So Close

Oh, look, I’m posting! … Sorry about that, folks. Life kind of pounced and began throttling me rather violently this past month. BUT I am not letting April go blog-less, so I win.

What’s new in my life, you ask? Not much. I have a few project/papers to go before I’m home free; I’m looking forward to a change of pace over the summer. Over the past month or two I’ve been working my contacts in an effort to land a lab or industry summer position, just praying I’d get something and that I wasn’t too late. And, after all that work and worry, an amazingly sweet project here at school just dropped into my lap, courtesy of my adviser and another prof in the department. Once again, God has this timing thing down to a tee.

I do intend to write/post more over the summer. About anything, really – engineering classwork tends to kill the creative side of my brain. So here’s how we’ll do it: Comment on this post, or any following post, and give me a prompt for a summer post. It could be a word, or a phrase, or a question, or whatever else comes to mind; I’ll do my darndest to cover one prompt per week. (Note: my summer does not technically start until the week after next, when I have all my stuff done and turned in.)

I’ve been asked by a few people what I think of Obama’s new plan for the space program. Two things that immediately come to mind:

  1. Go to an asteroid by a date conveniently fifteen years in the future? Instead of the moon? We know a lot more about the moon (which is still very little); we’ve been there before; and it’s a lot easier to hit, from an orbital mechanics perspective. Our chances of success are much better going to the moon and we could do more useful things there. From a public relations perspective, NASA needs to show success in space, especially on the human spaceflight side of things. And which is more inspiring to the sixth grader considering a career in math and science: thinking “Wow, there’s a man walking on the moon right now; I can see it/maybe him out of my bedroom window!” or “Wow, there’s a man walking on an asteroid somewhere in space – I can’t even remember the numerical designation they gave it, but if I squint hard enough and look at the sky at 24.3 minutes after sunset, I might be able to see it!”
  2. Use Orion as a lifeboat from Station? We’re not talking about the Constellation program crew capsule, are we – the one designed to go to the moon for months at a time? Because using it as a lifeboat would be like buying an RV (complete with toilet, shower, stove, cruise control, GPS, and the works), ripping all the good bits off, and then using it to camp overnight in the backyard. If Mr. Obama wants a lifeboat, a steel barrel with a parachute would be better qualified. Oh, wait, that would be Soyuz.

There’s also the fact that we’ve already invested billions in research and development towards a moonshot. An asteroid mission is a completely different design environment; it will need – guess what? – a bunch of money.

Dear Mr. President, you’re costing us more every day. Don’t add my dreams to that bill.

Some articles and opinions:
Aviation Week’s news story
Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, and Gene Cernan’s response
Buzz Aldrin’s response
Tom Jones’ response

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3 thoughts on “So Close

  1. Lol
    Blog about the new modern version of Hamlet from the Royal Shakespear theatre. Or maybe Chick-fil-a.

  2. I’ve been similarly delinquent on blog postings…and similarly hopeful about more consistency this summer.

    I may be considering a one-year move to the mid-West in 2011, if I clerk for the 6th, 7th, or 8th Circuits. Maybe you could blog about what it’s like to live there?

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