Tell your Senators to Save Rocketry!
To All ARSA
members and Fellow Rocketeers,
and Phone Your Senators Now!!!!!!!!
Senator Enzi sent to all Senators a "Dear Colleague" letter requesting
their support and cosponsorship in legislation that would provide
a general exemption of rocketry from the Safe Explosives Act, which
is part of the Homeland Security Act.
Ask your two
Senators to read his letter, Senator Enzi has requested that you
FAX your letter and phone your two Senators to enlist their support
for this important legislation. Senator Enzi and myself thank you
for your support and help.
[If you are
unable to get through, you can continue over the weekend, but DO
NOT fail to FAX your letter and follow it up with a phone call to
verify it was received.]
than one reason to fly... John Carter McKnight gives
a spirited defense of manned spaceflight and reviews the many reasons
for going to space : Why
We Fly by John Carter McKnight - Spacefaring Web/Spacedaily
petition... The Planetary Society continues its campaign
for both robotic and mannes spaceflight. Sign their petition :
above... While critics in the science community like
to ridicule claims of valuable spinoffs
from manned spaceflight, it should be noted that when defending
large expenditures for esoteric pursuits such as high energy physics
(an area in which I used to work), astrophysics, and space science,
there are often similar claims about the benefits of serendipitous
discoveries, i.e. spinoffs.
would not be surprised that the first really exciting discovery
in microgravity won't occur from a specific experiment but from
someone just "fooling around" and noticing something very
unusual and unexpected.
in this article - Saturday
Morning Science: Elastic Water on the ISS - Science@NASA - Feb.25.03
- in weightlessness things behave quite differently than we expect.
Perhaps such bizarre and wonderful phenomena may one day become
the basis of a new industry (or artwork.)
Lunar observer vindicated... Dr. Leon Stuart, an amateur
astronomer in Oklahoma, photographed in 1953 a bright flash on the
Moon. The flash was long dismissed as a spurious artifact by professional
astronomers but now it looks to be a photo of an impact on the Moon.
Examing images from the Clementine lunar orbiter mission, two scientists
found a rare "fresh" crater very close to the area where
the flash occurred. NASA
Solves Half-Century Old Moon Mystery - ScienceDaily - Feb.25.03
power for your cell phone... In the 1970s there was considerable
excitement about space-based
solar power. It seemed to offer a permanent solution
to the shortage of clean energy while also providing a very profitable
space industry that could pay for large space settlements. However,
the high cost of space transportation made the proposals so expensive
they were dismissed by most people as totally unrealistic.
Now there is
something of comeback for the concept. Ultra-light thin film solar
cells have reduced the amount of mass needed to be launched. Furthermore,
there could be intermediate applications for modest sized solar
satellites so that the systems can start small.
in Japan is developing its SOLARBIRD
project in which solar satellites would transmit power
to small devices such as cell phones and laptops, eliminating
the need for batteries.
Rescuing Hobby Rocketry
Step into Space is a Model Rocket"
Image by Shrox
image at AMSRA)
building to convince the Congress to exclude the fuels used in hobby
rocketry from the explosives listing used under the new Homeland
Security Act. See the recent entry here : UPS
refusing to ship model rockets - Space Log - Feb.18.03.
is starting to get more press attention:
Watch the Congressional
Action Page at the Amateur Rocket Society of America for the
latest strategy, especially as to when you should contact your Senator
to act on this resolution.
Sci-Fi for Astronomy Students
of Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California has developed
an innovative approach to teaching astronomy to undergrads: He frames
his courses around science fiction stories.
His recent article
Astronomy with Science Fiction: A Resource Guide by Andrew Fraknoi,
2003 in Astronomy
Education Review describes how he uses the stories, particularly
ones written by scientists, to illuminate sometimes difficult astrophysics
a listing of 200 stories at
Science Fiction Stories with Good Astronomy & Physics categorized
areas as interstellar
holes, and SETI.
messages: What should we say?
