Friday, March 07, 2008

Do-overs in Florida, depending on Russia, President of the World

After the Read More! Hillary rejects a "do-over" in Florida. NASA to buy Plutonium-238 from Russia. The Presidency of the World.

TPM Election Central quotes Hillary as saying "I would not accept a caucus. I think that would be a great disservice to the 2 million people who turned out and voted. "I think that they want their votes counted. And you know a lot of people would be disenfranchised because of the timing and whatever the particular rules were."

Hillary's phrase "whatever the particular rules were," conceals a world of irony. Before the nomination turned into a real fight Hillary had agreed not to count Florida. Those are what the rules were. And in now demanding the rules be set aside she proves that she's a woman of words, as long as you remember the words are "I lied".

NASA may be forced to buy Plutonium-238 from Russia to power its deep-space probes. "The United States stopped producing plutonium-238 in 1988 and since then has relied upon a dwindling stockpile supplemented since 1992 by periodic purchases of the material from Russia. NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizon spacecraft, for example, is powered by a radioisotope power system fueled by Russian plutonium, as will be the system that powers the Mars Science Laboratory."

NASA already depends on Moscow to put men in space. According to the Washington Post:

In 2 1/2 years, just as the station gets fully assembled, the United States will no longer have any spacecraft of its own capable of carrying astronauts and cargo to the station, in which roughly $100 billion is being invested. The three space shuttles will be retired by then, because of their high cost and questionable safety, and NASA will have nothing ready to replace them until 2015 at the earliest.

For five years or more, the United States will be dependent on the technology of others to reach the station, which American taxpayers largely paid for. To complicate things further, the only nation now capable of flying humans to the station is Russia, giving it a strong bargaining position to decide what it wants to charge for the flights at a time when U.S.-Russian relations are becoming increasingly testy.

Maybe these shortfalls will be addressed in next administration? Ya think?

One reader, writing privately believes that foreign money is beginning to dominate the US political process; and that it all began when huge trade deficits enabled foreign entities to dominate the ownership of key corporations. However that may be, certainly in this election cycle has seen a subconscious emphasis among some candidates towards running for the Presidency of the World. For example, Samantha Power, Barack Obama's recently sacked foreign policy adviser was a self-proclaimed "genocide chick" believes America "urgently needs to improve its standing in the world and this should include closing Guantanamo Bay.

It matters not just intrinsically that we close Guantanamo, it matters because we need to be credible at the UN. You can’t be against genocide on a Monday and for water boarding on Tuesday, then on Wednesday show up at the UN. We have to show that we know we can’t do it alone.

What do you mean "we", kemo sabe?

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.



Blogger Aenea said...

If Hillary lost in Michigan and won in Florida, then she would call for a do-over in Michigan but just to seat the delegates from Florida as they are.

3/07/2008 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

The really interesting aspect of the Pu shortage article to me is that the U.S. is about to run out and Russia has but 10 kg left itself. Gee, whatever happened to nuclear disarmament? Whatever happened to the shrieks that Pu was so deadly that a few pounds could exterminate the entire human race? Answer: The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy took care of the problem while the Left was still trying to figure out how to spell “Nukulear” for its protest signs.

Well, maybe we will be able to buy Pu from Iran before too long.

As for the Shuttle, I am staunch advocate of manned spaceflight - but NASA has had TWENTY SEVEN YEARS to come up with a replacement for the Shuttle – how much more time do they need? Of greater importance is the fact that all U.S. commercial and many military satellites are launched using Soviet-developed engines, and in many cases, the entire booster is Soviet hardware.

As for the Florida primaries – the Democrats seems to ask for one “Do Over” after another. Next thing you know they will want one for the Vietnam War.

3/07/2008 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Done Over .

ht Aenea

3/07/2008 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Liquidate all Manned NASA Programs, give the money to Rutan.

3/07/2008 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

...give him the hardware too.

3/07/2008 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

There's another important resource that has a distinctly finite "shelf-life," which is ironic because it's one of the most stable chemicals we have --- HELIUM.

The main source in the world, as far as I know, continues to be the natural gas deposits around San Antonio, Texas.

The problem is them Tiny Li'l Helium atoms are so small they gradually migrate past the barriers of any container made for He storage.

How am I going to create the silly voices I need for my telephone answering message?

3/07/2008 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Doug, you are sick.


3/07/2008 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

What happens when you substitute hydrogen?
Other than occasional Human Zeppelin Incidents.

3/07/2008 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Anyone know/remember where or why I ran into this link?

Oklo: Natural Nuclear Reactors

It came as a great surprise to most, therefore, when, in 1972, French physicist Francis Perrin declared that nature had beaten humans to the punch by creating the world’s first nuclear reactors. Indeed, he argued, nature had a two-billion-year head start.1 Fifteen natural fission reactors have been found in three different ore deposits at the Oklo mine in Gabon, West Africa. These are collectively known as the Oklo Fossil Reactors.2

And when these deep underground natural nuclear chain reactions were over, nature showed that it could effectively contain the radioactive wastes created by the reactions.

Nuclear Powered Mars Rover

Spirit and Opportunity spent a lot of time grinding holes in rocks that turned out to be not that interesting. MSL can short-circuit that time-consuming process with a high-intensity laser, which can vaporize a spot on the surface from a distance of 30 feet. The closest thing to a science-fiction-style ray gun, the target will give off a gaseous plasma that an instrument called the ChemCam can quickly scan before deciding whether to go in for a closer look.

3/07/2008 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/07/2008 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...


Same problem, only hydrogen is usually meant to be used as a fuel pretty quickly after manufacture, and can be generated onsite by the dissocation of water molecules or several other pretty straightforward processes.

But, YES, the teeny tiny hydrogen MOLECULE (I believe it spontaneously groups in twos) tended to leak outta the gas-bags of the dirigibles, so the NAZI airships had to carry additional cannisters onboard to keep their bouyancy.

Hey, I'm just dredging this up from my increasingly unreliable memory, so don't depend on MY accuracy.

3/07/2008 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I meant what happens when you inhale it for your messages?
More Fiddler Fare

3/07/2008 05:39:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Doug, thanks for mentioning the discovery of natural nuclear reactors, and pointing out that their radioactive products pose no danger.

On the other hand, it would be good to know how long ago they were active.

People need to be generally much more aware of radiation as a naturally-occurring set of phenomena. I've known way too many folks who couldn't tell you the difference between a proton and a crouton, but were ready to impose their will on the whole society over whether to build a nuclear generating plant.

3/07/2008 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

There was a small article buried deep in the front section of the local newspaper yesterday, reporting that United Nations bureaucrats are investigating the decision of U.S. authorities to demolish some old public housing in New Orleans to determine whether they should bring charges under an anti-racism treaty.

