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Comment: Re:Mars Direct - Unanswered? (Score 1) 57

by Katatsumuri (#47402581) Attached to: Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration

Ok, we need some links with more concrete figures:

1. Huge Mars Colony Eyed by SpaceX Founder Elon Musk

Musk figures the colony program — which he wants to be a collaboration between government and private enterprise — would end up costing about $36 billion. He arrived at that number by estimating that a colony that costs 0.25 percent or 0.5 percent of a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) would be considered acceptable. The United States' GDP in 2010 was $14.5 trillion; 0.25 percent of $14.5 trillion is $36 billion. If all 80,000 colonists paid $500,000 per seat for their Mars trip, $40 billion would be raised.

I'm not saying that's a reasonable way to draw a budget, just to provide an estimate on what Musk is targeting. Since this article came out (Nov 2012), I think his cost estimations went up, and his funding plans shifted more to preparing a realistic IPO (not covering the whole thing, but some of the early stages). Cannot readily find a quote for that.

There are many more (somewhat obfuscated) details in that article, like this one:

Musk also ruled out SpaceX's Dragon capsule, which the company is developing to ferry astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit, as the spacecraft that would land colonists on the Red Planet. When asked by what vehicle would be used, he said, "I think you just land the entire thing."

Asked if the "entire thing" is the huge new reusable rocket — which is rumored to bear the acronymic name MCT, short for Mass Cargo Transport or Mars Colony Transport — Musk said, "Maybe."

2. Elon Musk Says Ticket to Mars Will Cost $500,000

“Land on Mars, a round-trip ticket — half a million dollars. It can be done,” he told the BBC.

Musk did hint that one of the keys to low-cost trips to the red planet would be the ability to not only refuel there, but also to reuse the entire spacecraft on the return trip. In the BBC interview Musk said by reusing the spacecraft, you end up with the same sorts of costs airlines face. Musk compared it to flying today where a 747 isn’t simply thrown away after a flight to London. Like the airplane, the cost of the spacecraft could be spread out over numerous flights rather than just a single trip making fuel one of the main expenses rather than the entire ship.

3. Tesla’s (TSLA) Musk On Colonizing the Red Planet

Asked about the possibility of a SpaceX IPO, Musk said the company’s plans are too long-term to attract many hedge fund managers, making an IPO unlikely any time soon.

“Maybe [when] we’re close to developing the Mars vehicle, or ideally we’ve flown it a few times, then I think going public would make more sense,” he said.

So, I can't comment on how realistic is each of his cost and time estimations, but he is trying hard to make them internally consistent, and most and first of all, to bring down the launch costs and to improve the reusability. We can already see several successful steps in that direction, and we will see the gradual progress, or lack thereof, very soon. It's not some Kickstarter scheme for Gates & Buffet.

Comment: Re:Mars Direct - Unanswered? (Score 1) 57

by Katatsumuri (#47402065) Attached to: Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration
Well, that $500B estimation came from NASA in the 80's, and Musk is working hard to push it down. As far as I understand, he plans to fund it partially from other launches to bootstrap, partially from an IPO (when the transporter is clearly on track), and eventually from ticket sales ($500K a pop, once the full-size "bus" is flying).

Comment: Thanks! (Score 1) 57

by Katatsumuri (#47400613) Attached to: Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration

Interesting framework with those interrelated frontiers.

Also, I didn't know about those decadal surveys. I wonder how transparent they are, both on suggestion and on the reporting side.

I wish my question about chaotic gravity assist was answered (it ranked among top 10), but I guess the idea was not deemed practical.

Comment: Smart alarm, navigation, payments, standalone (Score 1) 427

by Katatsumuri (#47323115) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?

A few things come to mind.

1. A sleep tracker and a smart vibrating alarm, so I could get the most from my sleep hours and not wake up my wife and baby. Something similar exists and does not require an OS like Android, but would be a nice feature for a device like this.

2. Solve the city navigation. To the level of "now which exit should I take from this subway station?" and "now where is this bus stop I'm supposed to take next?"

3. Electronic wallet, if they can make it universally acceptable.

4. It would be nice if it could replace the phone for calls and maybe music, even if phone calls are not as convenient and are only meant to be a backup option. It has to work as a standalone device without also carrying a phone in your pocket, anyway. Optional software integration is welcome.

5. It must work at least a week without recharging, and maybe have an optional wireless charger you could use at your work desk without taking it off. Battery life is more important here than the display colors or the ability to play video.

6. There can be different screen sizes (jewelry to PipBoy 2000) and different price points. It's going to be hard to balance the screen, batteries, looks and price. If you want it to be popular, there has to be a $100 version with limited functionality, a $300 version that replaces all the main smartphone functions (maybe use a flexible/curved 4" screen), and multiple $1000+ fashion makes.

All these features don't have to be present in every device. For example, I would not use a 4" device for a wearable smart alarm.

Comment: Small businesses (Score 1) 69

by Katatsumuri (#47306195) Attached to: Google Building a Domain Registration Service

Many small businesses are happy with a Facebook page.

That gives them something to find in Google, to advertise online, to like and share, to post a nice picture and occasional updates, and to enter something in every context that requires an URL. And many additional services can also be set up at third party websites.

Of course there is a drawback of depending on Facebook. But there are benefits in simplicity, reliability and social integration, and they often win for small business.

Similarly, many hobby projects can and do host all their content on free blogging/social/media services. They often provide additional bonuses in addition to free hosting, like software and exposure. And things you give up are not immediately perceived as critical.

The desire to own a domain name or a traditional website is not as popular as it used to be.

Comment: anyone on Slashdot still on Facebook? (Score 2) 127

by Katatsumuri (#47260943) Attached to: Emotional Contagion Spread Through Facebook anyone on Slashdot still on Facebook?


I enjoy the occasional updates from people I can no longer meet daily, as well as some insight into the current day-to-day affairs of my home country. I don't post often, but when I do have something to say, normally several people show interest.

Facebook is no longer an unfiltered pile of Farmville requests. Especially if you take the time just once to mark your close friends and to unfollow the obsessive narcissists. Its ranking and personalization algorithms also help.

Also, it is often the easiest way to contact a person when you don't have their email or phone number ready.

Comment: Re:Do we have a better file sharing solution? (Score 1) 226

by Katatsumuri (#47117649) Attached to: Domain Name Suspended

This would answer the question "why the government does not want us to have this". But my question was completely different.

We have plenty of capable programmers who don't mind "illegal" data sharing, and we have millions of people who disagree strongly with the current copyright laws, for example, and having no realistic means to change the law, choose to ignore it.

Let's set aside and not discuss the moral and legal side of this right now. We know many people exist who would support and enjoy such a system. So why has no-one managed to build it so far?

Comment: Re:Reputation system (Score 1) 226

by Katatsumuri (#47117621) Attached to: Domain Name Suspended

P2P poisoning is done by malicious servers that announce millions of connected users and return results for all sorts of keyword queries with fake filenames and spammy or malicious content.

I was suggesting a reputation system based on signatures as a possible part of a solution to this problem in P2P networks. The rating system was not the main goal of my suggestion but a means to end, so saying, "But some torrent sites already have user-rating systems," is missing the point.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik