Thursday, June 28, 2007

Immigration Bill Goes Down: the Larger Significance

So much has been happening in politics and current events recently, that I haven't been able to keep up. Today's defeat of the behemoth 'comprehensive' immigration bill does deserve comment.

Immigration is a serious situation that faces our nation, which we'll have to address, starting with border security, given the danger of terrorist infiltration. Then we can go on to the issues of dealing with those illegal immigrants already here compassionately while maintaining enforcement of and respect for the law and being fair to those who've entered the process legally.

This bill was definitely not the way to go. Aside from the specific issues involving illegal immigration, this bill is a glaring example of a dysfunctional process where the legislators and their staffs are navigating complicated parliamentary maneuvers while not even having the time to read the legislation they are attempting to impose on the American public.

Much of the conventional media are playing the immigration bill's defeat primarily as a major defeat for President Bush, who vigorously supported it, which indeed it is. But that is missing the larger significance, that this was a massive popular uprising (the volume of calls crashing the Senate phone system), aided by alternate media, which thwarted the establishment conventional wisdom that supported this bill (which included an odd assortment of liberal interest groups, big business, conventional media, the White House, Democratic congressional leaders, etc.).

Today's outcome represents a growing and healthy public skepticism that Mother Government can solve our social problems through such sweeping complicated legislation that even its authors don't understand. The immigration issue raises particularly passionate reactions, but I'm hopeful this healthy public skepticism and willingness to engage and 'mix it up' will spread to other issues and bring about a needed overhaul to the public policy process that will respect the founding principles of our nation.
Bigelow Launches Genesis II

Bigelow Aerospace launched its second unmanned test inflatable habitat, Genesis II today. This vehicle resembles its predecessor, Genesis I, which is still in orbit sending back data, but contains more sophisticated systems and sensors. This launch marks another step forward for commercial space development and human expansion into space. Here's the summary and list of links.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Welcome to the Runway California!


The Shuttle Atlantis returned today from its STS-117 mission to the International Space Station (ISS), landing in California as bad weather continued to preclude a Florida landing. Sunita Williams returned from her record breaking six month stay on ISS as Clayton Anderson remained to take her place.

While having to repair a thermal blanket on the Shuttle and deal with the ISS's finicky computers' spasms, the mission accomplished its primary goal of installing and initiating operations of another set of truss segments and solar arrays. With this task complete, the ISS is finally starting to appear like the final design we've seen for many years in illustrations. This was also observed by others including Keith Cowing and A Babe in the Universe.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

In Orbit and on the Hill

The STS-117 mission has achieved its primary goal of attaching the S3/S4 truss segments to the International Space Station (ISS) and unfurling the new solar arrays. Also, the mission is being extended for two days to allow time to repair a damaged thermal blanket on the Atlantis.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill on Monday, I participated in the Moon-Mars Blitz 2007, an effort organized by the Space Exploration Alliance, a coalition of citizens' and professional space organizations, to urge Congress to support NASA and commercial space efforts. The effort was timely, as the process for determining NASA's Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 budget was starting in Congress this week.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Atlantis Aloft!


The Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off earlier this evening on a 11 day mission to continue assembly of the International Space Station. Spaceflight Now has an account of the launch and a more extensive (10 part) mission preview.

Meanwhile, reports on NASA's announcement that Atlantis is targeted for a September 10, 2008 launch for the Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.