When a SETI project finds a signal emanating from an alien civilization,
what message should we send back? For the second year a group of
"group of scientists, artists, and scholars from the humanities"
will meet in Paris, France to discuss the composition of such a
Altruism:The Art and Science of Interstellar Message Construction
On March 23-24,
2003, the second in a series of international workshops on interstellar
message design will be held in Paris. The workshop will focus
on two broad themes: first, the interface of art, science, and
technology in interstellar message design; and second, how to
communicate concepts of altruism in interstellar messages. The
workshop will focus on messages that could be transmitted across
interstellar space by radio or laser signals. These communication
techniques reflect the methods used by current observational programs
in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
group of scientists, artists, and scholars from the humanities
will discuss many facets of interstellar communication, including
interstellar messages that unfold and evolve in response to
for interstellar contact by studying animal communication.
the human sense of beauty in interstellar messages.
the origins of language through archeology.
religious views of altruism through artificial languages.
interstellar "music" inspired by the structure of DNA.
the logic of altruism.
is being sponsored by The
SETI Institute; Leonardo
Observatory for the Arts and TechnoSciences; The John
Templeton Foundation; The
International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology
(ISAST); and The
International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Permanent SETI Study
of the presentations - Biographies
of the speakers
Encoding Altruism web site.
to design Mars settlements... Johnson
Space Center is sponsoring the JSC
Annual Mars Settlement Design Competition for high schools students
who will propose the designs and operating plans for a Mars base.
Hosts Fifth Annual Mars Settlement Design Competition - JSC PR/SpaceRef
race to Las Vegas...
DARPA is sponsoring
a contest - Darpa
Grand Challenge - that will award $1 million to the team that
builds a robot that will go from Los Angeles to Las Vegas without
remote control during March 2004. Such autonomous vehicles will
have obvious applications to exploration of Mars and other planets
and moons. (Item found via spacetoday.net-weblog)
"Grand Challenge" for NASA - The Space Review - Feb.24.03]
still want a ride to space... The
public continues to show remarkably strong support for human spaceflight
and a personal interest in going to space themselves: Support
for NASA Shuttle Flights Remains Firm Three in four Americans want
funding levels maintained or increased - Gallup - Feb.17.03.
The poll found
that "3 in 10 Americans would like to take a space shuttle
flight at some time in the future. This number is just slightly
below the 34% who expressed this desire in 1991, and the 38% who
said that shortly following the 1986 Challenger explosion."
teachers also still want to go: Nation's
Science Teachers Believe Educators Should Have a Place On Future
Space Shuttle Missions - NSTA PR/Yahoo - Feb.19.03
complains, though, that the polls and public discussions really
don't ask the correct questions - False
Choices - Transterrestrial Musings - Feb.20.03
and fail to recognize the alternatives to a NASA and science-only
motivated space program.
the meantime... While
we wait for a way for the rest of us to go to space, we can go to
Disney World - Mission
Space - WDWMAGIC.COM - Feb.18.03 .
briefs ... Students
continue ham radio contacts with the crew on the ISS : ARISS
Contact with Japanese School First Since Columbia Tragedy - ARRLWeb
- Feb.19.03 ...
out this nice little article at the Christian Science Monitor on
spinoffs - Spinoffs
from space - csmonitor.com - Feb.20.03
... Space scientist
S. Alan Stern argues for a renewed commitment to both human and
robotic exploration of space : Columbia
lost, but not a nation by S. Alan Stern - The Space Review - Feb.17.03
Columbia Tribute Song
Rucker has worked for many years as a technician on the shuttle's
external tank. He is also a songwriter who wrote Blast-Off Columbia
that was recorded by Roy McCall & Southern Gold in 1981.
This song was
transmitted as a wakeup
call to astronauts Young and Crippen on the first flight
of Columbia, which was also the very first flight of the shuttle
The loss of
Columbia is thus especially poignant for him. In honor of Columbia
he joined with his son Joe
Rucker to write the song America,
We Must Carry On.
You can hear
the song at www.SpiritOfColumbia.com.
More about the
Ruckers is available in this article: Son
joins shuttle engineer father to pen song in memory of Columbia
- BP News - Feb.5.03 and on the shuttle
page at Joe Rucker's site.
Visiting Interstellar Neighbors
I have posted
a copy of my article A
Starship to Visit a Neighbor that just came out iin
in the Jan/Feb issue of Ad
Astra Magazine. It reviews the challenges of reaching a "nearby"
star and looks at various interstellar propulsion schemes.
of HobbySpace holds that exploration
and development of our own solar system will provide plenty enough
excitement even if we never develop some kind of warp drive that
will make starflight practical. However, I was asked by the Ad Astra
editor to write such an article and it was quite fun to do.