This is exactly the sort of idiotic crap that underscores how much we need to get the hell out of the U.N., expel the organization from United States soil, and kick out the perverts of the General Assembly, many of whom daily abuse their diplomatic immunity with crimes much more serious than parking violations. On this occasion, I will not get into an extended history of the United Nations' criminal behavior, violations of its own missions, abuse and abandonment of refugees under its protection, criminal embezzlement of funds, and grotesque incompetence at self-governing.

Even the United Nations officials and staff who are NOT documented thugs, murderers, perverts, thieves, and swindlers, are busy trying to make the United Nations a World GOVERNMENT. If this happens, it means all the laws, customs, practices, traditions, and self-organizing behaviors of FORMERLY SOVEREIGN NATIONS will be subject to the dictates and demonstrably voracious rapacity of those U.N. bureaucrats.

A bureaucrat may be defined as an administrator preoccupied with procedural correctness rather than of the needs of people those procedures were intended to serve. Can a better example of this be found than the staff of the United Nations?

Three terms to remember: Rwanda, Sreberniça, Oil-for-Food.

The sovereign nations of Europe several generations back recognized they were hobbled by a welter of different currencies, banking regulations, tariffs, and contending economic structures. Any of us who were old enough even for elementary school in the early 1960's will recall the excitement and sense of triumph in Europe at the creation of "The Common Market." That was a fairly limited testing of the waters by several key nations working out treaty agreements that tried to provide a rational basis for unprecedented economic cooperation.

I don't think any of the people in the European countries --- even up to the last few years as the EU bureaucracy has really started flexing its muscles --- guessed that the popular movement toward a unified Europe would be hijacked by a sinister group that is increasingly steering it toward an unaccountable tyranny of faceless, un-elected jurists and administrators, ready to issue proclamations, decrees, and orders with enforcement powers that transcend those of ANY of its member-states sovereign codes or courts.

Amazing. All the Islamic Jihadis need to do is wait a few years, and the EU and the United Nations will have created a billion meek little sheep ready to hand over to them for slaughter.

3/07/2008 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The NY Times did a big article about the project (not the UN's reaction) several months ago.
Good Synergy there:
NYT does the legwork, UN gives the Edicts.
But I'm still curious what would happen if you inhaled straight hydrogen?

3/07/2008 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...


3/07/2008 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Great sounds for the machine.
The Final Answer.

3/07/2008 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The blood instantly absorbs it, but not the Helium?

3/07/2008 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

(He) will make you sound funny. (H) will make you look funny.

3/07/2008 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger LifeoftheMind said...

He is inert, that means errr not ert, see Yes Minister. Therefore Helium, like all the Noble gases, will not react with other atoms. No reaction means no chemistry means no toxic effects. Hydrogen on the other hand reacts with just about everything and quickly bonds to receptors that would be better served interacting with something like oxygen.

Hey chemistry was my worst subject, I am so proud of myself now, shows what an expensive education can do after 1/3 of a century.

3/07/2008 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

One reader, writing privately believes that foreign money is beginning to dominate the US political process; and that it all began when huge trade deficits enabled foreign entities to dominate the ownership of key corporations.
I agree with the private poster.

3/07/2008 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Starting from Bush I the bushes have been pro NAU. It stems from Bush the elder's stay at the CIA. The CIA is most faithful to the big money. This does not mean that they are bought. Rather it means that they see financial interests as more powerful than political interests so they follow the money. The money these days is nomadic millionaires in the english speaking world. They have no country. That is they were once called politely-- world citizens. Now they don't want anyone else to have a country. They want everyone else to be world citizens.

The elite democrats are all on board with regards to this issue because they both believe in international institutions and because they see illegals as a source of cheap votes. Much as elite republicans see illegals as cheap labor.

3/07/2008 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

It was my best, lifeofthemind!
Shows what forty years of immersion in random trivia can do to a structured and active knowledge base, I guess.

3/07/2008 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

There is one historical attack that happened almost 30 years ago still reverberating around the world. It was almost unprecedented in its assault on international traditions and expectations. The perpetrators surely did not anticipate the cascading consequences of their acts, any more than the leader of the nation assaulted seems to have considered then the consequences of his response.

That act was the invasion of the United States Embassy in Tehran by Islamic student radicals, one of whose leaders has currently been elevated to the presidency of Iran --- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The United States had serving in the office of the Presidency at that crucial moment in time the estimable James Earl Carter.

From the mists of human pre-history nations --- whether vast empires or compact city-states --- exchanged ambassadors, and understood that by protecting embassies from harm, nations had their best chance at unconstrained communication, and inadvertant conflict leading to disastrous bloodletting. For many centuries, as empires have risen and fallen, Prophets have announced new faiths that thrived then faded, languages have evolved to forms incomprehensible to earlier ages, but embassies and ambassadors have continued to be treated as inviolable by all but savages.

Actually, there were occasions when ambassadors were murdered and embassies breached and violated. The importance that the family of nations attached to the sanctity of the institution has consistently been enough that such violations were treated as an act of war, casus belli --- and wars have been launched to punish those who violated the embassy of another nation.

The point is that a people who will not respect the age-old tradition of holding ambassadors safe from harm --- most especially from one's foes --- those people cannot be expected to honor ANY promise, trust, or obligation. This cannot be tolerated. It is like piracy on the high seas, and all nations have traditionally agreed that pirates are the enemies of all humans, to be hunted down and summarily executed.

The invasion of the U.S. embassy by "student radicals" and the taking of 79 hostages from that embassy was quickly accepted and supported by the Ayuttollah Ruholla Khomeini and the revolutionary council that was the new government. From the first reports, this act sent shock waves through the world, not the least the world of career diplomats. What would the U.S. do? Surely the United States would not tolerate such a brazen violation, since all nations accept that a nation's embassy *IS* part of its sovereign territory, so that an attack on the embassy is the same as an attack on the heartland of that nation.

Yet Carter hesitated.

Weeks passed...

He vacillated.

Weeks passed...

He temporized.

Weeks passed...

He made no articulate response.

In the fullness of time --- actually, six months after the breach of the embassy-- he did authorize a military rescue attempt, which failed in a disaster that further underscored his utter incompetence.

Well, I give Carter too little credit. He did make the Iranians taste his wrath by freezing as many of their assets as could be identified in American financial institutions. And, gee whiz, he was so preoccupied with high interest rates, let's recall, and high oil prices, and inflation and unemployment. Of course all these were inextricably the result of his administrations' glaring amateurishness. Well, except for some of the thoroughly professional swindlers he managed to appoint to important regulatory and policy positions. (For instance: Bert Lance, who helped certify the Bank of Commerce and Credit International to operate in the U.S. with application papers drawn up by a certain attorney of the Rose Law Firm of Little Rock, Arkansas.)

But terrorists and thugs around the world took note of the staggering impotence and gutlessness Carter's inaction screamed to all observers.

He may have thought he was exercising some saintly restraint.

