Archive for the ‘Enterprise’ category

A TAX-CUT STIMULUS:Restoring Industrial Vigor

January 23, 2012


The birth of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner was a true family affair.

As a burgeoning teenager with an interest in science, girls, engineering, girls, and aviation, I took a bold step and wrote directly to a great aviation entrepreneur. I asked Robert Gross, CEO and co-founder of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, about careers in the aircraft industry. Astoundingly and reassuringly, I got a personal answer. Today, if I even got an answer it would most likely be a carefully worded vapid document that was all PR and not a true, personal response. So, what am I trying to tell you?

When Robert Gross responded to my inquiry he was a proud parent writing to me about his family – Lockheed. As the image above illustrates, a sense of family in some industrial areas (especially aviation) remains as a strong sense of corporate unity. A nationwide return to that operational and management philosophy is, in my opinion, an essential for America’s return as a leading and powerful industrial nation. I see it as a vital, two-step process.

Step One: The Favorite Uncle: Uncle, of course, goes by the name of Sam, but actually he is a polyglot mix of politicians and lobbyists interacting to put profit and power as their prime and most rewarding efforts. Since Uncle is government, he always strives to take his own cut, but also makes sure that his corporate buddies get special considerations. Uncle needs to change.

Step Two: Who’s In Charge Here:  Wall Street and its various corporate boards of directors are currently in charge. All those well-paid executives are just hired hands under strict orders to meet specific profit goals – or else.

The New Uncle: In a confused but solicitous manner, Uncle Sam has been most generous in his relationships with corporate America. The net effect has been an industrial population that is on the dole. This is counter to the strong, independent and innovative giant that helped America and its citizens both grow and prosper. The result is a continuing dwindling of that industrial prowess as their favorite uncle gently adds a few more dollars to the dole either as subsidies or as reduced taxation.

Well, as noted above, Uncle must change, and here is the plan.

  • The dole will continue if the recipient corporation stops salting away cash and starts investing it in new innovations (either of their own or from a start-up).
  • The amount of the dole is adjusted based upon the level of innovation investment each corporation spends. A full commitment to reviving American industrial strength will preserve full support from Uncle.
  • Corporations who ignore or defy Uncle will immediately lose all aspects of the dole and will be fully responsible for meeting their total tax obligations.
  • Lastly all corporations must guarantee that no less than 70% of their labor forces are resident Americans. Off-shore operations will still be permitted, but only under this new rule.

Spunky, new leadership: Certainly the Wall Street investment community will continue to play a major role in our economy and in the future of Uncle’s new offspring, but they will be required to return to their traditional roles and step away from direct efforts to control both the scope of a corporation’s business profile and the intense profit pressure that actually eliminates sound risk-taking. It is this latter bold process that is the true stimulus for corporate progress and prowess.

Corporate executives will be grown and groomed from within the corporate community. Yes, they will get dirty hands and bruises as they become intimate with the specific processes of their company. Pride in the product and in the worker-family that produces the product returns corporate leadership back to dedicated commitment to both profit and the ongoing good health of the family. Accountability, duty, and a unique degree of paternalism again becomes the character of the CEO and his or her associated executives. He or she is answerable to the board of directors and to the corporate family first and in doing so stimulates the design, development and manufacture of a quality and profitable product or service.
What It Will Take To: (a)Restore American Industrial Prowess and (b)Make It Last. Leadership willingness must become both an objective and a motive that begins, gently, in the home with the parent and the children. It then carries forward as an active value in the maturing child, and blossoms as a quality in a confident adult (male and female). Next we go back to the future by making leadership an apprenticeship process that invests the prospective employee-leader with both the knowledge and affection for what the company is, what the product is, and what doing it means to all that work at it.
We are family and in this instance it is a state of mind and a bond that produces a unity of effort that creates a quality product or service that ALL value and respect.
Will we go there? If not, think what that foretells for humankind.
Summary:

IMAGE CREDIT:

Image of roll-out of Boeing 787 jet liner. Courtesy of: www. LJWorld.com


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SPACE EXPLORATION MOMENTUM: About Focus and Vitality

May 26, 2011

Alone and blurred by the elements and time, Pad 39A longs for its shuttles.