Note that the
states that the best way to reach the stars is to start now with
developing our own little space neighborhood.
Space Design Competition
Space Agency (ESA) is sponsoring a space projects design competition
for students in Canada and Europe: Calling
all students and universities - ESA - Feb.18.03 -
The goal is
to find "innovative, imaginative ideas, concepts and technologies
to enhance Europe’s long-term Aurora
programme for the robotic and human exploration of the Moon,
Mars and asteroids." (Rules,
refusing to ship model rockets... UPS has announced that
it will no longer ship any item that includes materials labeled
as explosive. The Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms agency (ATF) continues
to mistakenly include on its as explosives list the fuel ammonium
perchlorate composite propellant (APCP), which as been used safely
for decades in model and high power rocketry .
This means even
small Estes rockets can no longer be shipped - Transportation
Carriers Dropping Solid Rocket Motors Due To Homeland Security Act
- Amateur Rocket Society - Feb.17.03.
As other shippers
are certain to follow suit, this will mean the death
of a very educational and fun hobby for both kids and
While the National
Association of Rocketry (NAR) has had some success with a lawsuit
to force the ATF to remove APCP from the list, things have reached
a crisis stage with the passage of the recent Homeland Security
Act. It included a provision that any substance declared as explosive
by the ATF must now undergo severe restrictions on its handling
and transport. The UPS action follows from these requirements.
Rocket Society is leading a campaign to get an "emergency
bill passed in the Congress to delay implementation of the Safe
Explosives Act until a "technical corrections" bill can be passed."
Follow the instructions
on their site to see how you can let your congress-person know that
you support this bill.
for the Moon... TransOrbital's
Trailblazer is taking some artworks with it when it heads for the
Moon : London
based artist Stephen Little is sending his art work to the Moon
- PR Web - Sept.27.03.
Note that TransOrbital
is also a HobbySpace sponsor.
Consider sending your own artwork or other momento to the Moon via
time capsule that will travel in the spacecraft.
Inaugurates Texas Spaceport... Mark Goll's Texas
Spacelines company launched a high power hybrid rocket to initiate
activities at a new spaceport
taking shape in southeast Texas : Taking
Flight: Elected leaders and officials gathered to witness event
- Valley Morning Star - Feb.18.03 . More about the launch and
Texas Spacelines in the advanced
rocketry section. (Thanks to spacetoday.net
for links to articles about the launch.)
watching gets even NEATer.. As mentioned
earlier, you can watch the watch the comet named NEAT
via the SOHO
real-time images available on the internet. The comet has gotten
even brighter as a solar eruption blows upon it - Amazing
Live Images: Sungrazing Comet Possibly Hit by Solar Eruption - Space.com
support for space remains strong... Latest surveys show
amazingly robust public support for human spaceflight: Poll:
Despite Accident, Support for NASA Still High - Space.com - Feb.18.03
tourism poll... Put in your 2 cents (or $98,000) on issue
of space tourism. Fill out the survey at How
much do you want to go into space?.
article... The National Geographic looks at a vicarious
trip to the Moon: For-Profit
Moon Mission Slated for October - National Geographic News - Jan.29.03.
See the TransOrbital entry in Token Space Tourism.
Watch the comet... ESA reports on an opportunity to watch
a comet via the SOHO satellite. Surf
the Web to see the Sun-dancing comet - ESA SCIENCE - Feb.12.03.
Don't forget that you can regularly get the latest spectacularly
views of the sun at The
very latest SOHO images page at NASA. These are also available
via the SOHO
real time images screen saver. Lots of other real-time space
imagery can found with the viewers in the Living
vectoring student rocket... The advanced
rocketry group at Cal
State Long Beach: Aerospace Engineering @ the Beach! will test
a sophisticated high power rocket engine this month:. P-3
Launch Date Set to the Feb. 22-23 Weekend at the MTA - Flight of
the Thrust Vector Control System - Cal State Long Beach.
The engine will provide vectoring of the thrust to maneuver the
Prospector 3 vehicle, which will carry a payload of the USC
Student Microsatellite Program.
