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Comment: Re:Not allowed to play with Russia (Score 1) 71

Somebody remind me - why did we stop funding shuttle missions before getting a replacement technology in place?

Because NASA's primary contractors couldn't design a simple light-weight Soyuz-like capsule to go on Atlas V for less than a couple of billion dollars and 4 years development.

And they couldn't design Version 2 of the Shuttle without turning it into a ridiculous beyond-the-bleeding-edge SSTO wank-fantasy (NASP/VentureStar/DeltaClipper...) Every time NASA got permission/funding to develop a Shuttle replacement, they screwed it up. Over the last 30 years, they lost so much engineering experience, they couldn't even design a capsule or mini-spaceplane to service the ISS.

Cancelling the shuttle outright was meant to force them to "focus" on a practical solution.

Instead, NASA came up with Constellation...

Comment: Re:Not allowed to play with Russia (Score 1) 71

Somebody remind me - why did we stop funding shuttle missions before getting a replacement technology in place?

It was a catch-22 situation, philosophically Democrats hate the

What do the Democrats have to do with cancellation of the shuttle?

The program was cancelled under Bush; NASA stopped ordering parts, production was shut down. And Bush supported the Constellation abomination, even though it went completely against his own plan's (VSE's) guiding principles, drastically delayed any shuttle replacement, was inherently unsafe, and... argh... Anyway, Obama added an extra shuttle flight to extend the program, using up the last reserves of parts, and tried to end Constellation and redirect NASA towards commercial HSF.

I don't think Obama has any interest in space flight, he probably considers it a waste, and certainly the Democrats in the Senate created the SLS-zombie out of the rotten corpse of Constellation; but the Dems had nothing to do with cancelling the shuttle.

Comment: Re:Isn't the point of going to the moon... (Score 1) 311

by FatLittleMonkey (#46752593) Attached to: Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

refueling on the moon with fuel manufactured on the moon reduces the payload you need to boost off Earth considerably.
[...] if the reaction mass comes from the moon, instead of Earth, the savings can be considerable.

It's not just launch payload, it's cost. SpaceX is pre-selling FH launches at $125m each. Even if it cost $200m to launch 50 tonnes to LEO, it only benefits you to have a lunar fuel production facility if the cost of operating the facility works out at less than $4m/tonne of fuel. So, for example, if it cost you $1b/yr to maintain the lunar facility (which is optimistic), then you'd need to be supplying 250 tonnes of fuel to Mars missions every year to justify its existence. That seems unlikely.

[Actually more than 250 tonnes, to cover the delta-v loss.]

However, IMO, this is all part of the same mindset that infests most of what NASA does. The idea of picking a destination (Moon/Mars/space-station) as an Apollo-style "goal" or "vision", (even if you intend to build a long-term "base"). The goal of the space program should be to create a commercial eco-system of overlapping capabilities. Other than some unmanned science missions, NASA shouldn't have a "space program", especially a "manned space program". It should have an enabling-technology research program.

Comment: Re:It's a Planet (Score 1) 47

by FatLittleMonkey (#46752431) Attached to: Pluto May Have Deep Seas and Ancient Tectonic Faults

I, for one, am not wedded to nine planets. Or eight. Or fourteen, for that matter....

Fair enough. My mistake. Most people who whine about Pluto in the terms you used want to go back to 9 planets, and only 9, because "tradition".

I'd prefer to create a, admittedly still arbitrary, broad definition of planet as "any natural object that is above [a certain size**], and is not a star or stellar remnant." So brown dwarves, but not white. The Moon is a planet, as is Titan and the Galilean moons. Pluto is a planet, but so is Charon. And Ceres - as well as hundreds, possibly thousands of KBO/Oort-objects. Plus exo-planets, free-flying planets, etc.

People could then create official and ad-hoc sub-categories of these "planets". "Major moons". "Major Planets/Dwarf Planets". "Exo-Planets". And, for the whiners, "The Traditional Planets", ie, the magic 9.

[** "a certain size". I don't really care what that size is, whatever is useful to astronomers/planetologists. Anything smaller would be an "asteroid" (including small moons), down to another arbitrary limit where they become "meteoroids" (rocks and rubble), down to yet another arbitrary limit where they become "dust".]

Comment: Re:Russia (Score 1) 311

by FatLittleMonkey (#46745449) Attached to: Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

Yes it was a coup d'etat. A coup does not have to be a military one. Every illegal usurpation of the government is a coup.

If you are going to quote wikipedia, then quote it:

"A coup d'état typically [...] consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder." The armed forces, whether military or paramilitary, can be a defining factor of a coup d'état."

A coup d'etat comes from within. It refers to a specific type of overthrow, it is not just a generic term for an overthrow. (Usually military overthrowing the civilian government. But could also be a political deputy overthrowing the President, or a rebellion by minsters, etc. It does not, however, ever refer to a popular uprising coming from outside the existing structure.)

Comment: Re:Russia (Score 1) 311

by FatLittleMonkey (#46745359) Attached to: Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

My:

"There was a huge amount of corruption and fraud in the previous election."

Similar thing just happened in Hungary. Ruling part got 47% of the vote, but is claiming 2/3rds "supermajority" of the seats. Allowing it to pretty much make any legislative and constitutional changes it wants. All thanks to corrupt rule changes and probably election fraud. Expect protests.

Comment: Re:Propaganda much? (Score 0) 311

by FatLittleMonkey (#46745353) Attached to: Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

The American genocide was worse than Stalin's. About 90% of the native population was killed by disease. Before colonisation, explorers sailing up the east cost of North America reported it to be thick with native settlements, grey with smoke from cooking fires for the entire length of the coast. By the time English settlers arrived, it was almost empty. Disease from southern (Spanish) conquest swept up the coast in waves, killing off millions.