“You can actually feel it” That comment refers, with sadness, to the decline of momentum in NASA’s space exploration programs. The approaching last launch of the space shuttle snaps shut NASA’s only current human space exploration activity. Most importantly it is entirely unrealistic and unfair to assume this decline  is NASA’s doing.

Throughout its fifty year history, NASA has been fiscally underprivileged and yet has managed to accomplish astounding missions. Its relations with its main funding source, the U. S. Congress, is similar to an orphaned child in a foster home limbo. Despite segments of support within that foster care setting, there is little assurance of sustained fiscal and policy support for America‘s space program.  At best, there are bushels of lip service and thimbles-full of dollars all tied together in a discouraging package.

We are past the glorious experiment and global supremacy stage. Space exploration, both robotic and human, is now a vital and integral part of our national profile. Additionally it is also a growing profile element around the globe. The esteemed Space Studies Board of the National Academies of Science defines this as an aggressive scientific and engineering effort to address a wide range of factors related to space exploration. In this regard, the SSB envisions a lunar base as the successor to the ISS after 2020 (see “Recapturing A Future For Space Exploration” NAS Space Studies Board, Document  13048.pdf  page 432). The SSB supports this recommendation with a long and detailed list of research projects all related to improving and extending the success of human space exploration. Please see the reference list at the end of this article for links to the referenced documents.

What, no Mars exploration? This is not what the study means, in fact it fully acknowledges human exploration of Mars, but first there are a host of questions that need complete answers before we put humans on the surface of Mars. The referenced report details those research objectives.

Establishing a Lunar Research Facility will enable us to fully address many of those objectives in the ideal mico-gravity and essentially hostile environment. Most  importantly that lunar environment is in close proximity to Earth and as such it can be serviced and supported with lower costs, and with the necessary reaction speeds to reduce or eliminate loss of human life. A Lunar Express shuttle would be the ideal transport vehicle connecting Earth and its new Lunar Research Facility. Yes, there would also have to be a recoverable lunar lander to complete the transportation process.  Most importantly, the research environment is no longer a low Earth orbit setting.

About Focus and Vitality: Following the range of research objectives and goals outlined in the SSB study would restore NASA’s and its host of private-sector partners’ space exploration focus and vitality by targeting a Lunar Research Facility. All the envisioned development and research activities either underway or planned now have focus and specificity. Linking all of this to an expanded research facility that duplicates but enhances the ideals of the ISS imparts renewed momentum to this nation’s space science and technology activities. Most importantly all that NASA is undertaking now in the aftermath of its shuttle program gain new direction and impetus because they become linked to the next stage of our space exploration goals. We have revived space research with the elixir of “purpose.” Return to the moon and a Lunar Research Base before others opt us out of it.

The vitality of partnerships with the attendant array of various scientific and engineering expertise fills the project with both eagerness and the cross fertilization of ideas that will grow new breakthroughs in the entire process of exploring space. Believe it,  returning to the Moon in this kind of joint effort from both government and industry will establish the operating style that will move us forward from lovely Luna to Mars and onward. Yes, politicos ramble around muttering about “common ground, shared objetives”, etc, but do little more than jiggle and talk. A cooperative, joint and global exploration program to Luna with the establishment of a true research base IS that sought after common ground.

The new international lead is this united space exploration effort. Instead of remaining a pleading, plaintive for support, a global space society lays the foundation for an entirely new focus on life here on this planet and beyond. We stop shriveling (especially psychologically) and once again, and together, stand tall. Yes, tall all across the Cosmos.

Are you coming?

IMAGE CREDIT: The image of a shuttle launch pad is courtesy of Phil Konstantin (http://tinyurl.com/3hjtd5w), the modifications of that image for the purpose of this blog article is by the author.

