The Risk of Death by Meteor greater than the Risk of Death by Global Warming

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 2nd, 2014

Week in Review

There is an oft used expression that goes something like this.  In the long run we’ll all be dead.  So the long-term isn’t as important as the short-term.  Politicians live their lives by this.  As they irresponsibly borrow and spend to win votes.  Who don’t worry about the long-term damage they’re doing to the country.  Because in the long run they’ll be dead.  But they don’t have that same sentiment when it comes to global warming.  Where they say we must act now before it’s too late.  And we give our children a future devastated by global warming.  Giving them a future devastated by their reckless and irresponsible financial policies they’re okay with.  But not a future ruined by global warming.  Even though the financial devastation will probably come first.  Or this (see 400-kg meteor hits the moon by QMI Agency posted 2/24/2014 on the Toronto Sun).

On Sept. 11, 2013, a 400-kg rock hurtling through space at 61,000 km/h in the Mare Nubium smashed into the surface of the moon, releasing as much energy as 15 tonnes of TNT.

The meteor was 10 times bigger than the last record-holder, a 40-kg rock NASA observed hitting the moon March 17, 2013.

They say this rock was as big as a small car.  We better hope that nothing bigger than this hits the moon.  For if something does it could break the moon apart.  Disrupting tidal currents on earth.  And sending a chunk of the moon much larger than a small car into Earth.  Doing more damage than we can even imagine.  A real concern.  For a current hypothesis for the formation of the moon is from something as large as Mars smashing into Earth.  So there is a lot of space crap zinging around out there.  And we would probably be better served in trying to think of a way to defend against getting crushed to death by a rock from outer space than worrying about global warming.  For the odds are probably greater for getting hit by a piece of space crap than dying from global warming.

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The Government would not provide for the Apollo 11 Astronauts’ Families in the event of their Deaths

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 1st, 2012

Week in Review

President Obama told small business owners, the people who built their businesses, that they didn’t build their businesses.  His defenders say he was taken out of context.  That he was talking about the roads and bridges that made their success possible.  But he also said that these small business owners weren’t smarter than other people.  And that there were a lot of smart people.  Implying that these small owners either just had dumb luck.  Or it was the road and bridges that made everything possible.  For government is the great prime mover.  And the great nurturer.  Everything good happens because of good government.

They love to point to the space program.  Putting the first man on the moon.  How it was government that made that happen.  Even though private companies built it.  North American Aviation built the command/service module.  Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation built the Lunar Module.  Boeing, North American Aviation and Douglas Aircraft Company built the Saturn V launch vehicle.  NASA contracted this work out.  And paid these private contractors with our tax dollars.  But these private companies built it.  Interesting, the actual government part, the astronauts, the people the government hired, train and paid was also the government’s least impressive part.

This was where the government did not nurture very well.   Where the government truly failed to provide.  For our brave astronauts.  Who were doing something so dangerous that they couldn’t afford the cost of the life insurance policies to take care of their families.  Not on their meager government salaries (they were meager back then).  In case something went wrong.  So with the government choosing NOT to help their families in case something went wrong these brave men did what they could should their mission serving their country end in their deaths (see Neil Armstrong Couldn’t Afford Life Insurance, So He Used a Creative Way to Provide for His Family If He Died by Robert Johnson, Business Insider, posted 8/31/2012 on Yahoo! Finance).

After all the danger, glory, and fame it’s easy to forget that at the end of the day astronauts are federal employees subject to the same General Schedule (GS) pay scale as everyone from typists to CIA agents.

Unfortunately, a federal salary wasn’t enough for Apollo 11 astronauts to purchase life insurance…

So about a month before they were set to go to the moon, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin were locked into a Plexiglas room together and got busy providing for their families the only way they could — they signed hundreds of autographs.

In what would become a common practice, the guys signed their names on envelopes emblazoned with various space-related images. The ‘covers’ would, of course, become intensely valuable should the trio perish on the mission. They’re now often referred to as ” Apollo Insurance Covers.”

And to ensure the covers would hold maximum value, the crew put stamps on them, and sent them in a package to a friend, who dumped them all in the mail so they would be postmarked July 16, 1969 — the day of the mission’s success — or its failure.

