* Posts by AdamT

396 posts • joined 7 Sep 2010


Clever girl: SpaceX's Mars-bound Raptor engine looks like it works just fine


Re: Trojans

If the coffee tastes suspiciously good, then you may have a problem ...

I studied hard, I trained for years. Yay, now I'm an astronaut in space. Argggh, leukemia!


Re: I've always wondered...

I think I have read an article about this somewhere ( I will attempt to find it ) but pretty sure the answer was a lot - in a "1.21 GW? Great Scott!" kind of way. With, reference to a_mu's comment, it was "if you can lift a reactor big enough to provide it, you'd be better off just living inside the reactor shell - that'll shield you just fine" kind of size.


Re: Kinda makes sense...

I think 'nauts get tested to some degree pretty much for the rest of their life. I recall Chris Hadfield mentioning something about that in one of his talks.

Waiter, what's this? SpaceX delivery delayed for a day by moldy food


Re: First stage landing was... damp

Seems like the towing process has been a little fraught as well, so it might be in salt water longer than they were hoping. Various local Twitter users report that they are using "GO Quest" and a tug to try and recover it but both ships were out all night waiting for daylight, stopping it drifting too far and keeping other vessels away. You can see the tracks of GO Quest here: https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/shipid:450521/tracktype:7/lpt:1544041920 which look a little convoluted...


Re: Not too concerned about the mice

Went to a talk once by Chris Hadfield who described the delightful processes whereby they are "made empty" (because they might be crammed into the Soyuz capsule for up to 48hrs on the way to the ISS) and then "made clean" with a full body alcohol scrub specifically, as you say, to deal with fungal spores...

Attempt to clean up tech area has shocking effect on kit


Inadvertent Van de Graff generator

Similar tale from a couple of decades ago:

A clean room with ESD conductive flooring, lots of high speed (for the time) opto-electronics components and a very expensive high-speed oscilloscope. On a trolley. With rubber wheels. Bring the 'scope over to investigate circuit board not quite working properly, apply probes, suddenly circuit board is working even less well than it did.

Eventual realisation that conductive floor + rotating rubber wheels + conductive trolley = Van de Graff generator.

Solution? Attach a small chain to the trolley frame that drags on the floor....

Apocryphality rating? Well, this is the story I was told when I asked why all the equipment trolleys had little chains attached to them that dragged along the floor...

Keep your hands on the f*cking wheel! New Tesla update like being taught to drive by your dad


Re: Pedant Alert

Isle of Mull? A849: https://goo.gl/maps/5rz7CLD54rJ2

Once you get used to it you can maintain a decent average speed and synchronise swerving into the passing spots with the oncoming traffic without having to slow too much...

Crappy IoT on the high seas: Holes punched in hull of maritime security


Re: Not quite...

Internet of Titanics?

Kill the blockchain! It'll make you fitter in the long run, honest


I love that the ad that I've got in the right sidebar for this article is for the "London Blockchain Summit"

SpaceX to pick up the space pace with yet another Falcon 9 launch


Re: It’s a Geo orbit

I think they have achieved this a few times (and tried but failed a few times) but, yes, the first stage comes back virtually empty and much faster than ideal. And, yes, there is a cargo weight limit where it just can't be done.

According to wikipedia: JCSAT-14, Thaicom 8 and SES-10 all had successful (but hot/fast) landings but EchoStar 23, for example, was too big.

It could be you: National Lottery hands £16m to England's Jodrell Bank


Re: Logopolis

@Jaspa - worse than that, it's also one step closer to Sylvester McCoy ...



And who can forget (well, assuming you were alive at the time) its appearance in the final episodes of the Tom Baker Doctor Who era?

Tom Baker, of course, being the best Doctor Who.

(yes, I too will choose to die on this particular hill on this particular issue, if necessary)

Musk: I want to retrieve rockets with big Falcon party balloons


In theory it doesn't even need to be elastic, just spinning:


I think getting the timing of everything just right is fairly critical.

