Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 25% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY25". ×

Comment Re: RECORD MAKING !! (Score 2) 92

The Pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower didn't expect to ever return to Europe. And half of them died in the first couple of years, in the horrible wilderness called "Massachusetts".

Everybody who goes to Mars will die. (Some quickly, some slowly, some from old age.... maybe even some who come back to Earth.) EVERYBODY dies. Many pioneers died along the Oregon Trail, or heading to California. Exploration isn't safe, but staying home in bed doesn't protect you from dying.

Comment Re: Resume the lunar program (Score 1) 92

A casino on the Moon, retirement colonies on the Moon (low gravity will make it easier for geriatric billionaires to walk around), and hotels in space, and radio telescopes on the far side of the Moon? I like them all!

Humans WILL build colonies on the Moon. The primary language probably won't be English. I'd rather it be Russian than Chinese.

Comment Von Braun Screwed Up (Score 1) 92

In the 1960's, the USA was faced with a decision; go to the moon fast using a lunar-orbit rendezvous technique, or take our time and do it right, with an Earth-orbit rendezvous. The Earth-orbit rendezvous would have built a space station, assembled the actual Moon rocket in space, and returned to Earth orbit to actually land in a landing capsule.

Von Braun wanted to get there FAST, without bothering to assemble any space infrastructure along the way, and we won the "space race". But in doing it that way, we didn't learn anything about space construction, or build anything that would last, and we haven't been back to the moon in nearly 50 years. If the Russians are smart, they'll build their moon rocket in orbit near the ISS, and use that as a "construction shack" to building some actual orbital infrastructure. With that many launches, it almost sounds like they've chosen that path.

As a dedicated American patriot (and retired Navy officer), I can only say, "Godspeed, Russia! SOMEBODY has to build a lunar colony, and if it isn't going to be America, at least it'll be HUMANS back in space!"

Comment Re:They have no plan (Score 1) 188

Men who make things - union or not - took second fiddle to health care workers unions and teachers' unions during the "stimulus" that failed miserably to stimulate spending. Of course, great chunks of that money went to crony-capitalists like Solyndra, which pissed away a half a billion dollars and accomplished nothing at all. Road and bridge repair got virtually NO "stimulus" money, even after a couple of high-profile bridge collapses.

Comment Re:They have no plan (Score 3, Insightful) 188

I was going to say much the same thing, but you've said it better.

Just to add SOMETHING to the mix, however, I would have thought that hardening our electrical grid _MIGHT_ have been one of the things the gub'mint should have spent a little of the trillion wasted "stimulus" dollars on. But as Instapundit Glenn Reynolds puts it, that might have given real jobs to burly men rather than to the natural Democrat constituencies.

Further, as the recent article from Nature pointed out, ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica have recently revealed spikes in C-14 and Be-10, indicative of a truly MASSIVE solar storm, in 774 and 993, perhaps as much as 5 times more powerful than the Carrington Event. So, yeah, perhaps we should think about planning to begin.

Comment Re:RISK vs CHANCE (Score 1) 182

The mitigation plan for most of these terrible events is "be somewhere else when it happens". Some humans need to leave the Earth and live elsewhere as the ultimate insurance plan against mega-disasters. Mars. The Moon. Space habitats in the Asteroid Belt. Ceres, or Ganymede, or Titan, or all of these.

Comment Re:Risk Assessment (Score 1) 182

The "chance" is perhaps one in 15,000 per year (but we can't be sure, since it's pretty rare; the Barringer Meteor Crater, the Younger Dryas, Tunguska, Chelyabinsk are examples within the last 100,000 years) but the level of damage can be anywhere from "ouch!" to "civilization-ending". So I think it's not worth getting panicked about, but definitely something to work on the long-range plans for. The risk is low, but non-zero.

Comment Re: We've been to Mars already (Score 1) 150

A Mars probe - or a space probe to any other place - has to be designed with sensors to detect what you're looking for. That means that you can ONLY find the stuff you EXPECTED to find - or not find it at all, which the first Mars lander did. A person on the scene can try other things and build new sensors in near-real-time. In order to discover the truly unknown, we have to GO THERE for ourselves, or at least be close enough to learn from our mistakes.

A Phobos base makes perfect sense; minimal gravity, someplace to park material until we're ready for it. An actual space station would be better, because we could spin it for artificial "gravity", but perhaps we can cannibalize Phobos for that later on.

Comment Re:Of course the Air Force didn't adopt it (Score 1) 320

A Predator or Reaper has a small number of missiles and bombs. UAVs are excellent SURVEILLANCE assets, but they're limited in firepower. Use them to do long term watching for the target, with one or two weapons to kill it. Then fly home. UAVs are for a few high-value targets.

An A10 can't stay onstation as long - but the weapons load can be as much as the weight of the rest of the aircraft. Sort of like the old AD1 "Skyraider" in that regard. A10s are for massed infantry and vehicles.

Comment Re:I may have missed it but (Score 2) 320

I have a number of devices that contain electric motors. There's a vacuum cleaner, a blender, a mixer... It would probably be possible to create a "multi-purpose household appliance" that would do every possible task with just one electric motor.

But the fact is that a device that does several different tasks does NONE of them well. My carpet shampooer isn't a vacuum cleaner, and there is no "multi-mission floor care device" that is both a carpet shampooer and a vacuum cleaner, even when they are superficially similar.

A USAF air-superiority fighter isn't going to do a great job as a ground attack aircraft. A ground attack aircraft isn't going to be a great interceptor. Hell, there aren't even any good fighter-interceptors. And the F-35 apparently sucks at ALL of these jobs.

The notion of "One Aircraft To Rule Them All" is an utter fantasy.

Leveraging always beats prototyping.