* Posts by Kharkov

350 posts • joined 16 Sep 2011

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Pluto probe's comms FREEZE temporarily ... will icy dwarf planet flyby still happen? YES

Kharkov
Devil

Safe Modes Are Scary... This suggests a name-change is needed.

In the interests of accuracy, why not rename some of the modes? There could be...

Oh, no, not now! Don't do this you absolute bar-steward! Please, I'm begging you! Oh, thank FSM, it's working again MODE

Or...

Ha ha ha! Now I've got you wondering if I'm hanging because you didn't install the latest version of Flash and assorted Drivers. Am I going to work again? Am I? Get down on your knees, peon! Ha! In your heart you did it and now I'm working again. Always remember I made you do that MODE.

And yes, Satan would approve the name change here. Would anyone familiar with computers (& Windows) doubt it?

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Hold my vodka, comrade – I got this: Ruskies blast supplies to the ISS

Kharkov
Facepalm

Re: It just boggles the mind!

Why did they replace the Space Shuttle? Way too expensive & not safe enough about covers it.

...with no proven replacement in sight? That's the state of American politics for you. NASA made it clear that the Shuttle couldn't keep going so the Senate/Congress knew that if they forced it, and the Shuttle had an oopsie, then they'd be the ones getting the blame so they allowed NASA to retire it and...

Immediately defaulted to their usual operating mode of "Let's get lots of money coming to my district for space stuff (for very undefined values of 'space stuff') and what happened? The Ares project, and the Altair lunar lander, which was also known as 'Apollo on Steroids' which would have been very expensive while achieving nothing. Not that politicians objected to that, as long as no-one could hold them accountable for it, but Obama wasn't interested in continuing a boondoggle that was started under Dubya.

So bye-bye Ares (and Altair) and hello, SLS! Another heavy-lift launcher that's really expensive with no defined program to serve or mission to perform but hey, no worries! After all, the money is still flowing to the same old companies/States/Congressional Districts so who cares if it's too expensive to actually use?

And proof for this? Congress is actually trying to cut funding for the Commercial Crew Program because it's a little behind schedule (apparently paying less for something makes it better and quicker to enter service, who knew?) while helpfully (!) pointing out that SLS can, if called upon, deliver crew to ISS. Using SLS for this is like buying something on EBay and finding that whatever it was, was shipped as the SOLE CARGO on an otherwise completely empty container ship because, well, we had a container ship and we had to use it for something. And, oh, you don't mind paying the shipping fee, do you?

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NASA's New Horizon probe rudely fires its thruster at gnome planet

Kharkov
Happy

Nice article, I for one, had no idea that the data would be coming at the amazing speed of...

1Kb/Sec.

Well, it that's what it is, then that's what it is but damn, if I was a space scientist, I'd be clamouring, clamouring for the chance to work on a high-bandwidth laser comms system because 1Kb/Sec?

Never mind proving this law or that hypothesis, New Horizons has just proved The Stross Accelerando Principle (Hmm, that actually came out cooler than I thought it would) where the inner system is a high-bandwidth, low-latency region and the outer system is nothing but empty space, very small amounts of dumb matter and, worst of all, there's no signal out there.

Time to get the Lobsters (read the book) out there...

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Why SpaceX will sort out Sunday's snafu faster than NASA ever could

Kharkov
Boffin

Well, I guess we'll never... What? You've figured it out ALREADY?

Yes, I imagine that SpaceX, which is rather well-known for keeping things in-house as much as possible, will be able to have ready access to all the production paperwork, talk to the guys who built the 2nd stage and so on.

I'd bet that we'll see another Falcon 9 v1.1 fly again before October 2015, with the fallback position being before November 2015. The SpaceX engineers will, in my admittedly uninformed opinion, get this sorted.

And yes, NASA, being forced/required/compelled to buy stuff from a range of companies, almost all of whom are from certain Senator's/Congressmen's backyards, will find, and always has found, it difficult to get things to go fast.

That said, let's not go overboard with the NASA-bashing. They don't get to run things as they'd like. As the system stands, the NASA guys, for all their big IQs and many professional qualifications, are REQUIRED by the people who allocate their money to spend their money on things their political masters want them to spend the money on, and in the way that the politicians want them to spend it. Hence SLS, for example, a heavy-lift rocket with a huge price tag when both SpaceX and even ULA have said they can do a heavy lift rocket for much, much less. So if you're going to bash anyone, bash Washington DC.

34
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Airbus to build 900 mini-satellites for OneWeb's orbital internet system

Kharkov
IT Angle

Well, if a SubOrbital launcher is what you WANT...

Why not try Lynx? True, it's not flying yet, nor likely to fly anytime soon or enter commercial service for an even longer time but if you want a suborbital launcher...

Or alternatively, talk to Elon Musk and try to get a good deal. SpaceX would probably be willing to make a deal for a reasonable launch cost or even put a few up there as secondary payloads for free or a nominal fee.

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Sun's out, guns out: Plucky Philae probot WAKES UP ... hits 'snooze'

Kharkov
Thumb Up

Re: Unintended consequences.

Some might say 'Unintended Consequences' but others will say, 'Science at its best.'

As the late, great Issac Asimov put it, 'The best moments in science aren't when someone shouts 'Eureka!', it's when someone frowns and says, 'That's funny...''

Call me optimistic, but I have a feeling that having a (mostly) charged up probot (I like that term!) on the surface of the comet when it swings by the sun, blasting out a tail, will end up giving us far more data than we'd have had if it had landed perfectly, gathered data from a mostly inert comet and burned out as planned.

Fingers crossed, everybody...

8
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In memoriam: Christopher Lee, Hammer's Count Dracula

Kharkov
Unhappy

Dracula is dead at last... and I'm sad.

Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing of course, were the first stars I saw when I started watching pitched-at-adults movies in the late 70's & early 80's and they made an indelible impression.

Farewell, Sir Lee, you made an iconic Dracula, you were the quintessential Bond Villain(TM), the standard for lethally menacing Sith Lords, and I don't think ANYONE could have given Saruman the brooding darkness you brought out of the character.

We shall not see your like again...

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TERROR in ORBIT: Dodgy rocket burp biffs International Space Station off track

Kharkov
Coat

Engines firing unexpectedly?

The late, great Douglas Adams had a bit about ships like that.

'Having seen the vessel, certain words came to mind. 'unsafe', 'dangerous', 'extremely rickety', and 'please may I get out?'

It's one of those odd things. SpaceX, Boeing and even SNC are making people-carrying-capsules to take crew to ISS & they'll be coming online in 2017/2018 (I wouldn't be surprised if things slipped to the right a bit.) but isn't ISS due to decommission not long after that? As ironies go, it's a bit like James Bond finally getting a female M, modeled on Stella Rimmington, but Dame Stella retired before Judy Dench (another Dame, and a fine old Dame at that) appeared on screen.

Maybe we need to start speculating on ISS 2.

ISS 2, The Electric Boogaloo? No, I've got it, ISS 2, This Time It's Personal.

Or how about ISS 2, Come with me if you want to...

Alright, I'm going, I'm going...

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Kharkov
Trollface

Inspiration for the new TV show, ISS 1999!

And so the ISS was blasted (slightly, ever so slightly) from its orbit, doomed (no, it isn't) to wander the galaxy (no, it won't) arriving in a new star system every week (are you kidding me?) and meeting english-speaking aliens (now that's just weird, no-one stopped to ask, 'Is this Candid Camera? You guys are putting us on right?') and zooming around in their Eagle spaceships (no, they've got one, or at most two, capsules with surprisingly little delta-V in them).

And always hoping to one day return home to lost Earth (it isn't lost, just look out the window)

Hmm, doing your own heckling, what a time-saver!

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Voyager 2 'stopped' last week, and not just for maintenance

Kharkov
Facepalm

The year is 2065...

And the world's richest hi-fi nerd, searching for that perfect vinyl sound, in a world where stylus' are no longer available, launches the 'Recover Voyager' programme...

And having brought at least one of them back, he'll retreat to his perfect-acoustics room, fit that last stylus and... listen to his Queen albums!

