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Congratulations, Rand, and you can thank Bill Whitte's Facebook post for sending me over. I'd seen the project on Instapundit too and hadn't gotten back to it.
Isn't what is really needed an iron clad way to assume liability for our own actions so that nobody can sue in my name should I die in space?
I upped my pledge to $45 to get to the average pledge.
Hope you include the Wright brothers story about winning the first military airplane contract (excerpt from Wikipedia):
On September 17, Army lieutenant Thomas Selfridge rode along as his passenger, serving as an official observer. A few minutes into the flight at an altitude of about 100 feet (30 m), a propeller split and shattered, sending the aircraft out of control. Selfridge suffered a fractured skull in the crash and died that evening in the nearby Army hospital, becoming the first airplane crash fatality. Orville was badly injured, suffering a broken left leg and four broken ribs. The brothers' sister Katharine, a school teacher, rushed from Dayton to Virginia and stayed by Orville's side for the seven weeks of his hospitalization. She helped negotiate a one-year extension of the Army contract. A friend visiting Orville in the hospital asked, "Has it got your nerve?" "Nerve?" repeated Orville, slightly puzzled. "Oh, do you mean will I be afraid to fly again? The only thing I'm afraid of is that I can't get well soon enough to finish those tests next year." Deeply shocked by the accident, Wilbur determined to make even more impressive flight demonstrations; in the ensuing days and weeks he set new records for altitude and duration. In July 1909 Orville, with Wilbur assisting, completed the proving flights for the U.S. Army, meeting the requirements of a two-seater able to fly with a passenger for an hour at an average of speed of 40 miles an hour (64 km/h) and land undamaged. They sold the aircraft to the Army's Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps for $30,000 (which included a $5,000 bonus for exceeding the speed specification).
Congratulations Rand! You met your goal ~ So, with another day or two to collect pledges, what will you do if you raise over $8k? Over $9k? Apply to your marketing budget? Or something dangerous and risky?
I've been promoting this project a bit, hope it comes to fruition. This would be a great study and publication (and would be fascinating to read)!
Thanks for both the pledge increase and the suggestion, Benjamin. That's a good point, and I'll now make it in the paper.
This is a really important issue in the wider context as well. NASA's attitudes and policies mirror -- and maybe exacerbate -- cultural shifts with regard to risk-taking. I think we may be headed in a sad and paradoxically dangerous direction. I just doubled my pledge (from $20 to $40).
Yes, I'll discuss that sort of thing as well. Probably the best recent example is all of the billions poured into Ares I to ensure that astronauts got to orbit safely, while completely ignoring all of the other aspects of a mission to the moon, of which ascent to LEO is probably the safest phase. An irrational approach to safety can result in a dramatic misallocation of resources, as it did with Constellation.
Since we need 7K and have 100 donors, I say bump up your pledge to $70 if you can. I just did.
I think you could publish a more concrete example of rationalizing safety. For instance, point out where this approach recommended slacking efforts in approach A while investing more in approach B.
And I will put this on FB again.
Actually, what I meant by that is people who read my blog, and Instapundit.
But I suspect that there are still a lot out there who haven't heard about it, so spread the word. Even if you already Facebooked or tweeted it, do it again, because (Shockingly! I know.) not everyone monitors their accounts 24/7.
Also, I'm surprised by how few questions I've gotten about this. I have no material with which to construct an FAQ. I think that bringing in newcomers might change this.
And by "low-hanging fruit" you mean "courageous visionaries". Right? :D