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Comment: Hardly revolutionary (Score 4, Informative) 149

by Mercano (#42651113) Attached to: JavaScript Comes To Minecraft
Not sure how this is a groundbreaking achievement. ComputerCraft already provides a LUA interpreter and turtles, and has a lot more documentation. There's also RedPower's Control module, that gives you an emulated 6502-based 8 bit computer. A FORTH boot disk can be crafted in-game, or you can edit your save files to bring in either an BASIC boot disk or your own assembler code. (Previous /.coverage of the 6502 emulator blocks)

Comment: Re:Too far north. (Score 1) 131

by Mercano (#42253131) Attached to: Kazakhstan Wants Russia To Hand Over Their Baikonur Space City
This is why Russia and the ESA recently built a Soyuz launch pad at the Guiana Space Centre; They get nearly double the performance to GEO there, from 1.7 tonnes out of Baikonur to 3 out of Kourou. Russia's still dependent on Kazakhstan for Proton launches, though, and that's what they're currently using for most of their communication satellite launches.

Comment: Blast from the past (Score 1) 62

by Mercano (#41674131) Attached to: Jonathan Coulton Re-records 'Code Monkey' For Us
I first found JoCo from the original Slashdot post; I was quite excited to find out he was playing at the first PAX I attended (2008). I think I bounced from him to quite a few other geek-friendly music acts now in my iPod, Paul and Storm, Molly Lewis, Marian Call, the Doubleclicks... So, thanks, Slashdot!

Comment: Re:Stupid question... (Score 1) 135

by Mercano (#41260959) Attached to: NASA's Giant Crawler-Transporter Is Getting an Upgrade

Mostly because they want to reuse as much of the existing infrastructure at KSC as they can, and it was built around the idea of static buildings & launch pads with mobile launch platforms. When they were building a west coast shuttle launching facility in the 80's, they were reusing SLC-6, a Titan III facility built around having a mobile service tower, so they wound up building a mobile assembly building.

Wait, west coast shuttle facilities, you ask? Yup, they were planing on launching Discovery from Vandenberg Air Force Base in October 1986. Unfortunately, Challenger exploded in January 1986, putting a moratorium on shuttle launches, and it was deemed prohibitively expensive to make all of the safety-related upgrades required once they started flying again, and, at that point, the Air Force had already decided they were better off with unmanned expendable launchers.

Comment: What about Energia? (Score 1) 167

by Mercano (#40155421) Attached to: Intelsat Signs Launch Contract With SpaceX
The various press releases are forgetting something. The Falcon Heavy is third in lift capability behind the Saturn V and the Energia . Granted, the Energia only had two flights before the collapse of the Soviet Union made it too expensive to operate, and on one of the the payload malfunctioned after separation and deorbited itself almost immediately, but in both cases, the booster functioned just fine. It was capable of lifting 100 metric tons to LEO (which was more than enough to give the Buran, the Soviet space shuttle, a piggy back ride to orbit), which puts it just shy of Saturn V's 118 tons, and is almost double the Falcon Heavy's 53 tons.

Comment: Re:What's inside? (Score 1) 96

by Mercano (#40101339) Attached to: <em>Minecraft</em> Mod Adds Emulated 6502 Processor
8KB in the base computer block with up to seven 8KB memory expansion blocks behind it. There are peripherals that do in fact connect via memory windows; Eloraam has implemented a custom MMU instruction to map in whatever you've connected with RedBus wire. Currently, there are only three of them, though: the disk drive, the terminal, and the IOX box, which lets you interface with redstone signals. I think you can also connect multiple CPUs up over Red Bus; you just have to give them different bus IDs. Bus IDs are 8 bits long, so if you wanted to, you COULD build a Beowulf cluster.

Comment: Re:Probably lost the sale, too! (Score 1) 339

by Mercano (#39956143) Attached to: Russian Superjet 100 Crashes During Demo Flight, Killing All Aboard
Wow, I hadn't realized there has only been 112 manned Soyuz flights. You'd think, with a 15 year head start on the Shuttle, they would have had more flights than the Shuttle's 135. Not sure if this is a point in the Shuttle's favor, for having a higher flight rate, or Soyuz's, for having a longer on-orbit lifespan, allowing them to keep their space stations manned with fewer flights.

Comment: Re:Launch window (Score 1) 97

by Mercano (#39781789) Attached to: SpaceX Launch To International Space Station Delayed For Code Tweaks
There was a Atlas V scheduled to go up on the 5th, but that's now bumped up to the 3rd. I read over at NASASpaceFlight that Falcon 9 has a launch window approximately every three days from the Cape to ISS. has a worldwide launch calender; you can see how many times this flight has been delayed. It was originally scheduled for June 6th of last year, so it'll be just a day shy of 11 months behind schedule, if there aren't any further reschedules.

Comment: Re:So, how much for one of the engines? (Score 3, Interesting) 98

by Mercano (#39489919) Attached to: Inside the Mummification of Space Shuttle Discovery

Not only that, but when NASA runs out of SMEs for the SLS rocket, they will have to come up with a new engine at huge expense, put it through a testing regime, and more or less redesign the rest of the rocket as a whole new vehicle anyway.

Not quite. Once the stock of RS-25D engines left over from the space shuttle program are used up, they'll be replaced by RS-25Es, a cheaper one-time-use version of the space shuttle main engine. They may need to produce two more sets of the 25Ds before the E's are ready, though. They're reusing the old shuttle engines on a disposable rocket for two reasons: they're already a man-rated design, and the engines themselves are already paid for.

Interesting note, Discovery's engines, at least, may make it to museum some day; looks like they're being earmarked for ground test structures, rather than flight.

Comment: Re:Is this cabin designed to handle pressure suits (Score 3, Interesting) 84

by Mercano (#39415411) Attached to: SpaceX Gets Astronauts To Try Out Its Dragon Crew Cabin

...astronauts wearing an ACES, Sokol or some private sector pressure suit...

I sort of hope they use Sokol suits, or something with compatible valves, making it easier for astronauts to go up in one type of space craft and, if necessary, return in a different one. Of course, the seat liners would also have to be compatible with the ones used in Soyuz, but it'd be nice to be able to switch crafts without having to send up a second pressure suite and seat liner, like we did when we had astronauts switching between the shuttle and a Soyuz mid flight.

Comment: Re:I hate it when museums do this (Score 2) 52

by Mercano (#39383091) Attached to: Space Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis Meet One Last Time

The main engines and associated plumbing were removed at NASA's behest, not the museums. NASA plans on reusing the them (and, unfortunately, disposing of them) on the first three flights of the new SLS rocket.

I believe they removed most of the tanks and plumbing from the RCS and OMS systems because the fuel they use is particularly nasty (they have to wear heavy-duty hazmat suits when working on them), and they were worried that the equipment would still be contaminated, even after it was purged, and most museums don't toxic self-igniting chemicals in their exhibit halls anyway, so it was safer just to completely remove all the interior components. It's not like they'd be on display anyway, unless you went crawling around in the interior, or the museum did a cut away (which, in this case, just makes me shudder).

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