But --- damn his blindness! --- a saintly response was NOT what was needed to that provocation. It was not just a violation of United States territory and people. It was an outlaw act that, going unanswered, plainly told Islamic fanatics that their tactics would succeed against a country tied in knots by its own internal debates. You can mark a "sea change" in the boldness and audacity of terrorists and anti-U.S. radicals all around the world, beginning with Carter's monumentally ineffectual presidency.

Of course, the Left celebrates Carter. He is the one who most clearly can be said to have tipped the balance against the United States, which their Stalinist-Leninist dogma tells them is a good thing. What the Left fails to realize is that they are aiding a totalitarian fanaticism that will eventually beggar the atrocities done by Stalin.

Stalin was merely one tyrant after all. One tyrant could only kill a paltry few tens of millions of his own subjects with the systematic application of guns and bullets and enforced starvation. Primitive.

But using swords and spears and arrows, Islamic Jihad has claimed far more millions of victims in fourteen centuries of determined military conquest, and promises to up the ante as soon as nuclear weapons come into its control.

God bless you, President Carter!

3/08/2008 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I remember being puzzled at first, that there was no significant response to highjackings, or murder of Americans on the high seas.
Then, over time, it just became the way things were, with everyone playing out their parts as though it was just a part of modern life, and nothing would be done about it.

Then came 9-11, and lots of people regained their conciousness.
Now we are drifting back, and GWB will be remembered for allowing/encouraging an increase in unregulated illegal entrance across insecure borders in time of war, to include MS-13, Drug and Human Smugglers, Hezbollah, and sundry other Jihadis from around the World.
...and we remain the only country on Earth with "Birthright Citizenship," far as I know.
A sad reaction to an attack on the homeland, and now we are told we may have a virtual fence of negligible value in 3 years.
...but at least we bodysearch grandmothers and the like, with an element of randomness, to please the PC Gods.

3/08/2008 04:10:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Obama Minister's Hatred of America

Wright continued: “Fact No. 4: We put [Nelson] Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God. Fact No. 5: We supported Zionism shamelessly while ignoring the Palestinians and branding anybody who spoke out against it as being anti-semitic.”

His voice rising, Wright was on a roll: “Fact No. 6: We conducted radiation experiments on our own people. They’re just finding out about that. We care nothing about human life if the ends justifies the means. Fact No. 7: We do not care if poor black and brown children cannot read and kill each other senselessly. We abandoned the cities back in the '60s when the riots started and it really doesn’t matter what those nations do to each other; we gave up on them and public education of poor people who live in the projects . . .”

Wright went on: “Fact No. 8: We started the AIDS virus, and now that it is out of control, we still put more money in the military than in medicine; more money in hate than in humanitarian concerns. Everybody does not have access to healthcare, I don’t care what the rich white boys in the Senate say. Listen up: If you are poor, black and elderly, forget it.”

Concluding, Wright said: “Fact No. 9: We are only able to maintain our level of living by making sure that Third World people live in grinding poverty. And fact No. 10: We are selfish, self-centered egotists who are arrogant and ignorant and betray our church and do not try to make the kingdom that Jesus talked about a reality. And — and — and in light of these 10 facts, God has got to be sick of this s***.”

Meeting with Jewish leaders in Cleveland on Feb. 24, Obama described Wright as being like “an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don't agree with.” He rarely mentions the items of disagreement.

Obama went on to explain away Wright’s anti-Zionist statements as being rooted in his anger over the Jewish state’s support for South Africa under its previous policy of apartheid. As with a previous claim that his church gave an award to Louis Farrakhan because of his work with ex-offenders, Obama made that up out of thin air.

Wright’s statements denouncing Israel have not been qualified in any way.

As for Wright’s repeated comments blaming America for the 9/11 attacks, Obama has said it sounds as if the minister was trying to be “provocative.”

Hearing Wright’s venomous and paranoid denunciations of this country, the vast majority of Americans would walk out. Instead, Obama and his wife Michelle have presumably sat through hundreds of similar sermons.

Indeed, Obama has described Wright as his “sounding board” during the two decades he has known him. Obama has said he found religion through Wright in the 1980s and consulted him before deciding to run for president. He prayed privately with Wright before announcing his candidacy last year.

Aside from showing poor judgment, it’s difficult to imagine that Obama could be so close to Wright without agreeing with at least some of his views.

In light of Wright’s perspective, Michelle Obama’s comment that she feels proud of America for the first time makes perfect sense. (In a second iteration, she said she feels “really proud” for the first time.) Wright’s blame-America mentality also fits in neatly with many on the left who support Obama’s weak approach to national security and dealing with foreign dictators.

3/08/2008 05:06:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

I think that with time spent going through the Carter papers that the case could be made that Jimmy Carter's personal goal as POTUS was to weaken the United States economically, militarily, and spiritually. I've thought so since one of his sweater speeches when he said that "Americans must learn to settle for less." I found that particularly odd always sensing that the American Way is to tackle problems not give in to them.

Obama has the same feel to him. That his mission would be to cut the USA down a peg or two so the the rest of the world can "catch up."

3/08/2008 06:40:00 AM  
Blogger Elijah said...

it is not a matter of Obama's minster and hatred of america, it is the fact that Obama HIMSELF (and his wife) is a member of a church with a race-based religious value system

Obama or his supporters need to answer some simple questions.

Who PRECISELY are the captors, captive, and subjugated discussed in concept 8 of Obama's race-based religious value sytem?

Are the captor's, captive, and subjugated from Obama's race-based value system the same groups as the weak and the strong, the powerful and the powerless from Mr. Obama's political/judicial perspective?

How can an individual be a uniter if his religious, political, and judicial perspective separates individuals into groups?

Concerning Mr. Obama's race-based value system - What is an analogous example of a race-based religious value system?

Does Mr. Obama, his wife, his minister, and his church judge individuals by the content of their character, or the color of their skin?

3/08/2008 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Elijah said...

Is there an association between the views exprssed by Obama's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. as described above, and the statement by Mr. Obama's wife that she has never been proud of her country in her adult life...until recently?

3/08/2008 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

But Carter reacted to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan with fearless action - he boycotted the Olympics in Moscow!

That showed them!

Clintons do have a thing about "whatever the rules were then" - after all, if the meaning of "is" varies, all rules are phantasms. Remember Pres. Bill took almost two dozen claims of new presidential immunity to the Supreme Court, which court meanly rejected them all. My favorite was when he claimed Military Leader during War Time status as a reason not to have to respond to Paula Jones' civil suit.

This changing the rules after the fact can work out great. Remember when Al Gore "won" the 2000 election when the Florida supremes (temporarily) changed the state election law? The collapse of that charade has embittered righteous Dems ever since.

On our rockets, we're going back 40 years to the monster cars of the 60's Apollo program. The "new" rebuilt J-2X will be our new upper stage man-rated booster, ready for its first full-up test in 2010. Whoo hoo?

