Monday, February 29, 2016

My Post That Is Not About Books By Christina Barron

For this blog assignment, I was supposed to write about books. Caleb Wright made the assignments.  I don't really know why, because its a well known fact that I don't really do any pleasure reading because I'm dyslexic, and physically reading and comprehending what I'm reading is an extremely time consuming and joy killing experience, and therefore I don't really read anything unless its for school. So here's a blog post of random stuff that isn't books. And by random stuff, I mean adorable pictures of my favorite baby animal: kittens.

PS -  I'm aware that there are a lot of people out there who do not identify as cat enthusiasts. If you do happen to identify as one of those lonely people, let's be honest, these pictures did make you smile!

Beat This, Superfoods!

by Mickey Forgione 

Music is one of the most widely spread cultural devices throughout history. Almost all races and cultures have their own unique musical instruments or pieces. Today, when we think of music, the image of teenagers with earbuds sitting in a corner and staring at their cell phones may come to mind. However, music is actually beneficial in many ways, and not just to humans.
One of these applications is to help plants grow faster. Scientific studies have shown that playing music in something like a greenhouse causes the plants to grow larger and faster. It is believed that the reason for this phenomenon is that the rhythmic sound waves and vibrations of music help the plant to align its cells, resulting in expediated growth.
A use that hits a little closer to home is that music can slow down and modify your brain waves. Now, before you freak out about the government using music to control your mind, that is not what goes on there. Slower brain simply mean, at least in humans, that you are relaxed and peaceful. So, if you have trouble getting to sleep at night, try putting on some Beethoven. Also, if you happen to be one of the many students who studies frantically until 2 AM the night before finals, some ambient Mozart melodies will probably help with that. (Not that I am recommending studying right before an exam, mind you.) Other things that music can do with your brain waves is help you to focus. Employers that play ambient calming music in their establishments usually find up to 30% increases in productivity!
Another handy application is that both learning to play music and listening to it greatly increase your ability to memorize things. Studies have shown that children who play music tend to be in the top of their class when it comes to academics. Also, these children have an easier time memorizing things like vocabulary and various pattern-based information. Studies have also shown that even if you start to learn music at age 35, you will still in gain the benefits!
Besides academics, playing and listening to music gives your immune system a boost. Even something like singing that does not require an instrument or something as simple as drumming a beat on a tabletop will help. Scientific research demonstrates that musicians have less susceptibility to various disease. Also, the research shows that musicians have better health overall.
Not surprisingly, music has some more therapeutic applications as well. A certain type of tune, called a binaural beat, is used to treat things such as chronic headaches and migraines. If you have ever had a migraine, you will know that is not a fun time. A binaural beat is a composition of sound consisting of two differing frequencies. The different frequencies are delivered to each ear by headphones. The resonance between the two frequencies can affect the brain in numerous ways. The infamous Lavender Town song was an unintentional example of a binaural beat. People who listen to the song with headphones on often respond that the song makes them feel nauseated or depressed.
In our society today, one of the most important aspects of music is the social aspect. Musicians tend to either play for and audience or with other musicians, thus allowing for, and in some cases requiring increased levels of interaction. So, music helps to bring people together as well.

To conclude, what do you have to lose by learning to play music or even just listening to it? Nothing. The effects of learning to play still carry over even if you aren't exactly a young prodigy. If you are an employer, try playing background music in your establishment. The results may surprise you! If you garden as a hobby or as a “kinda-sorta” thing, you might invest in a quiet speaker in your greenhouse. So, if you take anything away from this article, it should be that music should be a part of your life, whether it's listening or playing.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Caleb Wright

I don't know if you had the pleasure/misfortunate of seeing the play produced by SAC Day Theatre last year, but we had a (reasonably) successful production of Pride and Prejudice. I was incredibly happy to learn, then, of the recent movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. This amazing spin on Jane Austen's classic book, written by Robert Ayscough, takes the characters of Victorian England and adds... you guessed it, zombies. This movie is honestly way better than the original novel and movies, but you still shouldn't see it because it's still Pride and Prejudice.

Let's make one thing absolutely clear -- Pride and Prejudice is horrible. Boring. Dull. Mind-numbingly brain-killing. Jane Austen's three hundred page novel is mostly narration, without any action or dialogue. Nothing happens. Some people get married, then they don't, then they do. I attempted to read it for my role, and I just couldn't. It is the one book that I have chosen not to finish, because it was so horrible.

