Private Sector Article Tripe – My Rebuttal

This morning I woke up and looked at Twitter like I always do. Scrolled through my feed looking at the various cat memes, space pictures, gaming achievements, Private Business Should Lead the Way in Space Exploration…

Against my own better judgement I click the link, just waking up, before coffee, I begin to read the “article” and instantly wish I had waited. The author starts out praising private sector, claiming they should “take the lead” in space exploration and not once did he give any recognition to NASA or the fact they are the reason we are in space in the first place. The authors article, in my opinion, is a glorified Elon Musk fanboy article that leaves out any facts for either side.

For anyone that knows me knows that I am a huge ULA supporter but I am also not delusional in the thinking that ULA will replace NASA. Private sector is a supporting role for NASA, to help keep costs down so we can continue exploring space and discovering our vast and amazing universe. In my opinion If we solely relied on private sector or in a lot of people’s minds, Space X, we would be so behind, Russia would be on Mars already with a Starbucks.

As far as private sector using their own money (as pointed out in the article), trust me it comes from sources. NASA is allotted a budget every year they have to fight for and for anyone who has watched the budget hearings knows what a struggle it is. It has to be distributed among numerous NASA facilities all off which have their own needs for the funding. Private sector is a sole business…

Without NASA we wouldn’t have the satellites built for humanities vast love of technology and without private sector we wouldn’t have the means to get them up into orbit. The Mars rovers, the satellites and our astronauts we took to the moon was all because of NASA and to say private sector should lead the way is a slap in the face of America. It concerns me that I come off as a person who dislikes private sector which isn’t the case. I am a person who dislikes fanboyrism to the point of “opinion as fact” and articles that try and support the tripe. I will leave you with the article link so you can form your own opinion and I am open to comments and questions. You can contact me here or my Twitter handle @AstroAnarchy.

Article for reference:

I just ask one thing, please research and read before stating anything that could be your opinion as fact.


Rachelle Williams




Space for Everyone – Why I do what I do

When I started this endeavor over a year ago I never thought I would travel this far. When I first started promoting space travel, amateur astronomers/astrophotographers and astronomy through Twitter my goal was to share my love for all things space. I wanted to make it so astronomy and space travel was easier for everyone to understand. When I started college for my astronomy degree I kept thinking “There has to be an easier way for me to understand this, for everyone to understand this.” So I started to simplify they way I processed the information and utilized that for Twitter and my blog.

The goal, the ultimate goal is to share astronomy and space travel with everyone. From the little girl who love looking up at the stars to the most novice astronomer and everyone in

Picture courtesy of Curt Godwin

between. Space excites me, so naturally I want everyone to be excited about it but the best way to do that is to make it so everyone gets it. There is a way to talk about stats and figures without being that stats and figures person who confuses everyone. Some people may see this as not being serious about the industry, that simplifying or making it so space is fun to talk about is not professional my goal is to prove them wrong.

I have a pretty big gamer following on Twitter, some of my biggest supporters are in fact, gamers. I reach people who don’t solely geek out over space and that right there is the reason I do this. I have been messaged privately from gamers who have said my enthusiasm is what made them go out that night and look up at the night sky and THAT right there is why I do this. I reached those people who may not have done just that, I reached them and they went out and discovered the night sky.

If space geeks only reach space geeks then what the hell are we doing this for?

I am now a part of a team where we will be producing a podcast to follow the same statement. To produce space content for everyone, report the space news in a fun way where stats and figures won’t feel like the main focus. The podcast crew all have different backgrounds, the diversity is a big range but space brought us all together. Curt Godwin,  James Ridgers, Gene Mikulka, Carolina Garza and me, Rachelle Williams. A big band of misfits working together to showcase how amazing space is for everyone to appreciate.

I love astronomy, I love sharing it with who will every listen and even if I just get through to one person about space who may not realize how amazing it is then my day is complete. So I ask that before you assume something about someone you stop for a moment and get to know them because fun and enthusiastic doesn’t equate to not serious. It just means their love of something may not be delivered in a fashion you are use to. So with that I leave you with my usual saying because I feel it can’t be said enough.

Go out. Look up. Discover.


Rachelle Williams



My First Lecture – A Space Anarchist and LIGO

Let me first start by explaining some background to this story, I am president of Saddleback College Astronomy and Physics Club and we have a lecture series. Now, this series usually involves professors giving the lectures and they are typically amazing but I felt we needed something new. Something that hadn’t been done before in the lecture series and then the idea came to me…wp-1457327035330.jpg

A night with the officers.

Now, I don’t know if I was tired, delirious, hungry or drunk but I thought it would be a great idea to have myself and two of my officers each give a lecture on the topic of our choice. And guess what? It was a hit.

