If It’s Boeing, It Ain’t Going

It pains me to say that. I spent a lot of time in their performance engineering school in Seattle, and after every course I came home feeling like a rocket scientist.

CST-100 Starliner passing by Charleston on its way to (the wrong) orbit.

After today I wonder if their rocket scientists feel like rocket scientists:

For most space launches, a rocket will take its payload all the way to Earth orbit — but that wasn’t the case for this mission. The Atlas V deployed the Starliner into a suborbital path around Earth, a trajectory that would not keep the capsule lapping around Earth indefinitely. Unless it ignited its own engines boosting itself into an actual orbit, the Starliner would eventually fall back into the ocean. This plan was a conscious decision made by the Starliner team. The idea was to drop the capsule off closer to Earth — a safety measure added just in case there ever was an emergency on future flights with passengers on board. That would make it easier for the crew to abort the launch and come home more easily and more comfortably.
Of course, getting Starliner to orbit meant the capsule absolutely had to ignite its own engines in order to climb higher into space. Initially, NASA and Boeing said the ignition had been delayed, and for a while it was uncertain if it occurred at all. Now, it seems that some kind of ignition did occur, but whatever happened did not put the Starliner on the path it was supposed to reach.

Well then.

I don’t pretend to have a clue what happened. Hopefully it’s easily understood and a quick fix–but in space program terms, “quick” is relative. At this rate, who knows when we’ll see a crewed Starliner flight?

Between this and the MCAS debacle, one rightly wonders what the actual &#$%@! is going on at the world’s leading aerospace manufacturer. It’s fair to wonder if this points to bigger problems, the rumblings of which I began to hear about 10-15 years ago after the McDonnell/Douglas merger. The engineers I got to know in Seattle were almost to a man concerned with the new management culture being imposed on them. They were afraid Boeing was becoming less of an engineering concern and more of a “business.”

That might have sounded like frightened old-timers protecting their rice bowls, but it looks like they knew what they were talking about. The bean counters took over, much to Boeing’s detriment. Moving the headquarters out of Seattle to Chicago certainly didn’t help. The 787 was a slow-motion fiasco, with supply chain and certification problems that delayed its entry to service by years, but at least the thing’s flying and hasn’t killed anybody yet. If only we could say the same thing for the 737 Max.

Safety and quality are always a balancing act: if you park all of your airplanes, you’ll never have an accident. You’ll also be out of business. You can likewise implement quality systems which are so onerous that nothing gets done. The opposite is to ignore safety and quality in the chase for dollars, and it can be surprisingly easy to rationalize cutting corners for the sake of “accomplishing the mission.”

By striving to improve their bottom line through questionable business decisions, this company has created some very expensive problems for itself. I just hope they’re not fatal, as I don’t want to see Airbus become a de facto monopoly. Despite their current issues, I think Boeing has always built a better product and I want to see that continue into the future.

It takes decades to build your reputation and seconds to squander it.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Evil

Google is still doing it wrong:

Google ads has refused to do business with a Christian publishing house “because of the faith we express on our website,” said Concordia Publishing House CEO Bruce Kintz in a Facebook post today.
“Google ads will no longer accept anything related to the cph.org domain. They stated the reason is because of the faith we express on our website,” Kintz wrote. “[A CPH associate] was told, as an example, that things like our bible (sic) challenge on our [Vacation Bible School] webpage would clearly need to come down before they could consider us for ads.”

Let that sink in. They take exception to a church publishing house hosting apps for Vacation Bible School.

Ever been to a Lutheran service? Not exactly filled with the fervent faithful speaking in tongues and tossing snakes around. Google is afraid of a bunch of exceedingly polite people doing…what exactly? Teaching manners to their kids? Believing in a higher power? Holding another Sunday potluck?

If they’re this bad with the Lutherans, you can imagine how they really feel about the rest of us knuckle-dragging rednecks.

It’s like the whole country is a field of dried grass and the hard left just can’t stop lighting matches to see what happens. As Col. Schlichter has pointed out, if they’re this afraid of the “Christian” right, they’re really going to hate the non-Christian right.

Army Wrong

If this inside story of the rot at West Point is accurate, the implications are truly frightening. There’s no good reason to not believe it, given the evidence:

I feel sorry for this punk’s platoon.

No institution is perfectMy alma mater certainly isn’t; many of us Old Corps alums are gravely concerned about declining standards among cadets. 

That’s the way it goes with each passing generation: them kids today got it easy! When we expect perfection, every flaw is magnified all the more. But…

Anyone who cares about the integrity of our armed forces (sadly, not enough of us) has real cause for concern. The warfighters have largely been purged to make way for a new crop of PC wussies who are now field and flag grade officers. That’s how an avowed Communist makes it through a place like West Point. 

