States

Happy Space Day, California

[ Apologies for the lack of posts recently, a combination of travel, a heavy workload, and illness. ]

In his first stint as governor of California in the 1970s, Jerry Brown earned the sobriquet “Governor Moonbeam” in part for his interest in space topics, including a proposal that California have its own satellite to support emergency communications in the state. That proposal never became reality, and that moniker faded away. However, that interest in space shines through a bit as Brown, back in Sacramento as governor, signed a proclamation declaring Wednesday to be “Space Day” in the state. The proclamation cites both the general benefits of spaceflight, including uniting “all of humanity in a shared sense of curiosity, hope and wonderment” as well as the successful landing on Mars of the Curiosity rover, led by the team at JPL in Pasadena. Brown is scheduled to be at JPL today to meet the Mars Science Laboratory team and tour the lab. If this landing has rekindled any latent interest the governor has in space, local space advocates might want to take advantage of this to discuss what the state government can do to support the state’s space industry and workforce…

32 comments to Happy Space Day, California

  • SpaceColonizer

    I would have liked a little more warning so that events could have been planned by the community. But whatever… I’ve put on my SpaceUpSF shirt for the day.

  • He could start by doing what (little) he can to block the sale one of the primary U.S. commercial satellite builders to Canada’s MDA. I have nothing at all against the Canadians, except they recently refused to let a U.S. company buy MDA, stating MDA is “Canadian Forever.” It is not free trade if only one party is playing the game, and, at least as far as Canada is concerned, SS/L should remain “US Forever.” If this sale goes through, SS/L’s current engineering jobs are likely to stay put, but any future expansion is certain to occur in Canada — which should concern a governor with budget troubles who wants to encourage new jobs. It should also concern the rest of us since a good bit of SS/L’s technology was developed at taxpayer expense and should not be handed to our commercial competitors. Worse, Loral is doing well under its current management, and this whole transaction feels like a get rich quick scheme for Loral shareholders – of which I am one. While I am certain to gain financially, this is emblemic of everything that is wrong with American industrial policy and why we, as the dominant spenders on space, make so little on commercial space.

    – Dopna;ld

  • DCSCA

    @SpaceColonizer wrote @ August 22nd, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Rest easy. Space exploration is the theme of this year’s Miramar Air Show near San Diego in October.

  • CharlesHouston

    As long as it does not include any money, more power to them. But California should be spending time on its crumbling water infrastructure, etc.

  • NeilShipley(aka BeanCounterFromDownUnder)

    Donald F. Robertson wrote @ August 22nd, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Not to put too fine an edge on it, but when has the U.S. ever been about ‘free trade’? Just saying.

  • amightywind

    local space advocates might want to take advantage of this to discuss what the state government can do to support the state’s space industry and workforce

    When will you realize that the money is gone. It went to pay 6 figure pensions for firefighters and school teachers.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 23rd, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Where the money went is into the hands of the uber weatlhy who stopped paying taxes. just like in the US as a whole thanks to ridiculous tax cuts. RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2012/08/22/ryan-robust-nasa-is-invaluable-national-security-asset/#more-42146

    more babble from the Willard/Paul team…cant say what they would do with NASA but the two liars promise a “robust NASA” ….goofy RGO

  • mike shupp

    What I read didn’t promise a “robust NASA”, barely even mentioned NASA. It promised us a robust DoD-NSA space program. Gosh wow gee how terribly surprising,

  • Isn’t this an oddity: a Democrat who has a keen interest in space. The liberals have historically always been the space curmudgeons, being all-out against anything that contradicted with their supposed utopia of the socialist welfare state. The Kennedy-esque space enthusiast politician is as rare as the California condor. The sad & gloomy thing is though, that IF a politician WOULD in fact come out strong for space development & further exploration, the general public would crisp-fry him/her with ridicule & lampooning & belittlement. Look at what happened to Newt Gingrich. They made him into a laughing stock, just because he genuinely wanted to change the status quo of low earth orbit forever. Why can’t these anti-space-development detractors just go ahead and call the current chief executive ‘the Low Earth Orbit President’ and be done with it?! Basically B.O. stranded us on a nothing-but-LEO path for the rest of the known decade.

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ August 24th, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Basically B.O. stranded us on a nothing-but-LEO path for the rest of the known decade.

    Except for Bush 43, who was OK with an unaffordable attempt at leaving LEO, what other president can you point to that has made leaving LEO a priority since Kennedy?

    I’ll wait…. no, really, take your time to think…

    DING!

    Times up. The answer boys and girls is, you guessed it – NONE.

    Oh sure everyone has proposed plans, just as Obama has. But none have made those plans into big deficit-spending programs like Apollo was. And that’s not likely to change with a Romney presidency, so you better get ready to apply the “nothing-but-LEO path” label to him too.

