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Comment: Re:Popularity of space stuff based on replies (Score 1) 75

by BadEvilYoda (#45154261) Attached to: Saturn In All Its Glory

I think there are at least two competing issues - the first is that, in large part, space has become "boring" for many, for lack of a better word. We've spent years and years circling in LEO with shuttle and ISS, without much "wow factor" to show for it. There is a certain pessimism that comes with relying on a space agency that has its priorities shifted with each and every administration change (and my post history here certainly reflects that, as I often comment on space-related articles and not many others). Since Apollo, there has not really been a mission that has captivated the masses nearly as much. Sure, we have the efforts of SpaceX and SpaceShip One and others in the private sector, but there's nothing truly inspiring about that, at least, not yet. Resupply to the ISS just isn't sexy. I think Chris Hadfield did an absolutely excellent job of trying to bring the ISS some much-needed publicity and popularity with his various experiments and clips from the ISS, and that was a great idea and a great start. Going to the moon? Going to Mars? Now you'd grab people's attention and maybe even inspire renewed interest in the sciences and the space program (whether public or privately funded). But the Voyagers can only leave the solar system so many times before the general reaction becomes "Meh, this again?" Curiosity can only drill into so many rocks on Mars before the average person starts to lose interest.

The second is that, for a post such as this, there's not much that can necessarily be added by most - just the concept that you could fit almost four Earths into that hexagonal storm is lost on or incomprehensible to many. Not necessarily in the /. crowd, but in the public at large. Aside from pretty desktop wallpapers, there aren't many folks that are equipped to comment about or discuss images such as this in any real analytical or technical detail.

Comment: No moon for you! Come back, 50 years! (Score 1) 238

by BadEvilYoda (#39684745) Attached to: Voyager and the Coming Great Hiatus In Deep Space

On July 20, 1969, man took his first footsteps on the moon. They were carried there aboard the Saturn V, the most powerful rocket ever built, a record which stands to this day. It was the culmination of a challenge set forth by John F. Kennedy in his landmark speech on September 12, 1962: "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Why the history lesson? President Obama's 2011-2012 budget effectively ends the U.S. manned spaceflight program by cancelling Ares/Constellation/Orion and providing for no successor (the designed-only-on-paper SLS does not count). The shuttle is currently being retired to various museums around the country. We will remain at the mercy of the Russians to launch U.S. astronauts into orbit to the ISS, unless/until SpaceX manages to accomplish a series of safe launches. While some may argue that NASA received a nominal budget increase, they also have no real program and no real goal. And we all know how well such plans work in successive presidential administrations.

I was not born in time to see the first moon landing, and it appears I will be long dead before another American lands on the moon, or Mars, or anywhere else in the solar system. How is it that the United States is willing to concede that for years to come, and possibly decades, we've simply given up on manned spaceflight? In 1969 we could land on the moon - and in 2012 we've just lost the ability or the will to do it? Ares I and Ares V may not have been the perfect answer, but at least we were still on track to have manned access to space. Maybe once the Chinese or the Russians start colonizing the moon, or traveling to Mars, the U.S. will see the error of its ways - and by then it will be too little, too late. We will be the ones trying to play catchup, having relinquished our lead in all things related to manned space exploration. Case in point - a large part of the cost of Ares I was attempting to reverse engineer Saturn parts, because while we have the blueprints, and we have production parts and samples, the reasons WHY parts were designed the way they were has been lost - the engineers are long dead, or retired. Things such as why valves had certain diameters, or why pipes had certain bend radii - all lost to dust and history. And now the cycle is again set to repeat with the retirement of the shuttle with no replacement on the horizon.

The ultimate future of mankind is off this rock. All of humanity's eggs cannot live forever in this fragile little basket we call Earth. And circling the Earth in LEO at the mercy of another country's launch schedule is not progress, but madness.