Carolina Garza my Publicist spoke on the Cassini Mission and she absolutely nailed it. Well spoken, confident and handled an unruly guests questions with grace and confidence.

Neda Afkhami my Secretary spoke about Dark Matter with poise, a confidence I have never seen with her and I was so proud.

The evening was met with rave reviews and a very happy club adviser. I was very proud of my officers and I wanted to make sure I gave them the praise they deserved before I got into my story because they absolutely deserved it.

Now without further ado…

I have never gave a lecture before let alone even thought about giving a lecture on something as big as LIGO. I have a debilitating fear of speaking in front of an audience and I loathed that I fear it. So in my moment of self loathing I decided to have a night with the officers. Now, when I say I was nervous that is an understatement, I was an absolute basket case. I questioned my self everyday after I decided to have the three of us do this and the day the flyers were made I just sat and stared at the page. I kept thinking “What the hell did I do? I can’t do this.” Wait, I can’t do this? Have I lost my mind? And it was that moment I kicked my own ass.

“I can’t do this” is something I swore never to tell myself again so I put on my big girl panties, buckled down and started my LIGO presentation prep. I was going to do this, I didn’t care if I passed out on stage I was going to give my LIGO lecture. So help me someone better have smelling salt to revive me because I was going to give that damn lecture! I knew the material, I had been researching LIGO long before I decided to do this  and I was confident in my ability to put the presentation together but deliver it? Not so much.

And then the day arrived and this was the results.


And there it is, a pale redhead in a NASA shirt and heels tackled LIGO and the rest is history.

Rachelle Williams





Space X Debacle


On February 28, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX made its third attempt in its campaign to launch the SES9 communication satellite which will provide service to Indonesia and surrounding areas in Asia. imageThe first attempt was hampered by weather and to be blunt, nothing can be done about that. You simply wait for another day when the weather is in your favor.  Next attempt the next day  was marred due to unfamiliarity with a new type of liquid oxygen fuel and  miscalculating the time needed to get the Falcon 9 fueled in time to meet the appointed launch time. To the casual observer,  it seemed like a debacle .

After a 24 hour delay after launch controllers worked the fuel issue, a third attempt to get SES9 into orbit was made last evening, All systems were go, the fueling issue had been solved and proper fuel levels had been reached. Weather was a go, SES – 9 was go, and  the Falcon 9 seemed ready to fly.

Then a boat of some sort decided to sail into the “keep out” zone which violated the range safety rules and resulted in a HOLD call at a minute and thirty three seconds from the SpaceX  launch team. I was thrown for a few moments because at the time it was unclear why we were holding and as I was letting out an audible “wtf not again!” as  reports of the boat holding the launch came through.

After what seemed like an eternity,  the launch attempt resumed, and the  countdown recycled with a little over eleven minutes placed on the countdown clock. This gave enough time for the USCG to get the ship out of the area. With the range now green this seemed to be fly time for SES9.  This was it, it looked like it was going to happen as the countdown ticked to 00:00 and then nothing. The computers triggered a shut down which resulted in an abort call shortly after. Later, SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk,  put out a tweet stating:


Which seemed to place the onus on the wayward boat.

Well, it looks like third time is not a charm. As of this writing, SpaceX has not announced the new flight data for the 4th attempt in the campaign. Some press reports have said an announcement may not  come until Tuesday.

Reflecting back on the audio portion of the countdown network, being broadcast over the  web,  the launch team sounded like they needed a break. After listening to the audio again they almost sounded confused and frazzled. I received a text from a friend of mine who stated it sounded like “amateur hour” and I sadly had to agree.

It wasn’t just me either, others were making the same observation last night and it makes me wonder what exactly is going on over at Space X. Are they working their people a little too hard? SpaceX isn’t NASA, they are a private company unencumbered by stock holders. They are well within their rights to run their company in any way they wish to. However, tired people are going to make mistakes, and spaceflight  does not react well to human fallibility.


Rachelle Williams and Gene Mikulka

@AstroAnarchy and @genejm29




Space X and the Rose Colored Glasses

Thursday evening couldn’t have been more of a nail biter for all of us watching the Falcon 9 “launch” at launch pad SLC-40 in Cape Canaveral, Fl. After Wednesdays scrub due to weather we eagerly awaited the rescheduled launch on Thursday. It seemed all systems were go, weather was at 80% go and all checks were green.

Or so we thought…

Via Space X

At T-Minus one minute and forty-one seconds an abort was called.

