* Posts by Kharkov

334 posts • joined 16 Sep 2011

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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!"

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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...

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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.

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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...

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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!

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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...

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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!

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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!"

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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?"

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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...

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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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Elon Musk hits the brakes on Tesla's e-SUV Model X production

Kharkov
Happy

Another (moderate) success for Musk...

Well, just goes to show, you can invite others to copy your battery designs and still make a profit...

5
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Plasma-spaffing boffins plan spaceships driven by FRIKKIN' LASERS

Kharkov
Stop

Re: Saw this on Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle's novel, Footfall

In the novel, the humans manage to take out a laser not long after a Fifthp ship launches, causing it to lose thrust & so crash.

While hostile military action isn't likely, the chance of a power-outage or BSOD shutting the laser down and so causing a loss-of-vehicle is something to worry about...

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Kharkov

Saw this on Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle's novel, Footfall

So... big tank full of fuel & oxidant and someone's going to point a big laser at it...? Well, the video will be fun, at least. I like explosions. (/humour-off)

Seriously though, high-powered lasers are still off in the distance, the power requirements are huge and there's a lot of work to do before you can effectively shoot a laser up a rocket's bum while it's moving without going off-target and causing an oopsie.

My opinion, for what it's worth, is that by the time they get all the bits together to make this work, we'll have low-cost rockets and spaceplanes plus enough orbital infrastructure to make this method unneeded.

Now lasers and solar sails in deep space ala Robert Forward's Flight of the Dragonfly, now that's something I'd like to see...

2
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Virgin's SpaceShipTwo crashes in Mojave Desert during test flight

Kharkov
Unhappy

Damn...

While I have been snarky about VG in the past, I'm pretty sad that this has happened. My sympathies to the family of the dead pilot and my hopes for a speedy and full recovery to the surviving pilot. I even hope that Virgin Galactic gets back on their feet

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BONFIRE of the MEGA-BUCKS: $200m+ BURNED in SECONDS in Antares launch blast

Kharkov
Facepalm

Re: $200 million?

The reason for the much higher cost by the Americans is this, American companies (the ones involved in government spaceflight anyway) operate on a 'cost-plus' contract. They build the rocket, calculate their costs, add on a percentage (let's say 10% although I have no idea what the actual percentage is) and give the government a bill. In theory, the 10% is their allowed profit.

So how can they enlarge that 10% figure? Simple, jack the costs up. Lockheed Martin and SpaceX have roughly the same number of warm bodies on the factory floor. LM however, has tens of thousands of office staff which count as 'costs'. SpaceX has far, far fewer office bods. 10% of a small number is a small number but 10% of a freaking huge number is... a huge number.

Case in point, the Atlas V which costs at least 180 million (it gets a bit more complicated 'cos there are several different versions of the Atlas V but MAVEN launched on an Atlas V 401 for 187 million) to build & launch versus SpaceX's Falcon 9 which is advertised at 60 million. Boeing got a large amount of money for their CST-100 capsule to take people to ISS while SpaceX was able to bid a much larger amount of money for the same service.

I don't know but I'd imagine that Indian companies involved in spaceflight, and their recent Mars orbiter, are more like SpaceX, as many people on the factory floor as they need and only those office bods that are needed and much, much less like Lockheed Martin or Boeing.

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Kharkov
Alien

Re: Rocket science is never easy

Yep, you're right. Mea Culpa, mea culpa... Sloppy language, hastily written. Consider it amended to 'rocket engineering'

And the icon? Well, when I wrote the post, the moon was in Sagittarius & Jupiter was rising (probably after sleeping in after a wild night) in the lower-third declension... or something...

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Kharkov
Joke

Re: Flash! Bang! Wallops!

Kinda yes but funny nonetheless...

An upvote, sir, for a moment of levity amidst sadness!

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Kharkov
Unhappy

Let me give an English response... Bugger!

While we don't know what the cause of the loss-of-vehicle was, I think we can safely expect a lot of attention to go to the engines, their age and... gasp... the fact that they're from RUSSIA (oh noes!). Expect much Russian-therefore-rubbish nonsense for the next couple of weeks.

And again, more seriously this time, commiserations to Orbital. Rocket science is never easy, there's a million things that can go wrong when you're at the very edge of what the tech can do.

14
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China lunar mission readies for return to Earth

Kharkov
Happy

Well done China! It's looking like they're going to bring this mission to a successful conclusion. Expect the US Government/Senate/Congress to get increasingly more worked up as China gets closer to a successful Lunar Sample Return. Expect the space race to start up again...

5
1

BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army

Kharkov
Boffin

Think Nailgun, not Railgun

Think light railgun for soft targets, with a missile launcher for the heavy stuff.

Tanks, helicopters & putting holes in thick cover are covered by the missiles while people, light vehicles & thin cover get shredded by the Nailgun. In fact, with a millimeter-band radar, or a datalink tying into one, you've got a point-defence gun for handheld, infantry-fired anti-vehicle missiles.

Although as I recall, with this type of weapon, it's heat dissipation that's the real problem...

1
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Trips to Mars may be OFF: The SUN has changed in a way we've NEVER SEEN

Kharkov
Boffin

Well if we've got to go faster...