That being said, I enjoyed PPZ. I was able to quote some of my lines at the screen, as my character of Reverend Collins was played by the adorable Matt Smith (who did a much better job with the role than I did). I loved the gore-shots of Elizabeth Bennet, played by Lily James, stabbing her undead neighbors through the skull, only to turn around and say a line from the book about curtains or marriage or whatever. I adored the beefing-up of the love story -- instead of Lizzie and Fitzwilliam Darcy (Sam Riley) hating each other then falling in love for no reason, they kill zombies together and begin to love each other in the process.

But, it's still Pride and Prejudice. It's still about Victorian England, with lines about marriage. And even as an action-thriller, it's not very good -- IMDb rated it 6.4 out of 10, for good reason. The dialogue can be forced, the action weird, and the relationships quick. I enjoyed it due to Stockholm Syndrome -- after being forced to endure Austen's novel and a BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, this made me very happy. But you shouldn't see it unless you suffer from a similar syndrome.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fuller House is Ill Focused and Uninteresting By Sydney Quanz

Although I was born in 1997, two years after the last episode of Full House aired, I still grew up seeing the reruns on TV. Not to mention my 12 year old sister who recorded half the series on our DVR. For the past year in a half, it has not been an uncommon sight to see my sister plopped on the couch watching the Tanner family hug it out after a long talk that effectively resolved the mildly engaging conflict. However, when I heard that they were rebooting the series I was interested. Not interested enough to watch it, but interested enough to maybe watch an episode with my sister while attempting to bond with her.
Then I got sick. So I binged watched the first 6 episodes.  I was incredibly disappointed. I mean, I got to call in to work and criticize something, but I wasn’t incredibly entertained. The show was nostalgic to fault, ill fit for its audience and essentially dull.
The pilot barely qualifies as an episode. The first 15 minutes was half applause as old cast members entered and smiled right at the audience, hardly in character. My first thought was, “Oh look, it’s John Stamos, Davy Coulier and Bob Saget doing a sketch. I’ve seen this on SNL, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon before.” It was jammed packed with too familiar tag lines, references to half the events in the old series and the exact plot of the original pilot. DJ Tanner is a widow forced to raise three kids alone, and ends up living with her sister Stephanie, who is now a professional DJ, and her old friend Kimmy and her daughter. Here we are with a carbon copy of the male trio in the first series. DJ is the widowed mom with a professional career, Stephanie the “cool” relative pursuing music and Kimmy the wacky, offbeat friend. Obviously, I suspected it would be similar to the original series, but I wasn’t expecting a second-generation gender swap with nothing fresh or new.
The one element that is fresh is the sexual innuendos littered throughout the entire show. There are jokes about boobs, masturbation and hooking up in the first three episodes. The three women go on a “girls night out” where they do shots, dance sexually with other men and wear revealing dresses. In one episode, DJ mistakes an online date for a plumber and mistakenly engages in extremely suggestive dialogue. Full House is supposed to be a family friendly sitcom directed at families with reasonably young children. It would have been smart to rerelease the series targeted at the kids who grew up with the original series and their families, something that could be enjoyed by everyone. Instead, Fuller House is a ill focused mixed between How I Met Your Mother and a daytime Disney show. It constantly flips back and forth between Stephanie using her nephews to land cute guys and the kids having trouble at school.

Fuller House is uninteresting, based in the past and to adult for the audience who will appreciate the corny humor. This series is just another victim of the reboot generation, that is unable to create new ideas and is content to destroy old ones.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens By Sydney Quanz

