Thursday, April 30, 2015

Emdrive looks more promising

It works in vacuum.

We essentially did ARM by doing Dawn

Dawn is a science mission producing fantastic results. ARM is political masturbation. ARM is another example of government dysfunction.

Electric Propulsion is great for long duration missions like Dawn and for station keeping. But chemical propulsion is how we currently get to orbit so the marginal cost to go a bit farther is not much greater (F9 gets 13 ton to earth orbit for $60m. FH gets the same mass to mars orbit for $120m. Add to that the cost of the 13 ton payload... [a craft with a payload of its own] means the cost of a $60m craft to mars orbit is only about 50% more than to LEO.)

Where EP could be very useful is to recover a humans to mars orbit transporter for reuse which also serves as emergency backup thrust.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

needle in yer eye

My first... driving home was interesting. Next week they do my good eye. Will get a driver for that. Then repeat for the next six months.

The good news... my eyes should not get worse and could get better. During testing they gave me a shot in the arm that turned the world into pretty colors... no, actual colors, not a psychedelic experience.

The fog should go away in about 36 hours they say (it did, sooner than that.)

Monday, April 20, 2015


My doctors have told me about liver problems since right before I got hired as an air traffic controller a quarter century ago (I waited too long and didn't make it through the program.) If I'd considered it when Reagan fired the controllers I'd have almost two decades of retirement (and a completely different life) by now.

So my retinas are going bad along with my kidneys and pancreas. But it could be the liver is the key. I'm looking in to it and thanks to CJ (who probably thinks I don't listen simply because it is my nature to tune out any discussion of my health) I am encouraged. So for what it's worth, thanks.

BTW Update: Becoming an ATCS required me to pass a lot of physical and mental test along with an FBI investigation. I would not have because my right eye was just over the line. But I can be a can do person so I reasoned, "physical measurements are all tolerances not Platonic ideals." So I got an optometrist to give me a prescription that allowed me to pass the FAA requirements. The flight surgeon did notice my eye was exactly at the cutoff point but passed me.

BTW Update 2: After a year I found out I was on slow track in my FBI investigation because I was arrested during my work commute for sleeping on a subway (in suit, tie and vest with briefcase.) Slow track meant no job with the FAA. So I went to NY from Phx to stand before a judge who couldn't believe I was trying to get a decade old ticket thrown out, but he did and I got my FBI investigation moved back onto fast track. Since I interviewed 2 days before being disqualified by age (it takes another day to process the interview because I asked) and having about a year overall delay after that, I am pretty confident I am the oldest person to have been accepted.

Then I failed the program by giving an optional clearance saying 8 instead o 7. That's how close I got. All I had to do was not give that clearance... "let 'em wait in orbit around a vortac for the slow traffic passing below." Seven would have put them underneath the traffic and clear to land. I also made one mistake on a map that had to be drawn from memory but that wouldn't have failed me. I would not even have made that mistake if I'd checked my work (I finished the map with plenty of time) and noticed one item that added up to 359 instead of 360. Must have been an experience for me to still remember these details after almost 30 years, eh?

ARM: In response to item #9

Have we ever had so much opposition to a mission?
9. We shouldn’t do anything that isn’t directly on the quickest path to Mars — I probably won’t convince Zubrinites, but it turns out we have this whole Solar System that doesn’t just consist of Earth and Mars. If manned Mars exploration was something we could do quickly, within NASA’s existing budget, or if there were no other interesting or useful destinations along the way, it might be one thing. But even the committee members who are advocating for this have admitted we don’t have the money to do a manned Mars mission in the next 25 years without significant increases in NASA’s funding. While it has been poorly marketed, Flexible Path wasn’t just about “doing asteroids first” or doing them instead of the Moon or Mars. To me the underlying point was that even if Mars is the long-term goal, we should find ways to do interesting exploration along the way to Mars, even if some of those destinations involve slight detours along the way. When you’re talking about a destination over 25 years out, acting like a 3 month delay is somehow insufferable is flat out ridiculous.
Seems a bit of a strawman and somewhat condescending, but I am certain Jonathan didn't mean it to be. He writes a good thoughtful article. Let's start by agreeing that the entire solar system is the goal. I would then argue (to follow) that mars settlement is both the fastest and most efficient way to achieve that. If so, then cumulative delays could be extremely costly.

