Publishing

Mar. 24th, 2014 10:56 pm
9unm3741: This icon is for all space related posts. (space!)
I have finally gotten my first publication accepted by the journal "Space Policy"!  They have to draw up proofs to send to me for final approval before working out when it will be published, but it has been accepted and the publication is definite.  The title is rather a mouthful, "Redefining Safety in Commercial Space:  Understanding Debates over the Safety of Private Human Spaceflight Initiatives in the United States".  As the title indicates, I examine the debate over the safety of commercialization of human spaceflight.  I don't determine whether it is safe or not.  I don't have access to the immense amounts of data needed for that, nor do I have the expertise to interpret it even if I did.  This expertise may not even be possible considering the complexity of spaceflight systems (an issue I do address).  Nor do I take a side for public or private spaceflight.  If you're curious I think some third way would probably be the most appropriate, but one thing I do argue is that describing this debate as public vs private may be an overly simplistic descriptor.  My task is to examine how various actors within this debate define safety (i.e. how safe is safe enough?  how do you tell if its safe?  How do you run an organization to make it safe?).  From this, I examine the various political motivations for these various definitions and how that impacts policy making.

I've been working on getting this paper published for about 3 years now.  I'm very happy to finally have it off my plate.  Just not knowing how to write for a journal (as opposed to for a class) was a big factor in this.  I also started when I was still in physics, and didn't know anything about social science methods, having to learn them as I went and making lots of mistakes that cost me lots of time.  Trying to balance this with the immense workload of graduate school also meant that there was a lot of time when I just wasn't making any headway.  But now its done!  Yay!
9unm3741: This icon is for all space related posts. (space!)
Well I got back from San Diego last night.  I was fairly disappointed with my presentation.  Not that it wasn't well received or that I didn't do a good job with it, rather, almost no one was there to hear it!  By the end of the session there were literally only three people who weren't part of the panel left.  As such, there was almost no discussion, which makes it hard for me to gauge where my work sits with the rest of the academic community and such academic isolation can be a real bitch.  On the bright side, there was one person who came to the panel specifically to hear my talk.  It turns out she studies space tourism.  So I did get to do a little networking.  But I will still have to present the work at another conference so it doesn't get isolated from the field.  Oh well.

In terms of the rest of the conference, it was a lot of fun.  San Diego is such a cool city, and I finally got to have some really good Mexican food (no such thing in upstate NY or New England).  Went to some parties where I got to mingle with some very influential people in my field.  Also, the President of my professional society (the society for the social studies of science, or 4S) threw a party that got so rowdy that the police had to break it up.  Who says academics are stogy?!

All in all it was a good conference.  Unfortunately, now I'm back in the real world, and I have a lot of catching up to do on work I didn't do while I was in San Diego.  Oh well, such is life.

Conference

Jul. 28th, 2013 09:30 pm
I am officially going to San Diego in October to present my research at the society for the social studies of science (4S) conference.  The last time I went, in 2011 when the conference was in Cleveland, my research was pretty well received (amongst the few people who actually went to my talk that is).  This year I am presenting an abstract for a paper entitled "Struggles for Power and the Privatization of Spaceflight."

Essentially the argument I make in my paper is that the privatization effort currently underway in the U.S. is not a structural shift in the way the U.S. does spaceflight.  Instead, it is indicative of a shift in the power struggle between two ideological groups:  industrialists in favor of a nationalistic space program, and neoliberals in favor of deregulation and federal market protections.  This is important because the ideological underpinnings of our current reform efforts will shape the next stage of space development in a way that the U.S. may not be able to undo.  If you're wondering, I'm not actually in favor of either camp, and I'm frankly disappointed at the uniformity of the actors involved in this debate.  Lets hope this one goes over as well as the last, and that I have the time and motivation to edit it to publishable quality.
9unm3741: This icon is for all space related posts. (space!)
Here is a petition on the whitehouse web page to increase NASA funding:
https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions/!/petition/least-double-nasa%E2%80%99s-annual-budget-one-penny-every-government-dollar-spent/WHRSzLRj?utm_source=wh.gov&utm_medium=shorturl&utm_campaign=shorturl
I encourage as many people as possible to sign this petition. While the whitehouse is only one piece to the very complicated puzzle that is the federal budget, this will at least demonstrate that NASA is not a throw away agency. It is an agency that does work that is important and that many people in the United States care deeply about. Again, please sign if you can, and please, do whatever you can to get others to sign as well.

Thanks!
9unm3741: This icon is for all space related posts. (space!)
For the sake of posting on here regularly, and in order to have at least one short(ish) post...

I found out in 2009 that the space community and transhumanists are very closely linked. I didn't realize until recently, however, just how closely linked. Suffice it to say that transhuman ideas of the singularity and technological progressivism are a huge part of what drives the American space program. This is worrisome. Aside from the moral issues of transhumanism itself, this movement is also heavily associated with laissez-faire economics. Beyond this, the whole movement is extremely unreflexive which possibly (likely) influences the space program to be equally unreflexive about space exploration. Until this point I had always thought that transhumanists were either a minority or a fringe element of the space community that I could avoid with few consequences. I am beginning to get the impression, however, that the future will require me to not just interact with, but actively come in conflict with transhumanists within the space community. This is a rather unnerving prospect. Not that transhumanists are inherently bad people (those that I know are actually extremely cool folks) but going against the professional and social grain is never an easy thing. So I am worried about the future of American space exploration, and not just the usual funding woes.

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