I know John Grant, who was the co-chair of the Curiosity site selection team. He has given a few talks about how they selected the potential sites. It was a very iterative process, balancing out multiple science requirements as well as the criteria for the lander. When the launch got delayed from 2009 to 2011 they… » 8/17/14 12:32pm 8/17/14 12:32pm

For one of my projects (it dealt with astronaut training), the NASA ISS people showed us a flow chart for all the logistics and crew rotation missions over the next several years. It was just crazy, like running an airport. They have to do a tremendous amount of planning to make sure that everything gets where it is… » 8/13/14 5:12pm 8/13/14 5:12pm

There is a problem with comparing percentages, or trying to make relative comparisons, as people often do. It's common to hear the claim about "95% of Earth's oceans are unexplored," but it depends upon a definition of "explored." Put a camera in orbit around Mars and you can image most of the surface to low… » 8/11/14 9:10am 8/11/14 9:10am

Something that they were NOT good at was deciding which technologies to pursue and which ones to avoid. I'm not making that up—the U.S. and Great Britain actually had very good systems for picking technologies and weapons systems. They could prioritize. A key factor was deciding if a weapon was both "good enough" for… » 8/09/14 5:34pm 8/09/14 5:34pm