The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I Have One Word for You... Winter 

Thanks to Boots & Sabers for pointing out this article in the Journal today:

The latest economic development plan coming out of the state Capitol could be summarized as one small step for Sheboygan, one giant leap for Wisconsin.

Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) said Monday that his plan to create the Wisconsin Aerospace Authority would attract federal aid for Spaceport Sheboygan, a potential launch pad for commercial satellites, rockets bound for the international space station and, eventually, spaceships packed with tourists.

"I think everybody realizes this is a new economic frontier for Wisconsin," Leibham said. "When the future has arrived, . . . we want to be ready to meet the economic opportunity."

Leibham and his supporters at a public hearing Monday acknowledged that many people initially react to the idea with disbelief, but said they quickly come around when they learn the space tourism industry alone could enjoy revenue of $1 billion a year by 2020.

Former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow said creating a state aerospace authority would turn Sheboygan into a "doorway to space" and suggested that skeptics today should remind themselves of what people thought of the possibility of traveling to the moon in the 1950s.

Do you honestly think that a city that is mired in snow and freezing temperatures for four or more months out of the year will be attractive for a space port? Does nobody remember the reason why the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up? They tried to launch when it was too cold, the O-Rings cracked in the cold, hot gases leaked out and exploded. And that was in Florida. Improvements in technology aside, most people who would invest billions of dollars in a space venture are not going to take a risk on a northern city with that sort of history. And to be honest, I don't think there have been enough technology improvements (if any) to counter cold weather problems anyway. Stop wasting taxpayer dollars on your foolish dreams.

Update: Searchlight Crusade has an even better reason why Sheboygan would make a terrible space port. I'll let you read the details at his blog... but it basically boils down to the fact that Florida, because its closer to the equator, actually spins faster than Wisconsin, and therefore it takes significantly less fuel to get a rocket into orbit because it has a better initial assist. This is what happens when politicians try to make decisions that are better left to technical experts. How else do you explain Mission Control being located in Houston, TX when everything else was in Florida?


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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