The Russians stuck with their Proton and Soyuz since the '60's, and ain't it ironic, as RWE points out, that we're going to depend on their stuff to service the ISS?

FINALLY - omigot! That Obama video is a nightmare in depth and detail.

You see, it's just not fair that America is strong. Obama will fix that, just like Jimmah did.

Michelle Obama’s View of America

3/08/2008 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

In case anyone missed this:
Barack's Immaculate Deception
In which Barry Credits the March in Selma '65 with his very existence, his conception.

Problem is Barry was born August 4, 1961!
Similar to the Edmund Hillary tale in Chronological Contradiction.

3/08/2008 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Compared to Navin R. Johnson's (The Jerk) trauma over not learning he wasn't Black 'til he left home, that's nothing, Tony!

3/08/2008 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...


Dave Chappelle said it best when he was the blind black white supremacist. He finally had to divorce his wife when he found out he was black, because he wouldn't want to be married to a girl who would marry a black guy.

Funny funny stuff.

3/08/2008 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Pu-238 is a biproduct of the nuclear weapons program. Since the end of the Cold War, both the United States and Russia have been reducing their strategic weapons inventories. This means that both countries have far more weapons grade Pu-239 from old bomb pits than than they know what to do with. There is no longer a strategic or economic reason to run the specialized nuclear reactors for producing Pu-239. Consequently the supply of Pu-238 is disappearing for both Russia and the United States.

The lack of Pu-238 has become a crisis for the American Space Program. One spacecraft has already been funded to go to Jupiter that will be powered only by photovoltaic panels. This spacecraft is named "Juno" or the Jupiter Polar Orbiter.

At one time it would have been considered insane to send a spacecraft to Jupiter powered only by photovoltaic panels (the sunlight is really dim out there). Juno is powered by three solar panels (each panel has the dimensions of 2 meters x 9 meters). The spacecraft is very under-powered and has relatively little scientific capability compared to previous Pu-238 powered outer planet spacecraft, e.g. Galileo, Cassini, etc. A Saturn spacecraft is currently being considered for proposal that would also be solar powered. However this spacecraft would require such enormous solar panels that the likelyhood of it actually being funded is small (funding Juno was probably a mistake).

RWE said:

"As for the Shuttle, I am staunch advocate of manned spaceflight - but NASA has had TWENTY SEVEN YEARS to come up with a replacement for the Shuttle – how much more time do they need? Of greater importance is the fact that all U.S. commercial and many military satellites are launched using Soviet-developed engines, and in many cases, the entire booster is Soviet hardware."

I am also a staunch advocate of manned spaceflight. America's last gasp for Cheap Access to Space (CAtS) was the X-33 program. X-33 was the prototype for the Lockheed-Martin VentureStar Single Stage to Orbit (SStO) Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). Most people who have received a Masters Degree in Aeronautical Engineering are required as a student exercise to solve the rocket equation and demonstrate that an SStO is technologically impossible with real materials. Given this fact, it was amazing that the United States government spent $941 million in a attempt to build an SStO. Naturally, the X-33 was a spectacular failure. X-33's predicted payload had already gone negative (needed helium balloons to fly) before a composite material oxygen tank exploded during testing thus killing the program.

There are practical RLV concepts suitable for CAtS, e.g. the biamese Two Stage to Orbit (TStO) concept powered with conventional kerosene/liquid oxygen rocket engines. Unfortunately, NASA was never funded to pursue this potentially fruitful line-of-inquiry. The current Space Shuttle was always consided a stop-gap until research and development funding became available for a second generation RLV. However with the exception of the impractical X-33, that money never became available beyond paper studies and computer simulations. The currently funded Crewed Exploration Vehicle (also called "Orion" or CEV) is a scaled up version of the old Apollo Command Module. CEV is intended as a replacement of the Space Shuttle and essentially an admission of defeat concerning RLV research and development (sort of like what happend with American Supersonic Transport (SST) development in the late 1970s).

The US Space Program is very close to checkmate. If Barack Hussein becomes president, I suspect he'll euthanize it. John McCain has expressed a personal interest in the Space Program. McCain maybe the US Space Program's last hope.

3/08/2008 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

Thought as many Wretchard readers as possible should see the full Chaicago Trib story re Obama's campaign tactics in the mid-90s. I've cut and pasted it below. (And AFTER that you can find the Trib's editorial endorsing Obama, Rezko qualms notwithstanding.) I think folks who read the whole story will see that O's actions are a lot less egregious than Wretch and Co. make out....Key thing to understand is that the person whose petitions he challenged had guaranteed to him that she would not run again for State Sen (she was trying for the U.S. HOuse ) though he himself had urged her to keep her options open. The lady herself admits he pressed her to be CAREFUL there, but she didn't listen...The notion that Obama's bit of hardball when she chose to get back into the race (with a few days remaining and not much time to get petitions together) is comparable to the Chi-town Machine politics practiced by gangsters in the past is, ah, (to quote DeNiro in Goodfellows) "a little out of order."

Following up on some of the Obama "muckraking" on the right side of the net, I've been struck by a number of other flat-out mistakes. If Obama was the Machine's dream - why did he get his ass kicked when HE ran for the House against the ex-Black Panther Bobby Rush? O hasn't always been a golden boy. (And just compare his career to Hillary - damn she BEGAN her politcal career as a SENATOR - silver spoon, baby) I also noted someone saying that Harold Washington was one of Obama's heroes. O writes at length about Washington from the pov of a community organzer who was less than enthralled with this pol. He zeroes in on the failures of Wash's race-based politics, pointing out how it was all bound to fall apart w/o Harold's charisma. O was NEVER interested in being the NEXT Harold...

Here's the full Trib story on the 90s' campaign - AGain -doesn't make O look like he's got clean hands. But compared to Hillary, this guy still seems pure as the driven snow...

Obama knows his way around a ballot
Some say his ability to play political hardball goes back to his first campaign
By David Jackson and Ray Long

Tribune staff reporters

6:48 PM CDT, April 3, 2007

The day after New Year's 1996, operatives for Barack Obama filed into a barren hearing room of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

There they began the tedious process of challenging hundreds of signatures on the nominating petitions of state Sen. Alice Palmer, the longtime progressive activist from the city's South Side. And they kept challenging petitions until every one of Obama's four Democratic primary rivals was forced off the ballot.

Fresh from his work as a civil rights lawyer and head of a voter registration project that expanded access to the ballot box, Obama launched his first campaign for the Illinois Senate saying he wanted to empower disenfranchised citizens.

But in that initial bid for political office, Obama quickly mastered the bare-knuckle arts of Chicago electoral politics. His overwhelming legal onslaught signaled his impatience to gain office, even if that meant elbowing aside an elder stateswoman like Palmer.

A close examination of Obama's first campaign clouds the image he has cultivated throughout his political career: The man now running for president on a message of giving a voice to the voiceless first entered public office not by leveling the playing field, but by clearing it.