What? They had a record on it but NOT a stylus? Well there's a good story wasted!

12
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Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future

Kharkov
Boffin

Being sacked by Elon...

Was it cold for Elon to do the woman's job for two weeks, decide that it didn't deserve a pay raise and probably didn't deserve to be at the pay grade it was at, and then fire the woman?

Yes, it was. Was it necessary or needed? I'd lean towards 'probably'.

Remember, at the salary (and bonus?) levels we're talking here, losing your job doesn't cause the same hardship that losing a minimum-wage, entry-level job does for someone without much in the bank. At higher levels, people will have reserves in the bank, and the ability, within six months - which I don't expect to cause financial hardship, to find an alternative job that pays at the same grade.

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Star Trek's Lt Uhura hospitalised in LA after stroke

Kharkov
Angel

Fingers crossed for speedy recovery, and hats off for an amazing career!

She could have been just another TV actress, she could have just sat back and lived on the residuals or done the movies and had a quiet life thereafter...

But she didn't, she went on to a new life, one where she could contribute and inspire other people to go where no man, where no-one has gone before, and if not that, to at least help to make it possible for people to boldly go...

So, again, fingers crossed for a quick return to health, and hats off to an amazing woman!

12
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NASA shock: Flying saucer predicted over Hawaii on Wednesday

Kharkov
Trollface

Yes, but can you explain it to a politician?

Idiot Politician: So you're going to use a rocket to make it go really fast?

NASA Rep: Yes, that's right.

Idiot Politician: And then hope it slows down, as slow as possible, right?

NASA Rep: Yes, that's right.

Idiot Politician: I have a brilliant idea! You want to get to a low speed so skip Step One, and, hey presto! it's at the right speed! And I've saved money too!

NASA Rep: Now hang on...

Idiot Politician: This session is adjourned! Now, where's that intern? Oh, bugger, the mikes still on. Billy! How do you turn this

CLICK

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NASA hands Boeing first commercial crew contract for SPAAAACE

Kharkov
Meh

Boeing certainly has its feet under the door...

So, the more expensive option, which will probably fly significantly less often, and costs much more than the alternative, gets signed up first.

I suppose having all those lobbyists was good for something...

16
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Elon Musk's SpaceX: Now we help do SURVEILLANCE for the SPOOKS

Kharkov
Big Brother

Progress! But slowly, slowly...

While it's good that SpaceX has been admitted to the NSA launchers club, squeezing the overpriced ULA out and, in time, driving them out of business, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

The first GPS III satellites won't be launching until 2017 at the earliest & the first of those will probably be covered by the last block-buy the DoD announced for ULA.

Competition is coming, but not yet, not yet...

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Sex disease surge in US state partly blamed on hook-up apps

Kharkov
Joke

How about an app for this?

For the Public's health, perhaps we should have a mandatory app installed on all smartphones.

"You appear to be trying to get it on. Would you...

A: Like some helpful suggestions or advice for that?

B: Like to take a moment to review your partner's extrapolated sexual history, as derived by an algorithm that studies Facebook, Twitter, and previous credit card purchases?

or C: Like to confirm that you are using a condom?

"Hmm, activity seems to have dropped by 90% Perhaps some music to rekindle the mood?

Bow-Chicka-Bow-wow, Chicka-wow"

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NASA picks tools for voyage to possibly LIFE-SUPPORTING moon Europa

Kharkov
Unhappy

I told Orville, and I told Wilbur...

The long-awaited Europa probe, yay!

The probe is currently budgeted at around 2 billion dollars. That's expensive but doable for NASA. It needs a launcher, a big one too, to get it there - long way, needs a lot of 'oomph' to send it on its way.

Hmm, NASA probe... which probably means a NASA rocket to launch it, which means... SLS.

That's at least another 1.6 billion dollars added to the budget, NASA's budget is kind of tight for nearly 4 billion dollars...

Holmes! I think I've cracked it! NASA can never use a Falcon Heavy because that's admitting that SLS is a too-expensive boondoggle, but neither can they realistically stretch their budget to 4 billion dollars!

Which means... this program is probably not going to fly, not until SLS is dead.

