Friday, August 22, 2008

Galactic Suite Announces Maglev Space Flights

Okay, here's a thing...

A company that I had never heard of (and therefore haven't had on my list of space tourism companies) came out an announced today that they will be providing orbital space tourism in the year 2012. Furthermore, they say that 38 people have already signed up!

Galactic Suite was founded last year in Europe. I could not find a ton of information on them, suggesting that I'm not the only one who has never heard of them, but they seem to be interested in drawing from various new technologies and putting them together in ways that will allow for orbital space tourism.

They're based in Barcelona, Spain, and they plan on sending people to "a tropical island" (there are pictures of the island, but I could not find its name) for several weeks of astronaut training before launching them using a combination of magnetic lifting and conventional rockets. This spacecraft will dock with one of several orbital space "spas" (the first of which they intend to have in orbit in late 2012), which each have several modular compartments. These compartments will have various uses, but one side of each of them will be almost entirely transparent. The amenities in this space spa will include a room where tourists can "swim" amongst large bubbles of water.

The most unique concept in this proposed design is the maglev launch solution. Magnets will lift the spacecraft past the speed of sound, then the spacecraft will detach and fire its more conventional rockets. It's an interesting proposal. I'm skeptical as to whether this company can pull it off, but we'll see.

Their logo, however, looks like it was drawn in crayon by a third-grader.

Oh, and here's a picture of the bubble thing (credit Galactic Suite). Enjoy!

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Presidential Candidates' Space Proposals Followup

So I mentioned a few days ago that Barack Obama had announced he was going to study ways to provide more funding for NASA (and therefore ways to conserve jobs in a stretch of Florida important to the campaigns). Well, he didn't waste any time, and on Saturday released a very detailed plan outlining his goals for NASA and how he plans to accomplish them. In short, he plans to provide options for additional shuttle missions after the currently planned 2010 retirement date, he plans to speed up the Constellation program to get the new CEV (crew exploration vehicle) up sooner, and he plans to cooperate with industry and other nations to facilitate this.

It looks like a good plan, but of course, it requires money. Obama's proposal is to provide NASA with an additional $2 billion. After reading much of the plan and skimming the rest, I saw nothing on where this money would come from. But that is NASA's everlasting quandary; how much money do you spend on exploration when there are homeless children to feed and terrorists to be fought? Still I hope it happens. As we saw in the 60s, a sense of exploration can be a great thing.

After that was released, McCain criticized Obama of "saying different things at different times to different people," and in doing so, changing his position on NASA (which, as I previously mentioned, he did). However, such a detailed position paper as the one Obama released when there had only been brief mention of NASA in the past seems like a pretty solid thing. We'll see if he actually has the interest to find the funding for his proposals. And on McCain's part, he claimed to be a longtime supporter of NASA with a proven track-record.

As for their track records, McCain just last year voted against $1 billion in additional funding for NASA, and was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation when the US gap in manned space travel was created. Obama, to my knowledge, hasn't had the opportunity to vote on issues directly affecting NASA, so we have little way of knowing how serious his support really is. Take everything with a grain of salt.

But hey, here's Obama on the issue of Star Trek. There's always that.

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

SpaceX Followup: Video of Disaster

Well, as a followup to the recent SpaceX news concerning their Falcon 1 launch failure, they have released a video that is rather spectacular. It clearly shows the reason behind the disaster, but then shows the fairing separation succeeding despite the spacecraft spinning wildly out of control. I wish they would have released the video un-cut, but it's still pretty good.

So without further ado, awesome video of disaster:

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday's Poltical Forum Possibly Rigged?

Okay, so I'm kinda pissed.

There was a political forum Saturday where Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, asked the candidates identical questions on various topics, which were played live on CNN. Though I was more than a bit iffy about a political forum being held in a church, I was interested in the forum due to its format; identical questions asked individually of the two candidates.

Warren stated that Obama was randomly selected to be asked the questions first. The idea was (and it was explicitly stated) that McCain would be placed into a "cone of silence" (a soundproof room) while Obama was being asked his questions, so that McCain wouldn't have heard them beforehand.

Obama answered his questions fairly well, considering he was in a forum where people wouldn't necessarily be inclined to agree with a lot of his opinions. There were a lot of opinions concerning issues such as abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage: basically the right-wing wedge issues. There were very few concerning things like the Iraq war, the environment, and international diplomacy: Obama's strengths. But it was about what I expected from a forum being held in a church, and considering that locale, the questions weren't too one-sided.

Obama's answers were nuanced, and he was clearly attempting to be diplomatic; he was trying to find ways to reach out to voters who would disagree with him on a lot of these issues. I especially liked his answer to the abortion question, in which he tried to specify ways that people on both sides of the issue could work together to reduce the need for abortions in the first place. That's the sort of innovative compromise we need.

When McCain came out, I was a little bit bothered by his answers, and not only because I'm (admittedly) a little biased. Many times, he was extremely quick to respond to questions (sometimes when Warren wasn't even finished asking them) with very black-and-white answers and moral absolutes. There were a couple of questions to which he only gave one-word answers and didn't elaborate at all. While this frankly disturbs me (I don't believe in moral absolutes beyond the obvious ones like "killing people is bad", and I don't think there is any issue facing any national leader that isn't significantly complex), some people are interested in leaders who will make these kinds of absolute determinations and stick to them no matter what. After all, it worked out pretty well for Bush.

Still, I was a little taken aback by McCain's unusually quick answers, considering the fact that he usually pauses a moment or two before answering a question during his campaign. Apparently, I was not the only one, and some reporters actually did their jobs for once and investigated it. See, it turns out that McCain was not in a "cone of silence" after all. So where was he during Obama's interview?

He was in a car on the way to the event.

Yep. You heard me. Warren was either unaware of this, or he lied when he said McCain was "safely in a cone of silence." McCain himself misled the public when Warren asked him what it was like in the cone of silence, and McCain jokingly answered, "I was trying to hear through the wall."

So what do those involved have to say about it now?

Warren says that he flat-out asked the McCain campaign whether the candidate listened in on Obama's interview and that the campaign had "confirmed that McCain did not hear or see any of the broadcast." Yes, I'm sure we can trust a political campaign on that.

McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace had this to say: "The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous." Gee, he's already been proven to lie, or at least mislead, on several occasions. I discussed one of them here (Ethics item one); cheating doesn't seem like that big a step.

To CNN's credit, they themselves have made some of this information public. However, I'm not sure I have done it yet, so I would like to warn anyone who reads this (yeah, all three of you) that the big news networks are a very unreliable source of news. They are motivated by money (and therefore ratings) and have proven time and again that they are not above manipulating a story to increase their ratings. They do this to such an extent that whenever they play a space-related news story of which I have some knowledge, I always notice get something wrong, or exaggerate some aspect of the story to increase its importance, or outright mislead.

A good example of this is a year ago when a few of the Space Station's computers failed, and some of these news networks were playing it up like the whole thing would have to be abandoned! In reality, the computers that failed controlled the station's orientation and oxygen systems. However, the backup orientation systems kicked in until the glitch was fixed, and the station had enough spare oxygen to last nearly three months. Few involved were even worried about the possibility of abandoning the station. You wouldn't know that, though, if you had read this USA Today article, which mentions abandonment in the first sentence, and comes complete with an out-of-context quote from a NASA official.

Great job, guys. Entertainment this is; news this is not.

And that's all I have to say about that.

EDIT: Okay, one more thing to say. I just found out about the website which provides news stories, and then allows people to rate the stories for qualities like accuracy and fairness. And interesting project; we'll see if it works.

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Giant Flying Poop Attacks Sweden!

You heard me. I know this is completely off-topic, but I couldn't resist. A giant inflatable pile of dog poop (created as a piece of artwork called "Complex Shit") escaped from the grounds of a Swedish museum.

The massive conglomeration of turds, unsatisfied with its existence as an oddity displayed for gawking onlookers, wrestled free of the bonds that held it to the Swedish grass. But alas! A system was in place designed to deflate the air-filled poo should it ever break free. Undeterred, the fecal escapee overcame this small obstacle and started flying away with the breeze. But freedom was not enough! In its anger, the crappy museum piece tore through a power line and smashed a greenhouse window before finally coming to a horrid, putrid rest.

Okay, I'm done now.

Well, except for this picture:

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

Friday, August 15, 2008

So, I've bought some Wiis?

Um, yeah.. within a couple of weeks, I'm going to be the proud owner of three Wii game consoles. This is something I've always wanted to do, but never bothered; to buy up some hot items during the summer and put them away just to eBay them a couple weeks before Christmas. But now I've gotten around to it, and I am giving it a whirl.