REFERENCES: National Academies of Science Space Studies Board: Recapturing A Future For Space Exploration:  http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13048.html

The inseparable and critical relationship between science and government: http://tinyurl.com/427x5go

Returning to the Moon and a Lunar Research Facility: http://tinyurl.com/3mpc2xz

The Lunar Research Institute: http://tinyurl.com/4y2u9pf

Bill introduced in House of Representatives for a 2022 Lunar Mission and Base.Link: http://tinyurl.com/3mktwez

DRIVE OUT THE “HO HUMS”:Send In The Explorers

November 26, 2010

Right now, for so many of us, the future has the look of a scattered picture puzzle with lots of missing pieces. Oh yeah, we have been here before and have survived. One of the keys of our past survivals was the abundant view of a promising new future. We were able to dream and hope and thus our struggles, though painful, held promise and actually moved us forward. Well, we need such a set of views now. Most importantly, we need to send in more than clowns. We need to send in explorers to give us realistic dreams and hopes for our future. This has always worked for all humankind and it can work now.

Lo and behold, there is just such an exploratory rescue on the horizon! The aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin Corporation has announced its plans to launch an exploratory mission to the dark side of the Moon. Now as a space exploration venture by a leading member of the private sector, this is spectacular. In our opinion to make it even more spectacular and scientifically promising we would like to see this project become a joint effort by Lockheed-Martin and NASA.

Oh yes, we hear the grind, buzz and rattle of the government budget hackers as they get ready to launch another warning rant about the high cost of space exploration. We also hear the doors slam of the White House science advisory staff who have already exhausted their limited imagination. These reactions ignore the truly realistic economic stimulus for both the private sector and the legion of space exploration specialists stuck hopelessly on idle. On top of this is the incredible benefit of an awesome, exciting and stimulating space exploration effort. It reawakens both public and media interest and support. “Ho Hums” begin running out the door.

The working relationship between NASA and Lockheed-Martin is time-tested in the cauldron of our historically successful shuttle and International Space Station missions. Adding NASA into the new Moon project adds an immense and hungry public interest as well as shared funding and technology support. For Lockheed-Martin, as the prime, this is a significant boost to an already ambitious and inspiring plan. For NASA it is a new experience as second fiddle, but within a famous symphony orchestra with a  global performance ahead. Everybody can be winners. Everybody in this case are the key players, as well as a global population of space exploration enthusiasts.

“Make It So!” This classic order from the realm of the Star Trek series is most fitting for our joint venture recommendation. This phrase should become the motto for the launch of this joint space program. It should also be the shout that echoes throughout the halls of Congress and the White House. In making it so, our politicians stand to rise in eminence by boosting our economy, by boosting opportunities for the jobless and by projecting a glimmering view of humankind’s future in space exploration.

Dare we not “Make It So?”

CREDITS:

Broken puzzle image courtesy of  “smh” on Great House Fliggerty at:http://bit.ly/gdAQSs

Header image courtesy of Lockheed-Martin, and  POPSCI 

TAG-ALONG SCIENCE: Following The Money

November 16, 2010

With spurts of government boldness, great moments in science have been born. With spurts of corporate courage equally great breakthroughs in science have occurred.  Our global history of scientific, engineering and technical achievement relates the endless struggle by new discoveries and new ideas to receive the financial support they need to reach their goals. Fickle government budgeting and the absence of vision by corporate leaders are the key barriers to progressive and successful scientific progress. Miraculously humankind has progressed this far because of those spurts of boldness and courage. We need more and we need them consistently.

Saving Science: Right now, the key dependence of science and technology (S&T) for funding support is upon the political system and the budgeting process. This is an extreme variable that depends on too much politics and too little attention to S&T input.

