* Posts by Kharkov

375 posts • joined 16 Sep 2011

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Falcon 9 fireworks display grounds SpaceX

Kharkov
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Facepalm

Problems that affect the 1st stage as well...

Remember, SpaceX tries, as much as possible, to have the same stuff - tankage, piping, pumps, control systems, wiring etc - in the 2nd stage as can be found in the 1st stage (and vice versa). It means everyone is familiar with all (or more) of the systems in the rocket, and more people can spot a potential oopsie in the making.

So those helium bottles will be found in the 1st stage tanks too...

It's a shame that the Falcon 9 (and Falcon Heavy) will be grounded for a while but, hey, better safe than sorry...

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Rosetta probe spots Comet 67P being buzzed by boulder

Kharkov
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Trollface

It's dumping trash...

It's dumping trash which, as all Star Wars fans know, means it's about to enter hyperspace.

But we should get a good shot of the Millennium Falcon before then...

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NASA dismisses asteroid apocalypse threat

Kharkov
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Happy

I'm not worried...

I've got my sub-etha device ready to 'thumb' a lift.

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Antiques in spaaaaace! Retired space shuttles cannibalised for parts

Kharkov
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WTF?

NASA should run for President?

Ok, I can see the problem with that right away.

NASA is a reality-based organization and U.S. politics right now... isn't.

Bernie Sanders, currently leaping up the polls, wants to do something breathtakingly sensible like taxing high-frequency transactions (not enough to make them loss-making, or even to significantly affect their profitability) to pay for free college and he's regarded by the mainstream as a loon.

On the Republican side, the Donald is seriously proposing the idea that the 14th Amendment (if you're born in the U.S., you're a citizen. No 'and's, 'if's or 'but's, this means you!) DOESN'T apply to people of the wrong colour - Sorry, didn't mean to type that, I meant, of course, if their parents had entered the country illegally - and, as far as I can tell, all but two of the other Republican candidates have said, "Great idea! Let's do that."

The crazy man in a sane world would entertain, and undoubtedly be entertained by, the sane people but the sane man in a crazy world would be in a nightmare and, what's worse, nobody would notice because they'd ALL be in the same boat.

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EU clears UK to give £50m to SABRE space launcher engine

Kharkov
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Thumb Up

Just wait until the complaints start...

While it's great that the EU has cleared the way for money to flow, bear in mind that the EU Space Agency has green-lit the development of the Ariane 6 launcher (A6), which is intended to be better, faster, cheaper against the current Falcon 9 from SpaceX.

As is the case with most bureaucracies, A6, when it arrives, will find itself at a considerable disadvantage against a 1st-stage-reusable Falcon 9 ($30-40 million per launch?) and ridiculously expensive when compared to Skylon ($10 million per launch) when it enters service. Thus, when Skylon moves more to the center of attention (it's remarkably low-key for a launcher given that the two boilerplate testbeds are less than 5 years away from flying) we can all expect the EU aerospace industries (yes, France, I'm looking at you) to put pressure on the EU Space Agency to start throwing up roadblocks to stop Skylon. After all, they stand to make quite a profit from the use of A6 and a reusable, cheap launcher would wreck those plans...

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Testing times as NASA rattles Mississippi with mighty motor burn

Kharkov
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Pirate

Re: new technology...

New technology that gets you away from that rather inefficient stuck-at-the-top-of-a-tube approach?

Check out... Skylon

15 tonnes of payload to ISS orbital height for only around 10 million dollars per flight with a 10-day turnaround between FULLY reusable flights, aboard a single-stage space plane that is due to enter service in 6-7 years...

A revolution in the economics of space flight...

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NASA primed for 9-minute live test of mighty rocket motor

Kharkov
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Facepalm

Re: Meh, probably never fly

"...no certainty we'll be able to rid ourselves of the current one."

Erm... Term Limits? Clinton, assuming she's the one to pass the finish line first on Nov 5th next year, isn't likely to rock the boat and upset people by cancelling SLS in her first year. That said, who knows what she might do in her 2nd term if Falcon Heavy is flying well and MCT stays on track. A Republican, on the other hand, has much more to shout about ('Shocking waste! 18 Billion dollars for something the Private Sector can do for ONE PERCENT of the money! Damn those wasteful Democrats...') so he (If it's Republican, it'll be a 'he') gets in, he may do what Obama did when HE got in and declare the previous effort a wasteful boondoggle, get some media mileage out of it, and set up something very like the Ares/Constellation/SLS programme - ie, an expensive way of funneling money to the same areas that are getting it now - which will enter service after he's out of office...

