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Comment Re:Don't hold your breath (Score 1) 201

NASA has their own inflation rate used for budgeting long-term projects, and it trends much higher than the US national inflation rate. The reason is obvious when you think about it: back in the 1950s, many common commercial products were handmade, with domestic labour, but are now mass-produced with cheap overseas labor and advanced labor-saving technologies (depending on the type of product). But just like in the 1950s, NASA still builds things largely by hand, generally in small numbers, and with a highly skilled domestic workforce.

The reason is obvious: they used their inflation rate as a key part of computing the costing of the next iteration of contracts. This created a feedback which greatly increased the cost of contracts and the resulting computed inflation rate over time.

This has led to wildly overpriced contracts. For example, a NASA group computed (see discussion of the "appendix") the traditional costing for a hypothetical NASA contract which would have built the Falcon 9 (including development of the Falcon I and three rocket engine designs). They arrived at a figure of $4.0 billion (this is for the bid, we're not even to cost overruns that occur after a contract is awarded). The actual SpaceX development cost as vetted by a NASA audit? $390 million.

My take at this time is that NASA's inflation index (the New Start Inflation Index is unintentionally pure fiction as part of a feedback dynamic that has greatly increased the cost of NASA activities.

Comment Re:Don't hold your breath (Score 1) 201

Obama isn't a bad leader (in general, the world hates the US far less now than they did back in 2003-2005), but he has spent his life in an ivory tower, so tends to be like European leaders -- erring on the side of Chamberlain.

Yay for low expectations. "Erring on the side of Chamberlain" is quite the backhanded foreign policy compliment.

Comment Re:First, AGW came for the Marshall Islands... (Score 1) 220

Whether you believe in God or climate change, and I'm not certain why the two are typically mutually exclusive, it has to occur to you that change is inevitable. Tangible evidence exists that the World's weather is different now, and it doesn't take a wild leap of imagination to infer that eight billion humans probably have something to do with it.

The sacrifice required now to right the ship is minimal compared to what it will become in a decade... and past a certain tipping point, there will be no remedy. Buy some land where it's presently very cold.

The only simple solution is to kill a bunch of people. Nothing else "solves" overpopulation in a simple way. And if the chicken littles are correct, then it'll be much easier to solve that problem in ten years.

Comment Re:Sputnik? (Score 1) 201

The shuttle's misuse as a payload delivery platform was not a technical failure of the vehicle. You are right, it was a terrible cargo vehicle, but would have been an excellent vehicle on which to operate longer-duration special missions that required the equipment to be launched and returned in one configuration.

Utility > capability. Capability is just a technology demonstration in the absence of further usefulness.

Comment Re:15 years old? (Score 1) 410

As for the climate change issue, I think this is a pretty good stance: http://www.gocomics.com/joelpe...

It's a profoundly ignorant stance, both of the economic consequences of screwing with the world's energy and transportation infrastructure, and of hopelessly misunderstanding the opposition to climate change mitigation.

Comment Re:Ah the right wing story progression (Score 1) 410

Even stopped clocks are right twice a day, but we don't count on them to tell time. Life is more than condescending plots ripped from low budget movies. Show global warming is a problem requiring our urgent attention rather than spin fantasy about how your genius gets ignored.

Comment Re: The treaty says no such thing. (Score 1) 211

So you'd have to find objects that provide: oil/kerosene (a fuel), liquid oxygen and/or hydrogen (a catalyst) and your precious metal all in close proximity near earth, find multi-billion dollar investors to mine stuff we can easily find on earth.

You can find metal oxides anywhere. With some energy, that becomes LOX and a reactive metal which you can use in either a pressured gas engine or a hybrid (LOX/metal) motor. You wouldn't want to fire it in Earth orbit due to the spew of solids in the propellant exhaust.

The first version always gets thrown away.