I had to buy the game consoles up in bundles; it's still almost impossible to find *just* a Wii. I tried for two weeks before giving up and going for three bundled systems. But that's alright; I figure I can sell off the bundled bits as well in convenient combinations during the holiday season. And maybe I'll keep a couple of the extra controllers for myself.

So why did I do this? Well, I'll answer with my seventh rule for getting into space:

Rule 7: Always Watch for Ways to Make a Little Extra Cash.

Another way to put that is the ninth rule of acquisition: Opportunity plus instinct equals profit.

Yes, I went there.

Anyway, if I make anything on this, I'm going to put it into my solar panel savings, but the rule still applies. And honestly, I feel a little guilty about worsening already dwindling supplies of something everyone wants to make a little profit, but, what can you say? At least I'm doing it to save the environment... there's always that.

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Obama Proposes Increased NASA Budget

Okay, so I don't usually talk about stories purely about NASA, because NASA is uninterested in space tourism. However, I'm making an exception here because, of course, it's the point at which space tourism and politics meet.

Barack Obama has recently announced his plans for the future of NASA. Well, not so much announced them as talked about them off-handedly as part of a response to a completely unrelated question. Still, I'm saying that counts. Here are some of Obama's comments:

"Here's what I'm committing to: Continue Constellation. We're going to close the gap (between the end of shuttle flight and the next program, Constellation). We may have additional shuttle flights."

"My commitment is to seamless transition, where we're utilizing the space station in an intelligent way, and we're preparing for the next generation of space travel."

"I don't want to give clear figures yet. I want to have a thorough evaluation of a combination of manned and unmanned missions, what kind of exploration would be the most appropriate, and I want the budget to follow the plan. I'd want to see the proposal first."

That's one thing I like about Obama; his tendency to do actual research before making a firm commitment. In all fairness, this can be seen as a politician trying to appear to make a promise without actually promising anything, but I've seen enough anecdotal evidence to convince me that Obama is serious when he makes comments such as this; he wants to make sure he does things right before he actually does them. And it's personally exciting to me that he's interested in closing the five-year gap between the shuttle and the Orion vehicle during which NASA won't have manned spaceflight capabilities. Also, another comment that Obama made represents a reversal of his previously stated interest in slighting the NASA budget and moving some of the money to education programs.

And as if to prove his interest in actually doing the research, a couple of days ago, Ian Bassin, one of Obama's Florida campaign officials, met with about two dozen aerospace executives and NASA contractors. They discussed technicalities concerning Obama's goals, such as job losses when the shuttle is retired and the role of private industry in space exploration (and normally, I'm not in favor of privatizing government interests, but some of these companies are advancing research a lot faster than NASA).

And as if not to be outdone, McCain has quietly updated his website over the past week to include goals for the space program similar to those of Obama. However, it should be noted that McCain was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation when the five-year gap was created.

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Armadillo Enters Lunar Lander Challenge

Well, Armadillo Aerospace (one of my personal favorite space travel startups) has just announced their entry into the X-Prize foundation's Lunar Lander Challenge.

This comes as no surprise, as Armadillo Aerospace was the only entrant to fly in the 2006 and 2007 X-Prize Cups, similar to this challenge. The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge will take place in the New Mexico desert in late October. The challenge is designed to get people to construct vehicles with lunar-lander-like capabilities. There are two levels to the competition. Level 1 challenges entrants to construct a craft to take off, hover at 50 meters for 90 seconds, land on a spot 50 meters away, then do the entire thing in reverse, all within two and a half hours. Level 2 requires the craft to hover twice as long and land on a simulated lunar surface full of boulders and craters. Level 2 in particular is designed to simulate the capabilities needed for a real lunar mission.

The previous (and very similar) X-Prize Cups have had no winners. However, in the 2007 X-Prize Cup, Armadillo Aerospace only missed winning the Level 1 competition by 7 seconds.

I figure I should talk a little more about this company; I haven't spoken much about them in the past, but I've been following their progress, and they're pretty impressive.

Armadillo Aerospace was founded in the year 2000 by a group of volunteers dedicated to developing the technology to allow tourists to fly into space (which is, of course, why I talk about them here). They are still a very small group of (mostly) volunteers, operating out of Dallas, Texas. However, their group is very specialized, and they've done some very impressive things considering their size.

