The Space Review - 2007-02-05

Welcome to this week’s issue of The Space Review:

Space for improvement: re-engaging the public with the greatest
adventure of our time (part 1)

NASA and the space community face the challenge of making space more
interesting and relevant to an increasingly disinterested public. In
the first of a two-part article, Bob Mahoney discusses why NASA makes
the drama of spaceflight so boring.

Making sense of China’s weapons test

China’s test of an ASAT weapon last month raised questions about why
China carried out the test and what reaction it will prompt from the
US. Nader Elhefnawy discusses some of the potential reasons for and
long-term outcomes of the test.

I write sins, not tragedies

Last week a Sea Launch rocket suffered an “anomaly”; that is to say,
it exploded on the launch pad. Dwayne Day examines why such
obfuscation takes place and how organizations can better communicate
bad news.

Stress-testing the vision

Congress appears likely to pass a 2007 budget for NASA that will cut
exploration funding by a half-billion dollars. Jeff Foust says that
the stress put on the program by the budget situation offers an
opportunity to evaluate whether the Vision should be primarily
schedule- or budget-driven.

The end of aerospace

The term “aerospace industry” is routinely applied to the companies
that build both aircraft and spacecraft. Taylor Dinerman argues that
the term has become outmoded as the overlap between the two disappears.

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If you missed it, here’s what we published in our last issue:

Could the CIA have prevented the Apollo 1 fire?

Forty years after the Apollo 1 tragedy, an enduring myth is that the
crew could have been saved had the CIA communicated to NASA a similar
accident in the Soviet space program. John Charles examines the case
and finds more systemic problems with the young space agency than a
lack of information about Soviet accidents.

Remembering and learning

This time of year we pause to reflect on the tragedies that have
befallen the US space program over the years. Dwayne Day argues
that, rater than burying those events in the past, we should find
new, yearlong ways to learn from them.

Communicating with multiple audiences in space advocacy

Space advocates often speak of reaching out to the general public,
but in reality no such monolithic audience exists. Bart Leahy
describes ways to target pro-space arguments to specific groups
within overall society.

Space weapons debate: clarity versus Gebetsmuhlenartig

In the aftermath of the Chinese ASAT test earlier this month, many
people not only criticized the Chinese for carrying out the test but
also the US for developing a space policy that appears to support
space weaponization. Taylor Dinerman says the problem may be that
the US policy is simply too straightforward.

Letter: Regarding “sticky airbags”

Dwayne Day responds to a letter in last week’s issue about ASAT
development by noting that, contrary to popular belief, the US
military has not been advocating the development of kinetic energy
ASATs, in large part because of orbital debris concerns.

Review: Lunar and Planetary Rovers

Despite the success of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, it’s
worth recognizing that these spacecraft are neither the first nor
arguably the most important wheeled spacecraft to roam across a
distant surface. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines the history
of rovers, from Apollo to future missions to the Moon and Mars.

We appreciate any feedback you may have about these articles as well as
any other questions, comments, or suggestions about The Space Review.
We’re also actively soliciting articles to publish in future issues, so
if you have an article or article idea that you think would be of
interest, please email me.

Until next week,

Jeff Foust
Editor, The Space Review