An Internet denizen asked whether there is any “real evidence” that the moon landings were faked. There isn’t, of course, but the blathering of those who think otherwise provides ample evidence for an alarming level of popular ignorance. To wit, some answers to this question, properly addressed:
In Sputnik’s Orbit
A few thoughts to tide you over…
I spent Memorial Day weekend in Los Angeles attending the International Space Development Conference and walking, walking, walking…. I was recognized for my Jim Baen Short Story Award placement along with first place winner Stephen Lawson, met renowned scientists Freeman Dyson and Frank Drake (of Dyson sphere and Drake Equation fame), and met actor-cum-space entrepreneur Harry Hamlin and philanthropist and space promoter Rod Roddenberry.
Apparently, there is a romance writer by the name of Faleena Hopkins who is claiming a trademark on the word “Cocky” and harrassing other authors for daring to use it. Some are calling this “#cockygate” and have set up a MoveOn petition to ask the US Patent and Trademark office to annul the ruling. This really isn’t necessary. Here’s why…
I just found out I’ve won the 2018 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award for my story, “Dangerous Company,” the second in my Open Space series. As a result, I’ll be going to the International Space Development conference, where one of the other honorees will be Amazon and Blue Origin founder, Jeff Bezos!
With the launch of the Falcon Heavy, Space-x has demonstrated a booster half as powerful as the mighty Saturn V and three times as powerful as the next largest launch vehicle flying today:
With the promise of extensive reusability and rapid turnaround times, Space-X seems poised to re-write the economic rules of spaceflight. Are we finally going to see hotels in orbit and colonies on the moon? Well…maybe. Right now, it’s hard to see how anyone is going to compete, not the United Launch Alliance behind the Delta IV Heavy, not the Russians, not Blue Origin, and not NASA. But expect all that to change.
Hat’s off to Space-X and Elon Musk for the sort of innovation that’s been missing from launch vehicle design since the days of Werner Von Braun and Sergei Korolev. Grid fins and engine design ideas from the Russians contribute to performance and reusability. Use of kerosene (out of fashion since the Apollo days) allows for a smaller rocket, which is therefore lighter and more efficient than hydrogen fueled rockets (like the Shuttle and Delta V) even through hydrogen carried more energy per unit mass. Pre-chilling the fuel (not possible with hydrogen) makes the Falcon even more volume efficient. The result is that the Falcon 9 heavy can launch three times the payload of the Delta V Heavy, even through the falcon is slightly smaller and largely reusable.
This last point cannot be overestimated. Elon Musk has paid attention to something most of the rest of the industry has gotten wrong for decades: The goal in launch vehicle design is cutting the cost per pound to orbit. Specific impulse doesn’t matter. Energy content per pound of fuel doesn’t matter. Reusability, by itself, doesn’t matter. All the matter is, how much does it cost to get a pound into orbit.
The Space Shuttle tries to cut costs through reuse, but created a launch system so complex, it cost more to operate than contemporary expendables (like the Delta IV Heavy). Space-X instead, looked at the math in economic terms. It is amazing that in so doing, they’ve created a launch vehicle that is far more economical than any alternative, even though it has to hold back some of its fuel for the ride home.
Kudos. Mr. Musk. He also understands that rockets become more economical the larger they are. I don’t know if his “BFR” is going to carry colonists to Mars, but one thing I do know. There has been a sea change in space flight, and every player must now keep up or get out of the game. The result, likely, will be honeymoons in orbit sooner than you might think.
Bid welcome, dear followers, to Molly Elizabeth Atkins, 2017 Writers of the Future published finalist, and my guest today on the blog.
Stuart: Welcome Molly! Tell us a little about yourself!
Molly: I live in St. Louis with my husband and two daughters who are 5 and 9 years old. I’m originally from Texas, and I grew up in College Station. That’s where Texas A&M University is, so while some kids had summer jobs mowing lawns or working in food service, my summer jobs were things like shelving books in the university library and working in the university’s various labs. I always love it in job interviews when they ask what you would do if you were given a task you thought was beneath you because I can just shrug and say, “One of my summer jobs was analyzing animal fecal samples for the Rangeland Ecology department at A&M, so once you’ve spent a summer grinding poo….”
As regular readers may know, I won the Writers of the Future contest in 2014 and ever since, I’ve left the welcome mat out for each year’s new class. It’s a great way to meet new friend who I’ll soon be handing with at cons.
In this case, though, my next “guest” has been a friend for a few years now, so please join me in welcoming 2017 Wotf winner, Sean Patrick Hazlett.