I recall Neal Stephenson used these in his SevenEves novel.

Super Cali health inspectors: Tesla blood awoke us


Re: Workplace accidents

This was a few years ago but I saw a piling machine come through a wall into our company's car park and crush a car. They were frantically trying to remove a piling sleeve with setting concrete in it so they then started yanking at it with a crane. When the chain broke, flew into our carpark and sliced off another car's wing mirror, we called the police. But, yes, HSE just said "if no one actually got hurt, then, sorry, we are too busy". I think the contractors paid off the car owners with cash after that and rebuilt the wall.

So sure, no one got hurt, everyone got compensated but it still felt "wrong" - sometimes there needs to be more sanction to discourage dangerous behaviour, otherwise it will just keep going until the time when they don't get lucky and someone gets seriously hurt.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 poised to fling 350kg planet-sniffing satellite into Earth orbit


@ArrZarr - but he has: https://goo.gl/maps/7zr1YXhvu292 Although, it's not in an atrium because it is kind of big...

(please tell me that I haven't just missed your joke!)

Boeing CEO takes aim at Musk’s Starman-in-a-Tesla stunt


Re: Not a zero sum game...


I was trying to put a positive spin on in that I think there is room for everyone to play and grow but, yes, I agree with you that Boeing are in a very difficult position. It would be healthier for the industry if there was more than one player and a range of launch offerings from each of them to give customers some choice and reduce the single-provider risk but, right now, that's only going to happen if the incumbents catch up.

Not sure which rockets you are wondering might share parts but, I agree, I don't think it's much. SpaceX is virtually all in house and I don't think they've offered technology to anyone else - in any event, their stuff is all metric so it wouldn't fit! :-)

To be honest, I still don't get why more attention isn't being paid to Boeing's engine recovery plan which strikes me as completely insane (but has to work if they are to hit their stated price). Yes, catching parachutes has been done before but, as far as I am aware, that was film canisters not multi-ton, red hot lumps of metal...


Re: Probably very close to a zero sum game

@AC - well I think there is an extent to which, yes, that's exactly how some companies think. Part of the business case will be the launch cost and that just got slashed. But there could also be some other cost savings brought on by the new capabilities. Naively you could speculate that a manufacturer could look at their bill-of-materials for the satellite they are just about to build and ask the question "next year I can launch something twice the weight for the same price so how much money can I save by making the chassis out of cast iron rather than <exotic alloy> ?" This might just end up being a $/kg issue: FH is 1400 $/Kg to LEO which is already nearly twice as good as F9 (at 2700 $/Kg) and both those are substantially better than ULA has ever offered (depending on which figures you use you can guess between 5 and 10 times better).


Not a zero sum game...

SpaceX upset the launch the market by coming in a showing they could do similar stuff to the incumbents but much cheaper. But assuming that drives costs down for everyone, that has to be a good thing for the American Tax Payer (and everyone else who wants to put a something in space). But it seems that many people (including this Boeing dude) are still treating this as a zero-sum game. i.e. that every launch SpaceX (or whoever) does is a launch that they don't get to do. I can see why the car industry might be worried about Tesla, for example, because (very roughly) someone in the market for a new (pricey) car is only going to buy one so, yes, you might lose a sale to someone else.

But in the space industry a big bottle neck has been cost and availability, and now it looks like costs are going to go down and the availability of all sorts of different and new launch capabilities is going to go up. In that environment can't all of them benefit from the new customers and types of customer that will appear?

Could well have missed something here but it does seem like a situation in which they should all be able to benefit because they are jointly creating a market that doesn't currently exist.

UK rocket-botherers rattle SABRE, snaffle big bucks


Re: OK, i'll ask.

I met some of the Reaction Engines team at a conference a few years ago and I did ask that. I can't quite remember the precise reason but I think it is so that there is some down vector to the thrust whilst the air flow is still in line with the fuselage. Perhaps this compensates a bit for the smallish wings? Once you are out the atmosphere then all that matters is that you can align the thrust vector with the centre of mass.

Virgin spaceplane makes maiden rocket-powered flight


Not just for tourists...

A lot of the money will probably be from tourists but there are a few companies (including VG) who are planning science-only jaunts. Apparently there is a surprising amount of zero-g science you can get done in a few minutes. Even though the time is short, for the same money that you would spend on launch to ISS or whatever, you can get a _lot_ of 6 minute sessions and you can sit right next to your experiment so the apparatus can be a lot simpler.

VG's offering is here: https://www.virgingalactic.com/research/

2001 set the standard for the next 50 years of hard (and some soft) sci-fi


Re: Not just Siri/Google Assistant/etc

@Dave 126 + @Mike Richards - yes that blog is amazing! And they've done a book, out in October: https://typesetinthefuture.com/book/


Re: Still Waiting...


Looks like Alexa heard you say that:


Let's go to Mars, dude: Euro space parachute passes maiden test


not a fluid dynamics expert but...

... given that the atmospheric density, the strength of gravity and velocity at opening are all markedly different between here and Mars, how relevant is a test carried out here at a relatively low altitude?

Or is this something where you test the design (i.e. shape, unfurling mechanism, etc.) but then use a model and some maths to make it a different size/aspect ratio/whatever for the Mars version?

Tesla crash investigation causes dip in 'leccycar firm's share price


Re: Clickbait headlines... (elsewhere)

also it looks pretty bad for "the authorities" if the claim that the crash barriers had been removed is correct.

UK.gov: Here's £8.8m to plough into hydrogen-powered car tech


Re: The New Hybrid

I actually thought methanol as a fuel (either direct or in a fuel cell) was still more dangerous than petrol as it is actually more flammable. Could well be wrong here but my understanding was that if you have a leak in the petrol line and it sprays onto the exhaust manifold then it won't catch fire (a spark, of course, would be a different matter) but that methanol would catch fire in that circumstance.

And I guess diesel would be even better, in this contrived scenario at least, as even a spark won't light it.


Re: ' Current industrial production of hydrogen gas'

3. (albeit related to your points 1 + 2) "Hydrogen Embrittlement" - that your metallic tank will slowly become more brittle over time (due to 2 perhaps?) and thus become increasingly unsafe especially in a crash

So there would have to be absolutely mandatory and very strongly enforced full pressure testing of the hydrogen tanks (and all high pressure components) on a regular basis.

Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, off you go: Snout of UK space forcibly removed from EU satellite trough


Not sure whether this would apply to Galileo (or, to be honest whether I've even remembered correctly) but I think that, for example, ESA funding is based on a certain substantial fraction (or maybe all) of each countries contribution being spent back in that country by ESA. So, if this is the case, then a starting negotiating position from the EU would be that we've already fully or near fully benefited to the amount of our contribution so that's that.

Does Parliament or Google decide when your criminal past is forgotten?


Re: Accessibility

Completely agree.

I think there is similar feeling about Street View too. Sure, everything you can see on Street View is something that you could see by just going there and looking, and (in most cases) would be entitled to photograph too. But it does take on a different feel when you don't have to actually get up and go and do it yourself or pay someone else to do it.

Modern technology seems to be exposing a lot of areas of the Law and societal convention where things didn't used to need laws or conventions simply because they weren't possible or at least weren't practical - but now they are. The dangerous aspect is that there doesn't seem to be a legal/political/social discussion on that wider point (except on El Reg, obviously!) but instead it is currently being worked out by trying to shoehorn the existing 20th century law into the 21st century issue.

Even in this current example where data protection laws are actually more recent it still seems like this is fundamentally missing the point - this case shouldn't be about the technicality of whether Google is breaching data protection by holding a small snippet of info in its index or cache.

But, to be honest, I'm not sure I could write down in one sentence what it should be about!

Paul Allen's six-engined monster plane prepares for space deliveries


Re: Be Right Back?

Actually I think the BRB just got retired in favour of an fully automated system. On the last few SpaceX launches you could here someone say "ATFS enabled" just before launch - which is Autonomous Flight Termination System. Apparently this also leads to the possibility of launches on the same or consecutive days from Cape Canaveral as (I didn't realise) that one of the most time consuming bits about switching the range from launch to launch was actually re-configuring and testing all the radars/scopes/etc. - that were needed for the manual system - to the next launch trajectory. Don't know if the new ATFS will be used on manned missions though. I can imagine people still preferring the idea of having people in the loop for that. Although that can lead to "Wargames (1983)" problems and the fact that in the Shuttle era the Range Safety officers were carefully kept well away from the Astronauts and their families lest personal feelings got in the way...


Re: You'll never get me up in one of those things

c.f. Virgin Galactic and the Scaled Composites carrier plane: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaled_Composites_White_Knight_Two

WhitTVman to head mobile-first media platform


Well, I think she'll fit right in based on an observation I made in a previous comment thread:

Having read some of the various claim/counter-claim documents in the HP vs. Autonomy spat I still can't get over the description of the high level "Executive Committee" meetings: "Ms Whitman ... repeatedly adopted the management approach of ... playing country music to the meeting instructing the senior executives attending to take the meaning of the country music songs and apply them to their own management methods".

WikiLeave? Assange tipped for Ecuadorian eviction


Re: He may regret waiting

OK, I'm confused. I thought it was generally accepted now that Wikileaks had selectively leaked information to damage the Democrat campaign and and held onto stuff that might have damaged the Trump/Republican campaign. In which case wouldn't they be rather pleased with him?

Or is this one of those "yes, he helped us but we still don't like him and he probably can't help us any more (especially as the Mueller investigation is uncovering more stuff than Wikileaks held on to)" situations?

Mystery surrounds fate of secret satellite slung by SpaceX


Re: the 45th Space Wing?

So cray74 is not necessarily the 74th cray then? Is that what you are saying?

Bigmouth ex-coppers who fed media MP pr0nz story face privacy probe


Just an ICO probe?!

I don't get why he isn't facing something more serious than an ICO probe.

This article from the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-42151148) quotes him admitting that he took home evidence: "... Mr Lewis said the only police notebook he took with him was the one he had used during Operation Miser. The notebook, seen by the BBC ..."

I think police notebooks have a higher evidential status than something that you or I might have written so the idea that he could just walk out with it when he retired is pretty shocking (to me at least).

Pastry in a manger: We're soz, Greggs man said


Re: Jesus backwards

That's nearly as good as when someone just pointed out to me that "Maximus Decimus Meridius" is sort of Latin for "High Five"...

Donald Trump's tweets: Are they presidential statements or not?


Re: 21st Century Schizoid Man

Much as it hurts to say this, I think that might be a bit unfair. As the article says:

"The Department of Justice is right now doing what all defendants in lawsuits attempt to do: argue whatever points they think will make it most likely that the lawsuit will be dismissed before it gets to trial or judicial decision."

This might then be more of a criticism of the US legal system where much seems to be decided before anything gets to court and becomes concrete and public (c.f. the recent revelations about how many probably-criminal harassment cases are settled out-of-court where, conveniently, severe gagging conditions can be imposed). During this pre-court phase it seems that you can make any argument that you think might stick as long as it doesn't directly contradict existing legislation or court decision. That could well be why the two organisations bringing the court cases are so keen to get a court decision and the DoJ is pushing so hard not to get one...


Re: legally entitled to block accounts

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think it works like that. An impediment has been put in place against specific individuals from reading statements made by @realDonaldTrump feed. The fact that the impediment is fairly easy to work around probably isn't that relevant to the legal argument.

