Saturday, February 20, 2010

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(c) 2010 Michael S Wilson dot com org biz tv etc




Monday, February 08, 2010

Looking Back

Tripping down memory lane,

Hop into the wires and travel

Down network time to the past,

Primitive Internet connections -

Companies started in a flash,

Dazzling ads enticed us all -

One more login and password.

Leafing through an old notebook,

Storied names came and went.

Compuserve with numbers, numbers;

Pipeline, GNN, Sprynet, Freenet.

The names roll on by. INS, my first

On-ramp to the Information Superhighway...

Remember that moniker? Back,

Further in time, to the days of BBS's.

Common Link, Citywide Internet, Omni,

Buffalo Creek, Ru's Hotel, The Talk Board,

Apple Hideaway, Fantasy Inn, Full Moon.

Local gathering places on PC's and Macs.

On to earlier days of 300 baud acoustic couplers,

Teletype machines with loud bells and clatter;

The early way software and hardware was shared.

Nowadays the web is everywhere, one-touch

Access to financial and social needs being met.

Crackers and hackers, impersonation and slander

Have not gone away, only gotten more sophisticated.

More sleek, streamlined, colorful and animated, the

Internet has become our partner and confidant,

Ever present, and increasingly, watching what we do.

This embracing friend can become a smothering enemy.

The old days were fun - but the present is never dull, either!




Monday, February 01, 2010

No more Constellation

The news that NASA is facing the cancellation of their (and our) Constellation program drew mixed emotions. On the one hand, it is a shame to see the U.S. space exploration program crippled. I was hoping to see our astronauts travel beyond Earth orbit again, to go back to the Moon or even further. And NASA is one government agency that seems to inspire something other than frustration or contempt, at least on my part. They had actually built an Ares booster rocket and flew it, testing the components. So it is a shame to see this canceled, after billions have been spent on it.

The brighter side is that Obama and co. have said they want to increase funding for NASA, to facilitate commercial launch companies to get going. So this seems to mean that, instead of using the same bunch of subcontractors to build Ares/Orion, they will use a different bunch of contractors to build a transportation system to get to and from the Space Station. One presumably involving some kind of capsule design. Well, at least we won't have to buy Soyuz services from Russia forever, only until 2015 or so. And, at least NASA will be staying in the human-crewed space business, at least by proxy.

Gong back to the Moon would have been very expensive, on top of everything else NASA is trying to do (Earth sensing, unmanned space probes, aeronautics, etc). Inevitably the Moon missions would be cheapened down to a bare minimum, almost a repeat of Apollo, and that would make no sense, really - just us trying to show we still have the mojo to get to the Moon. A wasteful exercise. A mission further out, to an Asteroid, would be "cool", but again, not much more than a publicity stunt costing many billions to execute.

I for one cannot understand why they cannot take the Shuttle technology, already developed and proven, and use it to make a derivative Shuttle-like vehicle, only smaller. If one could scale down the SSME's, the SRB's, etc to half-size. And then use more cargo area for crew seating, but keeping the same airlock configuration. Sure this would cost money to do. But we would keep a reusable vehicle, with wheels and wings, flying, and slowly but surely advance reusable spacecraft technology and methodology while we are at it.

Instead we are abandoning a system that has eaten at least a hundred billion dollars, abandoning all of the lessons learned, techniques improved, etc to go back to a pre-shuttle design. Talk about government waste! Rather than abandon Shuttle technology, why not improve on it? That is one opinion anyway.

We shall see what transpires in the days and weeks ahead regarding Congressional budget talks. The secret deals, the backroom chats, the trades of one favor for another. Who knows? Maybe someone will vote to fund the Gemini program again, just to keep our industrial base going ya'know. Thanks for reading.