The worst part is this guy graduated to assume the sacred duty of leading troops. Which means, as usual, it’s the enlisteds who will suffer the most.

Dogs and Cats Living Together

Mass Hysteria!

Here’s a perfect (and perfectly awful) example of what I was talking about yesterday:

Antifa stabs man for his “Neo-Nazi” haircut.

Because his hipster ‘do looked Alt-Reich.

A handy rule of thumb: if you’re randomly assaulting people for suspected Fascism, surprise! You’re the Fascist!

I’m convinced that we’ve become so hopelessly polarized that the only thing to snap us out of it will be some kind of national cataclysm.

The problem with cataclysms is they’re, well, cataclysmic. You can’t know what form they might take and there’s no guarantee of a happy ending. And for certain groups, it’s exactly what they want.

Decline and Fall: Threats Unmasked

So I take a few months off from the blog to finish Frozen Orbit, and you guys just up and trash the place. Seriously, is everybody a Nazi now?

Apparently so, if by “Nazi” you mean “anyone who disagrees with the received leftist wisdom.” This is something we’ve always suspected, of course, but now one of their former leading lights finally burps up the truth in The UK Guardian:

“The lesson from Charlottesville is not how dangerous the neo-Nazis are. It is the unmasking of the Republican party leadership. In the wake of last weekend’s horror and tragedy, let us finally, finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda of voter suppression, renewed mass incarceration and the expulsion of immigrants.”

Continue reading “Decline and Fall: Threats Unmasked”

SpaceXpensive

Being a privately-held company, SpaceX’s finances have been notoriously opaque. No doubt Elon Musk prefers it that way, because he can’t be too pleased with last month’s Wall Street Journal “expose” of their account books.  The story is still behind the WSJ paywall so we’ll have to take The Motley Fool‘s word for it:

In an expose compiled from “exclusive … internal documents” — probably obtained from the “former SpaceX employees” that it interviewed — theJournal confirms that SpaceX has in fact been losing money since at least the beginning of 2015. Says the Journal, not only did SpaceX rack up losses of $260 million in 2015, but it actually incurred “an operating loss every quarter, and also negative cash flow of roughly $15 million.”

For the record, this means SpaceX was losing money nearly one year before the company removed the famous “profitable and cash-flow positive” assertion from its website.

Not too surprising, considering that their launch rate was still well below target even before losing two boosters to “rapid unscheduled disassembly.”

No Kerbals were harmed during this simulation.
Not SpaceX, but you get the idea. No Kerbonauts were harmed in production of this graphic.

Continue reading “SpaceXpensive”

Wounded Animals, etc.

images

Just because the Leftists are out of power doesn’t make them any less dangerous:

While most of our operatives started and stayed with one specific group, I was unable to initially penetrate the group I was responsible for infiltrating. I had to work my way up the ladder, moving from one group to another in order to achieve my objective. In my migration from group to group, I found that political ideology was a significant factor in the determination of what types of activities the groups would sponsor; ranging from sit-ins to marches to direct action. I can broadly classify these ideologies as liberal socialists, communists and anarchists.

Continue reading “Wounded Animals, etc.”

A Modest Proposal

This headline is just begging to have a list of names appended to it:

Put People on Mars by 2033 – For the Good of the Nation

I agree with the sentiment, but that’s as far as it goes. Not to take away from the achievements of the authors, but this is just pablum:

Third and most importantly, the European Space Agency, Russians, and Chinese continue to accelerate their human spaceflight programs. Americans must not cede the finish line. Our country should not wait until we receive the news that someone else has won the race to Mars for our leaders in Washington to ask, “How’s our space program doing? Why didn’t we get first place?” It will be too late. We must ask those questions now.

Nice try, but the very first sentence of that argument is hopelessly flawed. ESA has no “manned space program” other than the astronauts who’ve hitched rides with us and the Russians. The Russian program occasionally announces grandiose plans for new ventures, but the reality is they’re mired in funding and quality control problems. And at the rate the Chinese are putting up crews, the idea of them landing men on Mars in another 15 years is laughable.

There is no “race” to Mars, much as I want to see us go. Repeating the same tired pitches for Apollo 2.0 is not achieving anything, unless they’re just positioning themselves for political appointments.

As Rand Simberg often points out, it shouldn’t be NASA’s job to send humans to Mars. Their job should be making it possible for the National Geographic Society to send humans to Mars.

