Chaos Manor View, Sunday, May 15, 2016
“This is the most transparent administration in history.”
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.
Under Capitalism, the rich become powerful. Under Socialism, the powerful become rich.
Under Socialism, government employees become powerful.
Hard at work on many things. New essay tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the best wiring I’ve seen on the current political/philosophical situation I have seen in some time is by George Mason professor F.H. Buckley ,
Trump vs. the New Class, In the May-June issue of The American Conservative. I heartily recommend it as an honest assessment by an astute observer and thinker. His invocation of Djilas and The New Class in explaining the mess we have got ourselves into, and his analysis of just what it means to be an American conservative, is worth the time of every thoughtful American, conservative or liberal.
It’s getting toward dinner time on a Sunday; more tomorrow. But I do urge you the read this. If you haven’t a clue as to what we mean by Djilas and The New Class, I don’t blame you; it was mostly a Cold War topic, very important in the days when the Nomenklatura ran the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, but its application to “the end of history” was neglected after the fall of the USSR. It shouldn’t have been. The New Class was in many ways an inevitable consequence of the Iron Law of Bureaucracy, and developed in the Western “Democracies” as well as in the USSR; we just didn’t think of it that way.
Newt for VP
Afternoon Dr. Pournelle.
Hope this note finds you well. We are expanding our R&D spending for Dragonfly Aerospace and I am wondering if this may be the best time in 20 years for us to grow.
I just watched Newt Gingrich on Fox saying that he would probably accept the position of VP for Trump if asked. Do you think it likely and if so what would it do for our industry if they got elected?
It would be a very good thing for American Space; Newt is a Space Cadet from the gitgo, always has been since I have known him. I suspect he would want to see the National Space Council revived with the VP as Chair. When Dan Quayle was VP and Chair, Max Hunter, General Graham, and I talked him into the SSX program; there wasn’t enough money for the full SDSX, but we did get the DC/X, not years of study, but flying hardware.
Romney ridiculed Newt for proposing a Moon Base by 2020 in the 2012 Presidential debates. The Republican Establishment laughed along with Romney.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of NERVA
Some sort of nuclear powered propulsion is going to be needed to make interplanetary commerce a reality. The current generation of NERVA engine designs, all dating back to the late 1960’s, certainly have some advantages over chemical engines, including high specific impulse and long ‘burn’ time. They have some disadvantages, however, including fairly poor thrust to weight ratios and environmental release of radioactive waste. The disadvantages preclude the current NERVA designs from being used as booster stages. There is also the issue of ensuring safe failure during launch.
One of the other issues surrounding the NERVA design is that practical engines, at the time, required about 5 gigawatts of output, making them the most powerful nuclear power plants ever built. I do know that NASA test fired a 4.4GW NERVA engine, which still stands as the most power nuclear power plant ever operated.
My son and I looked over the current NERVA documentation last summer and we have concluded that modern materials science and other technological advancements warrant renewed interest in the area of nuclear propulsion. We think that lighter, more efficient, and non-polluting designs are now possible that could be used as booster engines.
I would be astonished if modern materials have not made it possible to design nuclear engines for interplanetary travel that are much better than NERVSA was; it was, after all, built in the 60’s and designed somewhat earlier. I do know we got Isp approaching 1000 from NERVA; I would be astonished if we could not do better than that now.
A NERVA or better, eternally in orbit, as a shuttle between space station and lunar base, would make travel to the Moon economical and routine.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.