Beyond the Cusp

May 20, 2014

Beware Russian Revenge and the Space Station

Unfortunately for President Obama, the Russians utilized an actual and effective response to the weak and ineffective sanctions placed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis by the United States. Where President Obama laid sanction freezing accounts and financial dealings on a number of Russian oligarchs who are reputedly close to Russian President Putin, the institutions he placed such sanctions on had little if any dealings and no accounts or holdings of the Russian targets of the economic sanctions. Then the Obama administration announced further sanctions in the form of travel restrictions on Russian government and industry officials including Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. The Russians responded by placing a freeze on selling RD-180 rocket engines manufactured by NPO Energomash to the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture United Launch Alliance (JLA). Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin went further and appeared to take great glee announcing in addition to the refusal to sell the vitally necessary rocket engines to JLA that additionally Russia simply “doesn’t plan to continue cooperation” with the United States on the International Space Station after 2020 and added a suggestion where he stated, “I propose that the United States delivers its astronauts to the ISS with the help of a trampoline.” This likely has set JLA scrambling seeking a new rocket engine provider otherwise they are either out of business or need to immediately set to work on design and development of an in house produced rocket engine. Such an endeavor would be costly, time consuming but also would have the advantage of providing a United States source for the future removing any reliance on outside the border dependence.

 

There will be those who will attempt to blame this entire fiasco on Elon Musk and SpaceX as Mr. Musk testified before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee a few months back in hearings over whether or not to open up bidding to provide launch vehicles for United States military and special satellite and payload launches instead of the current practice of simply holding closed bid allowing only JLA to present bids. The blame game will point to the testimony given by Mr. Musk that there was a serious deficiency and risk taking single source bids and especially from JLA as they were completely dependent on Russian provided rocket engines for their main Atlas V booster and rocket systems. We can definitely expect the Senators from Washington State, home to Boeing, and Maryland, home of Lockheed Martin, to protest the loudest and bring as much scorn as humanly possible, or Senatorially as they are of a special breed apart, on Elon Musk. This will be another instance of the old guard, established with near monopoly control of an industry blaming every hardship and difficulty on the upstart new kid on the block in an effort to vilify them out of contention in a desperate attempt to retain their monopoly and cash cow, which in this case pays them with American tax payer’s money. The American spirit that the small guy has an equal chance to the gold ring and if he plays it straight and fair he is presumably guaranteed an equal access to any government contract. I just love American sloganeering about equality and other such, especially when it pertains to the little guy or start-up companies having equal footing when it comes to competing for government contracts like the government isn’t a fully vested partner with so many of these major and established companies. There will be those with what will be the greatest act of indignation of severe distress and harm caused by this disruptive attempt to disrupt the United States space program which has operated so efficiently and smoothly that any bumps or wrenches in the machinery must be prevented at all costs. Then will come the finger pointing at Elon Musk and SpaceX spouting viscous vindictive invectives impugning his person and his company with special emphasis on how opening up the bidding on launching of military and special satellites and payloads will increase costs, make these launches far more risk susceptible, and threaten secrecy and require added onerous requirements when assembling such satellites and payloads. Then there will be the references to the important history and dependable service of the rockets provided throughout the history of the United States space program and raising questions of the intelligence in rocking the boat at this point. Basically the argument will be to deny that competition might force improvements and added efficiency and eventual greater potential for savings by allowing more competition, after all, it would be un-American to snub the established and longstanding standard efforts of JLA in providing the needs of the space program over the decades since the initial challenge to reach the Moon with an astronaut and return them safely to Earth. We may even get to see President Kennedy’s speech challenging the United States as a nation to go to the moon before the end of the decade.

 

The interesting item which applies to this as inclusively as possible is the warning from President Dwight David Eisenhower who as the commanding General over the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II was more than qualified to have the specific knowledge, stated in his farewell address on January 17, 1961 stating, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” The sole item that President Eisenhower might have gotten wrong is that the symbiotic relationship between the Federal Government and so many of the top established industry leading corporations, financial institutions, information technology companies, automobile manufacturers and companies throughout the full spectrum where government largess and corporate welfare provide so many of these institutions are almost completely dependent on the government for their profits and not solely with the military. As with so many warnings, this warning too went pretty much unheeded until it was too late and the problem had become institutionalized and intrinsically intertwined not only with numerous government agencies and departments but also with the politicians in Congress and the White House. Nowhere is this more true than the space agency both civilian and NASA. Hopefully the American people will demand that these bids to provide launch capabilities be opened to all companies for bids as this was the manner that many of the greatest advancements which made much of human space exploration possible came through completely open application methods where NASA placed a requirement out offering a prize for the person or company which came up with the best and most complete solution. This was essential in the development of much of the spacesuit designs, the Moon buggy and numerous other items which contributed to the race to the Moon’s success. It worked well then and I bet it would work today and some of the sources of the best solutions will be people who simply amaze the world and come out of their garage with the best space glove or whatever is required. Let the competitions begin and let’s be amazed.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 6, 2012

Why Did the Democrat Platform Omit G0d?

