How badass was Nimoy?
Now he's gone beyond the Great Frontier... TWICE!
321 posts • joined 16 Sep 2011
How badass was Nimoy?
Now he's gone beyond the Great Frontier... TWICE!
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...
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!
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!"
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?
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.
Can we get a new icon for 'Giggiddy'?
And an upvote, sir, for the inspiration.
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...
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.
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?"
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...
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.
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...
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?
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...
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'....
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...
...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.
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.
"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?
That's one small step for Wall-E, one giant leap for Wall-E-kind...
Well, just goes to show, you can invite others to copy your battery designs and still make a profit...
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...
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...
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
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.
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...
Kinda yes but funny nonetheless...
An upvote, sir, for a moment of levity amidst sadness!
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.
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...
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...
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.
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.
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?
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!
I too want to believe but...
As the man said, "An extraordinary claim without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence"
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.
Well actually, Skylon doesn't liquefy the air in microseconds, it just cools it by several hundred degrees in microseconds. It's still gaseous, albeit cold and gaseous, when it mixes with the hydrogen fuel.
It is pretty nifty how they manage to cool, but not liquefy, the air by so much without frosting up the pipes and in such a short space of time but that's the special secret sauce that makes the idea feasible.
And yes, it'd be wonderful to get a Skylon article, maybe with some recent quotes from the REL team, outlining the next few years for Skylon...
Hint, hint, El Reg.
A high volume module costing under 18 million dollars? Great.
An indicator showing how things could be in the future? True.
Something you can build LEO hotels out of? Or research labs? Or entirely private space stations? Right with you.
Even something you can make a habitat module out of for astronauts going BEO? Yep.
But all of this STILL requires... low-cost access to space. 7 astronauts/passengers on a 60 million-dollar Dragon v2 equals... 8.5-and-a-bit million dollars PER PERSON.
By all means, lets have high-volume modules, they're the first step to cheaper space stations and interplanetary craft but, most importantly, gotta get the seat price down.
Skylon, taking 20 passengers for only 10 million dollars works out at 500,000 dollars.
By all means, Elon, tell us about the D but when, oh when will we get to hear about three other letters.
Come on, Elon, tell us more about MCT!
In a more interesting universe, the station would host ambassadors from Mimbar, Centauri Prime, Narn and we'd see a big wurlitzer floating around and a guy called Morden who would...
Hang on, wrong station.
A new engine for a (probably) updated, (probably) cheaper-to-build Atlas derivative - the Atlas V Mk II or Atlas 6 (and will there be an Atlas 6 Plus)?
Five years before the engines are ready, probably a bit longer than that for the Atlas V successor to arrive, but unless it'll have things like deep throttling, long lifespan & reusability, then it'll (probably) be competing against an established 1st-stage-reusable Falcon 9 v1.1 with, lest we forget, 2nd stage reusability (probably) coming down the pipe.
So new rocket with no previous track record competing against an established rocket that's already in a dominant position...
ULA will be the new SpaceX...
Without reusability and at a higher selling price...
Good luck with that.
NOTE: Nobody would be happier than me if ULA could actually compete on things like price, payload & other stuff against SpaceX. I just don't think they'll do it. In my opinion, the new rocket will be another expensive, one-time-usage beast and the market will have moved on by the time it arrives.
Yeah, just re-read the NASA twitter feed. You're right, it was the figure bid, not the figure NASA arbitrarily awarded. I just read the numbers and the red mist descended...
Still, it looks really bad (for Boeing) that SpaceX can do a launch for, at best figure for an Atlas V, 3 times less and will provide a passenger-carrying capsule that can land propulsively on land (there's got to be a better way of saying it instead of 'land on land') for half the price of the CST-100 which, I think, will only do parachute landings on water - I'm sure about the parachute bit but I'm assuming the land on water bit.
Anyway, if all goes well, then I firmly expect Boeing to end up with one launch a year (gotta have competition, don'tcha know? Even if that competition is much less capable and much more expensive) while SpaceX, as speculated in the article, takes 99% of the astronauts up to ISS.
Ok, Boeing gets... 4.2 BILLION dollars for CST-100 and SpaceX gets...
Wait for it, wait for it...
2.6 billion dollars.
The company that's doing the most to make space travel cheaper gets... less than the company that's making REALLY expensive stuff and has NO plans to make stuff cheaper.
Earth-passing asteroids are nature's way of asking...
'How's that space program coming along?'
Electric cars (and batteries of course), solar energy, reusable rockets and reusable BIG rockets. What we've been waiting for since the early days of Dan Dare, Captain Scarlet and yes, even Judge Dredd.
Finally, bit by bit, the future's getting here. High-capacity batteries with a (hopefully) quick recharge time and a long lifespan sold at low, low prices.
Last person using gasoline and an internal combustion engine's a rotten egg!
Let this be a warning! Non-union members participating in filmed nookie...
The PSU is waiting to get you. You'll never see it coming...
RIP Robin, you'll be sadly missed...
Plentiful water, significant temperature difference & a key location on the edge of the Outer System?
Future colony & fuel depot... Called it!
So NASA is building a massively expensive rocket and has been told that, due to the massive costs, they are highly likely to fall behind schedule?
I'm shocked, shocked! I tell you.