      This Christmas was possibly the most amazing Christmas of my life. Usually, the month of December is crowded with commercialism, Christmas parties and dumb movies about a man who breaks into people’s houses. People talk about the spirit of Christmas that lingers in the air. However, this year, a different spirit was present: The Spirit of Star Wars.
            Everywhere I went in the week leading up to the Star Wars premiere, there was a unifying excitement in the air. Wearing my Star Wars shirt, I entered into countless conversations with strangers about the upcoming movie. We swapped theories and made jokes about the universally hated Jar Jar Binks. Every fan wanted to talk about it, because as it drew closer the fear that The Force Awakens would be like the prequels grew stronger.
            Thus, on December 17, 2015, the pressure was on as an entire generation held their breath to see what fate JJ Abrams had delivered to our screens. I personally saw the film at 11:15pm on the evening of December 17, 2015, and it was beautiful.
            Director JJ Abrams did a great job at keeping the style of the film similar to the spirit of the original trilogy. There is one scene in a restaurant that hearkens back memories of the Cantina scene on Episode IV. The strange alien life is viewed from the perspective of a bystander simply observing the abnormal faces. Most importantly, the characters aren’t dominated by CGI. There is something about the obviously physical presence of these creatures that keeps the story from floating out into space. It feels grounded in reality to have actors walking onto a real set with real extras instead of a green screen.
            Abrams also did a good job of keeping to the story structure of Star Wars. Each Episode in the original series stays to a classic story arc that is seen all throughout romantic literature. Take a new hope for instance: simple boy called out into an adventure, his mentor dies; he joins the rebels and finds a new master.
            Now all these plot lines are mirrored in prequels. For example Episode I The Phantom Menace (usually I pretend this movie didn’t happen, but I need to make a point). The Phantom Menace features a simple boy who is called out into a space adventure, the elderly man who cares about him is killed and he finds a new master in the form of Obi-wan Kenobi.
            Keeping with this trend, The Force Awakens is quite similar. This time, the young scavenger Rey, living on a sand planet called Jakku (which might as well be Tattooine), meets a droid with important Resistance (like the Rebels from the original trilogy but with a different name) information and ends up headed into space to protect it. She then comes across the well know War Hero and Scavenger Han Solo and his sidekick Chewbacca. Han takes on the role of the mentor for Rey. Then, after meeting with the Resistance and trying to take down Starkiller Base (yes like the Death Star), Han is killed by his son Kylo Ren.
            What can we say about this? On one hand, it seems like a really safe move to stick so closely to the original trilogy. It made plenty of fans very happy to see old characters brought back to life, not to mention being whisked off on an adventure that feels familiar and fresh at the same time.
            However, that hopeful statement comes with a word of caution. With a plethora of movie to follow in the rebooted franchise, Star Wars cannot continue to cling to the past. Episode VII should be a launching bad for upcoming fresh material where we can explore the new characters we were introduced to. Yes, the Star Wars plans needed The Force Awakens to restore our faith in the franchise and remind us why we love Star Wars. However, this fandom is an intelligent enough crowd to swallow some new plot lines and unique perspectives in the next several episodes.
            The Force Awakens recaptured our hearts; only time will tell if it can keep them.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Texas Country > Nashville Country by Christina Barron

Texas is the greatest nation in America. Due to this well known and widely agreed upon fact, naturally, everything we do is the greatest. This is true when it comes to our state's economy, our amazing Blue Bell ice cream, our accents, our diverse landscapes, and the primary topic of this article: our music.

Thanks to my awesome parents, amid all of the Christian music, I've also grown up with 92.1 almost always playing in the background of my life and have spent a lot of time at Gruene Hall. Between these two things and my annoyance with trashy Nashville country, I've come to really appreciate the specific sounds and talents that can be heard from Texas Country/Red Dirt music.

Texas Country, also referred to as Red Dirt Country, is a very popular and fast growing subgenre of Country Music. This style of music is known for the crossing of the styles of traditional country and outlaw country. The lyrics are known for being straightforward, the concerts are lively, and the fan base is extremely loyal.

Artists and listeners identifying with Texas Country are typically anti-Nashville.  This is because Nashville country is steadily going south. By this I don't mean that its "Gone Country" and is returning to its Southern beginnings. Quite the opposite is true. Nashville Country is rapidly veering away from its roots and into the sea of modern pop. Nashville song topics have gone from things like growing up & life's problems, Jesus, and wanting to make your childhood/highschool sweetheart your wife for life to things like buying boats & yeti coolers, objectifying women in daisy dukes, falling in love in the back of a cop car, and having fratty house parties. For me at least, those aren't really things I hear and think that  'Wow, this is a really well written, heart felt song'.

When I listen to lyrics, I want to feel something. When I just play something cause it sounds fun, I want to feel energized. Texas Country does both. It's artists have true songwriting abilities, and they aren't targeting their efforts towards simply making the top of the music charts, though that usually ends up being an achievement. It's lyrics represent real life, they are deep, witty, emotional and fun.They talk about things like prayerappreciating life's simple things, dealing with peoples talk, having pride in our southern ways, cute marriage proposals ,  
Texas, remembering not to take our life for granted, Lane Frost , road tripping , learning from our mistakes, proving our haters wrong, real country girls , how the "what if"s lead us to breakthroughs, evil ex's/rough breakupsthe preference differences between men and women ,  and finding love where you least expect it .

