Sunday, January 29, 2012

Where we've been and where we are going.

     Way back in the 1920’s, in Germany, Russia and even in the U.S. there were various groups of regular civilians who gathered for the purpose of building rockets.  They would share stories and news of each others exploits, build small, experimental rockets, and even publish scientific papers.   They ended up advancing the capability of rockets quite a bit.  They designed, built and tested liquid-fueled rockets of increasing thrust, that reached higher and higher altitudes.   These were students and amateurs, mostly.  In Germany and Russia, they eventually gained small amounts of funding from their respective governments. 

 (see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verein_f%C3%BCr_Raumschiffahrt)

      They advanced the state of the art.  And some of them went on to head up government labs and efforts both during and after WWII.   These individuals ultimately helped us escape the bonds of Earth and make it to the Moon and beyond  (with accomplishments like the V-2 liquid-fueled rocket, the precursor to our expendable rockets like Redstone,  Atlas and Titan). 

 (see:  http://www.army.mil/article/46989/German_Rocket_Site_Unearths_Memories/ )

      Now here we are in 2012.  Our Space Shuttle program is done, and we are hoping and waiting for some corporate, for profit efforts to become available.  In other countries, especially China, governments are heavily funding national programs.   In the US, we have placed our hopes on that elusive thing called ‘private enterprise’ .     There are lots of beautiful photos and mockups and such.  But whether anything actually gets flown is another matter.

 (see:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_spaceflight)

       Might there not be a way to join a loose confederation of individuals, to plan, fund and build small-scale efforts, to probe other ways to escape Earth’s gravity and so forth?   It seems important, after a century of hard-won gains in the field of rocketry design and practice, to keep up our momentum.   The U.S. has had to play catch-up more than once, as other countries showed foresight and persistence.   We are a large and relatively prosperous country.  We should be able to do better.   
     Some college-level rocketry organizations, modeled after some of the early German orgs, might stimulate interest on the part of students to not only learn about rocketry in general, but also to perhaps build and test some of their own models.    This could help us advance the state of the art here in the US, and keep up with the rest of the world when it comes to getting objects and people sent into space.     One example is here:  http://aero.cpss.calpoly.edu/

      We have accomplished much in the last 100 years, going from the fantastical stories of Hugo Gernsback to the reality of rovers snapping pictures of Martian rocks.   We can justly be proud.  But we should not stop here.   No, we are just on the cusp of a breakout.  A breakout into livable habitations on the Moon, on Mars and the Asteroids and even in orbital facilities cycling between Mars, the Moon, and Earth Orbit.  We should not stop now.  A pause, perhaps, to regroup and re-focus some efforts.  And then the next leap forward.   Our youth can lead the way for us.   Thanks for reading.




Monday, January 09, 2012

Another 25-word hint fic-let:


The external drive seemed dead.  Jason tried unplugging and re-connecting it;   loud screeches ensued.  Then he tried a different system, and it worked. Darn viruses.


-end
my entry into the 25-word hint fiction category...


Roger tried a laser pointer on the crows that roosted in trees near his job.  He came to later, heavily bandaged.  The warning went out.

-end 

Have a good Monday.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Raucous Caucus 2012

The noisy seven smothered our fair state,
Ingratiating themselves into coffeehouse
society - shotguns and words fired straight;
Exciting results reported from the statehouse.

Fortunes raised and fell more than the Dow,
Values questioned and half-truths belied;
Debates started civilly, became a genteel row,
Accused each other of being special interests allies.

Finally those incessant ads will soon cease,
The votes will be tallied and the field winnowed;
Weary Iowans eyes and ears will get peace,
Leaders will declare success with eyes narrowed.

Another Iowa Caucus draws nigh to an end,
We go back to normal, no more rhetoric to defend.

- Whew.