One step closer to commercial space flight

Remember SpaceShipOne that won the X-prize in 2004?  Well, Virgin Galactic reviled SpaceShipTwo yesterday.

With SpaceShipTwo, 6 passengers can get a short trip into space, and the plan is to sell such trips.  I don’t know what the prize will be, but I guess it is safe to say that I won’t be able to get a trip any time soon.

Still, it is pretty cool, and if they get to go higher than sub-orbital flight with SpaceShipThree, we might be looking at the beginning of affordable space flight pretty soon.


I guess I won’t see a Moon landing in my life time

This is a bit of a bummer: Obama space panel says moon return plan is a no go.

WASHINGTON — A White House panel of independent space experts says NASA’s return-to-the-moon plan just won’t fly.

The problem is money. The expert panel estimates it would cost about $3 billion a year beyond NASA’s current $18 billion annual budget.

“Under the budget that was proposed, exploration beyond Earth is not viable,” panel member Edward Crawley, a professor of aeronautics at MIT, told The Associated Press Tuesday.

I was born just after the last Moon landing, and the way things are going, I will probably be dead before the next one.  At least unless someone else than NASA gets going on this.  Maybe the Chinese?  Or the Indians?  Or maybe even some private company, approaching the problem in a completely new way.  The one scenario I find least likely is that NASA’s budget is increased…


Last week in the blogs

The last two weeks I’ve been busy with writing a grant proposal, so I haven’t had much time to read (much less write) blogs, but here’s a list of the posts that I did have time to read and enjoy…


Human ancestry

Research Life


Space exploration


Happy anniversary NASA

Well, today it is 40 years since man first walked on the moon.

Yeah, I know the date is the 21th of July, and that the first astronauts landed on the moon on the 20th, but hey, in this time zone they landed on the 20th and stepped unto the moon after midnight so the 21st.  We’re at GMT+2 during the summer (daylight savings) and the landing was GMT 20:17 on the 20th and Armstrong stepped out on the moon at GMT 02:56 on the 21st.

I guess you can celebrate both days then, first for the landing and then for the first man touching the moon.

The moonlandings were over in 72, three years before I was born, so I never experienced them.  They went to the moon, then went home, and didn’t go back.  I wish they’d continued.  We could have a moon base and maybe Mars base by now.

I realize that the Apollo program was a political program more than a scientific one, and that once the US had beat the USSR to the moon, there really was no reason to continue.  No political reason at least.  There would only be scientific reasons now (and they just got started on that with the first scientist on the moon at the last moon landing).

You might get more science for the same money with unmanned missions.  I don’t really know.  But there is certainly more romance in men and women in space than robots, even as cool robots as the Mars rovers.

I hope the plans for going back to the moon by 2020 are still on track and I get to see the day we return to the moon.