As others have commented I agree that nuclear thermal rockets are the solution here. They'll get you to Mars faster than the six-month journey offered by chemical rockets. Sadly, I doubt we'll see a NERVA-type rocket in operation anytime within the next 20 years or so.

The public will hear, "...blah blah technobabble something complicated NUCLEAR STUFF IN SPACE blah blah..." and are highly likely to freak out leading politicians to block the use of nuclear thermal rockets despite the fact that THEY OFFER TWICE THE PERFORMANCE OF CHEMICAL ROCKETS.

On the other hand, has anyone considered a solar thermal rocket? Much greater performance than chemical rockets, no scary bugaboos, and in the Inner system at least, quite a practical method of getting around.

Of course it'd take 10 to 20 years of research to get the kinks out but hey, we're not going to Mars in that much less than that.

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America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft

Kharkov
Devil

Re: X-37's mess things up...

I agree entirely. As I said in my earlier post, there's nothing (bar one thing which I'll get to in a moment) that the X-37 can do that can't be done more efficiently & cheaply by other means. A rescue mission isn't impossible but it presupposes the idea of a fully-fueled Atlas V sitting on the launch pad with an X-37 ready to go. Possible but not practical.

The wings and cargo bay, plus plentiful delta-v, suggest one mission profile to me. I'm not an aerospace engineer and the profile is a bit James Bondish but it would work.

Imagine a launch from the American west coast that matched orbit with a target satellite. The X-37 pulls it into its cargo bay and then deorbits at the end of its first orbit. A snatch, grabbit & run (sounds like a law firm) mission which would be done and finished so fast that the satellites owners/operators wouldn't have time to react. 90 minutes after launch, the American west coast will have moved about fifteen degrees to the east so the X-37's wings, and the cross-range capability offered by them, would come into play, allowing it to enter the atmosphere, slow down some, turn towards the coast and glide at high speed and from a high altitude back its point of origin.

As I said, it's a terribly James Bondish mission profile and, from a political point of view, just not tenable. The world would be watching so there'd be no secrecy or deniability at all.

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Kharkov
Mushroom

Re: x-37's mess things up...

Do feel free to explain what an X-37 is used for then. Is it for a purpose I didn't cover in my post? Is my reasoning incorrect? Please, enlighten us with your wisdom.

And why not put your own name on it too?

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Kharkov
Stop

x-37's mess things up...

Right, first things first. Kudos to the USAF for a successful mission & getting their bird back. Space flight is hard & isn't something anyone should take for granted.

Second, why? What is the purpose of the X-37? Research into spaceplanes, SSTO, materials development, new-and-improved avionics or sensors? If the U.S. military is doing this then ALL results get classified out the wazoo, never to see the light of day & American companies are strongly discouraged from making or researching civilian space-access or usage technology for fear of finding out, or being told, once they're a few hundred million dollars in, that they're impinging on classified technology.

My opinion if the above is true? STOP the X-37, it's blocking cheap safe civilian access to space, or one route to it anyway.

Third, is the X-37 testing weapons? Weaponizing space is a really bad idea. Once the U.S. starts doing it, Russia & China won't be that far behind. More & more guns, more & more automated because the speeds, distances & human reaction times lead that way. Battle of Camlan, anyone?

My opinion if the above is true? STOP the X-37. It's really taking us down a bad road.

Fourth, is the X-37 spying on or observing... stuff? If it is then surely it'd be simpler & cheaper to just launch the optics/sensor package, or a few dozen of them (no way will a couple of dozen of those things break the bank for the NRO. Remember, those guys built a near-Hubble just because they MIGHT have needed it) into orbit, possibly with an enlarged fuel tank if they really need a lot of delta-V, and send up a dozen more each year.

My opinion if the above is true? STOP the X-37, it's a horrible waste of money.

Fifth, is the X-37 intended to (or be the precursor/prototype to something that can) dock with, or disable, or download from, other people's satellites? It seems a bit unlikely to me, but if it is then no politician will EVER authorize the mission. It's not the 50's anymore, the world, the whole world, is watching. You can't steal/pinch/purloin/nick a satellite & bring it home & not have the world yelling about it before it's even touched the runway.

My opinion if the above is true? STOP the X-37. It's a horrible waste of money & will only encourage other countries to build self-destruct devices into their satellites. We really don't need to add to the space debris problem.

So really? STOP THE X-37!

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Scientists skeptical of Lockheed Martin's truck-sized FUSION reactor breakthrough boast

Kharkov
Facepalm

Re: I Want To Believe

I too want to believe but...

As the man said, "An extraordinary claim without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence"

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Tesla's Elon Musk shows the world his D ... and it's a MONSTER

Kharkov
Angel

What? No KITT?

Listen, if I can't paint it black and have it drive me to the shops, then I for one won't be buying it!

More seriously, while autonomous driving is cool, the legislatosaurus will probably spend ten or more years wibbling about making it legal. As usual, the science is way, way, way ahead of the politics.

Could we set a donations group to get politicians moving faster? Money always seems to get politicians moving faster... for some completely unknown reason of course.

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