    You keep forgetting Chris that Apollo was a politically motivated stunt to show how we Americans were much better than the Soviets. There are only two ways we’re leaving LEO:

    A. A “National Imperative” arises that convinces us to spend lots and lots of money to go somewhere beyond LEO (i.e. deficit spending).

    B. The cost of leaving LEO becomes affordable within existing budgets of governments, or within the fiscal means of companies and individuals.

    Just so you know, I’m not waiting for a crisis to arise, so I advocate for those things that lower the cost to access space, which will also make ‘B’ the most likely way we’ll leave LEO.

    I imagine you’re hoping for ‘A’?

  • Space Cadet

    Free trade means goods and services, not that one country can buy an entire industry in the other country. SS/L is only one of many US space companies, but MDA is effectively the entirety of the Canadian space industry (other than a few component suppliers).

    Of course, this has happened before, when the cancellation of the AVRO Arrow (under pressure from the US) put an end to military aerospace in Canada. Now Canada buys all of its fighters and most of its other military aircraft from the US.

  • Heinrich Monroe

    Isn’t this an oddity: a Democrat who has a keen interest in space.

    Yeah, JFK and LBJ were closet Republicans.

    Please don’t tell me that W had a “keen interest in space”. His interest became decidedly less keen once he dumped VSE on Mike Griffin. Bush’s efforts to keep us from being stranded in LEO failed dramatically, largely at least because of his unwillingness to commit the funds his plan required, and remarkable disinterest he ended up having in it.

    Actually, the minority members of House Space and Aeronautics are strong space proponents, and they actually see NASA as being more than an appendage of the DoD.

    As to why more Democrats can’t be like Newt, well, Newt showed us all how NOT to be a political leader for space efforts. A really powerful lesson. He made himself into a laughing stock. He didn’t need anyone to make him into one. Newt is a creative and smart guy, but he just didn’t have a clue about how to properly promote space efforts.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Chris Castro wrote @ August 24th, 2012 at 7:02 am

    I find that post so funny…really there is not a decision made under GOP administrations that is not really teh foundation for stranding America in low earth orbit …and that is true of the GOP House…

    do you like words over action? RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Space Cadet wrote @ August 24th, 2012 at 12:26 pm
    “Of course, this has happened before, when the cancellation of the AVRO Arrow (under pressure from the US) put an end to military aerospace in Canada. ”

    in the long run it was the best thing that happened to the aerospace industry in Canada…RGO

  • vulture4

    We are all entitled to our opinions, but when people address space endeavors in partisan terms they tend to assume a priori that the leaders from their party are good and those from the other party are bad. This then colors their interpretation of everything those leaders do so as to confirm their preconceptions. Taken to the logical endpoint, it makes spaceflight a completely partisan goal and means that people of both parties neither can nor even want to work together. There are few more effective ways to guarantee failure.

  • Vladislaw

    “Isn’t this an oddity: a Democrat who has a keen interest in space. The liberals have historically always been the space curmudgeons, being all-out against anything that contradicted with their supposed utopia of the socialist welfare state. The Kennedy-esque space enthusiast politician is as rare as the California condor.”

    What drugs are you on?

    Where is all the republican support for NASA? No one is interested in NASA unless there is NASA spending in their district. If someone votes for NASA it is usually because they are trading a vote. “I’ll vote for your NASA pork if you vote for my pork”

    You are not sounding goofy anymore .. now you are starting to sound insane.

  • @Coastal Ron
    “I imagine you’re hoping for ‘A’?”

    Hell, Chris prays for ‘A’. And he’ll still be praying when Americans next go BEO before this decade is out. He’ll be awfully disappointed when it is done as a result of ‘B’.

    It seems that what most SLS supporters want is not so much going BEO as getting their Big M_____ F_____ Shuttle-derived Rocket. A humongous monstrosity that they can watch launch with ground shaking thunder from which they would receive a religious rapture and near orgasmic sense of awe. They would rather have people fruitlessly working toward that goal even though finishing it is not realistic, nor would flying it be practical even if it could be finished. They will delude themselves into believing their dream will happen until SLS is formally cancelled.

    Meanwhile, the rest of us abide, patiently waiting for the inevitable.

  • Oops, should have said beyond LEO rather than BEO, because the Moon is in high Earth orbit.

  • amightywind

    A humongous monstrosity that they can watch launch with ground shaking thunder from which they would receive a religious rapture and near orgasmic sense of awe.

    I sure do miss the good old days.

    Where is all the republican support for NASA?

    Mitt and Ryan will address it. Their immediate concern is to save the nation from impending financial ruin.

    Newt showed us all how NOT to be a political leader for space efforts.

    Newt lacked the personal discipline necessary to contend for higher office.

