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+ - Letter to Congress: Ending U.S. Dependency on Russia for Access to Space 1

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "I've sent a letter to my district's senators and member of congress this evening, regarding how we should achieve a swifter end to U.S. dependency on the Russians for access to space. Please read my letter, below. If you like it, please join me and send something similar to your own representatives. Find them here and here. — Bruce

Dear Congressperson Lee,

The U.S. is dependent on the Russians for present and future access to space. Only Soyuz can bring astronauts to and from the Space Station. The space vehicles being built by United Launch Alliance are designed around a Russian engine. NASA's own design for a crewed rocket is in its infancy and will not be useful for a decade, if it ever flies.

Mr. Putin has become much too bold because of other nations dependence. The recent loss of Malaysia Air MH17 and all aboard is one consequence.

Ending our dependency on Russia for access to space, sooner than we previously planned, has become critical. SpaceX has announced the crewed version of their Dragon spaceship. They have had multiple successful flights and returns to Earth of the un-crewed Dragon and their Falcon 9 rocket, which are without unfortunate foreign dependencies. SpaceX is pursuing development using private funds. The U.S. should now support and accelerate that development.

SpaceX has, after only a decade of development, demonstrated many advances over existing and planned paths to space. Recently they have twice successfully brought the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back to the ocean surface at a speed that would allow safe landing on ground. They have demonstrated many times the safe takeoff, flight to significant altitude, ground landing and re-flight of two similar test rockets. In October they plan the touchdown of their rocket's first stage on a barge at sea, and its recovery and re-use after a full flight to space. Should their plan for a reusable first-stage, second, and crew vehicle be achieved, it could result in a reduction in the cost of access to space to perhaps 1/100 of the current "astronomical" price. This would open a new frontier to economical access in a way not witnessed by our nation since the transcontinental railroad. The U.S. should now support this effort and reap its tremendous economic rewards.

This plan is not without risk, and like all space research there will be failures, delays, and eventually lost life. However, the many successes of SpaceX argue for our increased support now, and the potential of tremendous benefit to our nation and the world.

Please write back to me.

Many Thanks

Bruce Perens"

Comment: PCI-DSS (Score 5, Insightful) 210

As an organisation accredited to be following PCI-DSS, we would be crucified if the PCI auditor found us holding the PAN (the long number on the front of your credit card, PAN = primary account number) in plain text. Surely the airlines/booking agents should not be passing the PAN to anyone else if they are following PCI-DSS (which is mandatory if you want to accept card payments)?

Comment: Re:I disagree (Score 2) 241

by Alioth (#47487919) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

You might not be terrible at math. I thought I was terrible at math (I'm also a software developer). I also thought I was only good at discrete mathematics (which was a course I took during my university degree, heavily related to programming and CS). Furthermore I thought I was terrible at learning human languages, after having had 7 years of compulsory French at school and not being able to form a coherent sentence in French.

It turned out I was wrong on two counts:

A while back I started learning Spanish. The way I was being taught now was in a fun and easy way. I was also self motivated. In six months after starting, I could actually use some of it and knew more Spanish than I did French from 7 years of French lessons. 14 months after starting I was giving a technical talk in Spain (with an admittedly terrible accent and many grammar errors). Later today I'm off to Spain to help organise RetroEuskal with a bunch of Spanish friends. I started learning Spanish in my mid-30s, not as a kid. I learned it far faster than I would have as a child.

More recently I realised I needed better mathematics skills to be able to do more complex things in my electronics hobby, so I took an algebra course on Coursera. At school I had pretty much flat out failed algebra. In fact I was put into the lower maths set with all the thick kids (where you could only score a C at most in the GCSE, the exam we take at age 16) because both myself and my teachers were convinced that I was bad at the subject. But doing algebra in a course that was interactive, fun and gave instant results - I passed that with a distinction. I then did a pre-calculus course, and passed that with a distinction. I then did Jim Fowler's (Ohio State University) calculus 1 course on Coursera and passed that with a distinction too.

So it turns out that I was wrong about myself. In reality I was not bad at maths nor human languages. Now I admit I will probably never be a mathematician or linguist, but I can now do two things I never thought I ever would be able to. The reason I never succeeded at these things at school was because they were taught in a very boring and overly complex manner, and I was also pathologically lazy and didn't pay enough attention. The reason I succeeded now is due to having more motivation to do it and being exposed to teaching methods that inspire, and that aren't just hours of boredom.

Furthermore, while I don't usually use calculus or algebra in my day job, I have found that learning these things has improved the way I approach a problem.

Comment: Re:Evolution (Score 1) 253

by Bruce Perens (#47485313) Attached to: New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes


You make it sound like starving people are getting fat too.

If they are becoming obese, the particular individual has a surplus of caloric intake, if only for this year or month. This is not to say that they have proper nutrition. So I am not at all clear that the fact that there is obesity in the third world is confounding evidence.

Comment: Evolution (Score 1) 253

by Bruce Perens (#47480445) Attached to: New Treatment Stops Type II Diabetes
For most of the existence of mankind and indeed all of mankind's progenitors, having too much food was a rare problem and being hungry all of the time was a fact of life. We are not necessarily well-evolved to handle it. So, no surprise that we eat to repletion and are still hungry. You don't really have any reason to look at it as an illness caused by anything other than too much food.

Comment: Re: If you pay... (Score 1) 15


The last time I had a professional video produced, I paid $5000 for a one-minute commercial, and those were rock-bottom prices from hungry people who wanted it for their own portfolio. I doubt I could get that today. $8000 for the entire conference is really volunteer work on Gary's part.

Someone's got to pay for it. One alternative would be to get a corporate sponsor and give them a keynote, which is what so many conferences do, but that would be abandoning our editorial independence. Having Gary fund his own operation through Kickstarter without burdening the conference is what we're doing. We're really lucky we could get that.

Comment: Re:IBM (Score 1) 383

by Alioth (#47474769) Attached to: Microsoft CEO To Slash 18,000 Jobs, 12,500 From Nokia To Go

None of the stuff he lists is particularly time expensive.

Cooking? It's fun anyway, and there's no need to cook a five star gourmet meal every meal. Most days just simple, good tasting food - 5 or 10 minutes prep and cooking time.

Car? Even an old car doesn't need that much time spent on it. I've just finished with my nearly 20 year old Audi, I spent about an hour or two PER YEAR on maintenance.

Not buying shit? This actually gives you MORE time not less since you're not driving to and from a shop and browsing for stuff you probably don't actually need.

Programmers do it bit by bit.