One of the candidates he eliminated, long-shot contender Gha-is Askia, now says that Obama's petition challenges belied his image as a champion of the little guy and crusader for voter rights.

"Why say you're for a new tomorrow, then do old-style Chicago politics to remove legitimate candidates?" Askia said. "He talks about honor and democracy, but what honor is there in getting rid of every other candidate so you can run scot-free? Why not let the people decide?"

In a recent interview, Obama granted that "there's a legitimate argument to be made that you shouldn't create barriers to people getting on the ballot."

But the unsparing legal tactics were justified, he said, by obvious flaws in his opponents' signature sheets. "To my mind, we were just abiding by the rules that had been set up," Obama recalled.

"I gave some thought to … should people be on the ballot even if they didn't meet the requirements," he said. "My conclusion was that if you couldn't run a successful petition drive, then that raised questions in terms of how effective a representative you were going to be."

Asked whether the district's primary voters were well-served by having only one candidate, Obama smiled and said: "I think they ended up with a very good state senator."

Obama behind challenges
America has been defined in part by civil rights and good government battles fought out in Chicago's 13th District, which in 1996 spanned Hyde Park mansions, South Shore bungalows and poverty-bitten precincts of Englewood.

It was in this part of the city that an eager reform Democrat by the name of Abner Mikva first entered elected office in the 1950s. And here a young, brash minister named Jesse Jackson ran Operation Breadbasket, leading marchers who sought to pressure grocery chains to hire minorities.

Palmer served the district in the Illinois Senate for much of the 1990s. Decades earlier, she was working as a community organizer in the area when Obama was growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia. She risked her safe seat to run for Congress and touted Obama as a suitable successor, according to news accounts and interviews.

But when Palmer got clobbered in that November 1995 special congressional race, her supporters asked Obama to fold his campaign so she could easily retain her state Senate seat.

Obama not only refused to step aside, he filed challenges that nullified Palmer's hastily gathered nominating petitions, forcing her to withdraw.

"I liked Alice Palmer a lot. I thought she was a good public servant," Obama said. "It was very awkward. That part of it I wish had played out entirely differently."

His choice divided veteran Chicago political activists.

"There was friction about the decision he made," said City Colleges of Chicago professor emeritus Timuel Black, who tried to negotiate with Obama on Palmer's behalf. "There were deep disagreements."

Had Palmer survived the petition challenge, Obama would have faced the daunting task of taking on an incumbent senator. Palmer's elimination marked the first of several fortuitous political moments in Obama's electoral success: He won the 2004 primary and general elections for U.S. Senate after tough challengers imploded when their messy divorce files were unsealed.

Obama contended that in the case of the 1996 race, in which he routed token opposition in the general election, he was ready to compete in the primary if necessary.

"We actually ran a terrific campaign up until the point we knew that we weren't going to have to appear on the ballot with anybody," Obama said. "I mean, we had prepared for it. We had raised money. We had tons of volunteers. There was enormous enthusiasm."

And he defended his use of ballot maneuvers: "If you can win, you should win and get to work doing the people's business."

At the time, though, Obama seemed less at ease with the decision, according to aides. They said the first-time candidate initially expressed reservations about using challenges to eliminate all his fellow Democrats.

"He wondered if we should knock everybody off the ballot. How would that look?" said Ronald Davis, the paid Obama campaign consultant whom Obama referred to as his "guru of petitions."

In the end, Davis filed objections to all four of Obama's Democratic rivals at the candidate's behest.

While Obama didn't attend the hearings, "he wanted us to call him every night and let him know what we were doing," Davis said, noting that Palmer and the others seemed unprepared for the challenges.

But Obama didn't gloat over the victories. "I don't think he thought it was, you know, sporting," said Will Burns, a 1996 Obama campaign volunteer who assisted with the petition challenges. "He wasn't very proud of it."

Endorsement or informal nod?
By the summer of 1995, Obama, 34, had completed his globe-trotting education and settled deep into Chicago's South Side.

He had gone to Harvard Law School with private ambitions of someday following Harold Washington as mayor of Chicago. At Harvard, where Obama was celebrated as the first black president of the Law Review, classmate Gina Torielli remembers him "saying that governor of Illinois would be his dream job."

Back in Chicago after graduation, Obama won respect for running Project Vote, which registered tens of thousands of black Chicagoans. "It's a power thing," the volunteers' T-shirts said.

Community organizers packed his wedding to Michelle Robinson, a South Shore resident and fellow Harvard Law graduate. The newlyweds bought a Hyde Park condo.

His memoir, "Dreams from My Father," was published that summer to warm reviews. He was working at a small but influential legal firm, teaching constitutional law as a University of Chicago adjunct professor and sitting on the boards of charities.

At the same time, the South Side's political map was thrown up for grabs when then-U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds was convicted of sex crimes and a special election was called to fill his congressional seat.

Palmer joined the race and, according to multiple accounts, introduced Obama as the successor for her Illinois Senate seat.

"She said, 'I found this wonderful person, this fine young man, so we needn't worry that we'd have a good state senator,' " said former 5th Ward Democratic committeeman Alan Dobry, who volunteered to help both Palmer and Obama that year.

In recent interviews, Obama and Palmer agreed that he asked her whether she wanted to keep her options open and file to run for her state Senate seat as a fallback in case her congressional bid failed.

Obama says he told her: "We haven't started the campaign yet."

"I hadn't publicly announced," he said. "But what I said was that once I announce, and I have started to raise money, and gather supporters, hire staff and opened up an office, signed a lease, then it's going to be very difficult for me to step down. And she gave me repeated assurances that she was in [the congressional race] to stay."

Obama "did say that to me," Palmer says now. "And I certainly did say that I wasn't going to run. There's no question about that."

But beyond that, the private discussions they held in 1995 are shrouded today in disputed and hazy memories.

Obama said Palmer gave him her formal endorsement. "I'm absolutely certain she … publicly spoke and sort of designated me," he recalled.

Palmer disputes that. "I don't know that I like the word 'endorsement,' " she said. "An endorsement to me, having been in legislative politics … that's a very formal kind of thing. I don't think that describes this. An 'informal nod' is how to characterize it."

In July 1995, Obama announced he was planning to run for Palmer's seat. He filed papers creating his fundraising committee a month later and officially announced his candidacy in September.

He emerged that winter as a gifted campaigner who after finishing hectic workdays would layer on thermal underwear to knock on South Side doors.

In impromptu street-corner conversations and media interviews, he disparaged local pols for putting self-preservation ahead of public service. At the last house on a dark block, "he would start a discussion that should have taken five minutes and pretty soon someone was cooking him dinner," said paid campaign consultant Carol Anne Harwell.

Then Palmer's congressional bid collapsed. On Nov. 28, 1995, she placed a distant third behind political powerhouses Jesse Jackson Jr., who holds that congressional seat today, and current state Senate President Emil Jones Jr.