Comment: Re:Um, why? (Score 5, Insightful) 288

by BadEvilYoda (#34724076) Attached to: 'Colonizing the Red Planet,' a How-To Guide
Here's a good answer. At the moment, all of humanity's eggs are in one, and some might argue very fragile, basket. We're exactly one extinction level event away from going the way of the dinosaurs. I agree that another "boots and flags" mission is fairly pointless. But setting up a long-term viable colony on the moon, or Mars, such that the human race has a chance at surviving even if some catastrophe was to happen to Earth, seems like a pretty decent idea. If Shoemaker-Levy 9 had Earth in its crosshairs instead of Jupiter - we had absolutely no chance of stopping it. And, if you want to go out out on an even longer timescale - the sun isn't going to be here forever. Of course, hopefully by that time we will be well past the point of using chemical rockets, etc. But, babysteps... get off this rock first.

Comment: Meet "The Resistance" (Score 5, Funny) 647

by BadEvilYoda (#34221604) Attached to: National Opt-Out Day Against Virtual Strip Searches
This article by Jeffrey Goldberg is both sad, hilarious, and informative. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/10/for-the-first-time-the-tsa-meets-resistance/65390/ "We have to search up your thighs and between your legs until we meet resistance," he explained. "Resistance?" I asked. "Your testicles," he explained. "That's funny," I said, "because 'The Resistance' is the actual name I've given to my testicles."

Comment: Re:Not the Pioneer Anomaly (Score 5, Informative) 89

by BadEvilYoda (#30088456) Attached to: Rosetta Fly-By To Probe "Pioneer Anomaly"

The Planetary Society has an interesting FAQ on this subject: http://www.planetary.org/programs/projects/innovative_technologies/pioneer_anomaly/update_20050720.html

Also explains why it is seen with Pioneer 10 and 11 and not Voyager 1 or 2 or other more "modern" spacecraft.

From the FAQ: The Pioneers are spin-stabilized spacecraft. The Voyagers are three-axis stabilized craft that fire thrusters to maintain their orientation in space or to slew around and point their instruments. Those thruster firings would introduce uncertainties in the tracking data that would overwhelm any effect as small as that occurring with Pioneer. This difference in the way the spacecraft are stabilized actually is one of the reasons the Pioneer data are so important and unique. Most current spacecraft are three-axis stabilized, not spin stabilized.

Comment: Manned Earth to Mars = Radiation Overdose (Score 1) 177

by BadEvilYoda (#29455625) Attached to: Gravitational Currents Could Slash Fuel Needed To
18 months is currently too long for a manned Mars mission, much less anything slower and therefore longer.

Quote: Mars will be even tougher, these models suggest. Some scenarios call for missions that would last 18 months or more. "Right now there's no design solution to stay within safety limits for such a Mars mission," Cucinotta says. "Putting enough radiation shielding around a spacecraft would make it far too heavy to launch, so we need to find better lightweight shielding materials, and we probably need to develop medical techniques to counteract damage to cells caused by cosmic rays." He notes that one of the biggest obstacles to progress in this area is "uncertainty in the types of cell damage deep cosmic ray exposure can cause. We still have a lot to learn."

Source: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/27may_phantomtorso.htm?list776758

Comment: Apollo chute test failed too (Score 5, Informative) 163

by BadEvilYoda (#24710411) Attached to: NASA's Orion Mock-Up Fails Parachute Test
January 11, 1968

A Parachute Test Vehicle (PTV) test failed at El Centro, Calif. The PTV was released from a B-52 aircraft at 15,240 meters and the drogue chute programmer was actuated by a static line connected to the aircraft. One drogue chute appeared to fail upon deployment, followed by failure of the second drogue seven seconds later. Disreefing of these drogues normally occurred at 8 seconds after deployment with disconnect at deployment at plus 18 seconds. The main chute programmer deployed and was effective for only 14 out of the expected 40 seconds' duration. This action was followed by normal deployment of one main parachute, which failed, followed by the second main parachute as programmed after four-tenths of a second, which also failed. The main chute failure was observed from the ground and the emergency parachute system deployment was commanded but also failed because of high dynamic pressure, allowing the PTV to impact and be destroyed. Investigation was under way and MSC personnel were en route to El Centro and Northrop-Ventura to determine the cause and to effect a solution. TWX, George M. Low, MSC, to NASA Hq., Attn: Apollo Program Director, Jan. 11, 1968.

Source: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4009/v4p2h.htm

The biggest difference between time and space is that you can't reuse time. -- Merrick Furst

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