After I realized I wasn’t breathing, I realized I was cussing, what the hell just happened?! Twitter was exploding with the abort call and then the reason started rolling in, a LOX fueling issue. This is where my frustration grew, I started questioning why and how this could have happened so close to launch? Not enough fuel? How does this get over looked? I started to see people making excuses for Space X and that is when I realized people look at Space X with “rose colored glasses”.

I was hoping I would see someone question the same thing I was questioning. How does

Via Space X

something such as “enough fuel” slip past the professionals hired to handle this? Then I started thinking, had this been NASA, heads would be rolling and no one would be making excuses for the oversight. The way I envision it is Space X is the media darling while NASA is the redheaded stepchild. With all this being said I need to make something perfectly clear, I support Space X but when I see a glaring issue not being addressed that’s when I speak up.

Then this was brought to my attention:

“SpaceX engineers struggled to master the handling of the super-cold densified propellants at the Falcon 9 launch pad before the maiden flight of the upgraded rocket in December, but the rocket successfully took off the first time it received propellants on a real launch attempt.

The launch team updated the Falcon 9’s countdown procedures to account for the sensitivity of the super-chilled propellants. Instead of loading the propellants three hours before liftoff, the upgraded Falcon 9 receives its fuel in the final 30 minutes of the countdown to minimize the time the cryogenic liquid sits inside the rocket tanks and warms up in the mild ambient temperatures of Florida’s Space Coast.” (Via SpaceFlight Now)

So in December Space X struggled with the exact same issue with the propellants but failed to realize it could be an issue again. My question is how do you make another fueling mistake when you already had one to teach you a lesson?

Listening to the audio of the abort call via Space X I truly wondered how anyone could make excuses. They were finishing the first and second fueling stages when they realized while evaluating how much time they had left they may not have loaded enough fuel. At that time the team decided to hold the count down.

Let that sink in.

Rachelle Williams


Goodnight, Philae


You came into our lives and stole our hearts back in November of 2014 when you did the impossible.

You landed on a moving comet.

Sure there were some tense moments when you landed and bounced back up finally settling 110 minutes later. Yes, you were tilted rather caddywhompus in the shade but you pulled through and started sending back data. You were kept company by a spunky satellite named Rosetta and she made sure you were never alone.


We thank you for your service you kick ass little lander and we thank ESA for daring to believe they could put you on a moving comet. You served us well and you will never be forgotten.

With a final transmission….

01000111 01101111 01101111 01100100 01101110 01101001 01100111 01101000 01110100


Rachelle Williams





The Passing of an Apollo Hero



Thursday night, news came through that Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell passed away at the age of 85. Edgar was the sixth man to walk on the moon spending nine hours working on the lunar surface where he and Alan Shepard gathered over 100 pounds of lunar samples to take back to earth.



Mitchell started his astronaut career in 1966 and retired in 1972. He was originally a backup pilot for Apollo 10 and finally took flight on the Apollo 14 space shuttle where, on February 5th, he walked on the moon. Sadly, Mitchell did not make it to see the 45th anniversary of his moon walk.



His legacy will live on….




Rachelle Williams






Space Week in Review

This weeks space week review brought us two rocket launches, a curious selfie, an Orion update and the solemn rememberence of three separate tragedies.


Ariane 5

January 27th, 2016 saw the Ariane 5 rocket successfully launch with an Intelsat 29E satellite from the Guiana Space Centre. This was the 56th Intelsat satellite to be launched into space by Arianespace. It was a beautiful liftoff as the Vulcan 2 engine lit up the launch pad with 300,000 pounds of thrust propelling the Ariane 5 rocket into space.

Proton-M Eutelsat 9B

January 29th, 2016 gave us another successful launch this time on the Proton-M rocket with the Eutelsat 9B satellite from the Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The liftoff was carried out by six RD-276 engines and it happened so fast I barely had time to realize it had launched!

Both satellites were launched for better communications here on earth. That’s right, if it wasn’t for the space industry we would be tweeting by pen, paper and snail mail.

Orion EM-1

Next up is Orion and what an exciting bit of news it was! All systems are on track for an unmanned test flight around the moon targeted for 2018. The EM-1 test mission will pave the way for the manned EM-2 mission that is targeted for 2021-2023. The EM-1 was carefully loaded up and transported from New Orleans to the Kennedy Space Center where it will call home until it’s launch in 2018. While it is at KSC it will undergo tests for its structural integrity and then integrated with its launch vehicle, the SLS (Space Launch Vehicle)


Curiosity Selfie

A curious little Mars rover named Curiosity gave us the cutest selfie ever! Look ma, sand!



I will end this week’s wrap with remembering seventeen brave heroes who gave their lives for space exploration.

Apollo 1




Rachelle Williams