NASA has an existing mars budget (How much?) which is just part of it's overall $18.4B annual budget. Considering the F9H will put 13 tons into mars orbit for under $200m including the cost of payload that mars budget whatever it is, should be more than enough if not wasted.

Mars settlement is both the fastest and most efficient way to achieve advancement into the entire solar system.

The simple answer to why is two fold...

  1. Any industrial base that can out compete the earth (even just in part) gets us into the solar system both more efficientland faster.
  2. Mars will out compete any other location because it has the resources in one place that does not include a rocket equation surcharge.

The metric in space is delta V and by that metric anywhere in the solar system is easier to reach (less costly) from mars than from earth, including LEO!

Industry requires three main things: labor, energy and materials. Mars already has energy and materials. It just needs labor. Robots should supplement but can not replace people (though some have such fear.)

Automation is a labor capital multiplier, not a replacement. Any plan that doesn't understand the importance of not just industry, but industrialists, will not effectively compete. Those industrialists will come from the settlement itself (immigration or birth doesn't matter.)

Getting labor to mars is the hard part, but not much more so than any other place off earth (orbit being halfway to anywhere.) Once on mars, living there not only doesn't have to be hard, done right it could be preferable to earth with greater personal opportunities. If done right. Human nature (envy and control freaks) continues to work against that.

If you care about the solar system and future of humanity, you would care about establishing industry on mars ASAP for humanities everlasting benefit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Yes, trivial.

My brother is building his second truck. The first one took a week after he towed the engineless carcass into the yard. Dad now drives it to work. To get the engine and transmission into it he built a hoist out of wood. I used the Jimmy to push the carcass into position for the engine before I left on my trip. That's what can do people do. My brother can put any engine into any vehicle regardless of make, model or type. You add metal where it's needed. He rides to work on a regular bicycle he added a two stroke 80cc engine to.

That's the least of his talents. Now that he doesn't drink, there is no telling how much he will accomplish.

I said living on mars will be trivial compared to getting there. Naysayers point to hazards that are easily overcome by can do people. Martians will almost never work in space suits. There's no reason to. They will not work in a toxic environment. They will not work in a cramped environment. They will work in a lower gravity environment. So my brother wouldn't need my help to get an engine positioned. I have to laugh every time I look at the Mars One housing plan (well, and everybody else's as well.) Mars is a world. That is essentially unlimited space with unlimited building materials actually floating in the air. You can actually use pure iron and not worry about free oxygen rusting it, but paint it anyway. Or use steel. Or gold when they find some. Mars has lots of stuff free for the picking which they'll find by accident before they even start a serious search.

They will have industrial levels of energy that cost them nothing. The cost of energy on earth is due to lawyers, not economic reality.

Hell, life on mars will be much less oppressive than life on earth. This isn't some romantic notion. This is just plain fact. Mars has opportunity that no longer exists on earth. On earth, starting a business used to be trivial but isn't anymore. It used to be easy to find a market niche, but on earth somebody has already filled it.

Naysayers are just absurdly blind. Getting there is the only real problem. Even that will be less difficult (not easy) as some now claim. We just have to do it rather than talk about it.

A martian in a huge non toxic shirtsleeve environment (they have absolutely no reason not to be) may even forget they're on mars as they consider the millions of options regarding what to make or what service to provide others.

Martian dust isn't a hazard. That's wealth they don't have to mine. They just need a good vacuum hose and energy to process it. Knowledge they already have. Design will be both old and new.

Talk about land of opportunity!

Try, try again?

Nope. I'm done. A road trip is simply unaffordable for this poor boy. Gas costs were eating me alive being more than half my expense. The choice: "food or gas?" left me starving. The following may be T.M.I...