I made myself sad... I was looking forward to the Europa survey...

1
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China spending $182 BEEELLION on net construction by end of 2017

Kharkov
Facepalm

...intentionally poisonous to pets...

Gotta disagree with you there. It's intentionally meant to be really profitable for the maker, in the short term, which is all anyone with money to make really cares about. The poisonous bit? Sad but we can't expect little things like pets dying to get in the way of making money, can we?

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SpaceX signs off on another successful mission with Pacific splashdown

Kharkov
Trollface

Sending the dirty laundry home to Mom...

In times gone past, I'm told, it used to be cheaper to ship dirty laundry from the American West Coast to Hawaii, clean, starch & iron it, and then ship it back than to pay to have someone do it on the mainland.

Now ISS is shipping its dirty clothes home (to Mom, thanks Mom) so they can be washed... and probably not returned. Is a zero-g washing machine the one device that's beyond NASA's ability to design?

Tell the world and inquiring (and strange) minds will leap into action! Let zero-g washing machine designing begin!

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US Air Force reveals what's inside its top-secret space plane, this time

Kharkov
Devil

The X-37, again.

Ok, first things first. Launching CubeSats, testing materials and ion drives, great, all good stuff, thumbs up and so on.

But, launched on an expensive rocket (one with an excellent safety record though) inside the cargo bay of an X-37. A mini-spaceplane doing expensive research for the US Air Force (when will they get around to renaming it 'Aerospace Force'?) and, by its very existence, encouraging others NOT to do similar research for fear that, half-way through, they'll be told to stop as they're infringing on Classified Research.

Is the X-37 a weapon? No, I don't think so but it is a prototype/test bed for an eventual orbital weapons system. A really expensive system, weaponising space (or at least, it will, in the future).

In short, an expensive system, that will lead to weapons where we really don't want them, that stifles similar lines of research in civilian hands.

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KA-BOOM! Russian rocket EXPLODES over Siberia minutes after lift-off

Kharkov
Trollface

Re: Tomorrow, tomorrow...

Well, the new government is entirely Conservative so they might back Skylon just to stick it to Europe...

0
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Kharkov
Angel

Re: Tomorrow, tomorrow...

Skylon is a neat idea. Sadly, while SpaceX is (or was) funded largely by Elon Musk's rather large bank balance, thus creating a risk-welcoming environment in order to get the big payoffs, REL is in the UK where one Whoops-bang-crash will likely see most of the investors bolt for the exit, and convince the UK government that Skylon is one of those ideas that'll never fly.

Slow and steady keeps everyone in the boat, (mostly) rowing in the same direction.

That said, it's looking like we'll see the first (of two) prototype flying in 2020 with the first production model flying in 2022.

Given the environment REL is operating in, better a game-changing, rule-altering beast in seven years than many years of people debating 'What might have been...'

And on the subject of Russian rockets, the Russians have had several years of not enough funds and attention so now there's a few experienced old bods at the top and a lot of young bods at the bottom undergoing a steep learning curve. Problems a-plenty for the next five-to-ten years methinks...

1
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ATTACK of the DINKY DRONES! US military creates ROBOTIC CARRIER PIGEON

Kharkov
Joke

The Entire World will become Monty Python Fans!

Yes, the Pythonista's secret plan is revealed!

Soldiers (or Knights) the whole world over will shout, "We want... A SHRUBBERY!"

2
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Fox gives Minority Report the nod – precog goes primetime on tellybox

Kharkov
Pint

Quick! I have to stop the terrible thing that... might not happen!

So the movie clearly showed that the future is NOT certain, no-one is absolutely going to kill someone, there's just a (sometimes high) likelihood that they will. It took a movie to show that but now there's going to be a TV show? About a murder that might not happen?

"Gotta run, Jim. A man might beat his wife to death. I've got to kick in his door & run up to his bathroom (It's Fox, you know there's going to be a nearly-naked woman in a bathroom) and stop him just before he hits her over the head with an item that's getting some product-placement."

