The publisher’s column has been ceded to our journalist dragon, reporting from International Symposium for Personal & Commercial Spaceflight:
ISPCS … since 2004 when the XPrize was awarded to a team from New Mexico, New Mexico State University has hosted the International Symposium. Attendance has increased each year such that the third year the meeting was moved from the Corbett Center ballrooms at NMSU up the road to the Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum.
This year I finally have internet access to happily burble on line in my blog and here as I get to listen to the talent, money and drive that is non-Government driven space flight and exploration. I doubt if I’ll get to meet Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, but I have met his second in command on the Virgin Galactic projects which include a geostationary orbiting cruise “ship” for those who can afford to stay there and who are healthy enough to do so. Branson and his mum are two of the first tickets once things get going.
How does this tie into UFO? Well, between the space programs of the 1960s and science fiction, I’m still supporting getting mankind off the planet and at least into colonizing uninhabited … er … sentiently uninhabited worlds. I’m also all for actually making “First Contact” if we can manage to control our greed quotient and not turn things into exploitation central … Mostly I support exploration of our own solar system. Sometimes answers to issues come from the most unlikely places, and space … well, I’ve always appreciated the opening to ST:OS: Space, the final frontier …
I am listening to Mr, Bigelow talk about the future. Wow. Truth in advertising. Talking about space budgets. Entrepreneurs in space. Talking about the passion we’ve lost for space. Damn.
Meanwhile, breakfast was so so. The opening talk with Pat Hynes was excellent. Spoke of transition and the passion with which the global space community is working toward a sustainable business community.
The FAA rep was also inspiring. No notes of course. Sigh. Pictures later.
Bigelow is talking about China’s program and what they are working toward … ownership of non-terrestrial land … The moon, Mars … yeek
Water run engines … colonization, rental of moon facilities, etc. Control benefits of being there. Scary thoughts. The rest of the world apparently needs to get it’s butt in gear …LOL
Meanwhile the exhibits are incredible. Not much in the way of give away goodies. But wonderful displays. Pictures. Pictures.
Whoof! I’m tired. Got to the Symposium late this morning as I had to feed the studio crowd of animals. Breakfast was kinda off, I mean, I expect more than an Egg McMuffin or Croissant … and they only had sausage and egg. Ah well, they did have fresh plain croissants and muffins and fruit along with juices and I sat down just about the time they sounded the starting trumpet … LOL.
Pat Hynes, the chair for the Symposium made the opening comments. At one point she asked how many people there worked on the shuttle and over twenty people stood up! She was talking about collaboration and experience. There was a lot of experience in that room. There were probably four hundred people at the symposium. It’s a good crowd.
George Nield spoke on the need for collaboration and the FAA’s support for the privitization (yes I cannot spell that word) of spaceflight.
The Networking break was spent by many of us going through the exhibits. I was struck by how Bigelow’s modular lunar base bears a resemblance to UFO’s Moonbase. If they ever get around to the movie, they should contact Bigelow’s model makers for the external photography. As soon as I find the cord I need to load the pix onto my computer and my website, I’ll post them here, too.
Robert Bigelow spoke eloquently on the Chinese space program and the challenge it presents to the US. In some ways it sounded a little Cold War, yet there are indications elsewhere that the Chinese might be looking at laying claim to celestial bodies, starting with the Moon. Interesting thought. I found myself wondering what some of our favorite characters would have to say about the political climate and the current plans for getting back into space by the private sector. Not just Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and the idea of a cruise ship in space; space tourism.
Lunch was ok. The roast beef was cold, which doesn’t really bother me. The tuna was good. I enjoyed the salad which was semi Greek with feta cheese and pecans and a vinagrette dressing. Desert had issues … the lemon cheese cake top layer was good, the somewhat heavy cake layer was … odd. Very odd. I talked to a woman who runs a non-profit development consultant organization at lunch and then later. She didn’t quite understand what I was about, but that’s OK. She did give me something to think about during our conversation. Standing in line for lunch, I was between two people who develop software and build delivery systems for satellites. The latter was pretty serious when he said there were things he couldn’t talk about due to security. He actually pulled the “I’d tell you, but then I’d have to shoot you” line. I offered to switch lines … LOL.
There were possibly double the number of vendor’s exhibits that there were last year. Bigelow’s is the most fascination as it has major models of the proposed modular space installations and moon installations. The Space Grant Consortium was auctioning off two of the Bigelow models, along with a bottle of Virgin Galactic champagne and some bona fide pins that had been into space. They also had a display of a couple of the student projects that went into space last summer. The contractor that is building the Spaceport had a display including marketing materials with really good pictures of the spaceport, which I will see about scanning so I can post them.
After lunch the first discussion was a bit soporific, supply chains and how to build and work with them. In the space industry, suppliers are much of the battle to get things done and supply much of the primary materials and bits and pieces. Someone asked about open source hardware and the answer didn’t make a lot of sense. It seemed to be counter intuitive when you’re in business to make a profit, as well as manage to do something no one else is doing … yet.
The discussion after that was interesting as it dealt with intellectual property, something that concerns authors as well as people inventing new systems and things for space travel.
The final discussion was re-entry, something that has to happen to return our intrepid space travelers safely to the ground. Steve Lindsey is a retired shuttle pilot and had a lot to say about spaceflight and re-entry, including g forces and the interesting issues of acclimatizing to gravity after having been out of it for a while. As a special part of the program, he presented a recording of the last shuttle he piloted on it’s return to earth. The visual was of the heads up display used by the pilot and navigator to monitor the descent. Apparently, the shuttle was not supposed to try to land with a cloud ceiling of less than 8000 feet. There were “intermittent” clouds above the actual runway they were landing on in Florida which meant they descended below the “ceiling” at 3500 feet. There were some flight crew comments about this issue, but the landing was perfect in spite of the clouds.
As a finale for the day, Robert Bigelow and Tim Pickens set off the hydrogen/oxygen motor that is under development for use as a lifting body for delivering payloads out of atmosphere. I have pictures, but not of the thing firing as we were inside and it was very noisy!
Tomorrow I will figure out how to get the pictures off the camera and onto my computer so I can share them. If you want to see my somewhat inane commentary as things were happening, check out my blog at my weebly website. I was not awake for the first one …LOL