Sunday, August 13, 2017
Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.
-Robert A. Heinlein
The map is not the territory.
John Glenn must surely have wondered, as all the astronauts weathered into geezers, how a great nation grew so impoverished in spirit.
I knew from high school that I would live to see the first man land on the moon. I did not expect to see the last one.
Finally, some good news:
The return of NERVA?
I learned about NERVA at Boeing in the late 50’s, and used NEWRVA type devices in most of my early science fiction in which several stories were laid in the 2020 time frame.
According to Wikipedia:
[snip} NASA plans for NERVA included a visit to Mars by 1978 and a permanent lunar base by 1981. NERVA rockets would be used for nuclear “tugs” designed to take payloads from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to larger orbits as a component of the later-named Space Transportation System, resupply several space stations in various orbits around the Earth and Moon, and support a permanent lunar base. The NERVA rocket would also be a nuclear-powered upper stage for the Saturn rocket (the Saturn S-N), which would allow the upgraded Saturn to launch much larger payloads of up to 340,000 lb. (150,000 kg) to LEO. [snip]
This is more or less as I remember it. Of course, the Mars mission killed the NERVA program. Instead of making a flying NERVA an X program useful for any space mission, the development scientists at NASA, having won the Moon Race when General Phillips was imposed on them as project manager, tried for another Great Mission – Mars – and since NERVA moved a Mars mission from pipedream to possible – if expensive – status, NERVA had to go.
Most of my brief experience with NERVA comes from having chased a well known movie starlet out of the house of a reluctant Congressional candidate. As you’d suspect, a story goes with that. In 1969 I was co-manager of the Sam Yorty for Mayor (of LA) campaign. Haig Kehiyan was the other co-manager. Then the Congressional District that included Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank became vacant, and was to be filled in the same election as the mayor race. Haig and I decided that I would manage part of that campaign, since he had been hired for the Mayor’s race.
The best Republican candidate in the District was a young, unmarried stockbroker who happened to be Barry Goldwater, Jr. I was appointed to go out and inform young Goldwater that he really had to run for that seat; the Party needed him, and his father approved. When I got to his house – not a block away from Warner Brothers Studio – he was entertaining a well known starlet, daughter of an even more famous star. I had to ask her to let us have some time for something confidential. She was gracious about it; and fortunately since I had the express direction from his father to talk him into running for Congress, young Barry was polite, if a bit miffed. After he was an unmarried stockbroker living a block from Warner Brothers…
Anyway, he won the seat, and ended up on the Space Committee, where he fought a losing battle with his colleagues to keep NERVA alive, given the success of the program. I was in those days enthusiastic about the Mars program, but it was clear that could not be saved; but it was still possible to save NERVA, which didn’t cost all that much. Mars was estimated at $7.5 billion, and included NERVA as well as all the other hardware.
NERVA was a nuclear rocket; that alone made it a target for the frantic anti-nuclear crowd. It would never have enough thrust to lift its own weight – it would never launch from Earth. What it would do was open up the solar system: it had higher ISP, potentially higher by a factor of more than 3, than any chemical rocket. The only thing more efficient was the tiny thrust ion drives. It already had demonstrated sea level thrust with an exhaust velocity twice as high as the best chemical rockets, giving it a vacuum ISP of three times better; and this was tested, not theoretical. Given experience with NERVA I make no doubt we could do much better.
Low thrust but higher Specific Impulse—ISP. ISP is measured in “seconds”, but it is not a time; it is pounds of thrust per pound of fuel per second; a measure of efficiency . A LOX-Hydrogen engine can theoretically get an ISP of 450 although I know of none that have achieved that. The space shuttle solid boosters consistently delivered about 250. The tested ISP of the unfinished NERVA project ran 850 in vacuum, and more was thought fairly easy to obtain.
With NERVA a manned mission to Mars in months was possible. It was also ideal for a lunar base. NERVA would never land on Earth or the Moon, but would ferry materials between Earth orbit and Lunar orbit, then come back for more. It was, I believed then and still do, the key to man’s exploitation of the solar system. Alas, Congress in its wisdom zeroed out NERVA in 1972; but young Barry fought a noble fight to retain it.
I’m pleased to see that someone at NASA has finally realized that if we’re to have man in deep space, we need fuel efficiency to get him there.
(As of now, the Wikipedia entry on Lunar Bases is fairly sound and informative. )https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonization_of_the_Moon#Moon_Capital
Trumps Fire and Fury vs. Colin Powell
So Colin Powell said that if North Korea *used* nuclear weapons against us, we would destroy them.