Palmer didn't fade quietly away. Citing an "outpouring" of support, she upended the political landscape by switching gears and deciding to run in the March 1996 primary for her state Senate seat.

But she had two big problems. To get on the ballot, Palmer needed to file nominating petitions signed by at least 757 district voters—and the Dec. 18 deadline was just days away.

And then there was Obama, the bright up-and-comer she had all but anointed.

Obama's aides said he seemed anguished over the prospect of defying Palmer. "I really saw turmoil in his face," Harwell said.

Obama sought advice from political veterans such as 4th Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle and then-15th Ward Ald. Virgil Jones, who say they urged him to hold his course.

"I thought the world of Alice Palmer," said state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), now the House majority leader. But "at that point she had pulled her own plug."

According to Palmer, it was without her knowledge that her supporters initiated discussions to persuade Obama to step aside. They invited him to the home of state Rep. Lovana "Lou" Jones, now deceased. Obama arrived alone.

"It was a brief meeting," said Black, a Palmer friend who had advised Obama when he was a young community organizer in the mid-1980s.

Obama didn't try to justify his decision to reject Palmer's plea, Black said.

"He did not put it in inflammatory terms, he just did not back away. It was not arguments, it was stubbornness," Black said. "Barack had by then gone ahead in putting together his own campaign, and he just didn't want to stop."

'If you can get 'em, get 'em'
Just in time for the Dec. 18, 1995, filing deadline, Palmer submitted 1,580 signatures—about twice the minimum required. That day, Obama lashed out at her, telling the Tribune she had pressured him to withdraw.

"I am disappointed that she's decided to go back on her word to me," he said.

Obama campaign aides also responded that day—but quietly, and out of the limelight.

Davis and Dobry marshaled volunteers and began poring through the nominating petitions of Palmer and the three lesser-known Democrats, according to interviews.

"We looked at those petitions and found that none of them met the requirements of the law," Dobry said. "Alice's people, they'd done it in a great hurry. Almost all her petitions were signed a day or so before the deadline."

According to Davis, Palmer "had kids gathering the names. I remember two of her circulators, Pookie and Squirt."

Davis and others urged Obama to file legal challenges.

Such tactics are legal and frequently used in Chicago. Ballot challenges eliminated 67 of the 245 declared aldermanic candidates in Chicago before this past February's elections, an election board spokesman said.

Davis recalled telling Obama: "If you can get 'em, get 'em. Why give 'em a break?

"I said, 'Barack, I'm going to knock them all off.'

"He said, 'What do you need?'

"I said, 'I need an attorney.'

"He said, 'Who is the best?'

"I said, 'Tom Johnson.' "

Obama already knew civil rights attorney and fellow Harvard Law graduate Thomas Johnson, who had waged election cases for the late Mayor Washington and had offered Obama informal legal advice since the days of Project Vote.

With Johnson's legal help, Obama's team was confident. They piled binders of polling sheets in the election board office on the second floor of City Hall, and on Jan. 2, 1996, began the days-long hearings that would eliminate the other Democrats.

Little-known candidate Marc Ewell filed 1,286 names, but Obama's objections left him 86 short of the minimum, and election officials struck him from the ballot, records show. Ewell filed a federal lawsuit contesting the board's decision, but Johnson intervened on Obama's behalf and prevailed when Ewell's case was dismissed days later.

Ewell could not be reached for comment, but the federal judge's decision showed how he was tripped up by complexities in the election procedures.

City authorities had just completed a massive, routine purge of unqualified names that eliminated 15,871 people from the 13th District rolls, court records show.

Ewell and other Obama rivals had relied on early 1995 polling sheets to verify the signatures of registered voters—but Obama's challenges were decided at least in part using the most recent, accurate list, records show.

Askia filed 1,899 signatures, but the Obama team sustained objections to 1,211, leaving him 69 short, records show.

Leafing through scrapbooks in his South Shore apartment, Askia, a perennially unsuccessful candidate, acknowledges that he paid Democratic Party precinct workers $5 a sheet for some of the petitions, and now suspects they used a classic Chicago ruse of passing the papers among themselves to forge the signatures. "They round-tabled me," Askia said.

Palmer to this day does not concede the flaws that Obama's team found in her signatures. She maintains that she could have overcome the Obama team's objections and stayed on the ballot if she had more time and resources.

It was wrenching to withdraw, she said. "But sit for a moment, catch your breath, get up and keep going. I'm a very practical person. Politics is not the only vehicle for accomplishing things." She became a special assistant to the president of the University of Illinois and is now retired.

Obama said he has not been in touch with Palmer since 1996. "No, not really, no," he said.

Though she hasn't determined whom to support in the presidential race, Palmer, 67, said her dispute with Obama doesn't affect her assessment of his fitness to hold office.

Saying that jobless high school dropouts "are sitting on the steps next to my house," Palmer added: "There is a savage economy going on out here, and we've got collateral damage. I am looking closely to see who has the courage, the smarts."

In 1996, this page endorsed a Chicago attorney, law school instructor and community activist named Barack Obama for a seat in the Illinois Senate. We've paid him uncommon scrutiny ever since, wryly glad that he lived up to our modest prediction: We said Obama "has potential as a political leader."

Since then, so much has been written about U.S. Sen. Barack Obama that it's easy to forget how far an entire nation's scrutiny of him "as a political leader" has led us all. No longer does every article obsess on whether voters are ready for a black man in the White House.

Most Americans, we'd wager, by now have concluded that the color of his skin matters less than his evident comfort within it. Yes, he is vilified by less-secure Democrats for acknowledging Ronald Reagan was a transformative president who "put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it." Our takeaway: Obama has the confidence to speak truth, poll-tested or not.

VideoRelated links
2008 Tribune endorsements
Election 2008 Photos
From the campaign trail Video
Race for the White House

Primary tracker | Calendar
Unofficial numbers from the Associated Press --Primary/caucus results-- Dems: Delegates by state GOP: Delegates by state Dems state map GOP state map ------- March 4 Ohio, Texas, Vt., RI Feb. 19 Wisc, Wash., Hawaii Feb. 12 D.C., Maryland, Va. Feb. 10 Maine Feb. 9 Wash., Neb., La., Kans. Feb 5. Super Tuesday Feb. 2 Maine Jan. 29 Florida Jan. 26 S.C. Jan. 19 S.C. and Nevada Jan. 15 Michigan Jan. 8 New Hampshire Jan. 5 Wyoming Jan. 3 Iowa -------

Election 2008
The Swamp
The latest on national politics from the Tribune's D.C. blog. Clout Street
Local and state politics Election 2008
Complete coverage of local and national races. Obama Watch
The latest on the Illinois senator. Presidential race
Profiles | Issues
Quiz: Candidate selector Presidential contributions
Who gave what to whom.

