The Trump Half Life

Recent reports have Donald Trump and his family splitting their time between Washington and New York, with him mostly in Washington and them mostly in New York. His children, who were his main business partners and confidants, have a restricted interaction with him due to conflict of interest concerns.

Like most salesmen, Trump revels in the conquest, not the execution. He achieved his goal of vanquishing his Republican rivals in the primaries and Hillary Clinton in the general election. But now he has has settled into the more mundane task of governing, conquering legalese and minutia.

Sure he will be thrilled to get some of his main campaign promises passed. But even that will be a slog, assuming he can get them through congress. Opponents will challenge him in court. States will throw up roadblocks. His glass will be half full, not overflowing.

When he solicited John Kasich to be vice president, Trump made it clear that he was only interested in the celebrity half of the presidency and not very keen on the day to day responsibilities. Has anything really changed? How long until being cut off from his family and playing a part that does not fit his nature wears him down?

Will he delegate everything to Mike Pence, his vice president? Or will he find an excuse to walk away when it isn’t any fun anymore and he has nothing left to prove, like after helping the Republicans stay in power in the 2018 midterm elections?

A half life in physics is the time required for something to fall to half its value.The half life of Trumps presidential aspirations could be sooner than anyone expects.

Space’s Roadside Service

There are a lot of different commercial reasons reasons for sending people into space. Tourism is one. Private research on space stations is another. But one of the biggest potential money makers is hardly ever talked about: satellite repair and upgrading.

Even if the cost of lifting satellites into orbit is dramatically lowered by companies like SpaceX, the machines themselves cost hundreds of millions of dollars. It is far less expensive to upgrade or repair a satellite than to build a new one. And the ‘reduced cost’ launches of the future will still run in the tens millions.

Right now, satellites are not really engineered to be upgraded and serviced. But they will be. Expect to see teams sent into space or even based there whose primary mission is servicing satellites.Think “Sparky’s Sat Service Station.”

Some satellites in geosynchronous orbits are hard to get to. But they will be engineered to use their last bits of fuel to lower their orbits to where they can be captured and serviced. Or a small robot rocket would go get them and bring them in for servicing – a space based tow truck. Their components will be upgraded or repaired and they will be refueled and placed back in service, extending their lives by years.

This will also drive standardization of certain components, particularly around fuel and propulsion. For example, new satellites might come with a standardized mount for a small aftermarket rocket motor that could be attached to them to help them get back into position faster and bring them down for their next service. Sending 10 of these motors or their fuel into space would be far cheaper than 1 new satellite.

Astronauts get all the glory, but pretty soon space mechanics may be much more valued.


Why Ethics Charges Won’t Stick

The press and the Democrats are going to have a hard time getting Donald Trump’s supporters all hot and bothered about his ethics violations. He and his people are being accused left and right of abusing their positions to enhance the Trump brand and its commercial success. To which his supporters emphatically reply, “well, duh”.

As they see it, at least Trump is transparent about the whole thing in contrast to other politicians, who profess to be ethically pure but are caught all the time in nepotism, pat my back / wink wink deals and worse. Does anybody really trust politicians?

Trump’s supporters put him in the White House to shake things up. While he does this, they want him to keep telling it like it is, tweeting and saying provocative things. None of them care if he makes a little money along the way. At least he is open about it. And it is a drop in the bucket compared to what they know others (big business, etc.) are ripping the government off for.

Trump’s only vulnerability is from is staff and appointees. He knows where the line is between an conflict his supporters will accept and one they won’t. It remains to be seen whether the rest of his team understands this as well as he does.