"Ok. Er, so won't this end with BOTH people screaming about the home intruder who's burst in on them when they're both stripped down for slippery fun? Both of them calling the police? Two to three years for B & E? Sit down, have a beer, call a bookie & make a bet on where they'll find a body tomorrow."

"You're right, who needs that hassle? Buy me that beer and I'll split the winnings with you."

TV gold... it's not. And yes, Fox has a fully-deserved rotten reputation for screwing over successful TV shows. Family Guy, Futurama, Firefly...

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Amazon boss Bezos' Blue Origins declares test flight 'flawless' ... if you overlook one snafu

Kharkov
Joke

Re: Twig minus berries @ Neil Barnes

Could we say we've found your Mom's...

Nah, better not risk it...

Your Mom's evening friend?

Ok, I'm going, I'm going...

0
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Licence to chill: Ex-CIA spyboss Petraeus gets probation for leaking US secrets to his mistress

Kharkov
Devil

Re: SMH.... His sentence was expected.

So, what's the takeaway from this?

People at the top 'leak' things, in this case to a woman he was having sex with, to people for their own gain, to boost their ego, fatten their wallets, or, as in Petraeus' case, to keep the girl impressed and happy so that sweet, sweet love kept flowing.

People at the bottom - Assange, Manning, Snowden - 'leak' things not for money, or power, or to keep that sweet lovin' comin', but because they are vile, horrible TRAITORS to humanity...

And how do we punish 'leaks'? Well people at the top have fallen short of the high ideals they should have upheld, they had an unfortunate turn of events, not their fault really, so they get light sentences, a few fingers wagged in their direction, a monetary fine which, at most, will sting a bit, but not really affect them all that much and then we can all move forward, leaving this sad state of affairs behind us.

People at the bottom MUST BE PURSUED AND PUNISHED FOR YEARS AND YEARS. RUB IT IN THE FACES OF THE WORTHLESS PEONS AT THE BOTTOM THAT THEY DON'T GET TO HAVE A CONSCIENCE, OR MORAL MISGIVINGS ABOUT WHAT THE HIGH AND MIGHTY DO...

What a fair, open and above all, even-handed system of justice we have. Makes you proud, doesn't it?

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Easy ... easy ... Aw CRAP! SpaceX rocket ALMOST lands on ocean hoverbase

Kharkov
Go

Landing on (seemingly) bouncy ground...

I think you've put your finger on a valid point there. If the barge is going up and down (I've heard there are engines to reduce the lateral movement to zero or near-zero) then that could be a problem for the incoming 1st stage.

That said, SpaceX is just trying to prove the concept. One successful landing and they'll have done that. And the NEXT barge may well have a landing platform on hydraulic jacks.

Da Roof! Da Roof! We gonna raise da... er... landing platform...

Nah, the next hit on MTV it isn't.

And for the failure proclaimers out there? SpaceX is doing more than any other company to make reusability work. They got the Dragon capsule away, they controlled the descent of the 1st stage and... didn't quite get the landing to work. I'd rate that as 99%.

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HOVER ROCKET space station podule mission LIGHTNING HOLD DRAMA

Kharkov
Angel

Better safe than sorry...

Although an F9 lifting off, getting zapped by (1.21 jigawatts of) electricity and then exploding would make for killer video...

More seriously, while it's sad that the weather closed in, forcing SpaceX to abort the launch (it was pretty close though), it's better to be safe and do it later. There's a lot riding on this launch, as the world is expecting that this time, they'll recover the 1st stage successfully, and hopefully with stunning video of it making a beautiful (photogenic) touchdown on the good ship (barge), Just Read The Instructions.

Tough break for ULA though, they just announced their new rocket, the Vulcan. Methane-fueled and something about getting the expensive engines back and reusing them but I'm not sure about the details - perhaps we'll get an El Reg article about it? - and it looks like ULA is being largely ignored by the media as people focus on SpaceX.

Like I said, I'm not particularly clear on ULA's new beast but I doubt that they can, even with returning & reusing the engines, come close to SpaceX on price and, once reusability (of the 1st stage at least) kicks in, the faster turnaround leading to more rockets to launch.

