but if you really didn't want to disrespect the passing of Mandela, you should of just not posted.
I completely disagree. It isn't being disrespectful at all to question why this should be posted to a tech site. I'd much rather have someone question the relevance of something here than have them shamed into silence by people who feel strongly about some non-technical topic.
I was basically responding to the first sentence of the summary.
Apparently I'm also a rather slow typist. After skimming the link to see if it answered my question, and typing the above, my post looked like it was the first one. I suppose there is no browser refresh after the post is submitted
I'm not talking about the cost argument, or the corporate welfare comments. I'm talking about the denigrating tone used with "mediocre engineers." So are you suggesting that if you're an excellent engineer who wants to work on some really cool shit like big-assed rockets and launching stuff into space (maybe that doesn't tickle your fancy, but some people think that is pretty cool stuff), and you can get a job doing that and get, by your estimate, paid 10 times what you could get doing some other engineering job, you're going to look at that and say, "you know, I don't like how that industry is set up and I'm going to leave this field and do something else."? Are you saying there were no decent engineers working there before around 2000, or that SpaceX sucked up all the excellent engineers and left only the mediocre ones behind? How many people are on the engineering staff at SpaceX? That was the sum total of all the excellent engineers in the rocket industry, and they all switched employers? You can make the same kind of corporate welfare arguments against a place like the Jet Propulsion Lab; they have a lock on outer space missions and fight fiercely both scientifically and politically to make sure nobody else gets to run those missions. And all this time I thought they did some pretty good science, but they apparently must be a bunch of hacks and jokers by your argument because no self-respecting scientist or engineer would want to work for a place like that.
You don't like the monopoly on the rocket industry? Fine. I don't like it either. It is the same for any project of that size. But to cast shit blindly upon the thousands of people who work at places like that, to me, is arrogant, dumb, and ignorant.
Bottom line is STS was as much as ULA pork/jobs programs is today.
I wouldn't put up much of an argument on that point. However,the costs don't compare very well directly. If SpaceX also designed a human-compatible orbiter capable of reentry and providing life support for two week missions, and factor in the safety factors and all the extra regulations that comes with a manned mission, then their costs would go up significantly. If you got rid of the orbiter and converted it to a dead lift vehicle, then I imagine the STS costs would come down quite a bit. It isn't clear to me how well they'd compare. The comparisons with the Delta 4 is more straight-forward given that you're talking about payload mass and desired orbit.
that exists mainly as welfare for mediocre engineers?
Would you care to elaborate on or support this point? I find it is needlessly inflammatory and just downright rude. By what metric of engineering excellence are you using? Where are all the excellent rocket engineers working? Are the only good rocket engineers in the US working for SpaceX? Because the two 800 lb gorillas in the industry have a lock on the rocket launch business, one could argue that it is they who have the wherewithal to hire the best engineers.
This is addressed in the paper. The paper abstract:
Material from the surface of a planet can be ejected into space by a large impact, and could carry primitive life forms with it. We performed n-body simulations of such ejecta to determine where in the Solar System rock from Earth and Mars may end up. We find that, in addition to frequent transfer of material among the terrestrial planets, transfer of material from Earth and Mars to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn is also possible, but rare. We expect that such transfer is most likely during the Late Heavy Bombardment or during the next one or two billion years. At this time, the icy moons were warmer and likely had little or no icy shell to prevent meteorites from reaching their liquid interiors. We also note significant rates of re-impact in the first million years after ejection. This could re-seed life on a planet after partial or complete sterilization by a large impact, which would aid the survival of early life during the Late Heavy Bombardment.
From the first paragraph in their paper:
Panspermia is the hypothesis that life can be spread between planets and planetary systems. One class of panspermia is lithopanspermia, in which pieces of rock are the mechanism for dispersal (Tobias & Todd, 1974; Melosh, 1988). Rock fragments can be ejected from an inhabited planet's surface via large meteor impact. This ejected material can then travel through space and may land on another planet or moon, as we have seen in identified meteorites from Mars found on Earth (Bogard & Johnson, 1983; Carr et al., 1985). If an ejected rock encases sufficiently resilient organisms, life could be seeded on its destination planet or moon.
Imagining that all life must have originated from Earth is an amazingly earth-centric point of view
This claim is not made anywhere in the paper, or anywhere else for that matter that I can find.