Within our government there are a host of Congressional committees and subcommittees involved in various ways in the process of providing funding support for S&T. Additionally the Executive Branch of government has its own advisory staff that makes recommendations on what the priorities should be for funding these research efforts. For example:

“Almost every congressional committee is in some way involved in S&T policy decision-making or uses the scientific and technical knowledge currently available to help them make decisions.” (From: Science and Technology Policymaking: A Primer by Deborah D. Stine – Congressional Research Service. (http://bit.ly/9wvcAA)

Taking S&T out of the lobby: In line with the various committee involvements in the funding for S&T, there is, of course the interactions of lobbyists to seek to direct that funding toward the organizations or corporations they represent. In some cases this helps certain, but limited S&T programs, but it also can deprive other critical areas of needed funding. You may click here to get and example of the lobbying process and how funds are diverted to select organizations (Data related to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act [ARRA] -2009). These activities are costly and produce well paid lobbyists at the cost of a more equitably and better funded S&T community.

Is there a better and definitely more equitable way? We think there is, and in this two-part presentation we will offer our idea of how that can become a reality. What we are looking at is a way for all S&T programs to have increased access to all funding resources. This would be within a setting that brings to bear a more focused assessment process of S&T programs that use much broader and definitive measures to make funding decisions. The key consideration is public benefit. In stating this we acknowledge the challenge it will be to clearly and universally (politically and ethically) define public benefit. Right now, the majority of  S&T goes unnoticed or discredited by the public. One of the key aims ,therefore, of our presentation is to directly address the publics’ “opinions about science and technology.” Additionally, what we will avoid in our presentation is relegating the S&T/Public interaction as a dispute between science and religion.

In closing this first part of our discussion on this topic we emphasize that we absolutely dislike categorizing people who have a weak grasp of S&T as stupid (lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; dull.). We find this demeaning and we find it a common reaction to those persons who openly display their confusion or misunderstanding of parts or all of S&T. Yes, unfortunately, there are some of us who through a variety of physiological causes suffer cognitive dysfunction. These people have our understanding and compassion. The rest of those often called stupid have, instead, extreme shortages of formal education, especially in basic science, as well as having experienced cold rejection by some in the S&T community. In our opinion this latter situation must be changed if we want increased public awareness and support for S&T.

Coming Soon, Part II: S&T, A Common Cause and Benefit.

CREDITS:

Header Image: Original photo-art by Waddell Robey (c)2010

Lab researcher: Modified clipart from Microsoft. Modification (Traffic sign) added by Waddell Robey.

OF ASTEROIDS AND ASTROBOTS – Part V

August 15, 2010

Now it is time to pull all of this together.  Let’s start with some questions.

  1. Question: You started out stating that the exploration of an asteroid should be done by a robotic rover.  Why did you change to a joint rover and astronaut team?
  2. Answer #1: There is a great deal to be discovered by surveying an asteroid. We learn important information on its behavior, composition and ways that we can deflect an asteroid.  We also learn about the presence of possible valuable minerals that could be profitably mined. This kind of exploration would be better accomplished by a joint effort of a roverbot and astronaut.  This is enhanced by the roverbot being directly controlled by the astronaut from an on-board command and control center of the Super Shuttle spacecraft. This is an ideal mix of human scientific expertise with the technological power of the roverbot.
  3. Answer #2: The proposed concept of the Super Shuttle, robot/astronaut teams, and the Super Shuttle serving as an on-site command center establishes a break-through configuration for all future explorations of our solar system. This does not rule out that some explorations will be done only by astronauts. The same is true for solo robotic explorations; however, it is our opinion that most solar system explorations will take advantage of the combination we present in this blog series.  We see it as the new space exploration system model.
  4. Question: The concept of a Super Shuttle that is totally space-based sounds a bit fanciful, don’t you think?
  5. Answer #1: It is not fanciful at all.  We built the ISS in this way and we can certainly build the Super Shuttle the same way. Making it totally space-based introduces both considerable savings and advantages that improve the entire solar system exploration roadmap.  The expanded ISS will serve as both a fuel depot and a maintenance shop for both the Super Shuttle and the astrobots that fly with it. Yes, we expect the ISS to both grow and to be renovated to keep it safe and viable.
  6. Answer #2: Additionally, support of the ISS as both an orbiting research center and as the service center for the Super Shuttle teams will expand the need for and the ability of the commercial service operations that provide supplies and crew transfers to the ISS.  It is envisioned that the HLV launch vehicles developed by the commercial sector will be highly efficient and less costly than those required to provide launch support for human spaceflight missions that include both crews and exploration spacecraft.  The Super Shuttle(s) once assembled stay on duty in space and can be heavier and more extensive than could be economically launched from an Earth site by even a monster HLV.
  7. Question: You base the entire program model for solar system exploration on an International Consortium.  Is this really possible and workable?
  8. Answer#1: Yes it is since we have already set a solid standard and example with the ISS, and with the shared usage of the space telescopes such as Hubble, Spitzer, Chandra, etc.
  9. Answer#2: The United Nations Outer Space Treaty that has been signed and ratified by all the currently active spacefaring nations clearly supports, actually mandates, that we move into outer space in a joint and cooperative manner.  We need to exercise the provisions of that treaty and move ahead in a united scientific and commercial effort to explore all that surrounds us.