ULA will have a new rocket, more expensive than the Falcon 9, without the track record of the Falcon 9 (yes, I'm assuming that there will be few or no 'oopsies' moments) and probably without the rapid turnaround/relaunch of the Falcon 9. In effect, a new piston-engine passenger plane after Boeing has been selling the 707 for five years or so. Not a high chance of commercial success, I think.

0
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Drill, baby, drill: HIDDEN glaciers ON MARS hold 150bn cubic metres of precious frozen WATER

Kharkov
Go

And it's another step closer to Mars Direct...

So, plentiful water, not that hard to get to...

The first Mars mission will bring hydrogen, to combine with the Martian atmosphere, to get methane and oxygen to fuel the Earth-Return vehicle. The first crew will probably use drilling equipment (probably delivered separately by Falcon Heavy) to drill (not that deep, it seems) offer a supply of water which will become, in time, methane & oxygen for fuel, methanol & oxygen for rovers, and ethylene for plastic feedstock.

Ethlene gets you plastic domes and a whole range of useful plastics.

If we could find some useful metals (Mars has them) in close proximity to the water and you've got humanity's first base...

1
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RIP Leonard Nimoy: He lived long and prospered

Kharkov
Unhappy

Farewell, Spock...

How badass was Nimoy?

Now he's gone beyond the Great Frontier... TWICE!

5
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'Utterly unusable' MS Word dumped by SciFi author Charles Stross

Kharkov
Trollface

Yes but WHY did he mention El Reg...?

Obviously because when CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN takes place, 'when the stars come right', it'll be the readers of El Reg who find themselves summoning Chuluthu from the vasty deeps so OF COURSE Bob has to keep an eye on us...

I'd rather believe that than assume Bob's as sad as the rest of us...

3
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Elon Musk: Hover rocket? Check. Hover ship? Check. Let's DO THIS

Kharkov
Pint

Fingers Crossed...

Here's hoping someone remembered to fill the hydraulic fluid tank up to 100% this time...

And a beer to send it on its way!

4
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NASA: Give us JUST 0.5% of the federal budget and we'll take you to MARS and EUROPA

Kharkov
FAIL

There's ANOTHER problem too...

Cruz Control issues aside, there is another problem too.

One of the major costs of doing the Europa mission is... the launcher!

Yes, they plan to use... SLS. So that's one-point-six BILLION dollars right there. If only there was some way to save on money AND still get there in three years or less...

Oh, wait, there is! Put the probe on a Falcon Heavy and take it to LEO - 53 tonnes so that's lots of volume/mass for a really good probe. Launch a second Falcon Heavy with a propellent tank and an engine - 53 tonnes of fuel, oxident & engine will get you to most places in the Solar System pretty quickly. The fuel tank docks with the probe and gives it a long, powerful shove towards Europa all the while saving... MORE THAN A BILLION DOLLARS!

But... Heavy Sigh... as long as NASA's stuck with building SLS, they're also stuck with having to use it so cheap, plentiful probes in the future? Nope! Watch some politician, despite having previously mandated NASA to build SLS (and blocking them from using anything else) score a few points on TV by saying, "Two billion dollars or more to go and look at Europa? What a waste of money!"

2
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SpaceX makes nice with U.S. Air Force, gets shot at black ops launches

Kharkov
Angel

Re: Eh?

Gotta agree with that, people are throwing around the word 'failure' far too much.

They successfully got a capsule into orbit and docked with ISS. The 2nd stage performed exactly as it needed to.

And the first stage? Did what every other 1st stage out there did, and did it exactly as it needed to. AND THEN it controlled its descent, something no other non-SpaceX stage has done, put itself into close proximity with the desired landing spot, something else that no other non-SpaceX stage has done, and then... ran out of hydraulic fluid and blew the landing.

Can we apply the word 'failure' to this? Doing much, much more than anyone else yet falling sllightly short or your desired goal is not, to my mind, 'failure'. I call it awesome!

And next time they'll try again. Anyone want to bet they won't make it next time?

11
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SpaceX six days from historic rocket landing attempt

Kharkov
Go

Fingers crossed!

Here's hoping that it all works. If it does, I've got a feeling that the collective 'squee!' from the SpaceX fanboys will be heard at deafening levels.