  • Space Cadet: SS/L is only one of many US space companies, but MDA is effectively the entirety of the Canadian space industry (other than a few component suppliers).

    Give us time. How many FSS companies are based in the US today? SpaceX may yet change this if they deliver on their comsat contracts, but how many commercial launch vehicles are built here? For that matter, who built most of the ISS modules and thus got the job to build Orbital’s pressurized cargo modules? With Atlas-5 and Orbital’s Antaries using Russian engines, how many large liquid rocket engines to we build to launch our own rockets? We seem determined to repeat the same mistakes that exported those industries with what comsat construction has survived ITAR.

    The US pays for something like half of all global space investment. While there are some hints that this may be changing, we leave it to others to reap most of the commercial rewards.

    – Donald

  • Coastal Ron

    Back to the subject at hand, California isn’t doing too bad these days space-wise:

    - California’s JPL just succeeded in landing the largest, most capable Mars rover onto Mars. And they have the best record for successful Mars missions, especially rovers.

    - California-based SpaceX has contracts to launch over 40 payloads, recently won a $440M CCiCap contract for future crew transportation, and was just told that they had successfully completed the COTS program and can start CRS flights (scheduled to start in October).

    - California-based GenCorp, which owns Aerojet, just bought Connecticut-owned Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

    - California hosts America’s other major launch facility (Vandenberg AFB), and soon it will be the launch site for the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V (i.e. the Falcon Heavy).

    In comparison, Florida doesn’t yet build any rockets or spacecraft, nor any science payloads. Alabama doesn’t launch rockets, build spacecraft or build science payloads.

    So compared to every other state, California is doing pretty good in the space arena, regardless who is governor.

    Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, they are getting ready to take possession of Shuttle Endeavour.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ August 24th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Mitt and Ryan will address it. Their immediate concern is to save the nation from impending financial ruin.”

    actually their immediate concern is to save themselves from being defeated in a landslide…

    The problem with the point you make is that its well bogus.

    A thriving space effort that keys commercial concerns and brings them into the economic equation of The Republic is part of what can fix the economy in the US…SpaceX is on the verge of starting (October just in time for the election) the first fee for service commercial product in the history of human spaceflight…this in turn will feed back handsomely into the US economy creating real good paying jobs with health care …and jobs which can sustain themselves outside the government dollar.

    Meanwhile you and Whittington and others are stuck on SLS which is simply technowelfare.

    Expect a 52 to 48 thrashing of the GOP this year…RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    amightywind wrote @ August 24th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Mitt and Ryan will address it. Their immediate concern is to save the nation from impending financial ruin.

    Hard to see how slashing budgets and cutting taxes for aerospace CEO’s is going to result in more money for NASA…

  • vulture4

    In defense of Florida, it is now home to a significant portion of SpaceX and XCOR activity as well as final assembly for CST and DC. However I agree that California is the industry leader. Not bad for a Democratic state.

  • DCSCA

    Neil Armstrong has died.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Neil Armstrong has passed…doubtless old news by the time this gets on the board…a fine fellow and a good stick RGO

  • common sense

    Godspeed Neil Armstrong!

    Godspeed!

  • DCSCA

    It is quite rare in the course of human events- and the brief life spans granted our species- to say we’ve all shared time and space with an individual who will truly be remembered centuries after all the trials and tribulations of our times have long faded into footnoted oblivion. Neil Alden Armstrong was one of those individuals.

    Armstrong was first and foremost an aviator-engineer; a test pilot, in the best sense of the terms. And he was articulate. When Armstrong spoke, particularly on aviation and space matters, people listened. Whether they heard is another matter. He always placed his Apollo flight in the context of the evolution of aviation and much of his professional history with the Navy, the X-15, the NACA, NASA and post Apollo accomplishments can be easily researched. His authorized biography, “First Man” is an absorbing read as well.

    It’s common knowledge that Armstrong shunned the glare of the public spotlight. And has always said he didn’t deserve the celebrity status today’s modern media tried to press upon him. Rather, he credited circumstances as affording him the opportunity to command Apollo 11 and carry the responsibility of being the first man on the moon. (Although recent memoirs by Apollo era brass note he was essentially chosen to be first out by crew assignment managers.) Nevertheless, the burden was real and the Lindbergh experience was a loose model for managing it.

    Whenever asked, Armstrong always credited the general support of the American peopleas well as the 400,000 dedicated employees in government, industry and academia with making Apollo a success. And although it was spawned as another battlefront of the Cold War, Apollo remains one of the rare occurrences where a government project was accomplished ahead of schedule and under budget- albeit a big budget- roughly $25 billion in 1970 dollars– all of it spent right here on Earth. And it was not by accident that their Apollo 11 flight patch did not carry the names of the crew. Apollo 11 was, in part, for all mankind.

