The Cosmos on a Shoestring

This book was written in 1998 to inform White House policymakers about the future of small spacecraft for civil, military, and commercial use. Technological advances were allowing spacecraft to become smaller and it was critical for decisionmakers to understand the dynamics of smaller programs and the promise of leaner approaches. As part of this study twelve (12) small spacecraft projects were analyzed to reveal future trends and help planners integrate smaller spacecraft into a portfolio approach for managing future space programs. A central premise of the book was the great promise of smaller spacecraft and their ability to take on increasingly more challenging roles. "Small" is not restricted to geometry; the goal is to create 'right-sized' projects emphasizing creative approaches to risk and innovation. An excellent example of this approach is the recent Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), arguably the lowest cost planetary mission in NASA's history which proved the existence of water on the Moon.

American Storm

"American Storm" is one of my screenplays. It’s an adaptation of the novel "When the Almond Tree Blossoms" by David Aikman, one of the most learned and well-published authors on international politics and future world states.

Written in 1993, Almond Tree is the story of the Second American Civil War. Civil wars are always ugly. Atrocities occur on both sides. Extraordinary efforts are required from ordinary people to ultimately end the bloodshed. Doug Richfield is an ordinary man. He is called upon by chance events to rise up and defend the American Constitution. Richfield lives in a time when Russian forces have defeated the U.S. in a limited war in Iran. A popular "People's Movement" has seized power and is engaged in a topsy-turvy battle with Constitutionalists forces across an East-West divide. A peace agreement with Russia has resulted in aid to the People's forces, but they are held in check by "Project Almond", the Constitutionalist’s nuclear trump card. Almond Tree portrays the catastrophic damage to the lives of Americans and the loss of political liberty brought on by civil war.

Nothing today is more important than a change of spirit among Americans that soothes over the bitterness and partisanship and that opens the possibilities for a heartfelt co-operation in solving America’s many problems.

The Technology Puzzle

Managing a portfolio of technology projects is a tough job. Equally challenging is infusing new technology into new or existing systems. Incorporating an unproven new design into a network of other systems presents significant cost, schedule, and technical risk. Developers of operational systems are often leery of technology projects for these reasons. Too often new designs are first matured independent of operational systems and brought on-line only when they have proven their mettle. This is usually a very slow process; it can take years or decades to move a technology from the laboratory to fully operational status. This evolutionary approach minimizes risk at the expense of responsiveness. At times competitive forces of urgent needs demands a faster way of integrating new technologies. When this occurs, project managers must accept the task of integrating complex new technologies into larger systems design. The tools used to assist the project manager with this task are surprisingly fragile. Techniques for measuring the readiness of a technology, for example, are highly qualitative. The importance of the language and culture surrounding the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the application is also generally underestimated.

This book discusses the challenge of managing and integrating new technology and provides a simple step-by-step approach for quantitatively measuring how technology projects are progressing towards completion.

After Oil

Oil is a powerful, non-renewable resource. Our addiction to it and other hydrocarbons fueled a long period of industrial and military expansion, improved the health and welfare of billions of people, and created a host of beloved comforts. Furious debates rage over our hydrocarbon future shower us with countervailing data obscuring the more basic factors that will determines our energy future.

The clash of certain inevitabilities demands we better understand the many variables determining how we choose to sustain life on planet Earth. More people using more non-renewable energy produces inevitable strains; untended these will tear apart existing social and political structures. We face many tough choices that cannot be placed in the hands of experts - the choices are ours.

Humanity has never faced a more potentially destructive set of forces. “After Oil” distills mountains of information and filters political biases to provide you with the knowledge you need to make informed choices about your future.

- COMING Summer 2017

Safety in the Skies

The daily movement of millions of passengers over distances thought impossible merely a century ago is emblematic of the modern transportation era—an era characterized by speed and personal convenience. The commerce of aviation, both the operation of commercial aircraft for profit and the development of aeronautical systems, is also an important symbol of national prestige and a powerful economic force. Safety in air transportation is, therefore, a matter of profound national importance.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) plays a central role in the overall equation of aviation safety. Preserving and enhancing the NTSB’s ability to fulfill its crucial safety mission were the central motivations for this research and are the guiding principles behind the recommendations that are proposed. Although the NTSB investigates thousands of general aviation, marine, rail, highway, and other transportation accidents every year, the public reputation and credibility of the safety board substantially rest on its ability to determine the cause of major commercial aviation accidents.

