Is it only after certain brute needs are met that we can look up and see the wonder, the beauty of the world around us? And if you are trapped in the mental, social, and light smeared deserts where too many of us live in, does it takes a special imagination to see beyond the here and now?
Sierra Nevada Corporation dreams big with the Dream Chaser, a crewed spaceplane based on the NASA/AF experimental lifting body designs from the ’70s (It was the crash of one of these that was a lead in to the Six Million Dollar Man TV show by the way, not to put you off.)
They have a composite fuselage built and have experimented / developed (like Virgin Galactic) a hybrid rocket motor. A hybrid rocket motor has a solid fuel but liquid / gaseous oxidizer. You don’t have to deal with the complex plumbing of a pure liquid motor or the uncontrolability of a solid. They are talking to Scaled Composites/Virgin Galactic about catching a ride into the stratosphere on a White Knight II. I’d even guess a sub orbital launch from a WKII is likely. I then hope they talk to SpaceX about a ride to orbit on a Falcon. There is no reason these various guys shouldn’t be looking at cooperation as their technologies mature, or not. Its possible the SpaceX dragon will be a wonderful cargo hauler but not a real solution for crew return or maybe won’t really be reusable….
There seem to be a lot of people dreaming about a lot of options, far and away above what NASA has been able to do for most of my life. I can only hope this continues.
And by the way, the guys who are supporting this stuff, they’re all in the 1% the OWS crowd are against. When OWS talk about bankers, they almost have my sympathy, but when I look to eSpace and Steve Jobs, even Gates, then that faint flicker, flickers out.
You have to have big assets to make big dreams real, and as long as they are spending it on this sort of thing, I’m all for them keeping every last cent of what they make in the money world.
I was reading an article in an actual paper magazine Brain Power that was discussing the problems of a patient with a particular type of brain damage. The patient had a form of amnesia that let him remember old information, from before the brain damage, but not since, the person can do all the normal things, dress and take care of themselves, but they are living in an eternal now. And because all they have is a fixed past and an utterly confusing now their mind basically fills in the gaps, without ongoing memories the persons brain/mind cannot do the sort of ‘running average’ comparison of the now with the near, recent, etc past that keeps us (most of us, relatively) grounded in the hear an now. So this person asked a simple question about where they are and why, would come up with various stories, from the nearly right to the utterly fantastical and apparently believe them and operate as if they were true.
So maybe writing Sci Fi requires a certain amount of amnesia?
There is a very interesting article at Baen the premier outlet for Sci Fi these days particularly Mil Sci Fi. Mr. Dunn has done an excellent job of outlining the current trajectory of the mil world from the threat to the budget and the current reaction of the Tech Services, the Navy and Air Force, I eagerly await the second part which will deal with the ground forces.
The situation in grunt land has always been more complex than that in the technical services, not to say that the sea or the air are simple, just simpler, on land you have the interaction of so many things that it is hard to readily predict what will work and what won’t.
I can hear a lot of cat calls regarding the fact that Navies and Air Forces have made huge missteps. And I agree but in general those mistakes while suboptimal where still better than what came before. In the mud its not clear that this is always the case. Now I’m not talking about weapons like nukes or even heavy artillery, these are technical services, but as we have found out in Iraq and Af’stan its boots on the ground that matter and a thousand little actions that eventually spell success or failure.
In the J.S.Zaloga book Panther vs. Sherman focusing on the battle of the bulge the author re-examines the face off between these two tanks. And while in most pure technical terms of armor, gun, ground pressure, engine power, the Sherman comes off the worse, in fact tactically it often won. For many reasons, reliability, more vehicles, fighting from ambush, generally more agile, better visibility.
While better equipment is often an amplifier, training, logistics and morale are generally more important once you have reached reasonable parity. You are not going to beat even a PzKfWgn II with straight up lancer charge. But there is no reason that an armored force couldn’t be fought to a standstill by folks on horses given horse portable anti tank weapons, equivalent logistics and lack of air superiority (Russia in Af’stan anyone?)
Precision weapons and ubiquitous day/night recon and observation are having profound effects on open field warfare. And the emergence of extended urban/sub-urban campaigns are making things even more difficult. Then there is the emergence of powerfully armed subnational or non-national forces whose operations are distributed temporally and geographically, to such an extent that they look like policing problems, but are really outside of the scope of traditional police force, since they are often heavily armed and operate largely within the law except for occasional egregious exceptions…..
So I’ll be interested to see what Mr. Dunn has to say in his second article.