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NASA

NASA To Waste $150 Million On SLS Engine That Will Be Used Once 141

schwit1 writes: NASA's safety panel has noticed that NASA's SLS program either plans to spend $150 million human-rating a rocket engine it will only use once, or will fly a manned mission without human-rating that engine.

"The Block 1 SLS is the 'basic model,' sporting a Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (DCSS), renamed the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion System (ICPS) for SLS. The current plan calls for this [interim] stage to be used on [the unmanned] Exploration Mission -1 (EM-1) and [manned] Exploration Mission -2 (EM-2), prior to moving to the [Exploration Upper Stage] — also to be built by Boeing — that will become the workhorse for SLS. However, using the [interim upper stage] on a crewed mission will require it to be human rated. It is likely NASA will also need to fly the [Exploration Upper Stage] on an unmanned mission to validate the new stage ahead of human missions. This has been presenting NASA with a headache for some time, although it took the recent ASAP meeting to finally confirm those concerns to the public."

NASA doesn't have the funds to human-rate it, and even if they get those funds, human-rating it will likely cause SLS's schedule to slip even more, something NASA fears because they expect the commercial manned ships to be flying sooner and with increasing capability. The contrast — a delayed and unflown and very expensive SLS vs a flying and inexpensive commercial effort — will not do SLS good politically. However, if they are going to insist (properly I think) that SpaceX and Boeing human-rate their capsules and rockets, then NASA is going to have to hold the SLS to the same standard.
The Courts

Apple Loses Ebook Price Fixing Appeal, Must Pay $450 Million 97

An anonymous reader writes: A federal appeals court ruled 2-1 today that Apple indeed conspired with publishers to increase ebook prices. The ruling puts Apple on the hook for the $450 million settlement reached in 2014 with lawyers and attorneys general from 33 states. The Justice Dept. contended that the price-fixing conspiracy raised the price of some e-books from the $10 standard set by Amazon to $13-$15. The one dissenting judge argued that Apple's efforts weren't anti-competitive because Amazon held 90% of the market at the time. Apple is unhappy with the ruling, but they haven't announced plans to take the case further. They said, "While we want to put this behind us, the case is about principles and values. We know we did nothing wrong back in 2010 and are assessing next steps."
Programming

WebAssembly: An Attempt To Give the Web Its Own Bytecode 126

New submitter Josiah Daniels writes with this kernel from a much more detailed article at Ars Technica about what already looks like a very important initiative: WebAssembly is a new project being worked on by people from Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, and Apple, to produce a bytecode for the Web. WebAssembly, or wasm for short, is intended to be a portable bytecode that will be efficient for browsers to download and load, providing a more efficient target for compilers than plain JavaScript or even asm.js

Comment Re:simpler? exclusive ad channel? (Score 5, Insightful) 161

Apple makes, relatively speaking, no money at all from advertising.

Indeed, if you take its entire software ecosystem as a whole, it makes up for a mere fraction of Apple's total profit when compared to its hardware sales.

So when we're all being very clever cynics and conspiracy theorists, perhaps we would do well to look at the motivation of a company in a holistic sense. For Apple, perhaps if they let users control ads, their overall experience of the platform improves, and they're more likely to remain loyal and keep buying hardware.

Comment Re:science doesn't have the answer... (Score 2) 133

Science isn't supposed to "have answers". The premise of a scientific theory is twofold:

1. It must "work" given certain conditions.
2. It must be able to be proved NOT to work outside of those conditions.

Science says nothing about rights and wrongs, just whether things work or not within certain measurable parameters.

Premise 2 is important. If you can't say what will make your theory break, then it's not clear you're really saying anything at all.

Mars

Road To Mars: Solving the Isolation Problem 137

An anonymous reader writes: As space technology matures, new missions are being funded and humanity is setting its goals ever further. Space agencies are tackling some of the new problems that crop up when we try to go further away than Earth's moon. This New Yorker article takes a look at research into one of the biggest obstacles: extended isolation. Research consultant Jack Stuster once wrote, "Future space expeditions will resemble sea voyages much more than test flights, which have served as the models for all previous space missions." Long-duration experiments are underway to test the effects of isolation, but it's tough to study. You need many experiments to derive useful conclusions, but you can't just ship 100 groups of a half-dozen people off to remote areas of the globe and monitor all of them. It's also borderline unethical to expose the test subjects to the kind of stress and danger that would be present in a real Mars mission. The data collected so far has been (mostly) promising, but we have a long way to go. The technology and the missions themselves will probably come together long before we know how to deal with isolation. At some point, we'll just have to hope our best guess is good enough.
Software

Developers and the Fear of Apple 269

An anonymous reader writes: UI designer Eli Schiff has posted an article about the "climate of fear" surrounding Apple in the software development community. He points out how developers who express criticism in an informal setting often recant when their words are being recorded, and how even moderate public criticism is often prefaced by flattery and endorsements.

Beyond that, the industry has learned that they can't rely on Apple's walled garden to make a profit. The opaque app review process, the race to the bottom on pricing, and Apple's resistance to curation of the App Store are driving "independent app developers into larger organizations and venture-backed startups." Apple is also known to cut contact with developers if they release for Android first. The "climate of fear" even affects journalists, who face not only stonewalling from Apple after negative reporting, but also a brigade of Apple fans and even other journalists trying to paint them as anti-Apple.

Comment Re:The solution is obvious (Score 5, Insightful) 579

how is apple able to upgrade their phones for like 5 years and Scamsung, LG and HTC cannot?

Apple is comparatively disciplined, releasing about one new phone a year, and hardware and software are under their full control.

Together, the others release dozens, and different companies share different responsibilities. Nice for consumer choice, but not so nice for support, since nobody wants to maintain a software stack nor wrestle with the politics involved in updating so many different devices.

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981

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