Rocket Volunteers... If you live in Tennessee and would
like to help rocket hobbyists avoid ridiculously oppressive regulation,
then send a fax to Senator Bill Frist to encourage him to push an
exemption from the recent Homeland Security Act that unintentionally
placed a non-explosive type rocketry fuel under explosives regulations.
See John Wickhams
Congressional Action Page for a detailed explanation of the
Moving an Asteroid
Foundation holds that near earth asteroids present a serious
risk for gigantic damage to the earth and its civilisations. While
we don't know when such an impact will occur, it is virtually certain
to happen someday and we may not have much time to respond when
we find an asteroid heading our way.
To prepare for
such a situation, the foundation campaigns for a project that would
by 2015 move a selected asteroid as preparation for when we need
such capability. A space
tugboat providing a steady pull over a long period can change
the orbit of such a body significantly enough to avoid an impact.
the organization include the Princeton physicist Piet
Hut, planetary scientist Dr.
Clark R. Chapman, the astronaut Rusty
Schweickart and others. See the article Avoiding
the Impact - Scientific American - July.8.03 for an overview
of the challenge
More Columbia links
Here are additional
articles and sites dealing with Columbia:
up there on video... Patti LaBelle's rendition of the
Up There at the Columbia memorial last week in the
National Cathedral is now available on web cast at MSNBC - ‘Way
Up There’: A Columbia tribute NASA theme dedicated to fallen astronauts;
hear Patti LaBelle’s memorial performance - MSNBC - Feb.12.03.
Boyle, the song is getting lots of requests for radio play.
Lindsey Goes to Washington... Check out the report
on the Monday campaign on Capitol Hill by the Suborbital Institute
and volunteers like me to inform Congress about the new suborbital
launch industry and how it offers an alternative commercial route
to low cost access to space.
Forget to Send Your Cosmic Valentine... Place a message
on Team Encounters broadcasts
to 5 "local" stars (within 70 light-years) on Friday.
E.T.’s home - Brian Boyle at MSNBC - Feb.11.03 * Send
your free Valentine's Day message to the Stars via Cosmic Call -
Team Encounter - Jan.29.03
Disasters... I've created a new Space
Disasters section in Space History with resources about
space disasters and others.
New Web sites ...
Review debut... Jeff Foust has just opened a new site
Space Review which will provide "essays and commentary
about the final frontier". The new site will complement the
daily news listings of Jeff's Spacetoday.net.
He wants to focus on the "fundamental problems with how we
approach space today". These problems include space transportation
but many others as well.
Some other interesting
websites I've come across recently include
Here are various
essays and articles dealing with the Columbia disaster :
National Space Society Petition
this logo to your web site!
Space Society has opened an online petition drive in support
of human spaceflight. Be sure to add your name to the list.
More Defense of Human Spaceflight
disaster has again brought up the unmanned versus human spaceflight
debate that has been around since Sputnik. As discussed below in
and Space essay, the superiority of unmanned exploration
is not nearly as clear cut as proponents suggest.
Here are some
additional resources on the issue:
Here are some
Columbia related sites you may find of interest:
I've been sent
or become aware of several images inspired by the Columbia disaster.
Click on these thumbnails for the full sized versions:
The Comet and the Shuttle
In the RLV
Section I discuss today why the shuttles need replacing
with a safe, robust, and genuinely reusable launch vehicle. And
claims that it will take 10 years and $35 billion to
Science & Space
Whenever a tragic
event like Columbia occurs, there soon arise calls from some to
end funding for human spaceflight. They state that robotic and remotely
controlled spacecraft can carry out scientific exploration as effectively
and far more safely than humans can.
typically come from scientists and academics who use their prestigous
credentials to bolster their opinions. They usually portray their
bias as based on scientific, indisputable facts.
