<MacroCosm> NASA</MicroCosm>

June 19, 2009

The Future of America and American Spaceflight hangs in the balance.

Being some thoughts and reactions to the initial meeting of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee (Augustine II*) at the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington D.C. Wednesday, June 17, 2009.
Official NASA Photo of the Great and the Good @

“Who are these guys”

“Stormin*” Norm Augustine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Augustine
Christopher Chyba: http://cisac.stanford.edu/people/christopherfchyba/
Leroy Chiao: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leroy_Chiao
Edward Crawley: http://web.mit.edu/aeroastro/www/people/crawley/bio.html
Bohdan “Bo” Bejmuk: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/hsf/members/bejmuk-bio.html
Jeff Greason: http://www.xcor.com/bio/founders/jeff_greason.html
Wanda Austin: http://www.aero.org/corporation/corporateofficers/austin.html

Not present:
Sally Ride http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Ride
Lester Lyles http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_Lyles
Charles Kennel http://www.galcit.caltech.edu/space50/program/speakers/KennelC.html

As a Scientist who has a historical interest in the Metaphysical Theories (and Practical Chemistry!) of the Early and Medieval Alchemists. And, in particular, the metaphysical concepts of Robert Fludd who sets out his theories on the relationship bwtween the Universal MacroCosmos and the MicroCosmic “Inner Man”. in Utriusque Cosmi Historia partially reprinted here.
The “As is Above so is Below!” Principle as it were!
So if there was to be one event that acted as a metaphysical MicroCosmic nexus to the MacroCosmic problems within Constellation/ ESAS/ VSE and indeed within NASA itself.


Indeed, if one reflects that NASA itself was born out of a time of crisis. A response to the perceived threat of an overwhelmingly superior technical competence in space: the repeated demonstrations of Sputniks, Gagarin,… So the state of NASA itself, is a MicroCosmic bellewether [sic] to the MacroCosmic state of America. Too wit in a financial crisis, loaded with unnecessary bureaucracy and generally fluxed! But, just as Tom Wolfe postulates (In the Right Stuff) that there might be a pooch that cannot be screwed, there may be a wether that won’t stay castrated!

The meeting got underway with some polite preliminaries and an erudite
introduction by John Holdren (Director of the White House Office of
Science and Technology Policy). One of his earliest  public statements
hinted of Sino-American cooperation in Space! Unfortunately there were no such paradigm shifting revelations this morning, realising full well that that was for the rest of the day! His most important point:, that Obama is also a space fan: “[who] understands the importance of space, he understands the importance of human spaceflight.” Time will tell. If Obama wants his Kennedy/Rice University moment (and most presidents do!)…he will want to propose a challenge that he knows his financially constrained Administration and Country can deliver. (Unlike Bush I: SEI; II: VSE.)

I LOLed as Chris Scolese then appeared from Florida: writ larger than
life on the Big Screen. Truly a Big Brother meme right out of  any classic Orwellian style Distopia. “How many fingers am I holding up?” Unfortunately, although “BB loves us All” he was not smiling today as a dicky GUCP (Ground Umbilical Connector Plate) had prevented the launch of STS-127 the other day and yet another Gap. No Earlier Than  July 11th.  Another screwed pooch.

[That these magnificent Hanger Queens still provide NASA with ‘teething problems’ after twenty (and some would say thirty) years of faultless service. (Both Challenger and Columbia disasters were more of an operational -all too human- failure than a mechanical failure. IMHO) Is a reflection of their initial flawed premise: a cobbled together system that placed a fragile Thermal Protection System (TPS) in harms way of falling ice and shedding foam (I mean rilly!) But we are where we are: ARES!] And that’s where the problems start and started.
But I get ahead of myself. First there was an all too brief study of past studies -and boy have there been a lot of those- by Mike Hawes. Curiously on loan from NASA to the Panel as chief number cruncher to make sure that all the other proposals come up to NASA standards of  veracity or should that be verisimilitude? A fox in charge of the hen-house would smell as sweet! Biut at last it was time for the Ares I progress report; the main event for the morning.  It was Doug Cooke’s moment to shine. Except that he didn’t and the little bit of him that did, was frozen in an eternal “Uh Uh Uh” loop as first the video and then the audio web feed failed!

(At this point I take a break from the commentary. Initially NASATV had scheduled a repeat of the entire days ‘play’ and the NASA_HSF twitterfeed had promised during the ‘blackzone’ that the video would be posted for review. Well as I write the NASATV schedule has mysteriously changed and there is nothing from the HSF media page. So I shall put this article on “T-4 and Holding” until NASA can sort out this technical hitch. Or, as I suspect, reveal that they did not have a back up and have lost the data! In which case I shall resume but even more scathingly!


Augustine II*  This is the second Augustine Commission! Executive summary from the first is  here:


“Stormin*” Norm:

“Rising Above The Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future” here:


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