WIRED UK: Column 13

April 6th, 2010 | Work

In which I rail a lot about the state of space exploration. And sort of go off piste a bit and start shouting about robot whores, as is my wont.

It may be true that other biospheres are far less kind to human life. But so is Glasgow. We adapt.


10 Responses to “WIRED UK: Column 13”

  1. Well. that was depressing. But not surprising. I considered a career in Space Engineering, but then hey, what if I work on a Black Arrow? What if I help design one of the best rockets in production and then the UK government turn around and say, “No thanks, the American one is cheaper.” Except it’s not, because they bump up the price later. Seriously, they did that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Arrow

  2. The problem is, NASA was never going to get us out of LEO again. They had 40 years to do it, and screwed around with a fundamentally broken Space Shuttle design, a half-assed and useless ISS, fell into catatonic shock when anything went wrong with experimental spacecraft, and were committing fraud presenting Ares as if it were a working system.

    The Augustine panel report concluded that: “Within the current structure of the budget, NASA essentially has the resources either to build a major new system or to operate one, but not to do both.”:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/396093main_HSF_Cmte_FinalReport.pdf

    Business as usual, like the last 40 wasted years, was doomed.

    President Obama’s space budget and plan might give us a NASA that can do something, and pushes us into commercial spaceflight, which is where we should have been for the last four decades. Blue Horizon, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Armadillo, and others have spaceships either already flying or soon to be so.

    That’s the future. Giant bureaucracies are a dead past.

  3. From working for one of those evil NASA contractors that has played a part in this broken space system I’d like to say, please don’t murder us with the arse eels. I know you aren’t implying that, but I feel some responsibility for it since our profit driven, capitalist nature isn’t actually conducive to pioneering further exploration. Our bosses would rather just send up dinky satellites and staff information centers. But on the other side of the coin this red tape filled, functionally retarded govt. bureaucracy we have to work under doesn’t encourage high risk, new ideas either. As the past 40 years have shown us. But dammit some of the men I work with are some of the most brilliant minds I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They deserve to be encouraged to shoot for those stars. But Mr. Washington asshole tells us John Q. Public doesn’t want to see their tax dollars wasted for the next 40 years developing future technology, they want some insignificant breakthrough that can be a byline on page A17 of the Post. Dammit, capitalism just doesn’t seem conducive to helping us save ourselves.

    And on Virgin Galactic, they don’t even qualify for the “lobbing potatoes over the horizon” put down from Ministry of Space.

  4. Fuckin’ ay Warren

  5. I just read a Warren Ellis VS. NASA skit over on Dee’s site, and it cracked me up. Had to drop by here after reading the Wired article. What can I say, NASA has and always will screw around as long as there’s money on this earth. The day there isn’t a dime to make is the day they’ll find and profit off another living race on some distant planet.

  6. Huh. Was actually just coming here, looking for something you once said about the state of space. Specifically, our inability to finely maneuver a space craft, once in orbit.

  7. You should tell Charlie Stross that bit about Glasgow, he keeps shooting down all the nice space empires with damn realism.

  8. My money was always on Elon and SpaceX – I say this as an ex-NASA contractor born on the day the agency was created. We should just contract the whole damn thing out.

    I want someone to revisit Mass Driver One as well.

  9. The future used to be so much better than it is now.
    I was 9 in 69 – for the Moon landing – and, perfectly, 17 in 77 – for Punk Rock – I think I’ve been damned lucky but I would never have believed that we wouldn’t have colonised Mars by now.

  10. The last line: “Having a nice robot phone is not an acceptable substitute for a future” would make a great t-shirt of the week.