Archive for category Space

Quotes: Astronaut Frank Culbertson On Being The Only American In Space During 9/11

Thanks to Paul for finding this letter and sharing. Everyone remembers where you were and what you were doing on 9/11. I was in a hotel meeting room watching the events unfold on their big screen TV’s. The fire season at the time was hot and heavy, and the smokejumper team I was assigned to was getting ready to head out to the airport to standby for fires.

But as soon as this incident happened, word came down that the FAA  shut down all aviation in the country except for vital emergency related aircraft. So fire aircraft was still able to fly and the smokejumpers were still able to respond to call outs. We had guys on the ground in the middle of some fire fighting and having aircraft to support them was essential.

But that day, as it was for everyone in the country, was a somber day, filled with questions on what was next. How would we respond and who would we attack? Shock, sadness……and anger. Resolve is what was next…. And then here I am, no longer a smokejumper, and giving my pound of flesh to the war effort as a contractor.

What is interesting about this astronaut’s perspective of this attack, is that he could physically watch the planet bleed due to this violent act. As if humans with a large spear, stabbed New York, and the smoke and debris poured out of the wound like blood from the neck of a large animal… The thoughts of what was going through that astronaut’s brain during such a time is revealed in this letter below, and I cut out the quote in the letter that really hit home. -Matt

 

….It’s difficult to describe how it feels to be the only American completely off the planet at a time such as this. The feeling that I should be there with all of you, dealing with this, helping in some way, is overwhelming. I know that we are on the threshold (or beyond) of a terrible shift in the history of the world. Many things will never be the same again after September 11, 2001. Not just for the thousands and thousands of people directly affected by these horrendous acts of terrorism, but probably for all of us. We will find ourselves feeling differently about dozens of things, including probably space exploration, unfortunately.

It’s horrible to see smoke pouring from wounds in your own country from such a fantastic vantage point. The dichotomy of being on a spacecraft dedicated to improving life on the earth and watching life being destroyed by such willful, terrible acts is jolting to the psyche, no matter who you are. And the knowledge that everything will be different than when we launched by the time we land is a little disconcerting. I have confidence in our country and in our leadership that we will do everything possible to better defend her and our families, and to bring justice for what has been done. I have confidence that the good people at NASA will do everything necessary to continue our mission safely and return us safely at the right time. And I miss all of you very much. I can’t be there with you in person, and we have a long way to go to complete our mission, but be certain that my heart is with you, and know you are in my prayers.

-Astronaut Frank Culbertson Letter from September 11, 2001

 

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Space: SpaceX’s Success May Lead To Military Contracts

In this article, they mentioned ULA as the only certified company to launch military payloads. But if SpaceX can get certified, they will be the second.

The reason why I am excited about this stuff, is that for both ULA and SpaceX, they will need some heavy duty security to guard these military satellites as the rockets are being prepared, and protect the launches. So expect to see everything from basic security, all the way up to special response teams or SWAT type teams to protect this stuff. Because once you get into the realm of defense related space contracts, national security depends upon the successes of these launches and the integrity of the satellites.

I have not seen any job ads or news about this type of security, but I expect we will as time goes by.  Of course private protection forces for space launches are not a new concept, and I mentioned KSC SWAT guys protecting NASA launches a long time ago. So I will definitely keep my eyes open for space related security gigs…..and the future is now. -Matt

 

Members of the Kennedy SWAT team are ready and well equipped to keep the Space Center safe. Image credit: NASA/KSC

SpaceX’s Success May Lead To Military Contracts
By Richard Stalker
SpaceX made history 2 weeks ago becoming the very first private company to launch a capsule into space and have it dock with the International Space Station. Now that the Dragon has successfully returned to earth, SpaceX can start working on it’s contract through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The resupply contract for the International Space Station has it making 12 runs, and since it is reusable, they will have the ability to ferry items back and forth, not just trash but experiments.
This launch was the second one for the Falcon 9 and after a third successful one they will be allowed to bid for military contracts to launch satellites into space. “The new entrant criteria did say three launches are required (for Falcon 9) before certification can happen for national security payloads,” said SpaceX Communications Director Kirstin Brost Grantham.

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Cool Stuff: The Historic Launch Of Falcon 9–Private Industry Enters The Space Race!

Today, though, “Falcon flew perfectly!!,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote on Twitter moments after the launch. “Feels like a giant weight just came off my back :).”
At a press conference held after the launch, Musk said that “every bit of adrenalin in my body released at that point,” and that the elation he felt was like “winning the Super Bowl.”
“I would really count today as a success no matter what happens for the rest of the mission.”-National Geographic

This is awesome news and congrats to Elon Musk and the team at SpaceX. The company had to delay the launch by a couple of days due to some issues, but the second time was a charm. Now it will link up with the International Space Station and hopefully that will go without a hitch.

My latest thoughts on the private space industry and security, is that government is now relinquishing it’s monopoly on space. And space, strategically, is the ultimate high ground. My concerns in this case, would be the protection of space property like satellites from those wishing to destroy or hack that stuff. Or state and non-state actors exploiting cyber weaknesses of these systems that control this space hardware. Or worse yet, actually causing crashes or glitches in space launches, as a way to take out the competition in the space market.

Can you imagine a terrorist group, taking control of a rocket like Falcon 9 and crashing that into the ISS?  Or plowing it into some key satellite that is vital to national security? Or causing a rocket to fail on launch, and crashing that thing purposely into a population center?

Also, if you look at how much money each launch costs, then you can see how this industry might fire up some serious corporate competition/sabotage.  Especially between private companies and countries.  If one country is dependent on a private company, and then another country with a state sponsored commercial space program attacks the systems of that private company, all so folks have no where else to go for space launches but that state sponsored commercial program, then you can see how this can play out.  This is not to say we will see Russia or China attack SpaceX, but it is definitely something to keep in mind. Especially with cyber attacks.

With that said, I certainly hope SpaceX and others are serious about security, both physical and cyber, because it doesn’t take much to ruin a business plan and mission.-Matt

 

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Cool Stuff: The Ultimate Public-Private Partnership–Contractors In Space!

This is just cool. Here is a NASA astronaut describing the public-private partnership between SpaceX and NASA with this upcoming logistics mission. Dragon is the name of the supply capsule, mounted on a Falcon 9 rocket, that will be sent to the International Space Station to resupply it. Dragon would be the first commercial spacecraft to perform this mission at the ISS.

Not only that, but government needs SpaceX to get this right.  We are talking about delivering the essentials of life–food, etc. and there are people in space who are depending on these deliveries. So all eyes will be on this company and their team of quality control folks, engineers, and everyone in between on getting this thing off the ground and delivering like a champ. (which this will be a really interesting case study for how private industry will do this versus how NASA used to do this–differences, similarities, cost savings, etc.)

What I really enjoyed though was the comparison of today’s public-private partnership, to yesteryear’s use of private industry to support the expansion out west.  I have discussed this partnership when it came to scouts and the Army, and Don Pettit’s example of contractors supplying forts is another one.

Not only that, but today’s contractors in the war have been immensely important to the task of supplying military outposts and supporting logistics missions all over. So yes, when I see a government Astronaut talking about contractors and commercial spaceflight, while he is in space, I rate that as pretty awesome. Check it out. -Matt

 

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