The Swamp
Latest from D.C. bureau

Bush's Texan farewell: Brown, brown grass of home

Democrat takes Hastert's seat

AP calls Wyoming for Barack Obama

McCain: A 'third Bush term' or Churchill-like resolve?

GOP's King: Obama win would cause jihadi joy


Complete primary coverage
Barack Obama is the rare individual who can sit in the U.S. Senate yet have his career potential unfulfilled. He is the Democrat best suited to lead this nation. We offer him our endorsement for the Feb. 5 Illinois primary.

By one measure, this endorsement is a paradox. We're urging votes for a candidate whose political views we often disagree with. But this is a more complicated contest, and a more complex candidate, than the norm. This nation's next president inherits a war -- against terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere -- that has found many ways to divide Americans. Capitol Hill is gridlocked and uncivil. Our discourse is hostage to blame.

Obama can help this nation move forward. A Tribune profile last May labeled his eight years in Springfield as "a study in complexity, caution and calculation. In the minority party for all but his final two years in the Statehouse, he tempered a progressive agenda with a cold dash of realism, often forging consensus with conservative Republicans when other liberals wanted to crusade."

Racial profiling, death penalty reform, recording of criminal interrogations, health care -- when victory was elusive, Obama seized progress. He did so by working fluidly with Republicans and Democrats. He sought out his ideological foes. He listened closely to them. As a result, many Republicans in Illinois have warm words for Barack Obama.

Obama's key opponent, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, unifies only her foes. Her penchant for gaming every issue -- recall her clumsy dodging when asked in a Philadelphia debate whether illegal immigrants should be licensed to drive -- feeds suspicion of maneuvering that would humble Machiavelli.

As this campaign has progressed, Hillary Clinton in moments of crisis hasn't been an ennobling sight. Her reliance on her husband, the less-than-presidential Bill, to trash-talk Obama reaffirms that the Clintons do whatever it takes to prevail. Depicting Obama's record on Iraq as a "fairy tale" is instructive: Think what you will of the war, but Sen. Clinton was an enabler when that was popular. In Kerryspeak, she was for the war before she was against the war.

The candidates' differences on issues are minor and largely irrelevant: Presidents don't dictate laws, they tussle over legislation with Congress. Much of the "experience" Hillary Clinton touts in that realm instead was proximity to power. Bill's power.

Last week, Hillary Clinton attacked Obama for his association with alleged influence-peddler Tony Rezko. If Obama had dealt with the Rezko issue forthrightly long ago, it might rank in public memory with Clinton's remarkable success in cattle futures.

Instead, as we've said, Obama has been too self-exculpatory. His assertion in network TV interviews last week that nobody had indications Rezko was engaging in wrongdoing strains credulity: Tribune stories linked Rezko to questionable fundraising for Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2004 -- more than a year before the adjacent home and property purchases by the Obamas and the Rezkos.

One more time, Senator:

You need to divulge all there is to know about that relationship. Until you do, the journalistic scrubbing and opposition research will intensify. You should have recognized Rezko as a political seducer of young talent. But given that you've not been accused of any crime or ethical breach, your Rezko history is not a deal-breaker.

Nor do we know of similar lapses during the 12 years we've been watching Obama.

To the contrary, the professional judgment and personal decency with which he has managed himself and his ambition distinguish Barack Obama. We endorse him convinced that he could lead America in directions that the other Democrats could not.

3/08/2008 11:31:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Eggplant said, "At one time it would have been considered insane to send a spacecraft to Jupiter powered only by photovoltaic panels (the sunlight is really dim out there)."

If you think that's bad, if we get a Democrat sponsored national energy policy, future deep space probes will be required to have a wind power backup.

3/09/2008 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Unfurl the Solar Sails!

3/09/2008 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

No problem with blatant racist hate-speech and Anti-Semitism, right "benj?"

3/09/2008 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Country could increase it's awareness of hate speech by electing a big-mouthed black bigot. step forward,

3/09/2008 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Next time try a "Hyperlink,"

3/09/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

...internets stuff.

3/09/2008 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Doug said:

"benj Next time try a "Hyperlink,""

Actually, Benj should end his comments
with a distinctive line so it's easier
to know when to stop when scrolling. Something like the following would work nicely:


Doug also said:

"Unfurl the Solar Sails!"

Actually in a previous professional life, I did some work with Solar Sails. A few decades ago there was a JPL proposal to send a spacecraft to Halley's Comet for a slow rendevous. Halley's Comet flies an almost retrograde orbit so the energy requirement for slow rendevous is enormous. Two groups were organized to develop alternative propulsion schemes, i.e. solar electric propulsion versus solar sailing. The group I was with, worked on the steering functions for the solar sail. Unfortunately, the solar sail proposal was rejected due to concerns about elastic instability in the sail's material. Ultimately the whole project was trash canned and no American spacecraft was sent to Halley's comet.

3/09/2008 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Eggplant: I worked on the X-33 and X-34 programs. The X-33 never had a chance from Day One. The reason is that the Moorman study (a group which I briefed) recommended that the USAF develop a next generation ELV and NASA develop a next generation RLV. This proved to be about the only space launch study done in the last 30 years that was worth the paper it was printed on. And it still proved to be woefully inadequate.

NASA saw the X-33 as “do the Shuttle over and get it right this time.” This was the single largest mistake made since the decision to build the Shuttle in the first place. The problems with this approach are many, but the biggest was simply that they were building on the Shuttle legacy. They were throwing more money at a basically bad idea in a vain hope of proving they were right in the first place. So X-33 was never really an “X” program in the X-1/X-15 tradition. They compounded the error further by shooting for the Shuttle’s max payload capabilities and choosing the most “advanced” and risky of the three submissions. Then they further compounded their basically bad set of basic requirements with other decisions that would have ensured program failure all by themselves.

The Air Force proceeded to develop not one, as originally planned, but two new space boosters. However, NASA refused to participate in the program in any way, citing their wonderful new X-33 derived vehicle, which would, once again, make all ELVs obsolete. And, as a result the only heavy lifter we have today (Delta IV Heavy) is not well suited for carrying manned missions due to its ascent profile.

And finally, the X-34, which was worth doing in its own right, was cancelled because as a real “X” program it would fly and might actually fail, and NASA could not stand any more failures at that point.

3/09/2008 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/09/2008 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

An acceptable plan would have to include taking out NASA and the UN in one stroke.
Stop the bleeding.
Maybe someday you can explain the ascent profile.
Too many G's?

3/09/2008 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

RWE said:

"I worked on the X-33 and X-34 programs. The X-33 never had a chance from Day One. The reason is that the Moorman study (a group which I briefed) recommended that the USAF develop a next generation ELV and NASA develop a next generation RLV."

The team I'm currently with was also involved with X-33. I won't say what we did because I'm trying to remain anonymous (it's a small community).