Way back in 2008 before the Democrat Party spun out of control the Democrat Party Platform read in the section titled Renewing the American Dream, “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their G0d-given potential.” Now, flash forward disregarding everything in between to 2012 and the new version of Renewing the American Dream reads, “We gather to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth – the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us.” According to ABC News, a Democrat Party official clarified the change with the omission of the name of G0d explaining that, “The 2008 platform reference is ‘G0d-given’ and is about growing the middle class and making America fair, not actually about faith. The platform includes an entire plank on the importance of faith based organizations and the tremendous work that they do. Further, the language we use to talk about faith and religion is exactly the same vocabulary as 2008. I would also note that the platform mentions: ‘faith’ 11 times; ‘religion(s)’ 9 times; ‘church’ 2 times and, ‘clergy’ 1 time.”

Am I to believe their explanation that taking out any reference to G0d is equal in weight, meaning and respect for the Creator as using the phrases ‘faith’ 11 times; ‘religion(s)’ 9 times; ‘church’ 2 times and, ‘clergy’ 1 time? I guess it does not matter to the Democrat Party that this lack of reference to the L0rd our G0d will likely mean they have left a potentially large group of people feeling rejected. These are in addition to the others they have left when they slid away from being the party that stood for keeping Government out of our personal lives into the party of Big Government which dictates everything you do and don’t right down to what you eat, the size of the portions and so much more. The Democrat Party once ran a candidate for President of the United States who campaigned and followed through on a platform calling for lower taxes and a rebuilding of our military by increasing its numbers, abilities and modernizing it from top to bottom. This was the same man who declared, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” My how things have changed. Now we have a President who made the number-one task for NASA to be, according to Administrator Bolden who announced NASA’s mission as threefold in July 2010: (1) “re-inspire children”; (2) “expand our international relationships”; and “foremost” (3) “reach out to the Muslim world.” And to make sure that NASA does not return to any of its past glories, this same President has cancelled the plans for NASA to return to the Moon. As I said earlier, “My how things have changed.”

But why would one of the major political parties of the United States of America take out any reference to G0d from their platform. The Declaration of Independence makes specific references to our Creator as the origin of our rights. This reference to G0d is the foundation upon which the United States was founded. One can only question such an omission, especially when done intentionally as they could have gone back and corrected the lack of reference to G0d had it been an error of omission. Not doing so makes this an intentional act with obvious forethought. The only thing I can see as the reasoning for not having any mention of our Creator or the grace of G0d which has often been credited for American greatness would be a complete and total single-minded tunnel-visioned dedication to a misconception of the idea of a wall of separation between church and state. This would be a misconception of Amendment I which does not state, nor does anywhere in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, any of the other Amendments to the Constitution or any of the founding documents, that a wall of separation exists between Church and State. The phrase originates in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the leaders of the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 in reference to their fears of potential for religious persecution as they were a small sect and feared government interference.

Thomas Jefferson’s letter reads and can be verified here.

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.

Gentlemen

The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Th Jefferson

Jan. 1. 1802.

A careful reading of Thomas Jefferson’s phrasing reveals that this wall of separation placed between Church and State, actually religion and Government, is a one way wall. The wall of separation guards the Church and religion from any influences or interferences by Government actions, laws, regulations, limitations and coercions. It says nothing that limits religious influence, persuasion or influence by Churches or religions upon the State. This prevents Government from establishing a preferred religion or an actual State Religion or making laws requiring or forbidding prayer or religious participation. What Amendment I does not limit is any influences by Churches or religions on the State. Should a single Church or an entire religion decide they wished to enter politics and run a candidate technically that would be permissible. Where the limits would kick in would be should a religion actually run candidates in sufficient numbers and actually win an unstoppable majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate as well as the President, they would then quickly run into the limitations of Amendment I. Despite the obvious popularity and near universal support it would take to win such majorities, this religion would still be denied any powers to give their churches or the religion itself any advantages in any way, shape or form. They would be prevented from giving their religious institutions any tax advantages over other religions, granting their church preferences of any kind not also guaranteed for all other religions, and they could not mandate or enact their cannon or other religious laws, customs, preferences, or any form of influence upon the public as all such actions would violate the wall protecting religion from the State. When we refer to the “wall of separation between Church and State” we would be far more accurate to say “wall of protection of the Church from the State”. But even going completely overboard in one’s zeal regarding separation between Church and State, regardless of direction, still leaves one to wonder if completely devoiding the Democrat Party Platform of any and all references to the Creator, G0d, the L0rd, or any reverential tribute to the source of our unalienable Rights. Perhaps the Democrat Party no longer respects either our unalienable Rights or the source thereof.