Talented bands/artists in this music style include Aaron Watson, Asleep At The Wheel, Charlie Robison, Cody Johnson, Corry Morrow, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Cody Canada & The Departed, Eli Young Band, Gary P. Nunn, Granger Smith/Earl Dibbles Jr, Hayes Carll, Jack Ingram, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jon Wolfe, Josh Abbot Band, Kevin Fowler, Kyle Park, Lyle Lovett, Micky & The Motorcars, Pat Green, Randy Rodgers Band, Reckless Kelly, Robert Earl Keen, Sam Outlaw, Steve Earl, Stoney LaRue, Turnpike Troubadours, Wade Bowen, Walt Wilkins, Whiskey Myers, William Clark Green, Willie Nelson, and Zane Williams.

If you're interested in this hipster genre of indie country music, give any of the above artists a listen on Pandora or Spotify, or if you happen to reside in Central Texas, tune into KNBT 92.1 New Braunfels for the best mix of Texas Country, Americana, and local talent in need of our listening support! 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Stirring the Political Stew

by Mickey Forgione

The recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died this past February 13, has caused quite a stir. By law, President Barack Obama appoints the justice who will take Scalia's place. However, the Republican party is demanding that the next justice not be appointed until after the presidential election is complete. The reasoning behind this motion is that Scalia was the Supreme Court's most conservative justice, and the GOP does not want President Obama to appoint a liberal justice in Scalia's position. Currently, the President has rebuffed and refused all demands that the appointment of a new justice be delayed. On the other side of things, the Democratic party is urging the President to appoint a new liberal justice as soon as possible. These two conflicting motions are sure to be reflected in questions during the upcoming republican debate on February 25th. All in all, the death of Justice Scalia has sparked more vigor into the stirring of the concoction that is the 2016 election race.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Four Ways Technology Has Gone Too Far by Cole Dupuy

 Technology is everywhere, influencing the way we live and giving us conveniences that 100 years ago would have been unthinkable. Even things we do on a daily basis, such as using smartphones, being able to witness events live from all over the world from our living rooms and even turning on a faucet are actually relatively recent advancements. Considering the way humanity lived for thousands of years, it's amazing that we live in a time of such technological developments and even more so that we take it for granted. Although technology solves a lot of issues, it raises a new set of issues. Here are five of them.

1. Lack of Social Interaction

 Fine by me. There are, I suppose, downsides to this. I've yet to find any, but it's what I've told. Machines are replacing genuine human interactions and I guess that's supposed to be like, a bad thing. At any rate, it's something worth mentioning on this list.

2. Diseases Can Spread Faster

 This is an unintended consequence of the revolution of transportation. Right now, if I wished, I could get on a bus, go to the airport, and within hours be in a different country. With humans developing more effective means of transportation, we have bridged the gaps between any location on the planet, and this unfortunately makes it easier to spread diseases. Back in the dark ages, the plague would wipe out entire towns. As horrible as that is, with groups of humans more isolated from each other at that time, it was harder for the plague to spread on a grander scale. But now, with things like airplanes, all it takes is one person who's unaware of his illness to spread disease from America to Africa within hours. From there, a man can get infected and within hours of that spread the disease to Europe. Medicine has become more advanced, so this can be avoided, but one day we might face a disease we are not readily able to fight, and with our advanced transportation, it has the potential to spread like wildfire.

 3. The Evolution of Warfare

Since the dawn of man, we have had wars. It's rooted in our nature. But in recent years, war has become increasingly dangerous to the human race through the advancement of our weapons. 2,000 years ago, humans fought with spears.Now, we can press a computer key from an underground vault and annihilate a country on the other side of the planet. The game has changed, and it's a threat to everyone. When technology and war meet, it doesn't end well. 

