Dedicated to the Health and Safety of the Personal Space Traveler

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Right Stuff?

In response to sky and telescope article "The Right Stuff" April 2010.

Training for a sub-orbital flight in a vehicle that is supposedly designed for virtually anyone to be a passenger(the medical requirements are negligible) is a bit of an oxymoron. The idea of doing altitude training (which untold thousands of military have done - so is no biggie, unless you have COPD etc) and a centrifuge ride (3g - please , 6g maybe a bit tough - >9 g is standard for military aircrew) well it makes you wonder what the point of it is except to gather data (of which there is plenty on 'healthy' subjects, but precious little on 'unhealthy' subjects - the passengers with the $). If that’s the standard, then they are going to run out of fare paying (and not too healthy) passengers rapidly. "Harrowing" it isnt , a barrier to passengers - maybe.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Apollo 11 Musings

For those who don’t know, one of the myriad of things I do to keep busy is volunteering as a docent at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC (if you ever want to come for a tour-- contact me!) I have been a docent since 1995, and I still enjoy making visitors’ experience in our nation’s capital just a bit more special (or at least that’s my hope!)

While I never grow tired of showing the same artifacts over and over and retelling the stories surrounding them to countless tourists, one can being to feel like you are toiling a bit in vain when you see that space exploration is, for the foreseeable future, a veritable non-starter. Nevertheless, while introducing the Spirit of St. Louis and Charles Lindbergh to a tour group this past weekend, I had a participant ask me “So, how did Lindbergh combat vertigo during his flight?” As it turned out, the person posing the question was a student at Embry-Riddle in Orlando, was planinng on obtaining his PhD in aeronautical (or nuclear) engineering, and was also hoping to earn his wings in the Navy, and then to eventually work for NASA or a viable commercial venture. The student was a delight and his enthusiasm was infectious. Indeed, on the eve of the 41st anniversary of Apollo 11, my random encounter with this guy was just the jolt of reinvestment I needed to regain some of my enthusiasm for spaceflight. Gods Speed, Apollo 11 (and the future of manned spaceflight!)