Latest Space Shots

Written by johnescher   
Tuesday, 20 July 2021 13:20

Who wants to miss the comic possibility of private space shot press conferences?  But could we please, finally, after 40 years, have a serious discussion about space?  The decisions made at the top are clearly half-baked.

Bezos was better than Branson primarily since someone on the Branson crew apparently was a tennis player.  For years on the tennis channel there was a daily occurrence called a "bag check."  The camera would focus in on a professional's tennis bag.  The doodads inside would form a player portrait.  The bag checks were so popular that they continued for year after year until finally even the tennis channel grew sick of them.

Cabin members in the Branson shot methodically revealed what each carried in an inner pocket of their uniform.  Bezos, out to cover all the bases, did the same thing but on a smaller scale.  The biggest thing in his conference came at the end.  It was his "surprise" announcement of his $100-million Courage and Civility Award, a pre-emptive strike at all the critics accusing him of spending his money and priorities in the wrong place.

Also the four-man crew seemed more alive than the Branson people-- saying "woo" on the way up helped.  If Musk was watching carefully he conceivably can Trump them both in PR spectacle although the Bezos rocket landing in reverse on the same pad it took off from will be hard to top. .

Here a note about my own connection to space.  Toward the end of the 1970's I wrote a short novel called CANAVERAL.  It was about a group of cool cats who started a weightless theater in the brush and woods of the Florida Space Center.  They used a lot of ropes, harnesses, swivels, etc.  A main character was a seven-foot eastern diamondback rattlesnake.  The politics at the space center was huge.  My Hungarian girlfriend later wanted to publish CANAVERAL in Budapest, maybe because I pointed out that rockets in space can't make noise.

The editor-in-chief at Farrar Straus Giroux seemed to like the female lead but thought I failed to tie the different story strands together well enough at the book's end.  So I spent several years doing that but had to learn that Farrar Straus will consider something only once-- you've got to make it on the first try.  My enemies will be glad to hear that the book never was published.

What I wonder about, in futuristic terms, is, "Won't Carl Sagan's hollowed out asteroids be claustrophobic?"  The idea of them, which I gained from reading his book PALE BLUE DOT, is to protect inhabitants from radiation. Those space colonies thus would be completely enclosed and different from the huge windows in a  Gerard K. O'Neill space colony that keep everyone in close attunement with the universe.

So, if feeling claustrophobia, what do you do?  Embed radiation-resistant storm windows in the asteroid's circumference.  But if you can do that, why not go with O'Neill in the first place as his physics students did at Princeton and have huge windows on almost every side.

Sagan declared, before he died, that he could not decide whether the Mars route or the colony route was better.  That from a scientist who devoted most of his professional career to the study of Mars.

I think Sagan had to assign certain credibility to O'Neill's ideas because of all the stuff from  O'Neill and his students about transmitting solar energy to earth.  Critics at the time thought this transmission would create too much radioactivity but microwave technology may have sufficiently advanced-- or so I've heard.  My knowledge of all these things and that of Jeff Bezos is probably about the same.  But he has money.

The absolutely most interesting thing to emerge from the Bezos space-thinking day, at least to my mind, was Bezos' vision of heavy industry in space and Earth as a cleaned-up living space.

One media critic, as dour as any poster at Reader Supported News, rejected out of hand the Branson-Bezos-Musk idea of space "tourism" but found interest in demonstrated rocketry advances, e.g., as Bezos suggested, re-using one rocket perhaps 100 times.  The main function of new rockets, the dour critic opined, was to haul heavy materials.

O'Neill with his beautiful visions wanted to use his real invention of electronic mass drivers for this purpose (and not as a weapon as the military now does).  Thus in the old Stewart Brand/Andrea Herbert book called SPACE COLONIES you see rocks being shot from a rail-like cone on the moon and then caught in a similar looking cone at a smelting plant parked at L6 .

Jeff Bezos and I both know what Girard O'Neill would say about NASA's plans to go to Mars.  He would say what he did say (but perhaps this is my wording).  "Why, having broken out of one gravity well would you go down another?"

Also, Mars is too far away.  I think of the longest running play on the outer banks, North Carolina, THE LOST COLONY.  And how, once our Mars colony is lost, no one will talk about space again for another hundred years.  That is, if fried eggs can talk. your social media marketing partner
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