The guys around me were really gung-ho about X-33 (I have to admit that the artist's conceptions for VentureStar did look really cool). However I kept asking anyone who would listen:

"Weren't we trained in graduate school that SStO RLVs can't possibly work?"

I was typically told either to mind my own business or that the geniuses at Lockheed-Martin had it all worked out and not to worry.

X-33 was the beginning of the end for RLV research and development at NASA. If you now ask the experts about RLVs and CAtS, they'll tell you the problem is impossible and we're best off with Apollo program retreads like Orion (they're drinking the same Kool-Aid, just a different flavor).

This stupidity might be funny if it wasn't for the little problem that it'll eventually kill off the Space Program and terminate my career. I have a nasty feeling that the last 10 years of my professional life will be at the Jiffy Lube changing engine oil (it beats flipping burgers at McDonalds).

3/09/2008 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Eggplant: You are right. Notice what NASA's plans are for advanced space launch development now?

Like NONE?

Of course, tell that to most people and they will cite Ares I and Ares V. Which are about as "advanced" as the B-52.

I can't figure out why someone does not build a reusable glide-back first stage using good old LOX and RP-1. But maybe the fact that no one has means it is harder than it looks. The original orbit-capable X-34 was such a vehicle and the cost figures were not encouraging.

Unfortunately, NASA is the WRONG organization to develop an advanced general purpose launch vehicle. They have never done it successfully. They have some great people and some great capabilities, but mentally they are the IRS (Internal Rocket Service) or the DMV (Department of Mars Vehicles).

The USAF was once capable of doing the job but no longer is. Which leaves us with ... squat.

As for my career - my W-2 last year came out to $5500, total, gross, before taxes. And that is NOT a typo - I don't mean $55,000.

A job collecting the carts at the Wal Mart is looking better and better. Steady employment, plenty of fresh air, a McDonald's and a Doughnut bakery right at hand, and I could walk to work...

3/10/2008 05:56:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Benj possibly doesn't understand a few things about most of the folks that attend to the wisdom of Wretchard.

I'll speak for myself (anyone else of course is welcome to dispute, add, or agree.)

My respect and attention is held more by someone expressing an opinion supported by references or links, or at least genuinely the opinion of the poster, even if less fluently expressed than some slick team of alleged journalists. (Please desist from violating copyright by posting extended articles unless you are the author.)

Next, I really am not going to be persuaded to like or vote for Abbas Sallam Aleikem, however pure his motives and actions may be, proofs from the NYT or letters of praise from the Pope notwithstanding, since he has devoted his career and current candidacy to a set of principles I utterly reject. Pure and principled he may be, but purely principled socialism is still a poison that is demonstrably killing every country that has sipped from that cup.

Finally, I don't mind a post from someone whose orientation and preferences are diametrically opposed to my own. As far as I can see that's mostly true for a lot of folks. That is, as long as the post is attempting to persuade me to reconsider my opinions and assumptions (I got 'em, in ton lots, yep) by offering insights, perspectives, or (holy cow) facts to counter what I believe.

That's going to be a little tricky, on account of I've done a fair amount of research and digging, even clenching my teeth and reading works by people I really don't agree with, doing fact checking from various sources that are on opposite sides of issues, et cetera. I also have close to six decades on the planet. In that time I've observed that events I thought I understood at age twenty turn out to have been utterly different in reality from the superficial and often intentionally distorted reports that appeared in the mainstream media at the time.

In the fullness of time, a person begins to see for self that there are patterns and currents in human affairs that only experience can discern. The eddies that mark snags and ripples reveal hidden sandbars in the river, yield up their secrets to the experienced eye of the captain who has plied the river for decades, not to the drunken passenger dancing on the deck.

3/10/2008 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

RWE said:

"I can't figure out why someone does not build a reusable glide-back first stage using good old LOX and RP-1. But maybe the fact that no one has means it is harder than it looks."

I suspect people are overly focused on specific impulse. During ascent, after atmospheric drag gets low enough, a high thrust propulsion system is no longer necessary and an optimal design should use the highest specific impulse possible. At first blush this would exclude a LOX and RP-1 RLV. However there is a hitch with this straight forward analysis: Liquid hydrogen has a very low density and requires a much larger volume than RP-1. That bigger volume means more surface area and that means more skin friction. Add to this the requirment for added insulation if a cryogenic fuel is used along with a more complicated rocket motor like the J-2 or SSME. The Space Shuttle's wings are empty even though it is standard design practice to store fuel in an aircraft's wings. If the Space Shuttle had been fueled with RP-1, its wings could have been used as fuel tanks rather than as dead volume. After one takes in these other factors, I strongly suspect an RP-1 and LOX fueled biamese TStO design would be the way to go for CAtS.

RWE said:

"Unfortunately, NASA is the WRONG organization to develop an advanced general purpose launch vehicle. They have never done it successfully."

Once upon a time, NASA was the right organization. However that was before all the really bright guys died from old age, retired or resigned.

RWE said:

"They have some great people and some great capabilities, but mentally they are the IRS (Internal Rocket Service) or the DMV (Department of Mars Vehicles)."

If NASA is to again attract the very brightest of America's engineers it'll need to have a very exciting mission. I believe manned missions to the asteroids with Mars as the ultimate destination would do the trick. Simply returning to the Moon or remaining in LEO won't do the trick.

RWE then said:

"As for my career - my W-2 last year came out to $5500, total, gross, before taxes. And that is NOT a typo - I don't mean $55,000."

I am sorry to read this. Aerospace is a gorgeous whore. Heaven help the poor bastard who falls in love with her.

I found it bitter sweet when it became clear that my son had not caught the Space Bug. It was reassuring that he would probably do something with his life other than chase the hopeless dream. However it would have been nice to teach him what little I know and share in the fantasy.

3/10/2008 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

My brother comments that our space program seems conspicuously to be crippled by exactly the same limitation we impose on ourselves in conducting foreign policy or military combat:

No U.S. casualties will be tolerated.

We seem to have allowed the crazies in our culture to define any death as absolute proof of the worthlessness and evil nature of our ambitions and actions.

Oh, except for the 50,000 plus deaths from auto accidents caused by our national obsession with the freedom of movement and choice provided by automobiles.

Freedom! Yahoo!

More Cars Please! More motorcycles! More Segues! ("Seg-Ways????") More Roller Blades! More Cross-country Skis! More Experimental Ultra-Lights and Hang-Gliders!

The Skies are for the People!

Guns are similarly under constant attack by the crazies, because they also provide a means of resistance to the leviathan encroachment of SOCIALIST TRANS-NATIONAL PROGRESSIVIST Collectivization.

God help me. I've become a shouting nutcase. Where's my soapbox? Where's my coffee?

Anyhow, we hobble ourselves fifty ways trying to insure that progress will never ever ever ever ever involve any risk whatsoever.

Hmmmm. Must be some insurance company executives on the board of directors at NASA.

3/11/2008 08:59:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Powered by Blogger