Historic moment in space technology

Haven’t been this excited since I was a little kid in the late Apollo era. SpaceX is recapturing the excitement of space like no one else has managed in decades!

Congratulations SpaceX 🙂

First on Mars: the contenders compared

Insurance companies and betting agents have a lot in common. Their advice is based on maths. As a business they only survive if they get the odds right. They don’t pretty things up just because it’s politically correct, or aligns to someone’s personal view.

So when a betting house lays odds on who will be first on Mars I think it carries some weight.

Popular Mechanics have asked the question to docsports.com and we have the results.

Space-X: 5:1 (they have the will and the money)
Mars Direct: 9:1 (they may have the best plan, but who’s paying?)
Mars One: 15:1 (on the off-chance it’s not a scam and they deliver what they say)
Inspiration Mars: The Dennis Tito flyby (I don’t think a mere flyby should qualify…)
Russia: 60:1 (Don’t underestimate Putin)
NASA: 80:1 (Docsports cites budget problems; I say the problem is Bolden)
China: 100:1 (late to the party, but catching up fast)
ESA: 300:1 (As usual Europeans are too busy navel-gazing)

What Bolden really said about SpaceX and the mission to Mars

What Bolden really said about SpaceX and the mission to Mars

Charles Bolden has recently had a Mars makeover. He likes to claim that everything that NASA now does is part of the “ultimate mission”, which is to Mars. The problem is that his priorities within NASA don’t support that claim. He’s cut $400 million from the SLS-Orion program and increased funding to earth sciences by almost the same amount. He denies that a year’s delay in the Orion program is even a delay at all. He even denies originally saying that the EM1 flight would be in 2017. He is fighting to keep $2 billion in earth sciences and away from planetary science.

Bolden rarely gives a straight answer, he rejects expert advice, ignores the NASA advisory council, and is utterly dismissive of SpaceX in regards to Mars – even going so far as to ask others in government “not to buy into” commercial efforts and interest in Mars. read more…

Mars link roundup

Like Mars news? Here’s some of the latest good links I’ve been reading:

143172261254763Loads of good news about Mars recently. here’s some of the good links:
Mars posters uploaded by SpaceX (oe of which you see on this page):

The very welcome news that Mars has belts of frozen water:

Mars engine simulations, radiation, short vs long mission profiles and many other issues:

Warning from Stephen Hwking: We must colonize other planets or we’re finished:
(You’d think this was stately the bleedin’ obvious, but for many people, sadly not…)

Am waiting patiently for the promised announcement about the MCT this year. What we know so far:

And a reminder of the crisis at NASA with this from former flight director Chris Kraft. His comments remain 100% relevant:

Meanwhile, the Future In Space Operations group’s list of documents. Loads of good download material:

A comparison of the Dragon and Orion capsules:

So who’s really doing the most to promote space exploration?

Buzz Aldrin famously said that “The biggest benefit of Apollo was the inspiration it gave to a growing generation to get into science and aerospace.” So who’s doing the inspiring now? Aldrin’s still out there, and there’s the national multi-national space agencies of course: NASA, Roscosmos, the ESA, CNSA (China National Space Administration), JAXA, ISRO and others.

In recent times there’s been inspirational individuals such as Cornell University astronomer Carl Sagan: author of more than 600 scientific papers and 20 books. He co-wrote the original Cosmos series, was on the review committee for Project Blue Book, and was heavily involved in devising the explanatory plaques on some of the early deep space probes. In later years he advocated for an organized watch on near-Earth objects. He died in 1996. The Mars Pathfinder landing site was named the Carl Sagan Memorial Station in his honor, and there’s an asteroid called “2709 Sagan”.

One other thing Sagan did was to co-found the Planetary Society.

Current Planetary Society CEO is Bill Nye: former TV presenter, engineer, comedian and bow-tie enthusiast. Through his TV work Bill has no doubt inspired many children with the joys of science. But he’s a busy guy. His science interests range far and wide into many fields from desalination to evolution. But is he inspirational to anyone over the age of 7? Bill has fallen victim to the well-known curse of the early childhood teacher and constantly falls into the “I’m talking to little kids” persona. read more…

Elon and Mars

Remember that Elon Musk promised to give details about his Mars Colonial Transporter later this year.

The plan (as revealaed so far) is to put 100 tons on Mars with each lift: Wikipedia, an d this by 2025 or so.

Another memorable answer from Charles Bolden

In the face of Russia-US tensions what could we do if the Russia denied US astronauts rides to the ISS? As usual NASA administrator Bolden has the answer: “We would make an orderly evacuation.” This was during a US House Appropriations subcommittee hearing. It’s another dim moment from the long-time administrator’s lack-lustre stint. Bolden is out of his depth – as he has been for his entire 2000+ days in charge of NASA.

Put simply NASA has no contingency plan.

Remember when Bolden was asked about what could be done if an asteroid was headed toward New York? His reply: “pray”. Great, that’s what you’re employed for Charles, coming up with good ideas from your team of some of the smartest people on the planet.

Just after Bolden became administrator in 2009 he was asked what NASA’s priorities were. His answer: Muslim outreach. The kindest thing you could say about that was that Bolden was inept, and tried too hard to pander to his audience.

Bolden has presided over the end the Constellation program, the retirement of the space shuttles, the inability of the US to send a human into space, the weird priority of sending a crewed mission to an asteroid, and derided the possibility of returning to the Moon. Faced with the increasing popularity of the idea of a mission to Mars (Buzz Aldrin urges Mars colony), he’s reluctantly – finally – agreed Mars is the goal, but has only an unfunded and ridiculous mission plan set sometime in the never-never for which he’ll not need to accept any responsibility.

A for effort, but that’s not a Vulcan sign

vulcan3What a misery guts I am, but I just have to point out that Leonard Nimoy’s tribute from the ISS was not a Vulcan sign. The Vulcan “Live Long and Prosper” sign is always given with the thumb apart from the hand. It’s a small point but it’s significant. It’s like spelling someone’s name incorrectly, or giving a talk in a city which you then mispronounce. No one will probably say anything, but knowing looks are swapped. It was a nice gesture, but it wasn’t correct. Not on the scale of Neil Armstrong’s much-discussed omission of the word “a” (pressure? what pressure?), but still needs to be noted.

Here we have the real thing in Star Trek original and Veteran Nimoy flavors:


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