October 12, 2018: Weekly Spatial Resolutions

A good ending to a bad day. Image from NASA/Bill Ingalls. This site contains my opinions and ideas only, not the opinions or ideas of any organization I work for. It’s my idea playground, and I’m inviting you in. Welcome!

An Arizona balloon company is working on a technology to make space satellites obsolete. Here’s a rare look inside their giant factory.

The link above is an actual headline. I suggest a pithier one: Hot Air Rising in Arizona.

The company featured, World View, doesn’t state the intent to make satellites obsolete in this in the Business Insider article. But it seems to imply it, by noting the company’s balloons can do anything satellites in various orbits do. The truth is, there are many things on Earth that can do what satellites do–but maybe not on the scale that satellites can do those things, or as inexpensively.

World View is doing interesting things. The company’s technology, if and when it gets churned out, could complement infrastructure. Just like Loon, by the way. But neither World View nor Loon will make satellites obsolete. And definitely not obsolete over parts of the world willing to shoot down balloons (it’s much easier to do than shooting down satellites–and less messy).

Just a hint about this and “news” in general: if a factory floor is featured, if a company’s offices are imaged, then it’s no longer news–it’s a press release.

US State Department clarifies satellite thruster regulations

A regulation, ITAR (U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations), is so bad it needs clarification. I’m shocked!! Shocked, I tell you.

Here’s a cheaper, easier action for ITAR–get rid of it.

It’s hurting space industry companies. Not just the large ones, but the new ones. And chasing away customers. This kind of uncertainty over how bureaucrats will translate regulations is no way to grow an industry, and chases talent to other countries where opportunities are more likely to be.

How to avoid a bloated Space Force

Easy. Avoid eating extremely salty foods. It’s either that, or increase the flight suits’ velcro strap lengths so Max-V (maximum-velcrosity) isn’t achieved so easily.

Army Secretary: Still unclear what portions of the Army would move to the Space Force

And so it begins.

This will likely be the response from most of the DoD organizations with space assets and operators in their ranks: “Um, we have space stuff? Where? What space stuff? Prove it! Our space stuff is all classified, including corresponding budgets, so you don’t know we have any.”

It will be interesting to see how space intelligence types will be classified by their parent organizations.

Trump’s ‘Space Force’ isn’t a crazy idea, Neil deGrasse Tyson says

No, wait! I think NdGT is being very crafty here. I think the unspoken, but completed, thought is “…just crazy people with ideas.”

Can the Air Force really reform how it buys space systems?

The answer is: probably not. And every time I give the acquisitions lackeys of my former service the benefit of the doubt, they go and do something like the following:

“Air Force funding three new rockets to compete with SpaceX but only intends to buy launch services from two providers”

Two of the companies are not known for aggressively creating new and breakthrough systems, but the USAF still feels compelled to subsidize them. And one is still testing its suborbital launch vehicles. And yes, I know about the engine, but that’s just a part of a rocket. Still, I think Blue Origin will surprise everyone and dominate development. Not necessarily because it’s better, but because the others are still dealing with the cruft and cultures of hidebound companies and customers.

The Wearable Reentry Spacecraft of Yesteryear

To celebrate the fact an astronaut and cosmonaut survived a failed launch this week that could have ended up much worse, here’s an older article about an even older idea.

The premise is: If a capsule/spaceship just failed, how would an astronaut inside be able to survive AND come back to Earth? The answer is horrifically simple, but–did I mention it’s also horrific? Maybe this beats the alternative, and astronauts do seem to be natural risk-takers.

Which reminds me…


Nearly four years ago, a gentleman was lifted up nearly 140,000 ft above the Earth in a kind of pressure suit. He floated for a while under the balloon that lifted him, and then released himself from it. He came down so fast, he created his own sonic-boom. Then landed, safely.

That’s bad-ass!! But the cosmonaut and astronaut in the picture above? They are a few magnitudes more of that.

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