guest blogger john hare
We have another year of hope ahead of us, let us do what we can to fulfill that hope and further our dreams for a prosperous new year.
For a very long time many of us said that our new years resolution was to be less skilled at crisis management through less practice. For many of us in the construction industry, this was a case of “be careful what you wish for”. I have had considerably less practice at crisis management in the last two years as a result of having far less things on the plate to manage. I consider myself lucky because many of the former competitors have no recent practice at all. I will not make that resolution again. The crisis management of too much work, too few hours, and the difficulty of getting enough quality help are preferable to this week by week business survival. This year has a couple of bright spots for us in new products we now offer and less surviving competition for conventional work.
A few weeks ago the ITAR (International Traffic in Arms regulations, I think) subject came up again on ARocket. This time I saw something I hadn’t seen before that could possibly affect me. I was under the impression that a non profit communication on a public forum was safe for discussing rocket technology. According to Randal, discussing technology possibly applicable to weapons is not protected in conferences and blogs. It is only ink on paper that is properly considered protected freedom of speech. As far as I can tell from that discussion, some of the things I have posted concerning rocket technology could lead to jail if a sufficiently overzealous investigator took a notion to try. One quote was, “If you are wondering where the line is, you are too close.” I don’t think I will throw out concepts for engine design that might apply to weapons anymore. If I was convinced that my ideas would make the difference between us becoming a spacefaring society or not, it ‘might’ be worth the risk. I don’t happen to believe that the value of the ideas I throw out there are worth that risk. I’m not worried so much about getting in trouble for posting them now, as the possible effects if I do get into the rocket business and find myself and any business associates vulnerable to legal harassment.
It does go far to explain why so few relevant comments are made by experienced engine workers. Most if not all of the ideas I throw out have been thought of before. It is hazardous to the freedom and finances of the people that know better to get into a discussion that could be read by those evil spyin furriners with obvious aliases like Habitat Hermit or simply Pete, both probably dangerous furrin spys from Saudiiraqistan trying to fool us with those fake names.* I thought that the lack of discussion was mostly for good sound business reasons. It is annoying to me that my concepts are probably reinventing the square wheel for the most part and the people that know can’t straighten me out or take the few good ones further. That leaves most of the on line discussion of rocket technology to those of us without a dog in the fight. The ones that know and still provide some feedback must either censor themselves or stay on topics with no possible weapons application. Since almost anything in the world can be considered a weapon if used that way, safe topics are limited.
You have to wonder how much further along we would be as a spacefaring society if those artificial constraints were not there. Or at least just enough to honestly slow down information spread on actual serious threats. I probably throw out a dozen concepts a year that might be useful. There are thousands of people that can beat that and have the experience and training to back it up. How many ideas do you see in a year that are even somewhat original? How many of these ideas that you never see could make a difference? How many times do you see someone with possibly good ideas quit discussing them for lack of intelligent feedback? How often do you see someone with a bad idea push it until, everyone is sick of hearing it? How often do companies have to solve a problem from scratch because there is poor communication of solutions from people that have been there before? How many times have you seen the same bad idea discussed to death because the people with the answers can’t discuss it, leaving it to guesswork?
How can the NewSpace community solve this problem without risking their freedom? I believe that honest and open communication is one of the main keys to being on the moon, Mars, the various L ponts, and dozens of NEOs before 2020.
Depressing post for a happy new year. I think solving it is more important for us all than any technical idea I’ve ever had.
*Both are friends I’ve never met that apparently are not legal to discuss this subject around, in spite of them likely knowing more than me for the most part.