Blue Origin launching people into space in July

Press conference (they get their wings)

starts about 16 minutes in

Brian

Could have been given yes.
Ironically the three female pilot astronauts, Collins, Kilrain and Melroy all were came through on waivers , none had required fast jet experience.

So what new technology was tested today?

I’m guessing none – I mean I guess they tested that the crew capsule works with actual people in it, but don’t think any new tech was tested.

Brian

I like Stephen Colbert’s take from last night. When Bezos pondered how going to space would change him, Colbert says he wishes it would change Bezos into a person who would pay income tax.

It’s one thing to grant a waiver on a point that ultimately is meaningless. A college degree was fairly prestigious back then, but meaningless to what the astronauts were doing. On the other hand, being an astronaut back in the days when pretty much everything was untried to one degree or another was pretty dangerous. That’s why NASA liked test pilots so much. In other words, the military requirement actually meant something.

Yes, it meant there wasn’t a chance in hell any woman would ever get a chance to be an astronaut. It was “protecting” women in a manner that made them second-class.

Women performed as well or better than the men did on the pre-flight testing the astronaut candidates were subjected to. Given that women also (on average) weigh less and consume fewer resources - air, water, food - it actually made logical sense that women should be astronauts as well as men (or even instead of men). But male egos couldn’t handle that, so no women allowed no matter how qualified.

And yes, usually men are seen as more appropriate to take risks - which leads me to ask why men are seen as expendable.

That seems like an easy one. A village can rebound quickly if 90% of the men die in a war with a neighboring tribe. It takes much longer to rebound if 90% of the women die. Attitudes toward war and other risky activity has been pretty constant over time.

Then what was the point? I’m a huge believer in advancement of the science of space travel, but what did Bezos do besides recycle 60-year-old technology?

As a company, Blue Origin is working toward a reusable orbital rocket similar to what SpaceX has. To some extent, the current vehicle is a practice run for vertical takeoff and descent, engine design, life support systems, and general rocketry stuff. But it’s a very slow and inefficient way of gaining that expertise.

Every rocket company has to learn the lessons of the 50s and 60s before doing anything new. Launching rockets successfully requires institutional knowledge and that’s not something you can just easily copy from others; you have to do it first. So you shouldn’t begrudge an organization for starting with something that’s already been done before. Blue Origin deserves criticism for moving so damn slowly, but not for having limited innovation out of the gate.

We don’t live in villages anymore in a semi-constant state of cattle raids and other tribal warfare, and we aren’t in danger of dying out - quite the contrary. Attitudes should evolve along with our society.

Consistency isn’t as sexy as new breakthroughs, but I keep saying that being able to launch and land successfully on a repeated basis is, in itself, a form of advancement.

We don’t expect the airlines to demonstrate breakthrough technologies every flight, in fact we’re happiest when it’s routine or even a little boring. If spaceflight is ever to become routine and/or profitable then it, too, has to become so reliable as to be no longer noteworthy.

But we’re not in the airline stage when it comes to space travel - we’re in the pre-WW1 biplane stage. We still have to develop something that’s worth being consistent.

And…?

We wouldn’t have had airlines if he hadn’t had biplanes that could take off and land consistently.

We also wouldn’t have airlines if they weren’t constantly making better planes.

My point is, consistency is what you want when you’re making a production model. We’re not there yet. We should be making prototypes - and only prototypes - until we make something good enough to produce. Until then, every rocket launched should be better than the previous one.

We’re going to have to agree to disagree on that one.

A bit of schadenfreude for those who think Bezos’ space flight was simply an example of an overprivileged billionaire taking an extremely expensive joyride— the FAA announced that Bezos doesn’t officially qualify as an astronaut.

He got to the proper height off the ground, but the FAA stipulates that to be considered an astronaut you have to actually, like, do astronaut stuff, and the Blue Origin flight was totally autonomous, making Bezos a mere passenger.

So Bezos has the “Wrong Stuff”?

He did fine. For cargo.