Its been a big couple of days in space. First of all the Chinese achieved a very successful EVA mission and returned their three taikonauts home safely. Second, the SpaceX Falcon 1 vehicle had a successful launch and orbital insertion. Congratulations are in order to both; they are remarkable achievements and represent a huge effort!
Closer to home, the Hubble telescope has had a significant glitch and we’ll have to watch closely over the next few days as the HST team troubleshoots that problem.
So where is Wayne today? Not at home. For most of my career, going to conferences was not something that we did. Frankly it was looked down on. As an operator, if I had enough free time to think about writing papers and going to conferences, my bosses would believe I was not paying attention to business. Besides, there was the unstated belief that we were the best operators in the world so why go listen to other folks that couldn’t do what we did. Hmm. Times and attitudes have changed.
In fact, almost everybody agrees that international cooperation in space is a good thing and will lead to more advances than we could do alone. And we can all learn lessons from each other.
Now I’m at one of the oldest and most respected conferences, the International Space Conference in its 59th annual meeting. In the crowd I can hear folks conversing in dozens of languages, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, German, Spanish, Italian, French, and many others including the lilting Scottish version of English. Plans are being proposed, discussed, evaluated. Some really great ideas have been put forward, lots of senior leaders are here listening and participating and these ideas may come to fruition. This is a lot different than Mission Control! Of course it takes all parts — the planners with imagination getting commitments, and the engineers and financiers getting the rocket built, and the operators to fly it. I’m learning a lot.
Good news from Washington, Congress passed NASA’s authorization bill. This means that the Congress approves of the plans going forward in space. Somewhere there was a glitch, though; Congress told us to dramatically cut back in participation in conferences. Hmm, guess I started too late in coming to these things!
Its late here in Scotland, so further updates will have to wait until tomorrow.