Their philosophy on rocket design is inspired from typical software design (not surprising, since one of their members, Jack Carmack, is a well known computer game designer). They design a simple rocket, build it and test it relatively quickly, then design the next one to weed out the bugs and add new features. This method seems to have been serving them well, as it has allowed them to test many, many designs and arrive at relatively advanced rockets without years of research and feasibility studies. They have even done work for NASA and the Air Force, whose methods they have poo-pooed for being way too slow (this is the common argument that most space tourism start-ups use about the government). Also, they have a philosophy of completely admitting it and talking about it when they screw up, which does happen quite often. I think this serves them well.

After the Lunar Lander challenge, Armadillo Aerospace plans on beginning design and construction of its first modular rocket prototype, a later generation of which they hope will take people into space. At about $200,000 a pop, of course.

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

Thursday, August 7, 2008

SpaceX Failure Aftermath

More news has come out about the failure of SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket that I talked about a few days ago.

First of all, the exact cause of the failure has been pinned down (and pretty quickly, I might add). The first stage went off without a hitch. However, after the rocket ceased igniting, there was residual pressure left in its cooling channels that continued to give the rocket a small amount of thrust. SpaceX was aware that this would happen. However, it lasted longer than was predicted; long enough to still be occurring during stage separation. Stage separation itself went off without a hitch; the two stages disconnected from each other perfectly. However, because of the residual thrust in the first stage's rocket, the two stages did not physically separate and this caused the failure.

This is actually a fairly minor problem (note: minor problems in space = spectacular destruction). It didn't occur with the last flight because they were still using the old Merlin 1A engine, and this problem is unique to the Merlin 1C engine. And furthermore, it wasn't discovered in advance because the pressure at which the rocket was tested was almost the same as the residual pressure in the cooling channels. The problem will be fixed with a simple timing adjustment on the stage separation for next launch. Speaking of the next launch, SpaceX announced that this could happen as soon as next month. I certainly hope they give us a bit more advance notification than last time; I'd really like to watch this one.

And how can SpaceX keep operating despite three failures, the loss of three satellites, and no successful launches? Well, SpaceX also announced that they have received $20 million in investments from a technology venture capital firm named Founder's Fund. And a good thing too; they'd be really hurting hurting otherwise.

I'll end this post with an awesome picture of Launch 3 (credit SpaceX), along with some amusing words from Elon Musk, SpaceX's CEO.

"Optimism, pessimism, fuck that; we're going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I'm hell-bent on making it work."

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

All About McCain

So I've been pretty hard on Obama lately. And for good reason. I like the guy, but he's made some pretty crappy decisions as of late. I usually talk about those here, and then I usually end those articles with a caveat like "However, I'm still likely to vote for him, because my differences with McCain are far greater, and I'll write about those soon". Well, I'm finally getting around to it. Today, I'll lay out what exactly it is I don't like about McCain.

Now, for the record, I actually have liked the guy in the past. A lot. I was really rooting for him to win the 2000 Republican primaries. I've been following his career a lot longer than I've been following Obama's. So what's changed? Well, just about everything. But let me go over my differences with him point by point.

Policies are, after all, the most important criteria for choosing a new leader of any sort.

1. Iraq
Seriously? You won't commit to taking us out of Iraq? Oh sure, you say you want the war to end, but you refuse to make any sort of firm commitment (saying, more or less, that we need to take it as it comes). You say you want "victory", but you won't define what "victory" means in Iraq. Guess what? This is exactly what Bush has been saying all along, and look where it has gotten us! If you really are committed to ending the war, at least set yourself apart from Bush a smidgen. Since you fail to do so, I can't trust you on this one bit.

