Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pournelle's book

This book was originally written in the mid seventies, getting close to four decades ago. He had a lot of hopes for the Shuttle, but that didn't succeed in making space more accessible. By that yardstick, the program was a miserable failure.

As I wrote before, the first part of the book was the most interesting. He had a couple parts that could have been omitted, as far as I am concerned. The fourth part gets interesting again as he discusses space flight itself. The math involved, the rocket equations, propulsion systems and so forth.

In general, it looks like he was too optimistic. He did give a warning early in the book. We do this now, or we may never do it, he says. I think that this is an extremely likely proposition if people do not wake up, and soon. The thing that may doom a prospective space-faring civilization is now upon us. A catastrophic economic collapse, a war, or perhaps even both.

There are those who are very happy about bin Laden's death. But at what cost? Things that desperately need to get done are not getting done. And I am not referring to global warming. Belief in that is part of the sickness. But to argue with those who believe is a waste of time. But argue they are, and it is a disaster.

The tragic thing is that most of these things can be done now and with the technology we have available, but nobody seems interested enough to do anything about it. Those who are interested have some very flighty ideas, like going to the stars or even to Mars. The one hope, Elon Musk, and his company, Spacex, is guilty of this too.

But I suppose his efforts are better than nothing. Just going to Mars won't be good enough. Witness the lunar landings in the sixties and early seventies. We don't have anything on the Moon yet, do we?

Things are so bad that NASA can't even get their unmanned programs in good order anymore. The Webb telescope is taking up all the oxygen of the unmanned program and the manned program is coming to an end.

Maybe something will emerge. There are hopeful possibilities. But time is running short and the need is getting desperate.


Almost finished.  The last part is about energy.  That fits in with the Kardeshevian aspirations of this blog. Master energy and space to take civilization to a higher level.  If only.


I see here that Pournelle is friendly with Newt Gingrich.   Very interesting.

No comments:

Post a Comment