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Kharkov
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Devil

Let's use a reusable engine... once!

First of all, fingers crossed for the test's success. I'm not a fan of SLS by any means but I hope they can make it all work.

But really, a high performance engine, reusable, is going to be used once and then thrown away. The program is seriously expensive, so much so that there's no realistic or likely-to-be-funded program it can serve. Both ULA and SpaceX have offered to do a heavy-lift rocket for much less (BTW, when even ULA says they can do it cheaper, you know the program's ridiculously overpriced) but no, NASA's budget is being used to funnel money into certain Congressional Districts/States so that certain elected representatives can say that they've 'brought home the bacon' despite the very limited chance of SLS being of any use to anyone. What really sticks in my throat, however, is the fact that certain of those elected officials have gone on record as being against 'socialism' in general, and 'pork' in particular - hypocrisy much?

I just wish all involved could at least be honest about it all. "Yes, we're keeping people with needed skills employed, a very good thing. What? Are they doing anything worthwhile with those needed skills? No, not really but it's worth sucking one sixth of NASA's budget down the hole to make sure those skills are retained. After all, we might want to do something useful with them one day.."

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'WOMAN FOUND ON MARS' – now obvious men are from Venus

Kharkov
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Paris Hilton

Ray Bradbury called it...

Ray Bradbury wrote a short story called 'Ylla' in 1948. Ylla was a Martian woman trapped in a loveless marriage who picks up the impending arrival of the first astronauts from Earth and, through telepathy, falls in love with one of them. Cue jealous husband, with Martian shotgun, at the landing site and Oh my god, it's coming right for me! TWICE!

So we can assume that this woman is also called Ylla and she's fallen in love with... a machine (ouu err!). Expect jealous hubby to be along with his shotgun any time now...

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'Cops KNOW WHO I AM and I don't believe their hearts were truly in the shootout'

Kharkov
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Facepalm

Re: Everybody's crazy.

"...their hearts weren't in the shootout..."

Is it just me, or is anyone else sure that, the next time a US cop (or cops) shoots someone (shot 15 times in the back of the head, pausing twice to reload, worst case of suicide you ever saw...), we'll see the Police Force's PR rep say something like, "Yes, the officer in question DID shoot the victim for aggressively wearing a hoodie but his heart just wasn't in it so we should just draw a line under this unfortunate event, put it behind us and move on, forgetting the whole thing."

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Hacktivists congratulate Daily Show's Jon Stewart via Donald Trump's website

Kharkov
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Holmes

First Idiot Test for Trump coming up...

So, will the Horribly-Bewigged one be able to resist talking about a) His apparently very amateurishly put-together campaign website being hacked, thus allowing people to learn how badly he and his inner circle uses new technology? b) being called an 'Openly Arsehole Presidential Candidate', thus allowing people to have the chance to look at each other and say, "Well he is an arsehole, really." or c) it being directed at Jon Stewart who, truth be told, is not the Donald's biggest fan.

If he's smart, or if his handlers sit on him long enough, he'll ignore the hack. The first rule for any politician is, don't take on the comedians, ever! As the saying goes, never wrestle a pig, you get covered in mud and the pig has a wonderful time. For Trump to directly address any comedian is just free material for the comedians.

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Bloke cuffed for blowing low-flying camera drone to bits with shotgun

Kharkov
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Big Brother

Let the arms race begin...

I'm not a gun fan myself but I can sympathize with the guy who had put up a 2mtr fence to get some privacy. Discharging a gun inside the city limits can be problematic though, because you're never sure where the bullet will end up if you miss (and sometimes even if you hit - pass through, minimal loss of velocity etc) but I'd think a shotgun would have been ok in that regard.

So how about this? No, you can't shoot things with guns but you CAN use your own small, fast, maneuverable drone which will, on command, and only over your own property, to a maximum height of... let's say 100 meters?, carry stuff to be dropped over the intruding drone, thereby fouling the blades and causing it to drop to the floor.

