poisonwood's Diaryland Diary

Date: Sept. 04, 2009 . Time: 1:09 p.m.

on space Entry:


on space

Reading about space travel / exploration is rather depressing.

The Augustine Committee, a 10-person panel created by President Obama and led by retired aerospace executive Norm Augustine, plans to give the White House Tuesday the summary of a report that has the entire space community on alert. Although the committee is just an advisory panel and is offering the Administration a short list of options rather than a single recommendation, the moment is fraught with tension because of the complex hardware in play, the thousands of jobs at risk and the congressional politics that will complicate any major change in strategy.

The committee, conducting its deliberations in a series of open meetings this summer, has been skeptical of the current NASA strategy, which is built around a new set of rockets that would send astronauts back to the moon. The committee concluded that there's not nearly enough money in the budget to return to the moon by 2020, as has been NASA's stated goal.

Although the Administration's stimulus package gave NASA a boost, Obama's first budget trimmed billions of dollars out of the projected budgets for human space flight in years to come.

The Augustine Committee will ask NASA to consider some dramatic changes in strategy, including possibly skipping the moon mission. Instead, NASA could focus on developing a "Deep Space" capability that might include flights to asteroids, or to gravitationally stable points in space, far from earth, where astronomers like to park their telescopes.

Going commercial might save the government money, but it would mean an increase in risk, said Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. Private companies have yet to demonstrate that they can safely put a human being in orbit, he said. (No joke!) The cost of building a spaceship is likely to be higher than $2.5 billion, he added.


"When you have launch vehicles already developed for the purposes of launching national security satellites or multi-billion dollar science missions, the launch vehicles already have a very high degree of reliability," Gedmark said. "How much would you really do differently if you were putting people on there?"

1:09 p.m. - Sept. 04, 2009



I've been thinking about doing a marathon next spring. It's something I've always wanted to do at some point in my life. I began training for one in '99, but stopped after moving to Ireland to study abroad. It seems like a good challenge. I'm very intimidated by it, though. 4 hours is a long time to be running. In any event, I'm considering four marathons at this point:

1.) Whidbey Island Marathon
I've run their half marathon, and it was fairly well organized and not too crowded. Only 1/3 the number of runners do the marathon, though, and I'm a little worried about support on the course. In addition, Whidbey is very hilly.
2.) Vancouver Marathon. Vancouver is a beautiful city, and I feel like a big city marathon would be well-organized. I'm not sure I want to run a race quite this big, though. In addition, I'm concerned about the hassle factor of a big-city marathon.
3.) Eugene Marathon. The Eugene Marathon looks well-organized. Eugene is a four and a half hour drive, so it's not too far. I suspect the course is the opposite of scenic, but maybe that doesn't matter.
4.) North Olympic Discovery Marathon So far, this marathon might be the front marathon. It has scenic sections, is flat, and has an excellent website. I can't tell how large the race is, though.

8:49 a.m. - Sept. 01, 2009


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