And if it does, the next question will be, 'Why weren't we doing this back in the late 80's or early 90's?'

And the question after that will be, 'When is the Falcon Heavy going to fly?'

And after that, 'When are we sending stuff to Mars?'

It's been a long time coming but, finally, the future's here.

10
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ESA: Venus probe doomed to fiery death on weird planet's surface

Kharkov
Thumb Up

Re: Quagmire

Can we get a new icon for 'Giggiddy'?

And an upvote, sir, for the inspiration.

0
0
Kharkov
Pint

And will the Venusians complain?

We're dropping a big chunk of metal on them, after all...

More seriously, kudos to ESA. They designed it so well that it lasted a lot longer than the original mission length and it continued to tell us about Venus. Here's hoping they send another one to continue the good work, at higher resolutions and for even longer and I'd say the ESA team has earned a day off, with beer.

On a more speculative note, wouldn't it be better to send a very radiation-hardened long-lifespan high-orbiting satellite to Venus whose only job would be to relay signals from the various (I can dream) orbiters & landers doing Venus studies. Such a satellite would mean that the others wouldn't have to worry about sending their data themselves, just a short, and hopefully high-bandwidth, signal to the relay and then a very secure, very high-bandwidth signal back to Earth. The laser signalling technology they've started testing for high-bandwidth satellite communications would be good for this...

2
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India's heavy launch rocket passes flight test

Kharkov
Headmaster

Nobody here but us nitpickers...

Gotta agree with Voland. Solid-fuel rocket? Makes it a bit hard to change your mind once you've pressed the button...

And for further nitpicking points - 10 tonnes (check it on wikipedia) to LEO is 'heavy-lift'? Nope.

Congratulations to India. A home-grown rocket, done well and done, it seems, cheaply. Thumbs up to them and more, more says I.

2
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LEGS IN 2015: SpaceX Falcon's landing PUT ON HOLD

Kharkov
Trollface

Re: "tends to err on the side of caution with each launch."

If only rocket companies could do the same thing as software companies...

"What? We started it up and it crashed? Well, never mind, just switch it off and then switch it back on again, let's see if it's repeatable..."

"Yeah, it tends to crash a lot but we'll have another version out in a couple of months so, just live with it until then, m'kay?"

2
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Friday: SpaceX will attempt to land rocket on floating, robotic 'spaceport drone ship'

Kharkov
Go

Fingers crossed...

Let's hope all goes well on this one.

It should be noted that SpaceX is doing its media relations strategy very well. Someone there deserves a bonus. Remember the Grasshopper? Putting out a press release taking about how they expected to lose a test article 'pushing the envelope' insulated them & stopped the SpaceX fanboys freaking out when they did lose the Grasshopper Mk I.

And now the '50%' figure for successfully landing on the ship? More insulation, and good media relations ground laying.

Or they could just be being totally honest with us but hey, I'm sure no one, in this day & age, believes that...

3
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US Navy's LASER CANNON WARSHIP: USS Ponce sent to Gulf

Kharkov
Big Brother

Re: "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly..."

The US military has lots of ways around the Geneva Conventions. The most famous example would be 'Willy Pete', white phosphorus, used to create smoke on the battlefield but they also start fires - phosphorus, don't you know?

WP artillery rounds can be used in urban environments without breaching the Geneva Convention so long as... The intended purpose is to create smoke so as to obscure the battlefield for tactical reasons. If a commander uses WP for the primary purpose of burning human beings (urban environments tend to be full of the pesky things.) then he/she is liable to be charge with war crimes. If WP rounds are used to 'obscure the battlefield' and they ALSO burn human beings alive, then the Conventions have not been breached.

All of which raises the question, how do you prove intent in the mind of the commander? The same thing applies to the laser gun. Use it with the intention of burning human beings alive, causing intense suffering and someone's going to jail. Use it against a boat/vehicle with the secondary effect of burning human beings alive and it's all cool.

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SPLASHDOWN! Orion lands safely in the Pacific Ocean

Kharkov
Facepalm

Er, El Reg?