Just press a button or have a web-cam or something scanning for intruders and when people get nosy, bring the vehicle of their nosiness down with a bump. After that, it's finders-keepers, losers... have to cough up to get their drone back...

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Voyager's Golden Record now free to download

Kharkov
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Devil

And aliens thought we didn't have any serious weapons...

So, the aliens arrive, send greetings and land...

And are promptly served with indictments from lawyers. 'You've got an FTL drive? No, no, that's not licensed by Earth, you'll have to stop using it immediately. We already copyrighted that when they made Star Trek. Stop flying those things. Small fast ships with guns? Sorry, we did the rights to that when they made Battlestar Galactica. Communicators that you wear? You're bang out of luck there, mate, Babylon 5 did those. Shut them down... and now let's talk about the penalty fees, and our bill of course...'

You want proof of intelligent life in the Galaxy? None of it's tried to talk to us, and that's proof enough for me.

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Three-mile-high pyramid found on alien dwarf world, baffles boffins

Kharkov
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Alien

Anyone who's played ME1 will know what this is...

Hmm, a strange pyramid, seemingly built for no discernible purpose... It's a Prothean relic! The discovery of eezo (Element Zero) can't be far away now...

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Boffins' audacious plan to blow up aircraft foiled by bomb-proof bag

Kharkov
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Stop

An Unfortunate Reality - People are UGLY!

Just solve the problem by getting people to fly naked...

This works for about 5% of the population (male AND female) but the rest of us? If exposed to the naked bodies of 95% of humanity (think bulges, bags, unsightly hair etc), it'd take less than a month before people were crying out to get clothes back on airplanes, even if it meant doubling the risk of mid-flight oopsies.

And yes, the thought of WWII gliders came to me too... At least they'd have a plausible reason for the delay getting your bags back.

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ROBOT SEEDS to be scattered into upper atmosphere of JUPITER: NASA scheme

Kharkov
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Trollface

Re: Sounds great! But Bandwidth, bandwidth...

I think John Oliver, in one of his last bits on The Daily Show, pigeonholed me very well. He was talking about Elon Musk suggesting that people build a fast-transit system for California but added that HE wasn't going to get involved. As John Olive said, "Somebody should go off and cure cancer! I'd do it myself but I'm more of an ideas man!"

But I WILL be cheering from the benches when they do it...

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Kharkov
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Holmes

Sounds great! But Bandwidth, bandwidth...

Floating probes to study and report on Jupiter's atmosphere? Sounds great, really, but isn't it time we saw some proposals to increase the available bandwidth of the returning signals?

Given the fairly-long lead time between someone coming up with an idea, studying it, testing it, getting mission approval, building it, waiting for a launcher slot, and then journey time - start (the idea) to finish (arriving in the target planet's orbit) being ten years (or more!) - isn't it time that we, or someone, got started on a high-bandwidth signal relay?

I'm sure others can comment on this but I'd suggest the inner Lagrange point, to gather signals from closer to the planet and then relay them on to Earth. After all, this isn't the 80's or 90's anymore. Time to get off dial-up...

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Intelsat to FCC: For the love of satellites, STOP ELON MUSK!

Kharkov
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WTF?

I call Foul!

[Wild Speculation due to COMPLETE lack of knowledge about effects of satellites on radio transmissions]/on

It looks to me like Intelsat are trying to remove or at least delay a future competitor. I doubt that SpaceX has 'gone firm' on the frequencies/number of satellites/orbital inclinations/separation between satellites/etc but already, Intelsat is trying to stop SpaceX from going any further until they do have those answers, thus adding... probably... several years to SpaceX's internet access going live, thus allowing Intelsat to keep getting revenue in without competition.

While Intelsat has a right to NOT have their service blocked/interfered with, particularly by competitors, it's too soon to start throwing lawsuits around as SpaceX is still a long time away from putting their first batch of satellites up.

[Wild speculation]/off

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What goes up, Musk comedown: Falcon rocket failed to strut its stuff

Kharkov
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Happy

In-House is always better, it seems...

Congratulations to SpaceX and many thanks for all the hard work (and, I'm sure, many sleepless nights) to find the failure point.