Original Space Shuttle:Role Model for the Future

It is recognized that the above questions and answers are only a small set of the many questions and suggestions that this blog series generates. In this regard we ask for your specific questions and comments and we assure you we will answer them promptly and completely to the best of our abilities. We need your comments and advice.

Personally, I get very excited about the exploration model we have presented. I am particularly hopeful about the development and operation of a fully international space exploration program.  As with the ISS, this will tie all of us closer together, and in the future we will need that to help us first protect our home planet, and to eventually move on to a new home as our solar system faces a dying Sun.

No, I won’t be here and neither will any of you, but what we do today and in the immediate future sets the stage for generations to follow. If we don’t assume that responsibility then we have relegated this civilization to ultimate extinction.  Just think of all the other great civilizations we will not get to meet and interact with because we fail now.  We have both the opportunity and the mandate to provide a space exploration legacy to the future.  We owe this to all humankind here and across the universe.

OF ASTEROIDS AND ASTROBOTS – Part I

August 9, 2010

Asteroid Gaspra

There is absolutely no doubt that to protect Earth, we need to be alert to dangerous Near Earth Objects. Additionally, as we move more into space, we need to take advantage of the potential valuable resources that many of those objects may contain. All of this calls for a more aggressive and more active space exploration program.

Right now, NASA is in the planning stages of sending astronauts to a nearby asteroid to do some early exploratory research about both controlling threatening asteroids and ways to find and extract precious resources from the non-threatening kind. All of this is good, but the most pressing question is should this require a human space mission?

Robonaut 2

In many respects, missions to explore both near and far asteroids, would seem ideal projects for robotic exploration. In this regard, robotics would be different from the robot-rovers that have made significant exploration history on Mars. Robots to explore and assess asteroids would be exactly like the type of robots that are being researched and developed by NASA.  One of these projects will be placing a humanoid style robot (Robonaut2) on the International Space Station during the next crew exchange.

Robonaut 2 will be demonstrating one of the key goals of NASA’s robot research and development program.  That aim is for humans and robots to effectively communicate in the process of completing a specific task or responding to a specific problem, discovery, or emergency.  This is an exciting move toward the sharing of human and machine intelligence (artificial intelligence)! It is also the threshold, in my opinion, to an entirely new paradigm of space exploration.

No, I am not saying we exclusively use robots instead of humans for space exploration. What I am saying is that we need to keep human activities to a broad range of interpretive research that benefits from human intellect and experience. As brilliant and versatile as we may develop our robots, not one of them will ever equal the immense capability of the human brain. That said, there are many projects that will benefit from robotic exploration that are still interrelated to human assessments and interpretations, but at considerably reduced human risks.