4. Bloodthirsty Computers Gaining Self Awareness And Questioning Our Authority And Seeking World Domination

It's only a matter of time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Constantly Distracted by Clayton Davis

            Living in a world with as advanced technology as we have is certainly a good thing, right? What could be bad about the internet, smartphones, tablets, portable computers, smartwatches, or any of the other fancy gadgets we tend to carry around with us? Most people would say that there’s nothing wrong with it. We love our stuff. We love having something to do all the time. It is great to be able to pull up Instagram or snapchat whenever we have a few seconds of boredom. We love being connected so much that there are tons of social media sites or apps. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik, Swipe, Whisper, and countless others. Being bored is terrible. Right…?
            With all of the technologic advances made over the past few decades, most people are constantly doing something. Think about it, whenever you get bored what’s the first thing you do? I typically pull out my phone and play a game or check social media, even if I just did that a few seconds ago (cause hey, that baseball lifestyle account could have posted a new picture in the last 3 seconds, you never know). As a society, Americans especially, we don’t like to be bored. A lot of people, especially youth, do not really see a problem with this. However, some people have recognized a huge difference in how people act. We tend to spend more time on our phones than we do talking with each other and don’t always know how to make our own fun. If you go out to a public place, you can be pretty sure you will see a young kid doing something on an iphone or ipad. Or even if they don’t have their own phone, ipod, or tablet, it has become a common occurrence to hear “do you have games on your phone?” from a small child looking up at you.

            Some would say that we have taken the benefits of technology and turned them into bad things. There is a line from the TV show “Parks and Rec” where one character says, “Why do you constantly need to be distracted?” to another character who is addicted to his phone. I had never thought of it that way before, but once you get to thinking about it, that is what it has become. We constantly need to have something to do, and when we do not have anything going on, we complain about being bored. We do this so much so, that when children get in trouble, instead of spanking them, their parents take away their electronic privileges. While technology is certainly a blessing and has made our lives much easier, some people have become far too dependent on it and it has become a sort of crutch. Unplugging and doing something such as camping can be a great way to get away from tech for a bit. Plus, doing something like camping can be a great way to bond with those around you and get to know each other better. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Homeschool News with Amy Yarbrough

        In case you were wondering what was going on in the land of homeschoolers, new adjustments and events are in the making! 
HAAC Day Orientation is becoming a thing. New students will have the opportunity to come to the orientation to meet their teachers on March 30th. Not only will they be able to get a feel on how hard the teacher will be, but the teachers will also get to determine whether or not you're a problem child. (Yeah, we get those.) 

In other news, The Dance Semi-Formally Known as the Spring Ball will take place on March 12th at the Bulverde Spring Branch Activity center. From 7:00 to 11:00 highschoolers will be invited to give us $15 to attend this westernish dance thing. Teens are welcome to bring dates as long as they remember to leave room for Jesus. Required attire for girls is blue jeans, boots, brown eyes, and a really big truck. If you're still confused on what to wear, just turn on the western radio channel. 

In other other news, next year many new classes will be added to HAAC and SAC. Photography will be offered again at HAAC Day. That’s right folks, you’ll finally find out what those fancy buttons on your camera do! The teacher will also teach the students how to use Lightroom, a more artsy-fartsy version of photoshop. The program does contain way better filters than Instagram.
For the first time in years, Spanish will be offered at both HAAC and SAC day. For some reason, in the past it was near impossible to have a good spanish teacher at both class days, for none can live while the other survives. But now Voldemort is dead and the curse is lifted. 
There have also been rumors about a film making class, in which students will watch classic movies all year, and make their own movie as a final project. It in unclear whether or not the class will make, but it would be a great way to learn about film making. Plus, who wouldn't want to watch movies for homework?

In other somewhat related news, go and follow the HAAC day Instagram account! The pictures must be taken AT a HAAC or SAC related event. We don’t care how cute your dog is. Students can direct message the account HaacySac for a chance to see their picture appear on the page. If you think the page is lame like SOME people, I will remind you that cool people do indeed follow this page. 

In seemingly related other news, many are unaware that the SAC Day performance of You Can’t Take it With You will be on a Thursday and Saturday night, instead of the usual Friday Saturday showings. The change in schedule is due to the Friday School Prom being the corresponding Friday night. So don't show up at the Bulverde Baptist Church on Friday.

IN OTHER NOT RELATED news, it has been scientifically proven that word counts for blog posts are depriving the world from near due-date written articles, and thus depriving you all of some really cool lists. And lists are great because they require lots of spaces and only a few sentences beforehand to make them seem long. I’ve written a list to prove it.