    Most everyone has heard audio fragments of Eagle’s final descent to the moon from July 20, 1969. It’s a taut, tense stream of real time data relayed in a staccato style by Buzz Aldrin as Neil busied himself taking control away from an overloaded computer and manually steering the Lunar Module past craters and boulder fields to a safe landing. Fewer have heard the onboard audio loop, which is similar to an aircraft cockpit voice recorder. On that tape, Armstrong calmly describes his actions, flying past the danger, stating he sees a good looking area and with just seconds of fuel to space, cooly guides the Eagle to touchdown. It is the quintessential Right Stuff at work. And it was the challenge of this descent to the lunar surface, as Armstrong said repeatedly over the years, which was the high point of the flight for him. The moonwalk itself- not much more than two and a half hours long- televised by a simple b/w TV camera, may seem primitive by today’s stadards- but it is still a wonder to watch, particularly to those who remember a time when a voyage to the moon was thought impossible.

    DCSCA and family were quite fortunate to have met the Apollo 11 crew at a reception in the United States Embassy in London back in October, 1969, less than 90 days after Apollo 11′s moon landing, when the crew was in the midst of their world tour. An affable and reserved Armstrong, dressed in a classic, ‘Mad Men-era’ business suit and narrow tie, had just arrived along with fellow crewmen Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and their wives, from a meet and greet w/Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. It remains a high point of my life. The reserved and affable Armstrong dutifully shook hands with all, accept a plaque, chatted, presented a short NASA film about the flight to the assembled group and took the time to sign a photo for us. That photo still hangs in my home today. And I am sadden by Neil’s passing. but so very, very proud of his legacy for our country. Twelve men walked on the moon. All Americans. Yesterday there were nine left alive. Today, that number drops to eight. The first of them to walk there has left us.

    Condolences to the Armstrong family, of course. And to the broader NASA family as well. The Armstrong family has asked that to honor Neil’s memory, go outside, take a look at the moon, and give it a wink. But before hand, take a look at this below.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apollo11-LRO-March2012.jpg

    Those trails are full of Neil’s footprints. And Buzz’s footprints. And they will be there for millions of years. Representing all our footprints, from generations past and generations to come who have and will look up at the moon, and wonder what it’s like.

    Ad Astra, Neil. Ad Astra. =wink=

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi Heinrich –

    “Please don’t tell me that W had a “keen interest in space”. His interest became decidedly less keen once he dumped VSE on Mike Griffin. Bush’s efforts to keep us from being stranded in LEO failed dramatically, largely at least because of his unwillingness to commit the funds his plan required, and remarkable disinterest he ended up having in it.”

    Actually, we won’t know W.’s thinking until his presidential records are declassified. For that matter, we still don’t know what Griffin was thinking, and we have no idea of the total architecture Griffin had in mind.

    I’m pretty sure that W. ended up spending a lot of his time dealing with major problems that he did not anticipate.

    Once again, since you can’t buy away .7G combustion oscillations, we have to ask “What the hell was Griffin thinking?”. The sad part here is the incompetence, inability, or unwillingness of our current space journalists to provide use with answers.

    Hi RGO –
    Not just a good stick, but a great stick, maybe up there in the top 15 of all time. Of course, your list probably differs from mine.

  • I agree that California is the industry leader. Not bad for a Democratic state.

    That’s despite the fact that it’s a “Democratic” state, not because of it. I’m sure that XCOR would have preferred to expand its business in Mojave, but the business environment has chased it out.

  • Vulture4: Not bad for a Democratic state

    Rand Simberg: That’s despite the fact that it’s a “Democratic” state, not because of it.

    Really? The industrialized nation doing best in the world right now — Germany — is a high-cost state that keeps its companies small and focused, and exports its products, not its industries, taxpayer-funded inventions, and jobs. The nations doing worst are often those than follow what might be called the “US model” of playing with financial pyramid schemes, buying and selling companies to each other and to our competitors, and exporting manufacturing, rather than actually producing products or services that anyone wants to buy.

    The evidence does not necessarily support the idea that our model of capitalism is the best one (nor the worst). Even here in the United States, the cities doing best are often high cost, high service cities like San Francisco, where companies locate because that’s where the inventive and creative employees want to live. Let us not forget that the world’s most inventive, successful, and valuable company — Apple — is choosing to do much of its expansion in Northern California. Again, the evidence does not really support the idea that the lowest cost bird always gets the worm.

    XCOR can do what it likes, but I’d much rather take my chances with a great place to live that also has the main satellite factories of SS/L and Lockheed Martin, and the rocket facilities of Aerojet — not to speak of silicon valley, and, lest we forget, none other than SpaceX..

    – Donald

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