Oh, oh!  There it is, that nemesis; risk aversion (the desire to avoid uncertainty and/or failed outcome). Well the concern with risk aversion is not that it exists, but the degree  and depth to which it is practiced in space exploration. We need a certain level of risk aversion or we simply fail; however too much or misplaced risk aversion and we also fail. Robotic missions will enable us to tackle extremely risky missions that do not initially need a human presence. This can and should let us mediate the levels of risk aversion and to still reach out into challenging exploration projects; such as assessing both threatening and promising near earth objects.

I find the concept of robonaut explorations of areas of our solar system and beyond both exciting and realistic. As I have stated above, we need to conserve human astronauts for those projects and ventures that benefit from a human presence and intellect. The Moon, Mars, and perhaps one of Saturn’s moons are real candidates for human exploration. Exploration beyond our solar system will, in my opinion, be initially totally robotic.  By the time we are ready for an exploration of a definite habitable exoplanet, it will be initially carried out by robonauts. The immense distances, even if we are traveling at near light speed, mandate that we do initial explorations with robonauts. In those future times, the cognitive relationships between robonauts and astronauts will be so interwoven and complete that humans, in essence, will be the real explorers.

In Part  II of this blog series, we will explore design, development and application of robonaut systems. In Part III we will present a theoretical exploration model using robonauts, robotic rovers and astronauts. Please stay with us as we move ahead.

CREDITS:

Both the image of the asteroid Gaspra and robonaut 2 are courtesy of NASA/JPL

URGENT EXPLORATIONS: Summary

August 7, 2010

Yes, I know, I only selected four areas to discuss under this topic, and as all readers know there are many more.  My point, however, is that if we attend to the four “E’s” we will be in better place to attend to the many other issues that keep us from becoming a fully spacefaring civilization.  Please notice, I maintain we must treat all of this as a global issue, thus civilization instead of nation as the focus.

In Education, for example, the United States has dropped to twelfth place among the thirty plus nations with high levels of college graduates. We must catch up, not to lead, but to bolster the international population of skilled and well-trained young people.

In Energy, our Congress, held in the tight grip of special interests, can not come together to move ahead in establishing the type of energy policy that, again, helps us fulfill our international obligations.

All citizens of planet Earth have the responsibility to preserve and protect our Environment because unless we take care of our planet we degrade the very source of our spacefaring abilities.

Regardless of the level and vitality of global Enterprise, unless we have mastered the three “E’s” above our creative, and bold efforts are feeble at best.

Perhaps our biggest and hardest challenge is making the transition from warfare to spacefare.  Aside from the theopolitical and sociopolitical ideologies that batter the global conscience, humankind’s prehistoric obsessions with tribal-style governance tears us apart and keeps us apart as citizens of Earth.  Look at the image on the left above.  This is a grouping of international students at George Mason University in the United States.  I do not read hostility on their faces, I read interest, attention and even tranquility in their expressions. Would they vote for more warfare or opt for the promise of exciting and rewarding spacefare? I suspect, I hope, in fact, I believe they would vote for spacefare.

The results of space-exploration related enterprise will expand opportunity across the globe for all levels of skills and interests.  This extension and enhancement of opportunity directly mediates the impact of sociopolitical constraints and stands as a strong catalyst for world peace.  As for the impact of theopolitcal ideologies, the very presentation and access of our civilization to the mysteries, glories and challenges of the universe enhance rather than challenge spiritual philosophies. This too, becomes a strong catalyst for world peace.

Lastly,  our global social structures are based upon the power of the few and the democratic or otherwise control of the people.  Yes, we will always need leadership and support for the rights of the people, but in the venue of a spacefaring civilization we have the opportunity to build an egalitarian civilization.

Why would we chose otherwise?  Why not start now? Please don’t misinterpret this as the expansion of a “techie” culture. I am talking about a civilization that sees far beyond just the present and the local scene. We chose to reach out and explore, to discover, and to explain all that surrounds us.  Most importantly in doing so, we humbly seek to enhance and enrich our civilization as well as those we may come across in our future explorations. Let’s not delay, let’s start that process today.

CREDIT:

Image: From Flikr: Image of a gathering of international students at George Mason University (GMU) in the United States.