NASA sending people to Mars in the 2020's? Check your facts, please. NASA has ZERO plans to send people to Mars in the 2020's nor have they even begun work on the habitat module they'll need.

Seriously, 4 people in an Orion capsule for six months? Eww...

Kudo's to NASA for getting the mission to work but it doesn't change the fact that Orion is a horribly expensive capsule for a horribly expensive rocket, SLS and together, they're so very very (I'd even say horribly) expensive that NASA will never be able to afford to do anything with them.

Which makes all of this a bit pointless really...

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Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'

Kharkov
Pint

IT'S CHRISTMAS!

Christmas has come early! Hallelujah and so on and so forth...

Most serious Republican candidates stayed away from the last election because unseating a sitting President is hard and, historically, doesn't happen that often. They held off until this time when you can expect fewer Klown Kandidates like Cain, Bachmann, Santorum & Gingrich.

But gosh-darn it! I'm tremendously entertained by Klown Kandidates!

So we are going to have Klown Kandidate Number 1? Three cheers, hooray & have a banana. Heck, it's the Internet, have two!

But while I'm wishing, could someone, somewhere, please (oh please, please, please!) get Cain, Bachmann et al to throw their hats in the ring again?

And even, and yes, I know this is a biggie, can someone urge The Alaskan One to run?

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NASA preps mission to probe Earth's magnetic mysteries

Kharkov
Trollface

Oh, please think of the children!

The video was made for the American populace... so yes, it was made for children! That way it would fit the American populations expectations.

Remember, whenever you see the Enterprise in space, there's always that background hum. If they want to suggest that the Enterprise is struggling a bit, they mess with the hum a bit.

Of course, they could have played the Blue Danube...

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Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs

Kharkov
Boffin

Re: Space Elevator?

How will it avoid getting hit by orbiting space junk? Long story short, it won't. So there'll have to be enough redundancy/toughness in the building material to survive that. That said, there won't be that much junk on an orbit that intersects with the elevator.

A lot in total, yes but not that much in the fairly small volume, as compared to all of Earth's orbital volume, will be prone to bumping into the elevator.

One thing they've discussed for space junk is lasers. Not big blast-em lasers to vapourise them but just to heat them up and so 'nudge' them into raising/lowering their apogee/perigee so as to shorten their orbital life. If you can do that, then surely you can use lasers (small ones, remember) to prod the junk into (or away from) certain orbits so as to diminish the frequency of likely meetings.

Just wait, soon a newsreader will be calling them 'orbital oopsies'....

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Kharkov
Joke

Re: Less If's please, we're... Done this before?

Those were water landings? I thought they were drone strikes (and before there were drones no less!) against evil, terrorist fish! It certainly explains why we haven't heard of... Salmon Bin Leapin...

Hey, the icon says 'joke', it doesn't say good joke...

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Kharkov
Go

Less If's please, we're... Done this before?

...if, and it's a big if...

Gadzooks, sir! Seeing as how SpaceX has Landed a rocket from space before (on water, true, but still, landed), I'd say it's a much smaller 'if' than, say, in 2010.

Surely they're at least at the 'probably going to work' stage now.

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BOING, BOING! Philae BOUNCED TWICE on Comet 67P

Kharkov
Coffee/keyboard

Damn you, Eddy!

You owe me a new keyboard, you bar-steward! Literally, I had a mouthful of coffee when I read that.

An upvote, sir!

And you could probably note that the screwing only happens after the third... bounce.

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Kharkov
Thumb Up

Anyone read Terry Pratchett's Strata?

"The crow hung on to the oxygen handle like grim death, and thought about survival."

A two-hour bounce brings it home just how incredibly weak the gravity is on a ten-billion ton comet. Let's hope it's now safely screwed down (let me be the first to say it, ooh err!) or else it'll be taking another trip once it gets closer to the sun and the outgassing starts

Could someone insert a clip from Bruce Willis' Armageddon please?

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Euro space boffins ready, mere HOURS from flinging Rosetta lander at Comet 67P

Kharkov
Joke

1 body landed on, several billion more to go...

That's one small step for Wall-E, one giant leap for Wall-E-kind...

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