That doesn't make Stalin's genocide any less. Nor the invasion of Ukraine any less of an invasion. Nor the violation of the Budapest Memorandum any less of a violation.

Comment: Re:Russia (Score 0) 311

by FatLittleMonkey (#46745203) Attached to: Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

From Russia's point of view they came in to help those people who had had their democratic government taken away from them by force.

[Laughs]

legitimately elected pro-Russia government

There was a huge amount of corruption and fraud in the previous election. (And in most of the elections. The Crimean "president" got just a few percent of the vote but was appointed by a corrupt Crimean parliament.) That's what started the protests. Same thing happened the last time the Russians rigged an election in the Ukraine. (When they weren't poisoning anti-Russian candidates, and straight up murdering critical journalists.)

overthrown in a coup

It wasn't a coup. The Ukrainian military stayed mostly out of it. It was a popular uprising.

the people of Crimea asked for Russian assistance.

The Russian-puppet President in Crimea "asked" for Russian "assistance", not "the people of Crimea". And the referendum held after the invasion is hardly a measure of actual popular opinion. Putin gets 95+% in his elections. That's how Russian "democracy" works.

Comment: Re:Stupid is as stupid does.... (Score 1) 311

by FatLittleMonkey (#46745119) Attached to: Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

Helium 3 is up there. I think that's the isotope that's supposed to be good for fusion.

Helium-3 fusion is more difficult than deuterium fusion, so we'll likely have deuterium fusion first. One of the waste products of deuterium fusion is He3; and you can increase production artificially by adding lithium linings to deuterium fusion reactors. OTOH, the amount of He3 in the lunar soil is infinitesimal. It will always be vastly cheaper to produce it artificially on Earth. Hell, it's probably cheaper to produce it artificially in deuterium reactors on the moon, than it would be to mining it from lunar regolith.

Moreso, once we have any kind of fusion, the whole economics of space development could change. For example, we have no idea if the same fusion technology would allow cheap fusion rockets, etc. So trying to justify a development today by predicting a development in 20 or 50 years, is foolish.

Helium-3 mining is a stupid reason to go to the moon, it just makes space-advocates look like idiots.

Comment: Re:Propaganda much? (Score 4, Insightful) 311

by FatLittleMonkey (#46745019) Attached to: Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

Ethnically, it wasn't Russian until the 1940's when Stalin deported (and murdered) a shitload of locals and trucked in Russian-speaking replacements.

Before that, it was no more Russian than India was "English".

Putin apologists are weird. Russia signed an explicitly unambigious agreement to respect Ukrainian sovereignty and existing borders. Putin violated that agreement. It's not complicated.

Comment: Re:Isn't the point of going to the moon... (Score 2) 311

by FatLittleMonkey (#46744989) Attached to: Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

Landing on the moon and taking off again adds 4km/s delta-v to the energy cost of going to Mars.

Plus launching from lunar orbit into Mars transfer orbit is less efficient than launching from LEO directly into MTO, due to Oberth inefficiencies.

The net effect is that there's no benefit from using the moon as an intermediate step, unless the cost of manufacturing fuel on the moon is vastly less than the cost of launching it from Earth into LEO. However, the equipment cost for mining, purifying, and electrolysing polar ice into hydrogen/oxygen, then liquefying the cryo-gases into fuel tanks and launching those tanks back into Lunar orbit (using yet more lunar fuel) is likely to be ridiculously high.

Comment: Re:Russia (Score 1, Interesting) 311

by FatLittleMonkey (#46744675) Attached to: Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

Russia signed a specific agreement with Ukraine (and with Georgia and other FSRs) in order to get them to give their (formerly Soviet) nuclear arsenal back to Russia, that Russia would "respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine", "refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine", etc etc.

Putin violated that agreement. Every former Soviet republic knows that Russia won't honour any agreements, and that they all boned themselves by giving those nukes back.

Comment: Re:It's a Planet (Score 4, Insightful) 47

by FatLittleMonkey (#46744617) Attached to: Pluto May Have Deep Seas and Ancient Tectonic Faults

Care to offer a definition of "planet" that would include Pluto but rule out Eris/Sedna/Makemake/Haumea/Ceres/etc?

Pluto is the only planet to be discovered by an American.

American astronomer Michael Brown discovered Eris, Sedna, Makemake, and Haumea.

Nobody has any right to deny him his discovery.

Nobody has. He's still listed as the discoverer of Pluto. Just as Piazzi is still listed as the discoverer of Ceres, even though it too lost its early status as a "planet".

Comment: Re:The magical scenario is "gradual social decay." (Score 3, Insightful) 720

by FatLittleMonkey (#46738799) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

In either a sudden collapse, or gradual decay, much will be lost. Let me remind you that when the Roman civilization decayed, technologies as simple as the making of cement were lost.

The Romans didn't know how to make cement. They knew how to make concrete by using a specific volcanic sand from a particular area, mixed with lime.

They didn't know why it worked, nor how to identify other sources, nor how to make it from less pure sources. They were cooks who knew how to use flour, but didn't know how to make flour once their initial supply ran out. Cut off the trade in magic sand and the concrete made from other sources was weak, worthless for building.

Plenty of communities across post-Roman western Europe knew how to make cement mortar. It just wasn't anywhere near as a strong as Roman concrete because no-one else had the right magic sand either, nor knew why less-magic sand worked, or didn't work, hence the right way to cook it to make it more-magic. So it tended to be restricted to things like mosaics, not entire buildings.

"If John Madden steps outside on February 2, looks down, and doesn't see his feet, we'll have 6 more weeks of Pro football." -- Chuck Newcombe

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