January 2012 Archives

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No moon base by 2020 made simple

By Michael Fumento

Reaction to Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's proposal that, "By the end of my second term we will have the first permanent base on the Moon [with] commercial near-Earth activities that include science, tourism, and manufacturing," has tended either to be whether it's a good idea or whether it's feasible. It's not feasible; it's impossible. But even those saying that tend to make the issue more complex than it is. Here's a simple explanation to focuses on merely one aspect: Transportation.

Since the Space Shuttle program ended, the U.S. has had no capacity even to send people into space. Yet even the Shuttle could only carry a crew of seven and only into orbit. (In this context, it's important to note that Gingrich mentioned putting 13,000 people on the moon.)

That's a far cry from going to the moon, landing on the moon, taking off from the moon, and returning to earth. Safely. The Shuttle was extremely dangerous. Essentially every aspect of a moon transportation vehicle would have to be new. Could such a vehicle be deployed in eight years?

Consider, design concept to development times of:

  • The Boeing 787 Dreamliner: Eight years, but it did absolutely nothing its predecessors couldn't already do; it was simply a design improvement, or the equivalent of a better Space Shuttle.
  • The F-22 Raptor fighter: 21 years from design concept to deployment.
  • The F-35 Lightning II: 21 years IF it's deployed by 2017 as now appears to be the schedule.

Point made.

January 30, 2012 05:20 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Space

What Scrooge's 3 ghosts can teach about US Economy

By Michael Fumento

This holiday season, the American public and economy could benefit from being visited by three ghosts - or at least one politician willing to assume their role as blunt bearers of bad news as well as hope for a brighter future.

When Ebenezer Scrooge asks the Ghost of Christmas Present how sick Tiny Tim is, he gets not the answer he wants to hear, but the one he needs to hear: "If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die."

Contrast that with what Americans are routinely told about the economy: that all apparently bad news has a sterling silver lining; that laws of economics somehow don't apply to the United States; and that there's plenty of time to deal with these problems later. As I write in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "All of this is as dangerously false as it is soothing."

Fact is, use of terms like "soft patch" are utterly bogus. The economy has been in a downward spiral for three decades, masked only by ever-increasing borrowing. REAL unemployment hasn't gone down a bit in the last year and in fact has steadily increased over the past decade. Household income for the vast majority of Americans has been dropping for over a decade.

Excuses for why the economy is ailing are utterly ludicrous. The natural disasters in Japan? Really? Third-quarter US GDP growth was a mere 1.8%, in JAPAN it was 5.6%!

By now it should be obvious things won't just "get better." Things will just worse, UNLESS like Dickens' ghosts our political leaders start telling the public not what it WANTS to hear, but what like Scrooge, it NEEDS to hear. What it needs to hear is that "If these shadows remain unaltered by the future" the American economy MUST inevitably plunge into an economic depression, whence it will (eventually) emerge as a mere vestige of its former self.

January 5, 2012 12:01 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Economy