In fact, there
are strong counter arguments to dispute their claims. Here are a
- If remote
controlled science is so superior, then why is so much science
still carried out in person in dangerous locations? From Antarctica
to volcanic mountains to underwater caves, everyday there are
scientists going into dangerous areas to risk their lives in the
pursuit of their research. And it is not uncommon for researchers
in the field to lose their lives.
do these things in person because that there is no robotic or
remote control system that comes anywhere close to the mental
agility and physical dexterity of a human. For example,
have incredible powers of pattern recognition. The glint of
something strange out the corner of the eye may turn out to
be that key rock that explains a key mystery in the history
of the Moon or Mars.
are clever and can improvise solutions to complex problems
that had not been considered or encountered before.
interact with their environment and from all that sensory
input, they synthesize new ideas and perceptions. Has anyone
ever seen a video of a place that can substitute for actually
- Many scientists
greatly underestimate what was accomplished by the Apollo astronauts,
especially during the last three science oriented missions. In
addition to the capabilities of the professional geologist Harrison
Schmidt on Apollo 17, the other astronauts received considerable
training in field geology. Andrew Chaikin's famous book A Man
on the Moon gives a wonderful account of that training and
how useful it was when they began exploring the Moon.
I. A. Crawford,
a physicist at University College London, also gives a detailed
defense of the Apollo astronauts in his paper The
Scientific Case for Human Spaceflight.
- Most people,
including most scientists, greatly underestimate the funding that
goes to space science. As shown by the budget
table, the science (including both deep space and earth
remote sensing projects) and human spaceflight budgets are roughly
equal at around 6 billion dollars.
- And many
space scientists greatly overestimate the support for their work.
One of the reasons the late astronomer and educator Carl Sagan
became a strong supporter of human spaceflight (he even came out
in support of the Space Station) was the direct correlation he
saw between the human spaceflight and science budgets - when the
former when up or down, the latter also went up or down in tandom.
should watch out for what they wish for. Britain, for example,
has steadfastly refused to fund any human space activities. Yet
this has not resulted in rich funding for space science. In fact,
the exciting Mars project Beagle
II needed to go outside of the government for extra funds.
- If space
scientists insist on a strict cost/benefit analysis, then most
of their funding should shift to the National Science Foundation.
The entire NSF
budget for a whole range of sciences is about equal to the
NASA science budget. For example, scientists in condensed matter
physics (out of which arose electronics, lasers, MRI machines,
and many other practical inventions) can easily claim to offer
a far bigger return on the dollar.
Despite the huge funding for space science, there has never been
a Nobel prize awarded in that area. (There was a prize for the
discovery of the atmospheric ozone depletion problem but that
relied on earth remote sensing data rather than space science
per se.) If the human spaceflight budget disappeared, the NASA
science budget would stick out like a sore anomaly and scientists
in other areas would quickly campaign to grab away its funding.
This is not just speculation. I previously worked in high energy
physics and saw scientists in other fields, especially in condensed
matter physics, lead the campaign in the early 1990s to kill the
multi-billion dollar SuperCollider project in Texas. With a zero-sum
mentality, they were certain that the project would take money
away from them. I don't see the campaign against human spaceflight
by scientists to be any more profound or noble than it was in
- I believe
that humans in space will eventually do great and important science,
but that is just a feeling, a belief. Space science also requires
faith. There is never a certainty that pure scienctific research
of any kind will lead to direct benefits. We can argue from past
experience but that doesn't prove anything about the future.
I believe, for example, that there can be many practical spinoffs
to space science such as in studying the weather patterns of Jupiter;
this might someday help improve the understanding of earth's weather.
But that is only my belief. There is no way that I can prove it.
Most of the data returned from space science probes will never
have any direct benefit to anyone. Yet my belief is that it is
still good for us, that it adds to the general body of knowledge,
that indirect benefits like the inspiration and training of students
make it worthwhile. But that is just my belief.
As Carl Sagan understood, by undercutting people's belief in the
long term benefits of human spaceflight, space scientists undercut
the faith in the benefits of their own work and they will eventually
suffer for it.
Of course, as
I discuss frequently in the RLV
News section, human spaceflight needs a far cheaper and
safer mode of transportation that the shuttles or expendables like
the Soyuz. If scientists had emphasized this rather than making
sweeping condemnations of human spaceflight in general, then both
pursuits would have greatly benefited.
is not the main reason for us to go into space. Outer space offers
us a wildly rich and exciting new domain in which we can settle
and prosper. The Columbia crew and the others who have made the
ultimate sacrifice all understood and believed in this. Regardless
of the naysayers, with that kind of determination human spaceflight
can't be stopped, even if we have to do it without
supporting human spaceflight can be found in these columns:
More STS-107 News
to the sites mentioned below, here are
some other sites and articles of interest:
More Columbia Songs
Pournelle has posted an mp3
of Fly, Columbia! - written by Diana Gallagher and
performed by Leslie Fish and Arlin Robins. It comes from the classic
Ten and Counting from 1983.
mp3 of the inspiring song The Phoenix
- written and performed by Julia Ecklar for the same album - can
currently be found here.