The government didn’t build it.  And they paid our astronauts poorly.  Refusing even to take care of their families if the government killed them in their space program.  Yet this is the example the Left likes to point to about how great and wonderful the government is.  What a disservice to the private contractors that actually built it.  And those brave astronauts who flew in what they built.  No.  Government should be ashamed of itself for making these brave astronauts sign collectibles that would only gain sufficient value if they died on the job.  Their celebrity in death would have been the only way they could have provided for their families.  Because the government wouldn’t.  How sad.  And macabre.  And this is what the government points proudly to today as a government success?  Cold, cruel detachment?  No, this was not government’s finest hour.  It may have been NASA’s.  The private contractors.  And the astronauts.  But it wasn’t government’s.  Because the government didn’t build it.

God bless Neil Armstrong.  May his spirit soar through space.  Back to where he first set foot on the moon.  Where he can look upon the earth and see it as so few have seen it before.  And smile.  Like it was 1969 once again.

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On the Fourth Manned Mission the Chinese Dock to their soon to be Space Station

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 17th, 2012

Week in Review

There are two space stations.  One international.  And one Chinese (see Shenzhou-9 docks with Tiangong-1 by Jonathan Amos posted 6/18/2012 on BBC News).

China’s Shenzhou-9 capsule, with its crew of three, has docked with the Tiangong-1 space lab…

It is China’s fourth manned mission and another opportunity to see how far the Asian nation has developed its space technology…

The lab is a prototype for the type of modules the nation hopes to join in orbit later this decade to form a permanently manned space station.

At about 60 tonnes in mass, this proposed station would be considerably smaller than the 400-tonne international platform operated by the US, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan, but its mere presence in the sky would nonetheless represent a remarkable achievement.

Remarkable indeed.  But what does it mean?  No room at the International Space Station for the Chinese?  Or do the Chinese just want to conduct their experiments in secret?  And if so, why?  Or is it just national pride?  To show that Chinese technology is among the best in the world?  Whatever the reason one thing is for sure.  It’s getting crowded in space. 

Space programs are expensive.  That’s why we cancelled the last Apollo moon missions.  And the Space Shuttle program.  We joined the International Space Station to share resources.  And costs.  Will the Chinese, too, suffer budget shortfalls and have to scale back their space program?  Or will they give up buying U.S. bonds to plug their budget holes?

There’s a woman onboard this mission.  Which is almost as remarkable as is this space achievement.  For they may discriminate against women in the womb.  But if they make it out of the womb a woman clearly has the same opportunities a man has.  Considering a lot of astronauts/cosmonauts are old ex-fighter pilots with combat experience (in the early days of manned space flight, at least) it says a lot that a young woman was on the 4th manned mission.  Then again, the communists are progressives.

Let’s hope that the Chinese come to space like everyone else.  In peace.

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NASA’s Voyager 1 is approaching the Edge of our Universe

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 17th, 2012

Week in Review

NASA launched Voyager 1 in 1977 when Jimmy Carter was president.  It’s been flying in space for some 35 years.  It’s still flying.  And it’s still communicating to us.  Even though it’s a long way from home (see Voyager 1 Spaceship to Break Out of Solar System, Into Outer Space by NILS KONGSHAUG posted 6/15/2012 on ABC News).

Fifty-five years after humans first escaped the bounds of Earth and launched a satellite into orbit, we are about to cross another frontier…

That frontier is the farthest reach of the solar winds, the particles that shoot from the sun at a million miles an hour, giving us the northern lights as they bend around Earth’s magnetic field.

At some distance from our sun the solar winds will be overwhelmed by the interstellar winds that blow among the stars.

That boundary, the very edge of the solar system, is called the “heliopause.” No spacecraft has ever reached it, and scientists don’t know exactly how far away it is. But last month the number of cosmic rays hitting Voyager 1 started to shoot up…

And in a mere 40,000 years, Voyager 1 will approach another star. Another sun.

It’s hard to imagine what 40,000 years is.  For us to look forward to that time would be like a Neanderthal looking forward to our time.  If another intelligent life on a planet orbiting that sun examines that spacecraft 40,000 years from now it may be like us looking at a curious Neanderthal relic we unearthed today.  Or perhaps something will enter our galaxy that has traveled 40,000 years to get here by a civilization long gone from this universe.