2. Energy
Granted, for a Republican, McCain has had an excellent record in supporting sound energy policies. This is one of the reasons I have liked him in the past. He has heavily supported the development of alternative forms of energy. However, this all changed around 2006, when he started running for president. His energy policy now centers on three things: oil exploration in the US, clean coal technology, and nuclear power. He does mention alternative energy sources, but his website (for example) only has a small paragraph about them buried in a huge page devoted to his energy policies. Go see for yourself. So let me talk about his three main energy proposals.
I actually do think Nuclear technology has a place in meeting our demand for energy, as long as it is done very carefully. However, what McCain (or anyone else, to be fair) fails to mention is the fact that this produces hazardous waste that remains hazardous for tens of thousands of years. Launching the waste into space is too risky. So to deal with it, someplace has to be contaminated almost permanently. The place I see for nuclear energy is a temporary measure to meet our needs while we develop alternative energy sources. This should not be a permanent measure, because we need to limit the amount of waste produced.
Clean Coal and Oil Exploration:
Yes, I put these into the same category because my issues with coal and oil are the same: we will run out of them! And very very soon! I don't actually mind the idea of drilling for more oil (as long as it is done carefully and safely, which it rarely is) or developing safe, clean ways to extract and process coal, so long that these are not the main focus of our energy policy! Putting too much money and energy into these solutions is akin to throwing it away, because it will all be gone before this century is over (and most in the scientific community believe it will happen much sooner than that)! We need to start now to focus our efforts on developing other sources of energy before the coal and oil run dry! Solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal energy are all excellent solutions to our problems; they just need to be developed! Oh hey, and in developing them, we might just be able to create a freaking ton more jobs and help fix the economy at the same time! How's that for a smart idea?

3. Diplomacy
I firmly agree with Obama when it comes to Diplomacy. Of course we should be talking with our enemies! That's how we get them to be, well, not our enemies anymore. Seems to have worked pretty well in North Korea. However, McCain seems dead-set against even taking a second glance at people who we should be negotiating with, whether it is with Cuba, Iran, the Palestinian government, or North Korea.
Wait, North Korea? Didn't I just say we negotiated with them and it worked?
Well, yes. But McCain had this to say prior to the breakthrough, in a joint statement with Senator Lieberman: "We must never squander the trust of our allies and the respect for our highest office by promising that the president will embark on an open-ended, unconditional personal negotiation with a dictator responsible for running an international criminal enterprise, a cover nuclear weapons program and a massive system of gulags." But wait, whoops, the talking worked.

4. Taxes
Do you know how much national debt we have? Nine trillion dollars. Specifically, in the early afternoon of of Tuesday, August 5, 2008 when I wrote this paragraph, we had nine-trillion, five-hundred-sixty-six-billion, seven-hundred-fifty-one million, three-hundred-twenty-three-thousand, eight-hundred-twenty-two dollars and fifty-three cents of national debt. For the record, that's $9,566,751,323,822.53. That almost sounds like a made-up number! A hundred-zillion-gajillion-bazillion! I'll rant more about that later, but my point here is that President Bush added more onto it than any other president in history. Do you know how he did that? He cut taxes during a time of war. And not only once, but three times! While we needed the money to fight an endless war in Iraq and a marginally effective one in Afghanistan simultaneously, we decided we needed to dig ourselves farther into a hole by cutting taxes. And why? It would "help the economy." Well, look where that has gotten us. I'm no economist, and I'm certainly no political expert, but even I could see how this was bad. And I was really ecstatic when McCain stood up and argued against Bush's tax cuts! He argued against them for all the right reasons; because we weren't curbing spending, because we were borrowing heavily from future generations, because they weren't necessarily good for the economy, and because we were at war. I was inspired that someone from the right would have the guts to stand up and say these things. But now? Now he's all for keeping the Bush tax cuts in tact and making them permanent. Hooray.

5. The "Patriot" Act
McCain voted for the "Patriot" Act. Need I say more? (Though, to be fair, Obama voted to reauthorize the darned thing. Oh why oh why did you do that?)

6. Habeus Corpus
Remember my rant a couple of months ago about granting Guantanamo prisoners the right of Habeus Corpus? Back in 2005, when I still liked McCain, he went on and on about how those prisoners should be granted that right. It was great! Here, I'll even give you a direct quote:
"Now, I know that some of these guys are terrible, terrible killers and the worst kind of scum of humanity. But, one, they deserve to have some adjudication of their cases. And there's a fear that if you release them that they'll go back and fight again against us. And that may have already happened. But balance that against what it's doing to our reputation throughout the world and whether it's enhancing recruiting for people to join al-Qaeda and other organizations and want to do bad things to the United States of America. I think, on balance, the argument has got to be--the weight of evidence has got to be that we've got to adjudicate these people's cases, and that means that if it means releasing some of them, you'll have to release them."
And what does he have to say now that the Supreme Court has given them those rights? He called it "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country." No, Mr. McCain, it was one of the best. You're now totally wrong on this one.