Star Over Texas by Monty Fisher will become the lyrics of
new song as well.
Columbia in Song
Here are two
songs that may help us deal a bit better with this tragedy.
Savitzky wrote Keep
the Dream Alive in 1986 in tribute to the Challenger. Yesterday,
he added new verses :
the Dream Alive
Copyright 1986, 2003
In the year
of Nineteen Eighty Six,
On an icy winter's day
The shuttle Challenger left the pad
And started on her way
The shuttle Challenger lifted off
With seven brave women and men
In flames they died just ten miles high,
And never came home again.
Never came home again,
In flames they died just ten miles high
And never came home again.
And seventeen years after
Nearly forty miles high,
Columbia's wreckage wrote a line
Of fire across the sky
But long before the jetstream blew
Her trail of smoke away
We saw that it marked a highway
That we'd travel again some day.
So never say that they died in vain
Nor stay on the ground afraid,
The stars are one step closer now
Because of the price we've paid.
And mourn for the shuttles that fly no more,
And weep for the friends we've lost,
But to leave the Earth will still be worth
Whatever it has to cost.
fire no guns in last salute
But let the rockets roar,
And reach for the wide and starry sky
As Challenger did before.
And raise no earthbound slab of stone,
To mark the place they lie,
But write their names with a shuttle's flames,
Ten miles in the sky.
And here's a toast to the shuttle crews
Who died for the dream of space
And all the pioneers who have
The sky for a resting place.
No grave nor tombstone do they need,
For their memory will survive
As long as we fly beyond the sky
And keep the dream alive.
Keep the dream alive,
As long as we fly beyond the sky
And keep the dream alive.
Keep the dream alive,
Let the shuttles fly beyond the sky
And keep the dream alive.
also wrote Fire in the Sky after the Challenger disaster
and it seems especially poignant today. (Reportedly Buzz Aldrin
read a passage from it yesterday on TV and broke into tears - The
Days of Miracle and Wonder by Peggy Noonan)
in the Sky
By Jordin Kare,
bridge by Kristoph Klover
a performance of this song by Kristoph Klover at MP3.com)
Prometheus, they say, brought God's fire down to man
And we've caught it, tamed it, trained it since our history began.
Now we're goin' back to Heaven, just to look him in the eye:
There's a thunder 'cross the land
And a fire in the sky!
Gagarin was the first, back in 1961
When, like Icarus undaunted, he climbed to reach the Sun,
And he knew he might not make it, for it's never hard to die:
But he lifted off the pad
And rode a fire in the sky!
Yet a higher goal was calling and we vowed to reach it soon
And we gave ourselves a decade to put fire on the Moon
And Apollo told the world we can do it if we try:
There was "One small step..."
And a fire in the sky!
I dreamed last night
Of a little boy's first space flight,
Burned into me,
Watching the black and white TV:
There was a fire in the sky!
I'll remember 'til I die:
A fire in the sky--
A fire in the sky!
Then two decades from Gagarin, twenty years to the day
Came a shuttle named "Columbia", to open up the way
And they said "She's just a truck," but she's a truck that's aimin'
See her big jets burnin',
See her fire in the sky!
Yet the gods do not give lightly of the powers they have made,
And with Challenger and seven, once again the price is paid
Though a nation watched her falling, yet a world could only cry,
As they passed from us to glory,
Riding fire in the sky!
Now the rest is up to us, and there's a future to be won:
We must turn our faces outward, we will do what must be done:
For no cradle lasts forever; every bird must learn to fly:
And we're goin' to the stars--
See our fire in the sky!
Yes, we're goin' to the stars--
See our fire in the sky!
I'll remember 'til I die:
A fire in the sky--
A fire in the sky!
Here are some
sites with extensive coverage of the disaster:
I'll be posting
vehicle related articles in the RLV
to January 2003 articles in archive