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Comment: Re:You having problems, John Galt? (Score 1) 114

by WrongMonkey (#47550391) Attached to: SpaceX Executive Calls For $22-25 Billion NASA Budget

"And all on his own dime...."

"As of May 2012, SpaceX had operated on total funding of approximately $1 billion in its first ten years of operation. Of this, private equity provided about $200M, with Musk investing approximately $100M and other investors having put in about $100M"

I think SpaceX is doing some neat stuff, but let's not pretend they're any different than any other government contractor.

Comment: Re:"An anonymous reader" (Score 4, Insightful) 112

by WrongMonkey (#47451111) Attached to: SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Blasts Off From Florida
SpaceX is not competing with NASA, because NASA doesn't make rockets. NASA has input on the design requirements, but all the real work is done by private contractors, like Lockheed and Boeing. SpaceX is just a new contractor and they operate just like the others. They have some interesting new engineering approaches that may reduce costs, but it's not any fundamentally new business model.

Comment: Re:Wonders (Score 1) 78

by WrongMonkey (#47417113) Attached to: Buzz Aldrin Pressures Obama For New Space Exploration Initiative
Maybe you're talking about this list of 7 Modern Wonders? What do they all have in common? Utility. They aren't just statues or publicity stunts. They serve a purpose that has direct impact on the lives of millions of people. Something that manned space programs have failed to deliver.

You talk about inspiration, but it was quite the opposite. Men walked on the moon, showed that its a barren rock and people lost interest almost immediately. All the romance and excitement was wiped out in the face of cold reality: men stuffed in aluminum cans and struggling around in awkward suits. They didn't even accomplish that much in terms of scientific discovery. What kind of inspiration is that?

Manned spaceflight is a dead end. We're not in the wooden sailing ship stage, we're in the fish flopping onto the beach stage.

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

by WrongMonkey (#47404109) Attached to: Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration

20 years of detailed plans from a man who knowns NASA, knows the politics, and has a concrete and viable mission mode

Zubrin may be a smart guy. But he has never worked for NASA. He has never had a project actually go to launch. He changes his cost estimate based on whatever seems politically expedient at the moment. There's a good reason why he's ignored by real decision makers. I don't know why you hold him and his plan on such a high pedestal. I think it's just because he's telling you want you want to hear.

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

by WrongMonkey (#47403655) Attached to: Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration
How many chemical factories have been launched 230 million km away, landed on another planet and operated autonomously without error for 10 months? That's what I mean by "without precedent". Just because something is easy to do in a terrestrial lab doesn't mean you're ready to do the same task in a completely alien environment. No Mars mission has been without component failure and about 2/3rds have failed completely. That's not the kind of track record that a sane person bets their life on. And the chemical plant is just one of untested components. Rotating spacecraft for artificial gravity: looks good on paper, never been actually done. Landing a 9T payload on Mars

All that having been said - what the heck are we doing mining an asteroid? How is that on the path-to-Mars?

Mining asteroids would develop engineering experience in extracting resources in space, which is one of the components needed for a Mars mission. But not everything is about Mars. Science fiction has created a cultural obsession with Mars, but its not the only thing worth studying in space.

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

by WrongMonkey (#47402321) Attached to: Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration
The SpaceX website claims that the Falcon Heavy will have 1/3rd the launch cost of its nearest competitor. So let's assume that cost reduction applies across the board. The Mars Direct mission is still $100-$200 billion. That's still a order of magnitude more than any IPO in history, with no plan for making a return on that investment. Ticket Sales? The Mars Directs plans costs were based on a four person mission. Launch costs are proportional to mass, so there's no economy of scale for adding more passengers. You need one person who is actually qualified to fly, Elon is going to want seat, that leaves two passenger seats up for grabs. Even if you sold tickets to Bill Gates and Warren Buffet for their combined net worth, that still would barely cover the cost of the mission. And those two don't seem too interested.

I think its nice that at lease one billionaire is dreaming big, but there's just no way the numbers add up for a privately funded mission to Mars.

Comment: Re:Mars Direct - Unanswered? (Score 2) 57

by WrongMonkey (#47401915) Attached to: Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration
I suspect the Elon Musk's Mars colonization program is mostly PR. SpaceX is a contractor, just like Boeing or Lockheed-Martin. Those other contractors used to publicize big plans, too. I still have some LIFE OF MARS IN THE YEAR 2000 posters that Thiokol printed out. Elon Musk might have supplied seed funding from his own pocket, but Space X operations depends on money from NASA (or other paying customers) to actually do anything. A "cheap" Mars Direct plan is estimated to cost $400-500B. Even Elon Musk can't a cut a check that size himself.

Comment: Re:Mars Direct - Unanswered? (Score 2) 57

by WrongMonkey (#47401375) Attached to: Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration
A manned mission to Mars is simply too ambitious for our level of technology. Almost all of the proposed plans, whether a round trip or permanent colonization, require in situ resource utilization, which has never been done in space before. The Mars Direct plan requires a chemical factory to operated autonomously for 10 months without error. There's no precedent for that. Technology development needs to be incremental. We need some missions that extract resources from near-earth asteroids and work out the bugs before putting lives at stake. I think that NASA's proposed asteroid capture missions are a step in the right direction.

Comment: Re:Better question... (Score 4, Insightful) 228

by WrongMonkey (#47364599) Attached to: Nathan Myhrvold's Recipe For a Better Oven
*Co-author* of Modernist Cuisine, along with two other co-authors, 50 staff, 36 researchers and14 outside experts. He may have financed the project, but its not as if he wrote the bulk of the material himself.

His "award-winning BBQ" was one cook-off in 1991, where he won in a pasta category.

The guy is a professional self-aggrandizer and that's about it.

"Trust me. I know what I'm doing." -- Sledge Hammer