The speed limit was 70 on I-15, but for 4 hours it was 2. I pulled over only to be told I had to get back in traffic because emergency services needed the shoulders. Watching my gas gauge going lower I thought "screw that" and pulled over again a bit farther this time. It was cold with a drizzling rain. I got diarrhea and gas. It wasn't a fart, so now I had a shitload. Misery. I had to change, so now I'm bare ass'd (is that where embarrassed comes from?) hoping my Jimmy is blocking the view (not completely) with hundreds of cars inching past me. At first, I couldn't lift my foot to get clean undershorts on, but finally managed. Left pants, shorts and towels full of shit on side of road. Sunshine and time will take care of those. What caused the jam?  Looky-lous. An accident on the other side of the highway!

Went to Los Angeles, got within 50 feet of the ocean but didn't see it for an hour because the traffic was so bad.

From the ocean to W. Covina on I-10 it was more parking lot. Got off highway to find a gas station (by now late at night.) I found one with a curb that popped two tires (purchased 4 weeks earlier) so well there was no bump or sound. Next day clerk told me not only do his customers pop tires regularly but he even lost one himself. I can't stick around to fight the city over this and my road hazard is worthless since I'm not carrying the tires back with me (I use a local tire guy back home.)

When I walk (with a nice stick) my blood pressure often drops. BP to zero, me to floor. Ok, not zero, just unmeasurable. It's happened a number of times so I know the drill. EMT's want me to go to hospital but if I'm conscience they have to get my consent to force another few thousand in hospital bills on me. So they bring in the police to threaten arrest (48 hr of loony bin observation) if I don't 'consent.' I could argue with the police (laws do apply to them as well) but just went for a guarantee (worthless it turned out) that I'd get transportation back to my vehicle from the hospital (which confirmed the new kidney problems I'm having... my local doctor is aware.)

The night before visiting one of my millionaire friends (he once bought me a Toyota Avalon my ex-wife is still driving) I planned to get a motel room to make myself presentable for a meeting. BTW, $35k of car is nothing compared to the millions in additional and permanent annual sales I made him. It's amazing what you can do when you have hundreds of vendors, thousands of sales leads and a guy that takes the initiative to use lat-long/zipcode data to better match them up. That took part of one day out of the year I worked for him. This is known as initiative. I've never had a boss that didn't appreciate it (hard for them not to since it always made lot's of money for them... me, not so much.)

I used to be able to afford an occasional motel room. Forget it today. Even a fleabag I wouldn't touch is too expensive. I have alternatives (I think I've lived everywhere and know lot's of folk but I just can't ask. I did ask my sister and her husband but that didn't turn out well. They forced me to end my road trip. It just wasn't worth the argument.)

I planned to visit my son, but he was working out of town for three weeks, so the timing on that didn't work out. I will call him to arrange another time.

Did not make it to Seattle. Did get my first wheelchair because I was unable to walk around stores to buy supplies. Had to pay for it myself, since the place I was told would accept medicare had "lost their bid" I was told by them. The wheelchair worked and I was able to get supplies (not everyplace I want to shop offers those electric carts which I dislike anyway.)

Now some will say they knew all along my road trip would fail. It did, but that doesn't make those "knew it's" any less moronic. Everything fails until it doesn't.

So perhaps I'm not done?

I did sit down next to (and touched) the rotary rocket. That was a spiritual experience. Much less so the two models under glass.

I'm not the only romantic which brings me to Rand's dismissive statement that mars is just a romantic notion...

Wrong Rand... Mars is real. The chemical elements needed for industry are real, widely disbursed and geologically concentrated, and not picked over for thousands of years, and does not have the rocket equation surcharge a not down a gravity well option has.

Mars industry will make the earth a backwater of the solar system in almost no time after a few thousand colonists are there. Getting them there is the hard part. Living there will be trivial in comparison. Earth will only be able to compete by using nuclear propulsion technology they believe non viable today.

The moon will need to continuously import what mars already has.

If you live long enough to see it, you may end up telling us you're the original romantic.