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Comment: Re:SLS and comparing to spacex (Score 2) 132

by Guspaz (#47534581) Attached to: SLS Project Coming Up $400 Million Short

He did state publicly that he promised NASA that he could build a rocket comparable to the SLS on a fixed-price $2 billion contract (meaning NASA would not pay a dime for budget overruns), although that price didn't include any second-stage upgrades NASA might require to meet its needs.

SpaceX is actually going ahead with their SLS-like competitor (Codenamed "BFR", I think you can guess what that stands for), and they're supposed to start testing on the methane-powered engines (Raptor) soon, which are supposed to be both more powerful and more efficient than the F-1 engines used in the Saturn V. However, without any customers paying for the R&D, BFR will take a lot longer to build than it would have if NASA contracted SpaceX to do it.

So, yeah. SpaceX offered NASA a contract to build an entire replacement for the SLS for less than a year of SLS funding.

Comment: Re:Can I go anywhere useful yet? (Score 1) 120

Battery swaps are unbelievably more complex to swap than switching a standardized propane tank. EV batteries (for long-range EVs) are massively larger and heavier than a propane tank, and in some cases are actually structural parts of the vehicle. Tesla designed an automated system that works for the Model S, which knows where the bolts are on the battery to remove it from the car as well as exactly how much to tighten the bolts. It'd probably also work on the Model X, which uses the same battery packs. But what about the Model S, which won't? Now you've got to handle two different kinds of battery packs, potentially different sizes and shapes, with bolts in different places... And then, handling it for other manufacturers? It's not hard to create a charge station adapter, but handling battery packs that are completely different sizes/shapes? No way. They'd have to standardize to a degree that would be a severe restriction in car design.

Comment: Re:Can I go anywhere useful yet? (Score 1) 120

Tesla is just starting their expansion, sure, but the plan shows three superchargers between Montreal and Toronto alone...

They build them along popular routes, with the plan being to have them ever few hundred kilometers. They're programmed into the satnav, so planning a road trip shouldn't be any more complicated than plugging your destination address into the car and hitting the gas peddle, with the car routing you to superchargers as required.

Comment: Re:Avoiding Amazon Web Services? (Score 1, Troll) 168

by Guspaz (#47531349) Attached to: Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell

You don't move to AWS if you care that much about budget; among cloud providers, they have some of the highest costs, and lowest performance. They're also one of the most flexible (in terms of what you can do), but there are a lot of mature cloud providers out there that will give you the same performance for a fraction the cost. Just not necessarily the breadth of services.

Comment: Re:Can I go anywhere useful yet? (Score 2) 120

No, but I certainly wouldn't try to do those 6-7 hour drives in a gasoline car without a break either. If you're going to stop for a bite midway, why not charge up while you're at it? And then you're not increasing the length of your trip.

Battery swaps might make this even less of an issue (a two minute pit stop rather than a thirty minute pit stop), but I'm a bit more skeptical about the practicality of those.

With the charging networks coming along, saying that EVs can't do big trips is (or will shortly be) false. The question is how inconvenient a big trip will be, and I'd argue that as long as your EV can drive longer than you'd want to before taking a break, it's practical.

Comment: It happened before (Score 5, Informative) 212

In the 80s, Quebec's power grid got taken out by solar storms. It was particularly susceptible because we have a ton of really long-distance runs:

That one was just bad enough to flip circuit breakers on the grid, but it still caused a 9 hour power outage. Some satellites also lost control.

Comment: Re:What flyout and back plan? (Score 3, Informative) 49

by Guspaz (#47517103) Attached to: SpaceX Releases Video of Falcon Rocket's Splashdown

At the point where the booster separates, it has burned most of its fuel, and weighs a fraction as much as it did at launch. As a result, it requires far less fuel to kill its velocity and put itself on a trajectory back towards the launch site than the initial launch did (far less mass to accelerate on the return trip).

It does still require some extra fuel (hence why they talk about having to use expendable Falcon 9s for missions that are close to the max payload capacity until they can get Falcon Heavy flying), but for small to medium sized cargoes, they have the fuel to burn.

"Just the facts, Ma'am" -- Joe Friday