The universe is a big place.  We may not be alone in it.  But for all practical purposes we are.  For it would take incredible propulsion systems to accelerate us fast enough to get anywhere and back before we died on the trip.  Or we need advances in medical science that can extend the life expectancy of man to about 80,000 years.

Just food for thought the next time there’s talk about UFOs in our skies.

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Dragon docks at ISS after Flawless Launch by Private Company SpaceX

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 3rd, 2012

Week in Review

Space.  The final frontier.  Once the purview of government space programs.  Now in the hands of the private sector (see ‘Feels a bit like a sci-fi film set’: ISS astronaut reacts to entering the SpaceX Dragon by Associated Press posted 5/29/2012 on the Daily Mail).

As the ISS crew floated into the Dragon on Saturday – a day after its heralded arrival as the world’s first commercial supply ship – one astronaut took to his blog to describe the historic milestone…

‘This is the first time that a commercial spacecraft has flown to the ISS and docked with the Station. You could say a new era of spaceflight has begun. Soon private companies will take people to and from space.’

Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Pettit said it reminded him of the cargo capability of his pickup truck back home in Houston.

‘The smell inside smells like a brand new car,’ Pettit reported. The compartment was brilliantly white and, he noted; clean, no dirt or other particles appeared to be floating around…

The California-based SpaceX – formally Space Exploration Technologies Corp. – is the first private company to send a vessel to the space station.

NASA is handing over orbital delivery work to American business in order to focus on bigger and better objectives, such as getting astronauts to asteroids and Mars.

The space agency hopes astronaut ferry trips will follow soon; SpaceX contends its Dragons could be carrying space station astronauts up and down within three or four years…

Until now, only major governments have launched cargo ships to the space station. Russia, Japan and Europe will keep providing supplies, and Russia will continue to sell rocket rides to U.S. astronauts until SpaceX or other companies are ready to take over. Several American companies are competing for the honor.

I guess the International Space Station (ISS) has lost that new car smell.  And based on his description of the Dragon commercial spacecraft I’m guessing the Russian supply spacecrafts are not quite reminiscent of opening the door on a new car.  Or very clean.

Yeah, that’s why NASA is handing over the mundane work of resupplying the ISS to American business.  So they can focus on bigger and better things.  Right.  Perhaps they should let American business handle that, too.  For as amazing as the Space Shuttle was it was an abject failure.  The reusable shuttle was supposed to earn money.  That’s why they made it reusable.  It was going to be like a truck on the highway.  Zipping all over the place and delivering revenue-earning cargo.  But they could never fly the thing enough in a year to turn a profit.  And it was just too costly per mission.  It was a black hole in the federal budget.  That’s why they retired it without having anything to replace it.  Relying on the Russians to keep the ISS in orbit.  Who were using the same rocket platform they were using when we were using the Saturn V to put men on the moon.  Because that technology still works.  And costs less to put them up into orbit than it did launching a Space Shuttle.

This is a testament to the power of capitalism.  Where a person can dream.  Pour money into that dream.  And reap the benefits of success.  The space program has now been handed off to capitalism.  And the private sector.  Thanks to the success of SpaceX.  Who may have a better chance than NASA these days of boldly going where no person has gone before.

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The NASA Old Guard Supporting Mitt Romney to Reverse Obama’s NASA Disarray

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 28th, 2012

Week in Review

NASA doesn’t like President Obama.  For it was on his watch that they retired the Space Shuttle program.  And now have to rely on the Russians to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station.  Pretty sad for it was NASA that put a man on the moon.  No one else has.  And now the American space program has been reduced to hitchhiking rides on old Russian rocket systems that were used during the glory days of NASA (see Last man on the Moon backs Mitt Romney’s race to White House orbit by Jacqui Goddard posted 1/28/2012 on The Telegraph).

In an open letter endorsing Mr Romney’s candidacy, veterans including Apollo 17 moonwalker Gene Cernan, first space shuttle pilot Bob Crippen and former head of Nasa Mike Griffin, feted him as the only contender capable of reversing the “disarray” wreaked on Nasa by President Obama.

Their boost comes after several days of campaigning by the Republican hopefuls on Florida’s Space Coast, a region that thrived during Nasa’s glory days but which is now facing economic gloom following the retirement of the space shuttle last year and confusion over what will succeed it.

On Friday, Mr Romney admitted to a crowd at Cape Canaveral – home to Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre – that if elected, he would assemble expertise to help chart a new course for the space programme. Mr Gingrich said that he already had one in mind: colonizing the Moon by the end of his second term as president.

Obama is making no friends in the space community.  Despite his quest for jobs of the future.  And if any jobs would qualify as jobs of the future they would have to be space jobs.  But there’s a problem with these jobs.  They’re not unionized enough.  And don’t send a lot of campaign money to Democrat coffers.  Hence Obama’s lack of interest in NASA.

Interestingly, the old guard of NASA is endorsing Mitt Romney.  Who will establish a blue ribbon panel to figure out what to do with NASA.  While Newt Gingrich is proposing Apollo – Phase II, the return to the moon.  This would be a boon to the space community.  Which is what you’d think the old guard would want.  Unless they don’t believe the taxpayers would never support such a bold and expensive program like that.  Or they think it was just expedient politics before the Florida primary.  Or they just don’t believe Newt Gingrich can win in the general election.  And they want someone who appears to be more moderate.  And can reach across the aisle.  Like John McCain.  Who lost in 2008 to Barack Obama.  Which just goes to show you how well moderates fair against Democrat ‘moderates’ (Obama ran as a moderate but gave us Obamacare).

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Russia’s Ambitious Unmanned Mars Mission Fails

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 15th, 2012

Week in Review

The Russians planned a mission to land a spacecraft on a moon of Mars.  Excavate some material.  And return to Earth.  You’d have to go back to America’s Apollo Moon Program for something as bold.  Unfortunately their mission failed (see Russian space probe crashes into Pacific by VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV posted 1/15/2012 on my way).

A Russian space probe designed to boost the nation’s pride on a bold mission to a moon of Mars came down in flames Sunday, showering fragments into the south Pacific west of Chile’s coast, officials said…

The Phobos-Ground was designed to travel to one of Mars’ twin moons, Phobos, land on it, collect soil samples and fly them back to Earth in 2014 in one of the most daunting interplanetary missions ever. It got stranded in Earth’s orbit after its Nov. 9 launch, and efforts by Russian and European Space Agency experts to bring it back to life failed…

Russia’s space chief has acknowledged the Phobos-Ground mission was ill-prepared, but said that Roscosmos had to give it the go-ahead so as not to miss the limited Earth-to-Mars launch window.

Mars is the Earth’s neighbor.  Phobos-Ground was going to take about 3 years for a round trip to a Mars moon.  The launch was rushed because of the different orbits of Mars and Earth.  It’s sort of like throwing a pass in the NFL.  You don’t throw the ball to the receiver.  You throw it where the receiver will be.  So they had to launch Phobos-Ground so it would arrive where the moon of Mars would be.  Not where it was.

Because of these great distances and the movement of the planets, navigating between these heavenly bodies is not easy.  Also, this was an unmanned mission.  Because as of now the technology does not exist to build a ship large enough with enough food and water and energy to sustain human life for a roundtrip to Mars.  Not to mention the affect of weightlessness, the lack of exercise, fresh air, sunshine, etc.  Or what would happen if an astronaut or a cosmonaut or other space traveler caught a cold or suffered an appendicitis.  An unmanned mission was difficult enough.  A manned mission is beyond the realm of possibility.  For now.

Space travel is costly, difficult and highly risky.  Just to reach Mars.  Let alone intergalactic travel.  The obstacles to overcome may be insurmountable.  Yet if those having the technology were to do so they no doubt would have the technology to end hunger, control the weather and eliminate war.  And have no conceivable reason for contacting a far distant planet.

Unless they’re just incredibly bored.  And have money to burn.  Or are like the Professor on the television show Gilligan’s Island.  Who could build a radio receiver out of coconuts but couldn’t figure out how to patch a hole in a boat.  Smart enough to do the complex.  But not smart enough to something simpler.  Which would negate the necessity of the more complex.

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