7. Lobbying Transparency
If various groups are going to be allowed to make direct appeals to government officials (a.k.a. lobbying), then it's only fair that the people of the United States be allowed to know who is paying for the lobbying, right? Well, McCain used to be vocally for this sort of thing (yet another reason why I used to like him), but as the presidential campaign approached, he voted against legislation that would have done just that.

8. Gay Marriage.
He's against legal gay marriage. Specifically, he has said that he doesn't mind if people have "ceremonies", but that it shouldn't be legal. As I have expressed in the past, I believe this to be a critical human rights issue, and McCain is on the wrong side. Come on, let these people have a little happiness. It's not as if your own marriage is going to crumble and you and your wife will stop loving each other just because some gay people get married somewhere, right?

After all, isn't it rather important for a leader to be ethical while he or she is.. er.. leading?

1. Iraq
When the war in Iraq was approaching, McCain said several times that it would likely be an easy victory and that we wouldn't be there for long. That's fine, and he was certainly entitled to his opinion on that. However, he more recently made this remark: "The American People were led to believe that this would be some kind of day at the beach, which many of us fully understood from the very beginning would be a very difficult undertaking." Hmm, really? And who led them to believe that, Mr. McCain? And hey, I found a YouTube video that contained clips of all of this here.

2. Campaign Finance
This is the main reason I have liked John McCain in the past. He has been a great champion to the cause of limiting corporate influence in the government, which is my personal number one issue period. And while McCain appears to have backed off some of his previous stances during his current presidential campaign, that it not what I'm complaining about here. I'm going to describe a serious ethical lapse.
The campaign finance law works like this where it concerns presidential primaries: if someone opts in to public financing, they get over $5 million in government funding for their campaign, but they aren't allowed to spend more than $54 million before their party's nominating convention. Well, in mid 2007, McCain's campaign was looking pretty well done for. He was almost out of money and down to just a few staffers. So, he took out a couple of loans, stating that he would opt-in to the public financing system and use the government funds as collateral. This is perfectly fine for a candidate to do. However, when McCain had a huge comeback and looked like he had a chance to win the nomination early this year, he decided to arbitrarily opt our of the finance reform to be able to spend all the money he wanted, despite the fact that he had used the government funds as collateral for his loans. This was not only extremely unethical, but also illegal.
But isn't there someone to police this sort of improper behavior, you might ask? Well, there is, I might answer. It's called the Federal Election Commission, or FEC. Unfortunately, the FEC can't act on this. They can't act on anything right now since they don't have a quorum due to Republican stalling tactics. How convenient.
I should mention, in all fairness, that I have completely unrelated issues with Obama concerning campaign finance that you can read about here.

And, well, that's all I can think of right now. Maybe I'll post with more at another time. But did you notice how I never once went after McCain's age, or his personal life, or his temper, or his occasional gaffes? You shouldn't need to stoop to such levels to form an argument against someone. Let's have a clean contest here, guys.

But yeah. I don't think McCain would do us any good at all. If he had been elected in 2000, maybe. But not anymore.

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05

Monday, August 4, 2008

SpaceX's Third Falcon 1 Launches... And Fails.

I mentioned several months ago that SpaceX normally plays its launches live over the internet, and I'd let you know when their next launch was so that any of the five people who read this blog could watch it.

Well, SpaceX announced Saturday the 2nd that their next launch would be... Saturday the 2nd. Due to the fact that it was Saturday, and I was occupied most of the day by getting my dog washed and having some friends over to my house, I completely missed the thing myself, and was therefore unable to make a post here.

But my dismay due to missing the launch was increased by the fact that the launch failed... again.

Trying to launch highly-expensive satellites on a platform that has never successfully made it to orbit was always a risky idea, but I held out hope that it would succeed. The first stage of the rocket was picture perfect, just like their last attempt, but it failed to disconnect from the second stage, which led to the destruction of the rocket and the three satellites that it was carrying.

SpaceX is going to go ahead with its fourth launch, which may happen as soon as a couple of months for now. However, if that one fails too, I see doom in the future for SpaceX, which would be a tragedy considering its significant potential to the world of commercial spaceflight, and (to a lesser extent) space tourism.

Oh, and a late report says that the rocket was carrying James Doohan's ashes, along with those of 200 other people. James Doohan, of course, played Scottie on Star Trek. Too bad Scottie didn't design the rocket. I actually met the guy once, just a few years before he died. Nice guy. His favorite line was "Captain! There be whales here!"

Progress: 4.03%  Flight Time: 0:06:05