Karl Gallagher (selenite) wrote,
Karl Gallagher

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Picking a Nick

So the Space Access Society is having it's annual conference next month: http://www.space-access.org/. I used to go to them but haven't for five years now. It makes me reflect on how I've evolved over the years.

"Selenite" means from or of the Moon. I've been using that as a handle since college or before. Back then my career goal was set--I was going to be chief engineer for a lunar base and help it grow into a real colony.

So I was getting an engineering degree to go down that track, and Challenger blew up. One of my profs was on the commission, and he gave us a talk on some of the stuff he'd found out. Thus ended any confidence I had in NASA's competence.

Pretty soon it was clear that there would be no moon base or any other permanent human presence in space if we had to depend on the Shuttle. So various folks began working on alternatives, and I was following this from my worm's eye view and going to conferences to so I could hear Gary Hudson and Mitch Clapp talk about their latest rocketship designs.

The problem with the private-enterprise approach to getting into space, of course, is that if you want someone to invest in your rocket you have to make sure he'll earn a profit. Soon. So talking up the wonders of a lunar mine supporting solar power satellite construction 10-15 years from now doesn't help get you money.

For a brief shining moment in the '90's it looked like there was a profitable market for new rockets. Communications companies were planning on launching satellites by the dozens and hundreds, and that was a big enough market to justify building a new system to serve it. So a bunch of start-up companies sprang up to chase that market. I joined one in '97, finally getting to chase the dream I'd been carrying for years.

How did it come out? http://www.despair.com/bitterness.html

So now I'm building weather satellites again, looking for an escape, and rating possible escapes by the real-estate prices in that area. So, my career goals over time:
Age 16: Establish a permanent human presence off our planet.
Age 26: Find a way to get into space cheaply.
Age 36: Afford a backyard for my kids to play in.

Which makes me wonder why I'm sticking with "selenite" as my handle. Some combination of habit, stubbornness, and the faint residual of the original idealism, I guess.
Tags: daily life, space
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