SpaceX: Going Big or Going Home

If you’re a space nerd, I don’t have to tell you how big a deal today is. SpaceX just dropped this concept video for a taste of what they’re up to before the main event:

Yeah, it’s big. It’ll be interesting to hear how they plan to put all those windows up in the pointy end. Watch here to find out:

Not to be outdone, Blue Origin’s been rather busy too:

New Glenn wind tunnel model. Credit: Blue Origin

New Glenn wind tunnel model. Credit: Blue Origin

Welcome to the future, y’all.

New From Blue

Just breaking via Twitter:

I must admit to a little bit of hero-worship for this guy: he made his fortune by giving people what they want via Amazon, and is using that fortune to build what he really wants. Not to mention that Kindle Direct almost single-handedly enabled my burgeoning writing career (as did Elon Musk to a barely lesser degree, who initially financed SpaceX with the money he made from selling PayPal). To have these two in competition is going to do more for our expansion into the solar system than anything since Apollo (which sadly didn’t do much in the long term). And I do kind of prefer Blue’s “open ended” approach to SpaceX’s “Occupy Mars” guiding philosophy – that is, we’ll build the vehicles. Someone else can buy them and send them wherever they want.

Ignoring Popular Science’s childish penis-envy headline, Mr. Bezos is engaging in a bit of a blocking play: SpaceX has been touting the Big Reveal of their Mars vehicle architecture later this month. That’s twice now where Bezos has stolen his thunder, so it’ll be telling to see Musk’s response as he wasn’t especially gracious about New Shepard’s first landing.

Much more at Ars Technica and The Verge, but I’ll note this from the Ars piece:

And this may just be the beginning. When Ars visited with Bezos earlier this year, the founder said, “Our first orbital vehicle will not be our last, and it will be the smallest orbital vehicle we will ever build.” Indeed, in his e-mail sent Monday, Bezos teased just this, writing “New Glenn is a very important step. It won’t be the last of course. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong. But that’s a story for the future.”

Obligatory Horn-Tooting

The online magazine Science Fiction & Fantasy World ran a nice little interview with yours truly, which I almost missed thanks to the holiday weekend. Makes me feel like a real author. Probably need to change my photo to something more erudite and writer-ly, like maybe a smoking jacket in a leather armchair in front of a wall of books that I’ve never read. Something like this guy…

You can leave anytime, just buy my books! Here, have some champagne.

Happy Moon Day

Forty-seven years ago today, Americans landed on the moon. I was five years old and still remember every bit of it, including my parents letting me stay up way past my bedtime to watch an unassuming man from Wapokoneta, OH, step out and take a stroll.

For the closest thing you may ever have to a front-row seat, check out these painstakingly synchronized audio and video loops from both the spacecraft and mission control. And this video does an excellent job of explaining what was going on inside Eagle and the split-second judgments they had to make just to keep going:

Any one of those glitches could’ve ended in an abort if they weren’t resolved. Not to mention that the computer took them about three seconds long, which would’ve put them down into a boulder field. Being the steely-eyed missile man that he was, Armstrong recognized this with about 500 feet left to go and flew them forward to safer ground. When they finally landed, it was estimated that they had less than twenty seconds of fuel left.

Would that we might muster the will to do such things again.

Decline of the West

This piece in PJ Media set my blood boiling. Read at your own risk, but here’s the takeaway:

…the Islamic Republic of Iran:

  • Helped design the 9/11 plot
  • Provided intelligence support to identify and train the operatives who carried it out
  • Allowed the future hijackers to evade U.S. and Pakistani surveillance on key trips to Afghanistan — where they received the final order of mission from Osama bin Laden — by escorting them through Iranian borders without passport stamps
  • Evacuated hundreds of top al-Qaeda operatives from Afghanistan to Iran after 9/11 just as U.S. forces launched their offensive
  • Provided safe haven and continued financial support to al-Qaeda cadres for years after 9/11
  • Allowed al-Qaeda to use Iran as an operational base for additional terror attacks, in particular the May 2003 bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Iran? Really? Color me unsurprised.

After 9/11, the U.S. declared war on terror and entered Afghanistan and Iraq. But if Bush had really been serious about attacking jihad terror at its root, he would have invaded Saudi Arabia and Iran instead. Under Obama, the denial and willful ignorance have only gotten exponentially worse.

So one President lets them off the hook while the next gives them free license to build nukes. Yeah, this’ll turn out just peachy.

I’m done with these damned fools. Elect whoever you want, I’ll be stocking up on canned food and ammo. If our government won’t defend us, then we’ll just have to be prepared to do it ourselves.

About Ohio

This week, a lot of attention will be fixed on my adopted home state of Ohio. You might have heard there’s kind of a thing going on up in Cleveland, what with Trump University Pledge Week the Republican National Convention being in town. It promises to be a bigger media circus than normal, as the news outlets are just praying for a Black Lives Matter/White Supremacist throwdown in front of Quicken Loans Arena. There’s more than enough stupid on all sides for a Republican version of the Dem’s riotous 1968 Chicago convention. They’d no doubt love to see it.

Well, screw you guys. Here’s how we do things up here:

We have a lot more in common with the good people of Charleston, who unified in defiance of the out-of-town race-baiters who hoped to tear the city apart after last year’s church massacre. The hard lessons of Reconstruction taught us a thing or two about how to deal with carpetbaggers.

Having said that, I have been a conflicted Ohioan for over twenty years now. “Conflicted” because this means nearly half my life has been spent in a state – nay, an entire region – that is supposed to be anathema to a genteel Southern boy.

In other words, I’m supposed to hate it up here in Yankee Land. But here’s the weird thing: I don’t. In fact, there are a couple of things about it that are actually preferable. Excluding the suicidally dismal months of January and February, it ain’t bad. We’re in the middle of a glorious summer and fall is unfailingly spectacular.

Maybe I’m sentimental because this is where our roots have grown, but it’s been a good place to raise our kids despite not being one of the USA’s more exciting regions (or just maybe it’s because of that). Admittedly, I like that the area we live in has a lot more in common with West Virginia and Kentucky than those poor benighted Yankees up in Toledo and Cleveland. But don’t get me started on our ridiculous taxes; that’s what’ll lead me back down south before anything else. And please don’t ask me about the @#$&! Buckeyes. Ever.

And whereas southerners have a mostly well-deserved reputation for eccentricity, the people here are for the most part polite and level-headed. I married an Ohio country girl and wouldn’t trade her for all of the debutantes in Charleston. Not to say that all midwesterners are corn-fed pragmatists, nor are all southerners high-maintenance hysterics. But after dating far too many of the latter in my youth, my first experience with the former quickly showed which type I prefer.

So this week, the rest of you will get to see what we’re really made of here in boring old Ohio. I’m hoping it remains as good as that video. Let the carnival barkers and sideshow acts stay under the GOP’s circus tent. The rest of us have better things to do.