Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Converging on Closure for NASA

I've been following the process on the House floor as S. 3729, the Senate passed NASA authorization bill is considered along with numerous other pieces of legislation as the House races to adjourn/recess before the election. Debates were held earlier and votes are now occurring. I've been primarily following this forum along with the official floor proceedings. The NASA authorization should be occurring soon.

UPDATE 11:36 PM EDT: Bill passed!!! Now we have a chance to advance a space program that can plan exploration, attempt to develop affordable heavy lift, engage the commercial sector and develop new technology for advancing the frontier.

Check out the usual space sites. I can add links tomorrow. Time for bed.

UPDATE: 9/30: Here's the recorded roll call vote, the summary and links and the article. Numerous posts and links have been posted at

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Power of a Video

There are many political ads circulating through the 'net and more traditional media this year, but here is a particularly powerful one that patterns the Reagan "Morning in America" ad of 1984 in the light of a more somber time.

House Republicans Pledge Action While Christie Takes the Lead

Republican US House leaders today unveiled their "Pledge to America", a document laying out some of their proposed policy initiatives including repealing ObamaReidPelosi health care, cutting spending and maintaining existing tax rates (as opposed to allowing them to rise).

The prolife Susan B. Anthony List applauds the pledge for including legislation to end all federal funding of abortion. The group goes on to urge a total defunding of Planned Parenthood (which is already in a panic over an apparent convergence of the prolife and Tea Party movements in this years' elections), a move already taken by NJ Gov. Chris Christie. I hope when they gain power, the GOP congressional leaders and other GOP governors will follow Christie's lead.

Robert Truax, RIP

Robert Truax, who pioneered innovative but simple rocket concepts for decades, died last week at age 93. I recall when he was trucking his Private Enterprise Volksrocket around the SF Bay Area ~1980. While it never achieved its manned suborbital spaceflight objective, it did undergo an impressive static test firing (video included on memorial Facebook page).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Religion and Science: Conflicted or Complementary?

Pope Benedict is making a number of significant headlines during his visit to Britain this week to mark the Beatification of John Henry Newman, one of which is on the topic of religion and science.
"The world needs good scientists, but a scientific outlook becomes dangerously narrow if it ignores the religious and ethical dimension of life, just as religion becomes narrow if it rejects the legitimate contribution of science to our understanding."

Meanwhile, Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno has some intriguing thoughts on religion and extraterrestrial intelligent beings. He also talks about a phrase that has taken on an altered and more controversial meaning recently.
On 'intelligent design', which claims that Darwin's theory of evolution cannot explain the complexity of life, he said: 'The word has been hijacked by a narrow group of Creationist fundamentalists in America to mean something it didn't originally mean at all.

'It's another form of the God of the gaps.

'It's bad theology in that it turns God once again into the pagan god of thunder and lightning.'

The phrase 'intelligent design' was centuries old and described the idea that God could be discovered in the laws of space and time and the existence of human reason.

Observing the Moon Tonight

Tonight is the first International Observe the Moon Night being observed at at least several hundred locations around the world to capitalize on the growing interest surrounding recent discoveries about the Moon. I just returned from the event at the Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Primary Election Wrap-Up

Yesterday's primary elections in six states produced quite exciting news. The win by Christine O'Donnell for the Republican Senate nomination in Delaware highlighted the grassroots political movement upstaging the conventional political wisdom. While her nomination may make it more challenging for the GOP to win that seat, I'm always inclined to reject the kind of excessive pessimism that says she "can't win". May Christine O'Donnell be part of the wave that sweeps into Washington in November.

Closer to home, former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich won the Republican nomination to take back the governorship from current Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley, despite a hard fought campaign by businessman Brian Murphy. While Murphy's strong prolife stand was more aligned with mine than Ehrlich's mixed views, the choice is now between Ehrlich and O'Malley, who shares the extreme pro-abortion position commonly held by liberal Democrats.

Bob Ehrlich favors cutting spending and taxes and improving Maryland's environment for business and jobs. Another key issue in this race is the redistricting that will take place next year. It is crucial to have a Republican governor in place to restore some sanity to the layout of the Congressional and state legislative districts, which will make it more possible to elect prolife and generally conservative candidates in Maryland for years to come. On to an Ehrlich-Kane victory in November!

Boeing Enters Private Human Spaceflight Business

The long established aerospace Boeing Corporation announced an agreement with private spaceflight broker Space Adventures to carry paying customers on their CST-100 spacecraft which is under development. This is one more sign of the quickening pace of commercial space developments.

Friday, September 10, 2010

In Remembrance of September 11, 2001

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael W. Pendergrass

Nine years ago tomorrow morning, I overheard a coworker down the hall from my office telling someone else about planes hitting the World Trade Center. I checked in on the Internet and on news radio for reports on what would develop into the the modern era's day of infamy. We know of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but there was also the attack that did not occur because of the heroic actions of the passengers on United Flight 93.

Nine years of daily living, along with increasing domestic rancor, may have dimmed the feelings of shock, horror, and outrage and the response of prayer, compassion, and resolve that united the people of America and most of the world. However, terrorist activity around the world should serve to remind us that the threat is still real.

This audio/visual Internet presentation developed by a New Yorker shortly after the attacks recaptures all of those experiences. The sequence is ~15 minutes long and some of the images and sounds are quite disturbing, others are inspirational. You can use the browser View/Zoom function and adjust the scroll bar to enlarge the slide show if needed. (I've also added the link to this video to my sidebar.)

It is important that we remember, not only to honor those who died and those who acted heroically that day, but to remain constantly aware of the ongoing dangers, of the presence of real evil in the hearts of some men, and to maintain constant vigilance and a determination to defeat this evil. Finally, we must always remember to trust in God and his mercy during trying times.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Time by the Sea

Just returned today from a few relaxing days with my sister at Ocean City, Md. this week that even a brush with the passing Hurricane Earl couldn't spoil.