Light posting because I decided at the last minute to fly up to San Jose for the workshop at NASA Ames. Been listening to lunar stuff all day. Highlight: a talk by Jack Schmitt, the only geologist to walk on the moon, and the second to last to walk on it, a little over 45 years ago. And with the death of John Young a few days ago, only one of five remaining moon walkers. He’s looking pretty good at 82, and I think he stands a good chance of seeing the next person walk on the moon.
Haven’t seen a story to link yet, but my Twitter TL is full of announcements that he’s departed earth for the final time. Flew in every NASA spacecraft except Mercury, first man to orbit the moon solo, and commander of the first Shuttle flight.
[Update a few minutes later]
Here‘s the NASA press release.
Are they “normal“?
If it’s exploration for exploration’s sake, probably. But if it’s for creation of wealth, I’d expect things to happen faster.
…is postponed until next year. This is interesting, politically:
In one corner, we have the SpaceX Crew Dragon, a successor to the original Dragon capsule it’s been using to deliver supplies to the ISS. The seven-seater vehicle appears to be quite the looker, with fairly large windows to give passengers a stunningly clear view of their journey — a feature you’d definitely appreciate if you were a paying customer. The company already has a solid idea of what to do with the capsule outside of its Commercial Crew responsibilities. In fact, it already sold two seats to take private citizens on a trip around the moon next year … but only if it has already started taking astronauts to the ISS for NASA.
A successful Falcon Heavy flight (hopefully next month) is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for SpaceX to attempt an Apollo 8 recreation (the fiftieth anniversary is almost exactly a year from now). If they do it before they’re flying commercial crew, it will have the appearance of not keeping their eyes on the ball for NASA’s needs. But NASA can control the schedule by throwing up impediments to first flight, and some at the agency might be motivated to see that happen, because it would be politically embarrassing to see a private company do an Apollo 8 re-enactment before the agency can with SLS, causing even more people to question the need for the latter. It will be an interesting year.
Oh, one other point. Amusing to see a woman journalist using the terms “manned” and “unmanned.” I personally try to only use those terms to describe historical events (e.g., Apollo). It appears that “crewed” and “uncrewed” are gaining acceptance, but there remain two problems with that. First, “crewed” sounds like “crude” when verbalized. Second, not everyone who flies will be crew. Maybe we need to start saying “humanned” spaceflight.
Speaking of Henry Hertzfeld, every time I see him, for over a couple decades now, we argue about the viability of reducing the cost of launch through reusability of rockets. I wonder what he’s thinking these days?
RIP, Lutz Kayser.
I don’t know if anyone’s written a definitive history of OTRAG, but it did inspire (at least for a while) John Carmack and Armadillo.
Bob Zimmerman has a familiar problem, one that I and many friends do (Leonard David’s is particularly acute, after half a century of space reporting). My own archives, such as they are, go back almost four decades.
I accidentally started a Twitter conversation with Sandy Mazza as a result of this nice piece on markets being enabled by lower-cost launch, including space burial. I noted to her that it made no sense for the California Department of Public Health to be regulating it, and then mentioned that they shouldn’t have anything to do with cryonics, either. In the course of the discussion, I dug up an old piece I wrote for Cryonics Magazine back in 1990 (ctrl-F “Simberg” to find it). Given that things are finally looking promising for reducing cost of access to space in general, and likely the moon as well, I decided I’d resurrect it here. Note that I’ve been talking about the need for markets to drive down launch costs for three decades. Note also that it’s somewhat dated, in terms of its discussion of the NASP and American Rocket.
[Update a while later]
Here’s what I wrote on the 40th anniversary. It still holds up pretty well, I think.
[Update early afternoon]
There’s a new version of the ceremony on line now.
Seeing comments out there on the Interwebs that Nixon canceled Apollo. No, it happened in 1967, by Congress. Before he was elected. For those of you unfamiliar with the post-Apollo history under Nixon, John Logsdon’s latest book is a good read. Funded by Bill Anders, it’s probably the definitive history at this point. He’s currently working on the space history of the Reagan administration, which I wrote about at the time of Reagan’s passing.
The Space Show we did last night has been archived.