Life Imitating Art

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Credit: NASA

In which NASA unwittingly threatens a big-budget production of the opening chapter of Perigee. There’s a lot to unpack here. First, The Verge on the the buzz it has created inside the agency (and the inherent challenges):

NASA is mulling over the idea of putting astronauts on the first flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) — the giant heavy-lift rocket the space agency is building to take people to Mars someday. Currently, NASA is hoping to fly the SLS for the first time in fall of 2018, and the original plan was for that mission to be uncrewed. But a new memo sent out to NASA employees this morning shows that the agency will start investigating the possibility of making the debut flight of SLS, called EM-1, a crewed mission instead.

This seems…unwise. Continue reading

Here Comes the Boom

Credit: Boom Aerospace

Credit: Boom Aerospace

Good interview with Boom Aerospace CEO Blake Scholl at RealClearFuture:

Ultimately, we would like the ability to go anywhere in the world in five hours for a hundred bucks.

Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt. But then I read this:

That’s the long-term mission. That’s our equivalent of going to Mars.

Okay then. I’m guessing he’s counting on Jet-A prices remaining stable. If I sound cynical, well it doesn’t take much time in the aviation business to become hopelessly so. Having said that, I really hope they can pull this off.

(H/T: Instapundit)

UPDATE 2/14: Forgot to link this background story from Air & Space.

The Curse Of The Second Novel

Truth.

madgeniusclub

I bring you bad news.  There is a curse on a second novel.  To be exact, there is a curse on a second PUBLISHED novel, no matter how many novels you’ve published before.

I’m not sure if this applies to indie novels, I confess, but I think it might, if you have at least had some kind of success on your first book.  Now, it depends on what success is to you.  If you go Martian-big on your first novel (we should all be so cursed) I almost guarantee that you’ll suffer second novel curse on the next.  But it’s possible that if you never at all expected to sell anything at all, and you sell a couple thousand books, you’ll also suffer second novel curse.

What is worse, you can suffer second novel curse when you have “simply” taken a big leap in sales or in PERCEIVED craft.  I…

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SpaceXpensive

Being a privately-held company, SpaceX’s finances have been notoriously opaque. No doubt Elon Musk prefers it that way, because he can’t be too pleased with last month’s Wall Street Journal “expose” of their account books.  The story is still behind the WSJ paywall so we’ll have to take The Motley Fool‘s word for it:

In an expose compiled from “exclusive … internal documents” — probably obtained from the “former SpaceX employees” that it interviewed — theJournal confirms that SpaceX has in fact been losing money since at least the beginning of 2015. Says the Journal, not only did SpaceX rack up losses of $260 million in 2015, but it actually incurred “an operating loss every quarter, and also negative cash flow of roughly $15 million.”

For the record, this means SpaceX was losing money nearly one year before the company removed the famous “profitable and cash-flow positive” assertion from its website.

Not too surprising, considering that their launch rate was still well below target even before losing two boosters to “rapid unscheduled disassembly.”

No Kerbals were harmed during this simulation.

Not SpaceX, but you get the idea. No Kerbonauts were harmed in production of this graphic.

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Guitar Heaven

Between writing and the day job, music is an avocation which I never seem to have enough time for. I play with a group of guys who are just in the “having fun” stage for now, but occasionally we turn out something that actually sounds really good. Here’s my modest guitar collection, mostly acquired with book royalties (not bragging, just offering as motivation):

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I’ve been a Les Paul guy since college, but recently discovered the joys of a souped-up Telecaster with a lightning-fast neck. So of course I had to get two.

I’ll have to sell a lot more books to even make a dent in this place, however:

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Wounded Animals, etc.

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Just because the Leftists are out of power doesn’t make them any less dangerous:

While most of our operatives started and stayed with one specific group, I was unable to initially penetrate the group I was responsible for infiltrating. I had to work my way up the ladder, moving from one group to another in order to achieve my objective. In my migration from group to group, I found that political ideology was a significant factor in the determination of what types of activities the groups would sponsor; ranging from sit-ins to marches to direct action. I can broadly classify these ideologies as liberal socialists, communists and anarchists.

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A Modest Proposal

This headline is just begging to have a list of names appended to it:

Put People on Mars by 2033 – For the Good of the Nation

I agree with the sentiment, but that’s as far as it goes. Not to take away from the achievements of the authors, but this is just pablum:

Third and most importantly, the European Space Agency, Russians, and Chinese continue to accelerate their human spaceflight programs. Americans must not cede the finish line. Our country should not wait until we receive the news that someone else has won the race to Mars for our leaders in Washington to ask, “How’s our space program doing? Why didn’t we get first place?” It will be too late. We must ask those questions now.

Nice try, but the very first sentence of that argument is hopelessly flawed. ESA has no “manned space program” other than the astronauts who’ve hitched rides with us and the Russians. The Russian program occasionally announces grandiose plans for new ventures, but the reality is they’re mired in funding and quality control problems. And at the rate the Chinese are putting up crews, the idea of them landing men on Mars in another 15 years is laughable.

There is no “race” to Mars, much as I want to see us go. Repeating the same tired pitches for Apollo 2.0 is not achieving anything, unless they’re just positioning themselves for political appointments.

As Rand Simberg often points out, it shouldn’t be NASA’s job to send humans to Mars. Their job should be making it possible for the National Geographic Society to send humans to Mars.