Addendum:

After receiving far more publicity and criticism than expected or bearable for their omission in mentioning the Creator, our G0d, in their platform, the Democrat Convention rethought this and has decided that to avoid further scorn it would be easier to simply bend to the pressure. It still says a lot about the importance the writers and thinkers behind the original draft of the Democrat Party Platform place on the founding concepts, ideas, ideals, and credit to something greater than ourselves which weighed so heavily from the Founding Fathers up until their 2012 Platform. One has to wonder if their hearts are behind their new wording or if it is simply another attempt to dodge responsibility for their true feelings.

Beyond the Cusp

April 21, 2012

Will You Visit the NASA Gravesite?

NASA transferred on Thursday space shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Discovery logged more time and miles in space than any other craft capable of attaining orbit and returning its occupants to Earth in the course of its 39 missions and more than 365 days in space. Director of the museum John Dailey stated, “Discovery has distinguished itself as the champion of America’s shuttle fleet. In its new home, it will shine as an American icon, educating and inspiring people of all ages for generations to come. The museum is committed to teaching and inspiring youngsters, so that they will climb the ladder of academic success and choose professions that will help America be competitive and successful in the world of tomorrow.” One has to wonder which would be a greater inspiration, Discovery sitting behind velvet ropes strung between brass stands or thundering off the launch pad carrying the next generation of astronauts to the International Space Station and possibly to take part in building the dreams beyond. Perhaps had we continued our manned space program we would build the first all American Space Double Wheel Station just like those made famous in so many futuristic films or taking the materials to an American Space Dock where future space going vessels are being built. For the foreseeable future, if one wishes to see the American space program they will need to go to the Air and Space Museum on the Mall in Washington DC and forget about the trip to Florida.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden also commented stating, “Today, while we look back at Discovery’s amazing legacy, I also want to look forward to what she and the shuttle fleet helped to make possible. As NASA transfers the shuttle orbiters to museums across the country, we are embarked on an exciting new space exploration journey.” His comments do beg a rather important and equally embarrassing question; exactly what exciting new space exploration journey is he referring to? A journey usually implies that the trip will include people and in 2010 President Obama quietly and with absolutely no fanfare cancelled the Constellation rocket and capsule program to take humans back into orbit and from there to the Moon. Since the last space shuttle mission and until somebody in the government gains a smidgen of foresight, the United States will be paying the now doubled price to Russia for our astronauts to hitch a ride to the International Space Station.

President Obama also cancelled the planned return trips to the Moon along with all plans to build a Moon Base claiming that we can leave such matters for private enterprise to address. How sorry will we be when we will need to pay the Russians to give us a ride to visit the Chinese Moon base which they are still intent on building, most likely with the money we pay them on our debt. President Obama also made reference to our landing on an asteroid sometime in the mid-2020s; of course it would need to wait for Obama to be long gone from office. We can also pretty much forget that idea of landing an American astronaut on Mars and even a distant plan to build a base on Mars as both of these missions relied on building the spacecraft and launching them from a Moon base. The reason President Obama gave for these decisions was that there was a far greater need to keep the funds here on Earth to help people rather than waste the funding on some distant dream. I had always thought dreaming of doing the impossible and then committing to doing it was an all-American trait.

But, is this excuse of saving all that funding to use here on Earth even close to the reality? Granted, when you think about billions of dollars, yes, with a ‘B’, it seems like a whole lot of money to most of us. I know I could live a very long time on just one billion dollars and NASA gets between three and five billion dollars a year. Wow, that should really pay for a lot of people here on Earth, right? Well, not so much. Despite the sound of the NASA budget, it makes up almost a whole one per cent of the budget. It actually averaged over the life of the entire space program approximately 0.75% of the budget. That means that for every $100.00 spent by the Federal Government, NASA actually gets a whole 75 cents, seventy-five whole pennies, until they do away with pennies, but that is for another day’s editorial. So, we now have set aside and saved $7,500.00 for every $1,000,000.00 spent. In real terms the NASA budget is a negligible portion of the Federal budget and could be increased 6.5 times over and would barely reach 5%, which is a small investment for both fulfilling the dreams of a nation and an avenue for research and development that likely will never be done at all until we come to our senses. If the Smithsonian Institute really wants to inspire children to become rocket scientists and the United States and her people also believe that would be a worthwhile investment, as I recall President Obama is very pro-investments by government, perhaps they might whisper into some of the power people who might have sufficient influence and suggest that an actual rocket launch and a real space program would be far more inspiring and effective for inspiring children to become rocket scientists. Anyways, where do these people think these inspired children will be employed once they become honest-to-goodness rocket scientists?

Beyond the Cusp

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