 

 

 

 

Waiting to Exhale

Holding my breath describes how I’ve felt for the last decade or so, for reasons both obvious and not-so. Col. Schlichter explains:

Then came 9/11 followed by 15-plus years of botched wars and economic decline, along with an unprecedented cultural offensive against normal Americans. Once the only place you heard that average Americans were racist sexist homophobic everythingist everythingphobic was on college campuses; now, with the active assistance of Obama and his collaborators, it’s everywhere – in our entertainment, in the media, in our faces.

And we’re sick of it. #ThisIsWhyYouGotTrump

We want to return to normality, and in an ironic twist of fate it was Donald Trump, the most unnormal guy imaginable, who promised it.

When I started this blog, my plan was to keep the political rants to a minimum. Quit laughing. Really. I mean it, you guys.

So yeah, that didn’t work out too well. Once you’re active in the free-speech arena, it’s well nigh impossible to ignore the almost daily train of outrages foisted upon us by our duly elected leaders.

“Leaders,” they’ve been anything but. And lest you think I’m only talking about Obama (which I mostly am), it really starts with W’s infuriating refusal to defend himself and his actions. “Staying above the fray” acting all Presidential left him to be defined by his enemies, which included the press. If you’re going to get us into protracted and questionable wars, you’d better be ready to not only take criticism but fight back. He wasn’t, and the troops he sent into harm’s way deserved at least that much. The 2008 crash just cemented the deal and paved the way for the most radically Left-wing administration in our history, at least since Wilson.

We really don’t need to recap the malevolently incompetent policies, but this line of crap he’s pushing that they’ve not had any major scandals…’scuse me, I just threw up in my mouth a bit. Excuse me there Barky, but you’ve had plenty. You’ve just never been held to account for any of them. Kevin Williamson runs it down at National Review:

Under the Obama administration’s watch, the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies from the BATF to the NLRB were illegally used to target and harass the president’s political enemies. The IRS targeting scandal was the most high-profile of these, but others are just as worrisome. Federal investigations and congressional oversight were obstructed, and investigators were lied to outright — a serious crime.The administration protected the wrongdoers and saw to it that they retired with generous federal pensions rather than serving federal sentences for their crimes.

The Obama administration oversaw the illegal sale of arms to Mexican traffickers for purposes that to this date have not been adequately explained, and those guns have been used to murder American law-enforcement officers.

President Obama’s secretary of state was involved in a high-profile case in which she improperly set up a private e-mail system to evade ordinary governmental oversight; she and her associates routinely misled investigators, obstructed investigations, and hid or destroyed evidence. These are all serious crimes.

The Obama administration made ransom payments to the Iranian government and lied about having done so. (Me: not to mention giving them money and a clear path to build nukes. Yeah, that’s gonna end well)

Under the Obama administration, the Secret Service has been a one-agency scandal factory, from drunk agents driving their cars into White House barriers to getting mixed up with hookers in Cartagena.

Under the guise of developing “green” energy projects, the Obama administration shunted money to politically connected cronies at Solyndra and elsewhere.

Obama’s men at the Veterans Administration oversaw a system in which our servicemen lost their lives to bureaucratic incompetence and medical neglect, and then falsified records to cover it up. (Me: This one alone should’ve ended with torches and pitchforks)

Under the flimsiest of national-security pretexts, the Obama administration used the Department of Justice to spy on Fox News reporter James Rosen. It also spied on the Associated Press.

The Obama administration’s attorney general, Eric Holder, left office while being held in contempt of Congress for inhibiting the investigation of other Obama administration scandals.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/443911/obamas-many-scandals-abuse-government-power-worse-sex-scandals

I admit that Obama was never going to meet my approval. That’s because I’m not a Leftist. But I’ve also avoided sensationalist news outlets and tried to balance respectable sources: National Review v. The Atlantic, Washington Post v. Wall Street Journal, etc. (I was going to include “CNN v. Fox” but gave up on all the cable outlets years ago).

How about NPR v. Mark Levin (which sounds like a lawsuit they could sell tickets to)? Try switching between those two sometime; it’ll just about leave you schizophrenic. Anyhoo…

No, this has always been much more than simple policy disagreements. Obama straight-up frightened me because I understood the kind of person he was and the beliefs he held. Much of it’s right there in his own books. I am no Trump fanboy, but after eight years of having what’s felt like an enemy sympathizer in the White House, it will be a tremendous relief to once again have a President who isn’t actively working against our interests. I expected to love half of what Trump does and hate the other half; so far that’s about how things are shaping up. But I do believe that he will remain true to our allies and not cozy up to our enemies.

To which I say: Thank God.

Moving the Political Blogging Switch to OFF position. I’ve got books to write.