Trump said that if North Korea *made further threats against the US*, fire and fury would descend on them.
There is a big difference between actually using nuclear weapons against the US versus issuing blustery threats against the US. The former demands an obvious response. The latter? Are we really going to attack North Korea, likely go to war, because Trump doesn’t like hearing these threats (which North Korea has been issuing for a long time)?
The problem with Trump’s blustery retort is that North Korea almost immediately made further threats against the US, and no Fire or Fury was forthcoming. Let’s save the threats of apocalypse for the situation it would actually be used, which is in the event of an actual attack on the US or it’s allies.
Perhaps; but then few before have specifically threatened a US territory and US citizens with plausible nuclear destruction. Guamians are US citizens, all of them; if Kim Jong Un had specifically threatened Studio City, I would not be offended if the President promised fire and sword – or fire and fury – retaliation. But then I live in Studio City. I have not heard the complaints from Guam; perhaps I missed them? At what point do threats become warnings to be acted on?
Your mileage may vary, but I would rather my enemies wondered how far they could go with nuclear threats. I note China has voted for, rather than vetoed, international sanctions. I probably would run the White House differently from the way Mr. Trump does, but then I will never be President.
Leftist Lunacy on Kim
What planet is the left living on? When was the last time we launched missiles toward other countries, routinely threatened to reduce other countries to ashes, and publicized plans to menace other countries to name a few things?
Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who also serves as the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, cautioned against President Trump’s rhetoric on North Korea at the Netroots Nation conference on Friday, initially saying that the foreign leader was acting more responsibly than Trump. He later said he regretted the remarks.
Democrats like Rep. Ellison demonstrate why the left cannot be taken seriously and cannot be trusted. What in the hell is wrong with this clown? They want to take the White House in 2020 with this anti-American rhetoric at a time when Trump’s poll numbers are up presumably because he’s handling this crisis in this way? Contrast that with how Clinton and Obama handled North Korea; in fact, North Korea is likely a problem today largely because of their lacks of policy on this matter.
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Joshua Jordan, KSC
We have certainly tried the soft diplomatic approach for a long time; in the case of April Glaspie with Saddam Hussein, the result cost us several trillion dollars and far too many casualties.
Next will the Marshall threaten San Francisco?
What is an American City Worth?
What is an American city worth?
On September 11, 2001, we were deeply moved by the deaths of 2,996 people and the wounding of another 6,000.
In reaction to that shocking day, we launched a series of wars which have gone on for nearly 16 years, have cost more than $5 trillion, and have left more than 4,000 Americans dead and more than 50,000 severely wounded.
That has been the cost of an attack by 19 terrorists using commercial airliners as weapons.
Now consider the human cost of losing one American city to a nuclear strike.
I chose only one city to make a point about our current lack of seriousness in dealing with the spread of nuclear weapons to more and more unstable and dangerous countries.
The Los Angeles Times reported on, August 16, 2006, that a nuclear attack on the Port of Long Beach would “have catastrophic consequences for the United States,” resulting in the instant deaths of 60,000 people and irradiation of another 150,000. Additionally, the paper reported the economic loss would be ten times that of the September 11th terrorist attack in New York City. The paper cited a report by the RAND Corporation’s Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy, which the article’s author wrote presented “a terrifying picture not only of the possibility of such an attack but of its immediate and long-term effects on Southern California, the nation, and the global economy.”
The Long Beach estimate was for a 10-kiloton device – that’s half the size of the “Fat Man” bomb dropped on Nagasaki and two-thirds the size of “Little Boy,” which was dropped on Hiroshima. [snip]
Kim Jong Un may think it interesting to threaten to use nuclear weapons on American Guam. Clearly Mr. Trump does not.
Taking the earth’s temperature
An important point taken from Figure 4 is that only 7.9% of US instruments are accurate to <1 degree Celsius.
Del Valle, Texas
I’ve talked about this enough, I suppose; but getting temperature to a fraction of a degree is expensive, and seldom done for any reason other than medical. Modern medical thermometers use thermistors, and are calibrated once at manufacture; how reliable their 1/10 degree measurements after years of use is questionable, but I understand that in critical situations they merely throw the old one away. I haven’t consistently had 98.6 temperatures since the days of the hand-shaken tiny glass mercury thermometers.
It seems to vary between 98.0 and 99.0, and no one seems disturbed about that.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.