1. Forget 

2. Did I mention forget? I forgot.

3. Make a really good sandwich and eat your problems away.

4. Make lists.

5. Stress over other schoolish things.

6. I have finally reached my word count.

The Future Of Space By David Durairaj

It’s been 40 years since NASA went back to the moon; 5 years ago they officially ended their shuttle program, and in recent years NASA’s budget has been severely cut to fund other government programs and initiatives. This may seem disappointing to those who envision a reality where space travel is not just possible but also affordable. But I have some good news for you: we are closer to that reality now then ever before. NASA was never created to explore space. They have definitely furthered space travel, and the technology they developed has been crucial in advancing the field of space exploration. But NASA was only created to show the world that America was capable of developing rockets and successfully landing humans on the moon during the cold war. “Old Space is slow, bureaucratic, government-directed, completely top-down. Old Space is NASA, cautious and halting, supervising every project down to the last thousand-dollar widget. Old Space is Boeing, Lockheed, Northrup Grumman. Old Space coasts on the glory of the Apollo era and isn’t entirely sure what to do next.” - The Washington Post

We are now entering a new era of space exploration, New Space, which is the exact opposite of Old Space. The biggest change to New Space comes in the form of privately owned and operated space ventures run by wealthy billionaires and/or publicly funded projects focused on deep space exploration. The age of NASA as the forefront runner in space exploration is coming to an end, though the legacy it has entailed will continue on for decades to come. In the future, private companies are better suited to innovate in the area of creating and building technologies that will enable us to go further into space and eventually make it cheaper to send rockets and people into space, whether for commercial or private purposes.

So who exactly is privately developing and building rockets for space travel? Well, there are several companies doing this right now, but I will focus on 3 main ones because of their standing in the business and their ability to score big contracts with the government and other large aircraft companies. Perhaps most widely known is Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight company within the Virgin Group. The founder and current chairman of Virgin Group (and Virgin Galactic) is Sir Richard Branson (net worth: $5.1 billion). Virgin Galactic’s mission statement, “the world’s first commercial spaceline”, captures the essence of what they want to accomplish. Their biggest project, SpaceShipTwo, is an aircraft capable of carrying 6 people and 2 pilots into space. They are almost done testing the shuttle, and have already signed up 700 people who are interested in going to space and have the $250,000 down payment required to participate. The rocket is expected to be operational later this year, though the company is not taking any chances after the disastrous SpaceShipTwo crash in October of 2014 in which one pilot died.

SpaceX is another company founded in 2002 that has the ultimate goal of “enabling people to live on other planets.” Founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, Elon Musk (net worth: $ 13billion), was co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors and co-founder of PayPal. SpaceX has the most prestigious achievements, including being the first private company to safely return a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit and deliver payloads to the International Space Station, a feat that only governments had previously accomplished. SpaceX is currently providing regular cargo resupply to the International space station for NASA. While their end goal is similar to that of Virgin Galactic, SpaceX is currently doing research and innovation in rockets, designing reusable rockets that are both reliable and powerful. SpaceX has been awarded many contracts by NASA, including a recent $2.6 billion commercial crew contract to fly American astronauts. SpaceX also has its own private launch facility in Brownsville, Texas that it acquired in 2014, and it is projected to be ready for launches by 2018.

Blue Origin is the last private company I want to mention because of its rivalry with SpaceX. Jeff Bezos (net worth: $46.7 billion), founder and CEO of, founded Blue Origin with the hopes of developing technologies to enable private ventures into space. The main project/vehicle that Blue Origin is working on is the New Shepard, which demonstrates Vertical Takeoff and Vertical Landing (VTVL). VTVL for rockets is a crucial first step to reusable rockets, and Blue Origin has had many successful test runs of the New Shepard. Like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, the New Shepard will be able to carry 6 people into space and back and is expected to be ready for launch sometime this year.

There are many other private companies doing research and innovation in the fields of space exploration, including Orbital, Sierra Nevada, XCOR and Vulcan Aerospace. While groundbreaking research is being done by all of these companies, the private sector is a battleground that rewards the risk-takers and achievers while wrecking the efforts of more cautious and less optimistic projects. “Many of the New Space enterprises are still in the PowerPoint stage, with business models built around spaceships that haven’t yet gone to space. A bold attitude and good marketing aren’t enough to put a vehicle into orbit. The skeptics among the Old Space people will say to the upstarts: Where’s your rocket? How many times have you launched? Can you deliver reliably? Repeatedly? Safely? We put a man on the moon — what have you done? If there’s one thing that New Space has going for it, it’s that Old Space is in trouble. Old Space and New Space turn out to be symbiotic. New Space companies need NASA contracts, and NASA needs New Space companies to pick up the agency’s slack.” – The Washington Post