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Comment Wired into Home Theatre (Score 1) 150 150

I tried Chromecast but hated it. Eventually I realized the best solution was connecting my laptop to my home theatre via HDMI. When I need it I just select the video setting and when finished selected back to TV. No need for special apps or even an internet connection. Even when my TV is off I can play music from my laptop through the home Theatre speakers. With Blackberry Blend I can see my incoming email/BBMs when I am watching movies. Video chats on my big screen TV are amazing and remind me of the view screens in Star Trek. We are living in the future.

Comment What about the Toxic Soil on Mars? (Score 1) 48 48

Several Mars missions have reported a significant amount of Perchlorates in the Martian soil which is a problem as it is toxic to humans. This will prevent the use of the soil for agriculture and will be hard to avoid as colonists will track the dust into habitats. How do plans to colonize Mars deal with the presence of Perchlorates in the soil?.

Comment What about the toxic soil on Mars? (Score 1) 99 99

Perchlorates, a reactive chemical and toxic to human is present in the soil on Mars. This will prevent the use of the soil for agriculture and will be hard to avoid as colonists will bring the dust into habitats. How do plans to colonize Mars deal with the presence of Perchlorates in the soil?.

Comment Major Problem (Score 1) 256 256

Yes a Colony on Venus would have water and sunlight but they would still be at the bottom of a gravity well(same for Mars). It would make more sense to establish a colony in space where you could find water and minerals in asteroids. Supply ships would not need to overcome gravity and return flights could take back precious minerals that would help fund the expense.

Comment Re:Too bad they couldn't test the escape system (Score 2) 316 316

I read that the Dragon escape thrusters can be used anytime prior to orbit since they are built in and not jettisoned like the old escape tower rockets. Likely not installed in the cargo version but perhaps they should be precisely for this type of event. It would have been useful to save the Dragon capsule and the cargo.

Comment List of lost Cargo (Score 2) 316 316

There is a listing and pics of the lost cargo here.

The Dragon SpX-7 mission was to deliver supplies to the International Space Station and return cargo to Earth. Dragon remains the only visiting vehicle of ISS that can return a significant mass of cargo to the ground, aside from the crewed Soyuz spacecraft that can ferry a few dozen Kilograms of return items back to Earth along with its three crew members. The SpX-7 mission will carry 1,952 Kilograms of cargo to the Space Station and return 675 Kilograms to Earth at the conclusion of its five-week mission.

Crew Supplies - 676kg
Systems Hardware - 461kg
Science Cargo - 529kg
Computer Resources - 35kg
EVA Equipment - 166kg
External Payloads - 526kg

Interesting to note that part of the science cargo was the Meteor study. The Meteor study, going by the full name of ‘Meteor Composition Determination,’ was to be the first of its kind to be deployed in space, solely focused on the analysis of meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere and pin-pointing their composition through their optical emissions when burning up in the atmosphere. The original Meteor hardware was expected to arrive aboard the International Space Station in October 2014 on the Cygnus Orb-3 resupply craft that unfortunately was lost in a launch failure of its Antares launch vehicle just seconds after lifting off. Coincidence or someone really does not want this study to go ahead.

Comment Re:*sigh* (Score 1) 72 72

'It's virtually impossible to determine how much recovery will bring down the costs of launch because we don't know how much it will cost to refurbish the recovered vehicle. Certainly it will be cheaper than building a new one, but how much cheaper is impossible to predict... especially in the beginning with zero experience.'

I am going by what SpaceX themselves have estimated.Reusable Falcon 9 Would Cost $5 to $7 Million Per Launch. 13,000kg to LEO at that price is $500/kg or $209/lb. Falcon Heavy's payload is 53,000 kgs.

SpaceX has stated that in order to achieve the full economic benefit of the reusable technology, it is necessary that the reuse be both rapid and complete—without the long and costly refurbishment period or partially reusable design that plagued earlier attempts at reusable launch vehicles. SpaceX has been explicit that the "huge potential to open up space flight" is dependent on achieving both complete and rapid reusability. CEO Musk has publicly stated that success with the technology development effort could reduce "the cost of spaceflight by a factor of 100" because the cost of the propellant/oxidizer on the Falcon 9 is only 0.3 percent of the total cost of the vehicle.

And yes they did learn much from the shuttle program. They plan to inspect, refuel and relaunch in a matter of days so those costs will be minimal. Remember the boosters are not going into space nor the stress of reentry.

Comment Falcon Heavy will land 3 boosters per mission (Score 4, Interesting) 72 72

Check out this video of Falcon Heavy. They plan to land and reuse all 3 boosters at the landing site they have leased at the Kennedy Space Centre. Saving 9 engines from a Falcon 9 is a considerable savings but saving all 27 engines from a Falcon Heavy launch would bring the cost per kg down to perhaps $100.

Comment Not enough gravity to hold the atmosphere (Score 4, Interesting) 136 136

The surface gravity on Mars is 38% of that on Earth. The lower gravity of Mars requires 2.6 times Earth’s column airmass to obtain 100 kPa pressure at the surface. Mars also lacks a magnetosphere, which poses challenges for mitigating solar radiation and retaining atmosphere. The lack of a magnetosphere is thought to be one reason for Mars's thin atmosphere. Solar-wind-induced ejection of Martian atmospheric atoms has been detected by Mars-orbiting probes. Earth abounds with water because its ionosphere is permeated with a magnetosphere. The hydrogen ions present in its ionosphere move very fast due to their small mass, but they cannot escape to outer space because their trajectories are deflected by the magnetic field. Venus has a dense atmosphere, but only traces of water vapor (20 ppm) because it has no magnetic field. The Martian atmosphere also loses water to space. Earth's ozone layer provides additional protection. Ultraviolet light is blocked before it can dissociate water into hydrogen and oxygen. Because little water vapor rises above the troposphere and the ozone layer is in the upper stratosphere, little water is dissociated into hydrogen and oxygen

Comment Convert to PDFs (Score 1) 203 203

A handy program is ABC Amber. It can convert a variety of email archives(outlook, BlackBerry, Groupwise etc) into a number of different formats including HTML and PDFs. The PDF feature is nice as it links to the attachments. It allows bulk operations and seems to be very fast.

Submission + - Breakthough makes Transparent Aluminum affordable

frank249 writes: In the Star Trek universe, transparent aluminum is used in various fittings in starships, including exterior ship portals and windows. In real life, Aluminium oxynitride is a form of ceramic whose properties are similar to those of the fictional substance seen in Star Trek. It has a hardness of 7.7 Mohs and was patented in 1980, and has military applications as bullet-resistant armour, but is too expensive for widespread use.

Engadget reports that there has been a major breakthrough in materials science. After decades of research and development, the US Naval Research Laboratory has created a transparent, bulletproof material that can be molded into virtually any shape. This material, known as Spinel (magnesium aluminate), is made from a synthetic powdered clay that is heated and pressed under vacuum into transparent sheets. Spinel weighs just a fraction of a modern bulletproof pane.

Comment Re:Intriguing, but landing at launch site? (Score 1) 53 53

Apparently the stage separation at an altitude of 50 miles, is only 16 miles from the launch point. From the environmental assessment:
"Currently, the Falcon 9 first stage drops by parachute approximately 500 nautical miles downrange into the Atlantic Ocean, east of and well beyond the east coast of Florida, and is recovered by a salvage ship . It is anticipated that the stage would return to the landing pad within approximately 10 minutes after lift-off. Preliminary trajectory analysis indicates that a point directly beneath the vehicle at stage separation falls approximately 16 nautical miles from the launch site."

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)