I'm wary of trying to make an analogy but if someone steals your bike they can't use the argument "but it was a really rubbish lock and really easy to pick" because the principle is that you had asserted your control/ownership of the bike and your intent that it should remain where you left it by using a lock, no matter how bad it was.

Google's phone woes: The Pixel and the damage done


Re: Updates

With the caveat that I really don't do much research into phones beyond reading El Reg, I have indeed mostly fixated on the Nexus series because of the frequent security updates. I genuinely don't understand why this isn't a bigger issue for more people - I can't imagine the frustration of reading about a zero-day exploit on El Reg, that is being used in the wild and then having to wait for the phone manufacturer to pick up and release the fix. If they even bother, given it is in their interest to try and "persuade" you to buy the latest one which coincidentally already has the fix...

You forgot that you hired me and now you're saying it's my fault?


Re: Meeting room naming

@DB - Indeed I have done that but the room naming contest got suspended for the suspicious reason that they wanted to refurbish the entire building instead - which I felt was a bit of an extreme way of stopping me winning. I did get a box of chocolates instead though.

(I'm allergic to chocolate)

Farewell Cassini! NASA's Saturnian spacecraft waves goodbye for its Grand Finale


Re: FTA: "The shuttle was to point its antennas..."

Well, it did carry (or "shuttle", if you like) another probe all the way there too...

SpaceX releases Pythonesque video of rocket failures


Re: The best one there was

I'm with detritus. Loved that book!


If you like "Ignition!" you might also enjoy this summary blogpost about Chlorine Trifluoride (which duly references the book): "Sand won't save you this time" ( http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2008/02/26/sand_wont_save_you_this_time ). Yes, it's relevant as it has been tested as a possible rocket fuel...

One thought equivalent to less than a single proton in mass


Re: Confused units

oh, less than 12 I'd guess.

SpaceX nails two launches and barge landings in one weekend


Re: Things are getting interesting

Is it just the physical vibrations? I was also wondering if there could be ionisation in the rocket exhaust that could mess up radio signals?


Re: Even old curmudgeons are happy!

That's a little bit harsh on the "sub-orbital lob" companies. Yes, a lot of the money will be from tourists but there are (or were - they have been a bit quiet lately!) a few companies (including VG) who were planning science-only jaunts. Apparently there is a surprising amount of zero-g science you can get done in a few minutes. Even though the time is short, for the same money that you would spend on launch to ISS, or whatever, you can get a _lot_ of 6 minute sessions and you can sit right next to your experiment so the apparatus can be a lot simpler.


Re: Grid fins

Actually on fire? Or really, _really_ "toasty"?

Tesla, Atlassian told to go through front door in effort to save Australian industrial civilisation


Re: 100 days from contract signature

Well, this project isn't rocket science and they've done it before:


"Manufactured, shipped, installed and readied for operation in roughly three months ..."

Dyson backs Britain plc with $2.5bn AI and robotics investment


Re: The best bit...

I think he (and his company) also pay rather a lot of tax in the UK too according to this report in the Indy (albeit a few years old): http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-billionaires-who-do-pay-their-bills-including-james-dyson-and-jk-rowling-7873607.html

Annoyingly precocious teen who ruined Trek is now an asteroid


Re: I like Will wheaton but wesley...

You might also like John Scalzi (sci fi author) performing a skit with WW on that very subject:


It's from his "Redshirts" book promotion tour (the book loosely being a Trek parody) and, if I recall correctly, WW was reading his part live so didn't know where it was going ...


Re: Blame the EU?

You should also hunt down the episode of "The Nerdist" podcast where they interview Patrick Stewart and he ends up doing the opening intro and various of Picard's stock phrases in a French accent. He also alleges that there is a tape somewhere in the vaults of Paramount where they did if for real at the time before deciding that it really wasn't going to work...


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