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Comment Re:I don't even know what "hyperloop" is any more. (Score 1) 183

Indeed. That's one of the few things that one can say has nothing to do with either the original Hyperloop alpha concept or the new college competition entries. Pneumatic tubes mean that they make use of pressure to push things - that's what the word "pneumatic" means. Pressure being the one thing Hyperloop (all permutations) distinctly lacks.

Comment Dated info. (Score 1, Informative) 16

Comment I don't even know what "hyperloop" is any more. (Score 1) 183

Seriously. I was a big fan of Hyperloop Alpha. But the MIT team that won the "Hyperloop" contest is proposing something nothing like Hyperloop. The test track that SpaceX is building is designed to support a wide range of vehicles, most nothing like that in the Hyperloop Alpha document. So if I say "I like hyperloop", I don't know what exactly it is I'm supporting anymore. What exactly is "Hyperloop" these days?

All I can say is that I really liked the alpha one. The MIT team's maglev thing is Meh^2.

Comment Re:The fun (Score 1) 183

If you're dedicated enough to climb onto a well elevated tube, cut a hole large enough to pour concrete in through inch-thick steel - after sabotaging all of the pressure sensors tbrough the whole length of the tube and feeding them false data - and then using a concrete pump with a very tall boom fill in the tube with concrete, in order to kill people.... then why not just fly planes into skyscrapers like most people? I mean, if you're going to go through that much work.

Comment Re:I can understand small first batches (Score 2) 104

Since you have experience... I've often had interest in physical computing, but have never gotten around to learning / messing around with it. What would you find to be a good "introductory" system (for someone with lots of programming experience but only grade-school/100-in-1-electronics-kit/basic soldering/etc level electronics experience) for the purposes of, say, controlling steppers, variable-RPM drive motors, taking voltage readings, etc?

Comment Re:Kessler, anyone? (Score 1) 41

Of course they're taking business from other players - but that's not the question. The question is if they're making new business that otherwise wouldn't be there. Thusfar, I haven't seen anything to suggest that.

But, the potential is there in the future if they can keep bringing down costs, as they're hoping.

And IMHO, we're not even remotely near the point where space junk is going to stop us from launching things into space. Not even close. Particularly in LEO where orbits decay relatively quickly. It's always a threat, a threat that rises with the launch rate, but as far as being prohibitive... no. And there's some good evidence that things are moving in a positive direction - increasingly, nations are passing laws mandating that satellites be moved to disposal or graveyard orbits at the end of their service life, rather than just leaving them out there as potential collision/debris generation hazards.

Submission + - SpaceX sets target date for next launch: February 24th

Rei writes: After some consternation about the pacing of Falcon 9 upgrades, SpaceX has announced that it plans to launch again from Cape Canaveral with a target date of February 24th. While the primary mission will be to place the SES-9 communications satellite in orbit, this will also mark their fourth attempt to land the first stage on an autonomous drone ship, after their last launch touched down softly but fell over when one leg failed to latch. SpaceX is working to significantly accelerate the rate of production and launches — they are reportedly moving the factory from 6-8 cores produced per year to 18 at present, and expect to reach 30 by the end of the year. After the upcoming launch, they expect to launch one rocket every two to three weeks.

Comment Re:virtual mars better than a virtual fantasy worl (Score 1) 36

Why not combine the two? Use their virtual environment as a frontend for a collaborative colony-building simulation (with our "best knowledge" data on the likely distribution of minerals and such incorporated), everything from mining, refining, production, goods transportation, installation/assembly, etc. People could contribute modules that accomplish tasks, with varying levels of design maturity (everything from stub modules that simply take a given set of inputs and yield a certain set of outputs, to actual nuts-and-bolts level of detail systems with rigid-body physics models and CFD chemistry calculations, all the way to real-world tested systems), along with code controlling how individual systems behave in different circumstances. All components would have defined realistic wear and tear over time / various consumables. The ultimate goal for participants would of course be a setup where every module is highly defined, down to the level of nuts and bolts, and every individual component in them can be manufactured by some other system on the planet, in a manner such that the net throughput is sufficient to produce all of hardware required to keep all systems operational plus enough to keep the associated humans alive and comfortable - while having the net mass that would have to be shipped to Mars as low as possible.

It wouldn't be something your "average gamer" would get involved in, I'm picturing something more for engineering students, active/retired engineers, etc, with some funds set aside for real-world testing of the more mature systems. You could generate interest by making clear that systems developed in the environment that reach a sufficient maturity state (passing real-world testing and showing a valuable service to future colonists) would be slated for actual deployment to Mars when the opportunity presents itself.

Detailed 3d environments aren't really a critical aspect of that for some systems (such as refining). But for others, such as transport, they're a critical part of the picture. Even for things like mining, having a good grasp of the types of environments that particular minerals occur in would be quite important - does X occur in this area on hard to access cliff faces, surrounded by dune fields, deep in craters, etc? How can we get it out of there and get it back to where we need it? How can we position each component so as to minimize transport requirements to all others (since one won't find all mineral deposits in the same location)? Etc.

Comment Re:Minecraft version (Score 1) 36

Oh geez, if any group ever wants to hack a website "for the lolz", they should totally hack NASA's server for this service and insert some ancient ruins or a monolith or something. ;) The prank would hit twice - first by the people thinking it was proof of aliens, and then when NASA corrected it, people thinking it's a coverup ;)

Comment Re: Batteries just don't store enough energy... (Score 1) 328

Also, there's a lot of diversity in terms of aircraft electrification that one can take, it's not an all-or-nothing thing. There's lots of different proposals for varying degrees - for example, high bypass with electric turbofans, using onboard electricity to spin the compressor so that you don't have to have a turbine, and so forth.

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