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Comment: Re: I suspect he's wrong. (Score 5, Insightful) 580

Funding for space goes up in Republican administrations because space exploration has traditionally been an outgrowth of the armaments industry. Put a capsule on a Titan II and it's a rocket. Put a warhead or several on it and it's an ICBM. Building and testing peaceful rockets helps national defense.

Comment: Why banks and healthcare providers? (Score 2) 205

by jdigriz (#44636901) Attached to: US Gov't To Issue Secure Online IDs
WTF are private organizations allowed to issue identities for? Government IDs may be a hassle, but they're the ones with the vested interest in keeping track of people. We don't permit Walmart to issue driver's licenses or passports. We already have a mess with the private CAs on the Internet. Do it once, do it right and keep a monopoly on it. IDs and currency are Government's job! If the Treasury had issued decent ecash, Bitcoin wouldn't have a market and Credit Card Companies wouldn't be adding their 2.9% inflation to every purchase. If the Gov't were to do this right, with closed-loop verification necessary for anybody to do anything with your Identity, and if it were secure it would be a great boon. No more having to notify 42 entities of your change-of-address. Change it once at the Identity agency, and it's changed everywhere. I really doubt they'll manage to get it right though. No, I don't work for the Government. I'm just a guy who hates constantly giving and updating contact info.

Comment: Not impossible, used to bulls-eye womprats (Score 0) 235

by jdigriz (#43805287) Attached to: Main US Weather Satellite Fails As Hurricane Season Looms
Summary says "impossible to" . Article says Next to Impossible to. Let's have the boys in the ISS take a few pics out the window. It's not as convenient and the passes are much less frequent, but hey, it's something. Also GOES 14 is coming on-line. Now if that fails, we really will be limited to ISS observation.

Comment: Re:Salvage Rights (Score 1) 204

by jdigriz (#43590901) Attached to: Helium Depleted, Herschel Space Telescope Mission Ends
This is true, but launching large items is difficult, volume-wise. I know there are ideas for for inflatable mirrors and spray-on aluminum, but so far there has been virtually no manufacturing in space, aside from tiny crystals and SuitSat. I think the L2, or at least BEO position of the mirror is advantageous. We don't want to clutter LEO even more with debris, and there's no point in bringing an asteroid all the way back to Earth to melt with a solar furnace, especially if you're going to be using the products further out. We're already up the Well with Herschel, at substantial sunk cost.

Comment: Re:Salvage Rights (Score 2) 204

by jdigriz (#43590795) Attached to: Helium Depleted, Herschel Space Telescope Mission Ends
If it were easy, anybody could do it, and it'd already be underway. Good summary of the issues. I think robotic dexterity is probably sufficient for the mission, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_Hand and Robonaut2 http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/robonaut.html The real challenge is software, the light lag at L2 would make realtime teleoperation infeasible. Darpa has teams working on recovery robots for terrestrial uses. I'm all for launching big mirrors also, but this one has already paid the energy cost of getting out of LEO. I think there are substantial savings here, especially if we use existing assets and pair the tug + robot at the ISS. The big issue that I can see is political. The JWST is already slated to be positioned at L2 and they won't want industrial debris floating around. May have to tug the Herschel out of range before recovering the good bits. An ion drive can do that, slowly.

Comment: Salvage Rights (Score 5, Interesting) 204

by jdigriz (#43589713) Attached to: Helium Depleted, Herschel Space Telescope Mission Ends
SpaceX should go after it and salvage it robotically for use as a solar thermal concentrator. 3.5M mirrors that are already in space don't exactly grow on trees. A simple high-efficiency Ion engine (Dawn-class)and a robonaut should be able to handle the job. They can then lease the asset to Planetary Resources or whoever wants to do industrial experiments. Doesn't have to be quick. Cheap and slow is the way to go here.

Comment: Re:C64 still works (Score 1) 135

by jdigriz (#43331789) Attached to: Radio Shack TRS-80 Vs. Commodore 64: Battle of the Titans

Heh, lucky you. I bought a c64 a couple years earlier and only the third one lasted more than a couple of weeks. The other 2 had to be returned for a blown power supply and a defective keyboard.

Now admittedly that last one lasted at least 12 years or so. For all I know it may still work, but I had to get rid of it.

Comment: Don't crawl (Score 3, Interesting) 432

by jdigriz (#40844293) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is There a Professional Geek Dress Code?
Your staff members should be the ones crawling under the desk. You're the department head for God's sake. Act too busy or something. Rank hath its privileges. Personally, as a self-employed consultant, I wear a button-down with the collar open and black Dickies work pants (non-cargo) as ordinary dress pants rip too easily and get snagged on stuff while crawling under desks.

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