Showing posts with the label economics

BEAM Prototype Habitat, Bigelow's Plans

The BEAM Bigelow Aerospace habitat module, will be launched toward the International Space Station (ISS) today: if all goes well.

BEAM is packed in the Dragon spacecraft's pressurized section. This cargo run also carries supplies for the ISS crew, and for several dozen of the roughly 250 experiments planned for Expeditions 47 and 48. (SpaceX press kit)

After getting attached to the ISS and inflated, BEAM will mostly just sit there for at least two years: empty except when someone in the ISS takes samples and swaps out radiation sensors. I think that's a good idea, since BEAM is testing technology for Bigelow Aerospace rental properties in low Earth orbit.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Luxembourg and Asteroid Mining

Stories like "Rip Foster Rides the Gray Planet" and "Red Dwarf's" Dave Lister singing "...Lived an old plutonium miner / And his daughter Clementine..." probably didn't help make asteroid mining seem like a serious idea.

Then there's the 1966 Outer Space Treaty treaty: a tribute to the high ideals, and international politics, of the '60s. The idea was that anything we find outside Earth's atmosphere would belong to everyone. Nifty idea, not entirely wrong, and I'll get back to that.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Barsoom Development Ltd.

The Curiosity Mars Rover sent a 'postcard' from Mars, a 360-degree view of dunes and a mountain in Gale Crater....

...As usual, I'll ramble on about science, technology, and being human before getting to the interesting stuff: assuming that you think a robotic selfie from Mars is interesting.

Not-entirely-as-usual, I wasn't finished rambling when I started the 'postcard' stuff, so this post has an afterword. I've done that before....

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Beaver Cleaver and the Common Good

I grew up in the 'good old days,' when many Americans enjoyed the seemingly-secure middle class lives of the Cleavers and Andersons.

Some parents, mine included, remembered that there's more to life than wealth: so I never considered running away to a commune.

But I understood why some folks my age, and a bit older, decided that buying stuff you don't need with money you don't have to impress people you don't like — made no sense at all....

...I didn't have the horror that some older folks had for places like Drop City. It seemed to me that 'those crazy kids,' with their 'un-American' talk about peace, love, and brotherhood, had decided to take at least some of my Lord's values seriously....

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Climate Change, Science, and the Vatican

The 'Vatican science academy' is in the news again: this time because they've said we should use our brains. The topic was climate change, which tends to stir up sound and fury more than rational discourse.

Meanwhile, one scientist implied a link between our "carbon dioxide crisis" and a lot of dead critters, some 201,000,000 years back. More to the point, I think, the team he was on has added a few more pieces to the puzzle of what caused the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event.

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Ebola: Scary, and Beatable

This year's Ebola outbreak has killed thousand of folks in West Africa: and one in the United States. By any reasonable standard, it's a very serious health problem....

...As I've said before, being healthy is okay. (June 13, 2014)

Not being healthy is okay, too: but I'm expected to take care of my health: within reason....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Lowering Costs on the Earth-to-Orbit Run, Preparing for Incoming Asteroids

Getting scared silly by the latest doomsday prediction is silly. So is ignoring real threats.

(Copyright M. Ahmetvaleev, via NASA News, used w/o permission.)

The Chelyabinsk meteor didn't kill anyone. Only 1,100 or so folks needed medical treatment: for injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to a broken spine. Next time, we may not get off so lightly. Now is a very good time to start getting ready for an incoming asteroid....

...Looking Ahead
(Reaction Engines Limited/Terra Novus, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Reaction Engines Limited's Skylon spaceplane.)

Apart from Space Shuttle fleet, now out of service, and recoverable capsules like Space-X's Dragon, launch vehicles are still a single-use technology. That makes getting into space very expensive.

A decade from now, we'll probably see shipping rates go down: dramatically, I suspect.

Reaction Engines Limited's Skylon is scheduled for a test flight to the International Space Station in 2019. Quite a f…