1 year anniversary of Countdown to the Moon

A year ago I was on Christmas vacation at this time. My niece Pooja (she goes by Shannon outside the family) was visiting from California. I probably. It would have been a Tuesday because our North Houston Space Society Meeting had been on December 14, 2019. Trent Martin from Intuitive Machines had been our guest speaker. Intuitive Machines is one of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) provides and they are planning to put a probe on the moon in summer of 2021.

Doug Loverro had just been announced as the NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations (HEO). And he was tasked with getting people to the moon’s surface by the end of 2024. To this end, he wanted to keep himself, the people at NASA, the people in government, the public, and the contractors all focused on that date. He had a lapel pin that had the number of days till the end of 2024.

And in order to motivate the people at NASA he started showing a HEO Hero of the day which he would highlight on twitter. He announced this during a visit to NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Dec. 9 during Artemis Day.  

Doug’s idea was swirling in my head. The enthusiasm of us returning to the moon was swirling in my head. And a couple of other thoughts. “I am at home all the time” (because I had been working from home the 2 years previously.) “Maybe I need a project to get me out talking to people in real life.” We just had a successful North Houston Space Society meeting.

And it struck me out of the blue. “How about I interview regular people, every day till the end of 2024?
I suggested this to the family and my niece Pooja (Shannon) Bhatia, and she thought it was a great idea. “You should tell NASA about it”, she said. But I do not think NASA would have much interest in it at that time. And they haven’t shown any interest in it over the first year. But NASA is not the target audience, but those people that will be born decades from now.

We recorded the first video on December 17, 2019.

1840 – Shannon (Pooja) Bhatia

The first video was free form, relaxed, and just a conversation with two people about NASA’s plans.

A few highlights and snippets from this conversation.

Jim Bridenstine is the first NASA administrator to be born after the Apollo moon landings.

Pooja, “I wonder if they will discuss anything new.”

Pooja, “What do you say about people who say it was fake?”

I walk through of the evidence of the people involved and the LRO photos, and the fact that the Russians could have easily detected our signals from the moon and triabulated location. The Russians would not have hesitated to call us out.

Pooja: “The Russians would have gotten us”

Pooja: “Putin doesn’t have anything.”

Nathan: “Well, Russia is the only people that can launch people to the International Space Station (ISS).”

Pooja: “Really? Wow”

Boeing would have their Starliner test later that week.

She is looking forward to the live streaming in 4K.

Pooja, “Hoping there are some new discoveries.”

And that is the question that would come up over the next year. “What do we hope to get out of it?”

But what about Doug’s project. Looking back, I see he did not actually kick off his HEO HErO until Jan. 6, 2020.

Doug only started including the number of days starting on his January 8, 2020 posting.

And he started giving out “I Made it Happen – HEO” pins with the number of days remaining. (Which maybe I should give out pins like that to people when I interview.)

And this got emphasized with future postings.

The pandemic affected the awards.

And was back on track on April 7, 2020:

But on May 21st we found out that Doug was leaving NASA, and that put an end to his project.

While it is sad to see that the HEO HErO of the day did not continue on. I’m committed to seeing this project through till the end of 2024.

And after 1 year, I was excited to be interviewed by the Houston Chronicle about this one year journey.


Weekly Summary (April 26, 2020)

Accomplishments the week before April 26, 2020:

*Learn Fusion 360 in 30 Days: www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrZ2zKOtC_-DR2ZkMaK3YthYLErPxCnT-
Day 5: Ice Cube Tray
Day 6: Hex Nut
Day 7: Handle Bar

* Countdown to the Moon: CountdownToTheMoon.org
1710 – Drishti www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/25/1710-drishti/
1711 – Saif www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/24/1711-saif/
1712 – Jalees
1713 – Jason www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/23/1713-jason/
1714 – Ahsan www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/21/1714-ahsan/
1715 – John www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/20/1715-john/
1716 –Engr Muhammad Aqib www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/20/1716-engr-muhammad-aqib/

*Plans for the week
7 more Countdown To The Moon Interviews
Start back up with the Learn Autocad Fusion 360 in 30 days – later in the week
Read “1066 The Year of the Conquest” by David Howarth

Weekly summary (April 19, 2020)

Accomplishments the week before April 19, 2020:

* Finished John Scalzi’s “The Last Emperox” the final book of the Interdependency Trilogy. I started reading Scalzi last year starting with the “Old Man’s War” series. And have read his first novel “Agent to the Stars”, “The Android’s Dream”, “Fuzzy Nation”, “Head On”, and many other books. I highly recommend Scalzi’s work

* Countdown to the Moon: CountdownToTheMoon.org
1717 – Ally & Caleb: www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/18/1717-ally-caleb/
1718 – Mahmood: www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/17/1719-mahmood/
1719 – Alex: www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/16/1720-alex/
1720 – Brad: www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/15/1721-brad/
1721 – Saira: www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/14/1722-saira/
1722 – Caesar: www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/13/1722-caesar/
1723 – Rehan: www.countdowntothemoon.org/2020/04/12/1723-rehan/

*Learn Fusion 360 in 30 Days: www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrZ2zKOtC_-DR2ZkMaK3YthYLErPxCnT-
Day 1: Lego Brick
Day 2: Beer Bottle
Day 3: Paperclip
Day 4: Whisky Bottle

*Plans for the week
7 more Countdown To The Moon Interviews
Complete Day 5-11 in the “Learn Fusion in 30 Days” course
Create a better weekly highlights video for next week by:
*Creating a script
*Learning basic video editing Thought for the week: You can do what you are willing to put your mind and energies toward. You can make this world a better place.