This report focuses on ensuring the NTSB is prepared for the 21st century involving increasingly complex systems-related failures. The research represents the most comprehensive examination of NTSB operations that has ever been undertaken in the 30-year history of the agency.

Ascendent Visions

Written for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in 2007 this book examined the use of NASA’s “other” launch base, the installation on Wallops Island, VA. A small commercial launch facility has been operating there since 1997 – this work studied what it would take to expand commercial operations at Wallops leading to a “next‐generation commercial spaceport.”

Wallops is a quiet, out of the way launch facility on the Virginia shore, but far more rockets have been launched from there than all other U.S. launch facilities combined. Wallops was established in 1945 and houses some of the world’s most proficient rocketeers. The creation of the commercial spaceport at Wallops was a visionary step in 1997 that is now coming to fruition. NASA’s operations at Wallops are a model of lean management and rapid turnaround processes, a good match for commercial partnership.

This report preceded decisions to expand commercial operations at Wallops. It argued that Wallops was poised for growth as government and commercial space markets matured. A great deal of quantitative data was gathered during the course of study to create a baseline operational model; this baseline was used to consider future government/commercial partnering strategies. Attention focused on the roles and missions of NASA and commercial entities operating at Wallops to ensure lasting partnerships could be formed.

Alternate Trajectories

The Space Shuttle has flown for nearly three decades. This book summarizes the results of a 2001 task force charged with examining the future of the Space Shuttle Program. It reviews the history of the Space Shuttle, the demand for its services, the level of investment made in people and infrastructure, and, most importantly, the need to maintain safety and continuous operations of the system. The analysis conducted by the task force focused on quantitative assessments based on data supplied by NASA, the Space Shuttle contractor community, and other sources. The report focused on NASA and the Space Shuttle mission, but other potential markets are also addressed.

The task force concluded private operation of the Shuttle was not a viable option given the costs and high risks associated with the aging system. However, commercially provided launch services was found to be a highly desirable option using other launch vehicles. Alternate forms of operating NASA ground installations like the Kennedy Space Center were examined and the potential of a spaceport authority was presented. Finally, various models for regulating launch safety were examined and recommendations provided.

The Application of Best Practices to Unmanned Spacecraft Development

This report summarizes of trends in the development of space systems with emphasis on the application of lean aerospace principles. It takes a broad look at some of the initiatives that have been undertaken to reduce the cost and increase the performance of spacecraft. The findings suggest leaner approaches have intrinsic value and provide government and commercial firms with flexible options for meeting mission needs quickly and effectively. Beyond their intrinsic value, however, lean practices often do not translate into savings. Additionally, many of the initiatives to streamline the management and engineering of space systems have actually increased risk disproportionately to savings. The report concludes that efforts to trim cost and schedule from projects must be enacted with great care. Initiatives promising to increase performance and reduce cost and risk are emphasized in the report, and recommendations are provided.

RAND Project Feed Back Summary Report

This is obviously not my report, it's a copy of an early RAND Corporation initiative called Project Feedback. I place it here for those interested in the early history of the space program. RAND played a key role in establishing the direction of American space efforts and Project Feedback provided much of the foundation for the early military space program. Project Feedback led quickly to the Midas, Samos, and later Corona spy satellites and the Discoverer recovery capsule. Project Feedback was a large effort involving hundreds of people at RAND, industry and the Air Force. The highly classified project was considered of vital national interest. RAND produced many reports on the civil and military use of space including weather monitoring, reconnaissance, and human exploration. Project Feedback's series of reports viewed space monitoring as an unconventional and potentially highly effective way of keeping track of Cold War developments. When Sputnik established the precedent of freely overflying national boundaries the U.S. was ready with very sophiticated satellite technologies that leaped far beyond aircraft and balloon reconnaissance. Project Feedback helped ensure the readiness of technologies for high resolution space imagery thereby giving the U.S. a significant strategic advantage.