."

3- People who actually somewhat like SpaceX, but are turned off by their hype-to-accomplishment ratio, and by the constant barrage of clueless posts by fanboys. I can actually empathize a bit with this group, even if I think some of them take their knee-jerk reaction to fanboys a little too far.


Charles I

I watched news at the cottage of the last shuttle flights as they piggy-backed off to their respective museums. The crowds were gobsmacked, some teary. Shame you can buffalo'em into war on credit but nickel and dime adventure.

The Chinese are mad for space so let's hope your private sector is up to it. The ISS is cool, near space the likely commercial arena. My concern is that the incredible deep space and high tech observation missions - the kind governments pay for - continue to be dreamed up, built and flown because the imagery and physics output is mind-blowing.


Charles I

What about YOUR private sector? pl

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