San Francisco to London in 30 minutes!

Imagine a transportation method that will allow for you to travel from San Francisco to London in 30 minutes.   We used to have a supersonic plane called the Concorde that would allow for a person to fly from New York to Paris in 3.5 hours instead of the 7 it takes on a normal plane.  The trip from San Francisco to London is even further, but this new mode of transportation would allow for you to make it in less than 30 minutes.

How would that change the world?  You are working on a complex business arrangement and you need to meet with people on the multiple continents as quickly as possible.  Soon you will be able to.  Meet in Washington in the morning, go to Beijing for lunch and then finish it off in San Francisco for dinner.

Today in Australia, Elon Musk proposed just such a system that his company SpaceX will start to build within the next year.   While the benefits of quicker travel between points on earth is compelling, that primary motivation is even more visionary.

The goal of the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) is to lower the cost of space travel while at the same time increasing the capacity.  The BFR is more capable than any rocket that has ever been produced or is planned to be produced.

The BFR is more powerful than the Saturn V which was the rocket that took Buzz Aldrin to the moon.

Taking this same set of rockets and sorting them by increasing launch costs puts the BFR on the other side of the list:

While the BFR will be more costly to build than any of those other rockets, those costs can be spread out over multiple flights since it is 100% reusable.  Some argue that reusability costs performance, and it is true.  But you could improve the performance of airplanes by not having landing gear or flaps.  And use those weight savings to give a slightly more cargo capacity.  Instead of landing the plane you could use parachutes to land the cargo and let the plane crash in the sea.  Sounds crazy.  No one would consider doing that.  But that is exactly the same thought process that has driven rocket design since its beginning.  And we have just lived with it.  Never questioning the absurdity of it.

We have seen space art like this in the past.  It has always been like a mirage.  Always just over the next horizon:


But this does not feel like a mirage.  The resources that have developed, built and operated the Falcon 9, the Dragon Capsule, and the Falcon Heavy will be deployed full-time on the BFR project within the next year.  And Elon is planning to use the BFR as the sole rocket to service his customers going forward.

Take a look at his presentation and get a glimpse of the future:

Isaac Arthur’s space videos are worth watching

Isaac Arthur has created a number of videos that walk through the logic and process of space exploration, industrialization, and colonization.

Elon Musk lecture on technical and cost cutting aspects in Spacex.

On the timeline summary of the Universe, there are several key points:

  1. formation of stars
  2. formation of systems
  3. formation of planets
  4. single cell life developing on a planet
  5. multi cellular life developing on a planet
  6. live become conscience

What else would be on that list?

The jump of life from one planet to another would be something that would be on that list AND we could do it in our lifetime.  Lets do it!

A Trillion Humans

In 1970 there were roughly half as many humans as in 2016 and the growth continues.  The 7.4 billion that are on the Earth in 2016 are on average living longer, more materially better lives than the 3.7 billion in 1970.  The people of 2016 are more connected and more empowered, have better access to food, clean water, and information than those in 1970.  Some people are concerned about needing to limit the population growth but Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and Blue Origin, recently talked in an interview about the possibilities of having a trillion people.

It is difficult to imagine Earth sustaining a trillion humans.  But when you consider all the resources and real estate in our solar system alone, a trillion might be a low number. Consider Mars, Earth’s moon, the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, big asteroids, and all the empty spaces in between.  Perhaps we will even develop the technology to tame Venus and turn it into another Earth.   At that point it would be difficult imagine anything that we could not overcome.

When we have a fully developed and fully connected solar system, it will be possible to shift around where goods are made, food is grown, and energy is produced.  Perhaps all industrial activity will be moved beyond Earth with the finished products delivered in an ecologically benign way.  Earth as a whole might become a protected garden.  A place for people to come and admire a natural world that was the cradle of all known life; that gave rise to an intelligent species that would do intelligent things.

What about the trillion people with experiences unlike anybody today?  How many great people there will be!  There will be Newtons living on worlds with 1/3 gravity from birth and will develop a completely different view point on life than their Earthly cousins.  Aristotles growing up on Jupiter’s moon with the giant red storm constantly in the sky and new thoughts about the meaning of life. Einsteins living in weightless environments with a completely new insight into the laws of the natural world.   Edisons living in places where water and air are not as easy to come by who develops new inventions to make it stretch. Unique life experiences lead to unique perspectives develop new insights.  Impossible for us to understand today much less imagine.

Today when we are stuck on earth, the some see the nearly 8 billion people like a problem that needs to be managed.  But when we open up the heavens and move as freely between planets as we move between continents today, then a trillion people will be just the beginning.