On a side note, given SpaceX's penchant for keeping things in-house, what are the odds that strut-making will be either brought in-house or Elon will quietly buy a small metal-company in order to control the quality of the part, which was, after all, the reason for SpaceX bringing so many things in-house in the first place.

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Behold: Pluto's huge ICE MOUNTAINS ... and signs of cryovolcanoes?

Kharkov
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Alien

Re: Vulcanism

Gasp! Signs of the Grebulons (Douglas Adams book, Mostly Harmless...) have been found!

This means... we'll soon be removed in order to improve their horoscope, oh noes!

Still, cool pictures of Pluto & Charon. Well worth our coming obliteration, says I.

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Pluto revealed as KING of the Kuiper belt

Kharkov
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Gimp

Larry Niven already told us where the kings crown is...

In 'World of Ptavvs', Niven had a star-system-controlling artefact (a telepathy-expanding) helmet that, once worn, would allow the wearer to telepathically dominate every being in the star system.

Lost on Pluto - with a neat twist which makes landing to get it a bit tricky (I wonder if that still applies?) - was the MacGuffin of the story.

So, King of the TNO's, with a legend of a crown already in place.

The not-first one to Pluto's a... telepathically-dominated human being!

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China wants to build a 200km-long undersea tunnel to America

Kharkov
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Stop

It's not for people, only goods...

Spending more than 24 hours on a road, through a tunnel, up onto an island, onto a bridge, to another island, down into a tunnel before arriving at another continent, doesn't sound fun.

Spending around 24 hours on a train, through tunnels, across bridges etc, likewise doesn't sound fun.

People don't want to spend 24 hours on a train or in a car. Period.

So, they'll use it for goods? I love big engineering works as much as the next guy but you've got to prove the economic case first.

Enormous, (Enormous? Freaking HUGE) costs to build a route with a long lead time, versus the cheapness of container ships which are operating right now. I admit, I don't know any of the cost figures for this project but I'd lean to this being a pipe dream for the foreseeable future.

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Dawn falling late: NASA's other glitch of the week

Kharkov
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Paris Hilton

Pictures are great but...

What we really need is... the ability to spray-paint the word 'mine' on everything our probes & rovers meet. Then at some point in the future, we could get someone famous, I'm thinking Patrick Stewart or Martin Sheen, to just read their way down the list. 'Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine...'

Yes, I have been watching Finding Nemo, why?

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China hacks 'everything that doesn't move' says Hilary Clinton

Kharkov
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Holmes

Damn anyone who... does what we do...

So America hacks/observes/spies on... and it's vital that they do so, to preserve freedom, justice and the American Way! And for Kowalski and his little dog!

China does the same thing... and they're nosy parkers who can't mind their own business, untrustworthy scoundrels every man-jack of them.

I wonder, is there a Chinese-language version of El Reg? And is there a similar post (possibly by 夫戰役) where the above freedom, justice etc and nosy parker reasons from above are reversed?

Or could we either A: Accept that this is what advanced countries do and not get worked up about it, or B: State that no country should be doing this. While you can't really stop ANOTHER country from spying/hacking etc, Americans can certainly stop their own government from spying!

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WHY did NASA probe go suddenly SILENT - JUST as it was about to send pics of remote ice-world?

Kharkov
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Trollface

A Drive-by Shooting...

Not as embarrassing as a follow-up message after New Horizons whizzes past at umpty-gillion miles per hour.

"HEY! NO PICTURES EITHER WITHOUT GIVING ME TIME TO PUT MY LIPPY ON!"

And scientists then devote years looking for the rare & elusive lippy-on particle...

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Kharkov
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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
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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
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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
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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.

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

Kharkov
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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
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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...

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In memoriam: Christopher Lee, Hammer's Count Dracula

Kharkov
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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
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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
Bronze badge
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
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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!

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

Kharkov
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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
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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!

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NASA shock: Flying saucer predicted over Hawaii on Wednesday

Kharkov
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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
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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...

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

Kharkov
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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
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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
Bronze badge
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
Bronze badge
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
Bronze badge
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
Bronze badge
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
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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
Bronze badge
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
Bronze badge
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
Bronze badge
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
Bronze badge
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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