One of Obama’s Successes was Bringing Capitalism into Outer Space. Trump Should Follow his Lead

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Space Age comeback?

Glenn Reynolds writes: Space entrepreneur Peter Bigelow, who’s working on hotels in space, wants the Trump Administration to sharply increase NASA spending. But although I’m all in favor of making America’s space program great again, I’m not so sure that pumping money into NASA is the way to do it. For that matter, I’m not even sure that the term “space program” makes much sense in the 21st century.

Image: vintagefuture.tumblr.com

Rather than a space program, what we really have is a package of space policies. Unlike the Apollo era, when the nation was fixed on a single major goal of landing men on the Moon before 1970, we now want a bunch of different things, all of them important, but no single one of them is our sole focus. And, honestly, much of what’s going on at NASA isn’t even close to overridingly important.

[Read the full story here, at USAToday]

The good news is that, as I’ve noted before, space — at least the burgeoning commercial space industry — has been one of the Obama Administration’s notable policy successes.  Where not long ago the United States was looking at an aging fleet of increasingly dangerous space shuttles, we now have a flourishing collection of private companies providing transportation into earth orbit, from SpaceX, to Blue Origin, to Virgin Galactic, to a number of smaller companies. (Full disclosure: I own a small amount of friends-and-family stock in one of those smaller companies, XCOR Aerospace). Moon Express even plans to land a robot on the Moon.

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As a recent piece in The Washington Post noted, whatever his policies on Earth, Obama has brought capitalism to outer space. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Meet the Fastest Car Ever Made

Part spaceship, part racing car, part jet fighter, we go behind-the-scenes to discover how to reach 1,000mph on land

Dubbed as the Concorde for this generation by its makers, the SSC in Bloodhound SSC stands for supersonic car. If all goes to plan, the hope is this vehicle will smash not only the current land speed record but also the air speed record by exceeding 1,000mph (1,600km/h).

So how do you create something that can reach these remarkable speeds? Mark Chapman, chief engineer of the Bloodhound project reveals what it takes to create such a machine. Find out why it needs three engines, and the key problem that took 18 months to solve.

BBC – Future


Worlds worst planes: The Aircraft that Failed

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Heavier than air –  The short-lived Brewster Buffalo was shot down in droves when it encountered Japanese fighters in the early years of World War II, proving too slow and cumbersome. (US Navy)

The history of aviation is littered with aircraft that failed to live up to expectations. Here are some of the most serious aviation failures – from nine-winged monstrosities to a plane with flapping wings.

It’s more than 110 years since mankind first took to the air in a powered aircraft. During that time, certain designs have become lauded for their far-sighted strengths – the Supermarine Spitfire; Douglas DC-3 Dakota; or the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner, to name a few.

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Tempting target – The Douglas TBD Devastator was a death-trap; it could only release its torpedo flying in a straight line whilst dawdling at 115mph – making it easy to shoot down. (US Navy)

But then there are planes like the Christmas Bullet. Designed by Dr William Whitney Christmas, who was described by one aviation historian as the “greatest charlatan to ever see his name associated with an airplane”, this ”revolutionary”prototype biplane fighter had no struts supporting the wings; instead, they were supposed to flap like a bird’s. Both prototypes were destroyed during their first flights – basically, because Christmas’s “breakthrough” design was so incapable of flight that the wings would twist off the airframe at the first opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »