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Comment: Misleading quote of TFA (Score 3, Informative) 40

So, we start with the quote about a Hohmann Transfer, in such a way as to suggest something completely different.

I'm sure there was a good reason for that, though TFA itself manages to mangle a bit of orbital physics all on its own, in addition to whoever submitted/edited the /. suumary....

Comment: Re: Ground Control... (Score 1) 175

I agree that over-engineering is not going to be the way forward, but the greatest value of lessening risk is the PR aspect and it should not be overlooked.

Just look at the people in this thread who argue that the space program and all of the research and the eventual benefits from extraterrestrial energy and resource production are a waste of money. Now, add some deaths to it. It doesn't matter if there are one or two or a hundred.

Those deaths will get exploded in the media in a manner that mirrors how people are afraid of things like Ebola or terrorism while the actual probability of being killed by those things is much less than being killed in a car accident. There will be commissions, there will be spineless politicians grounding whole programs, and then those same individuals will complain that NASA isn't making any advances and is a waste of money.

Accepting risks like that is not something an individual can do in a risk adverse society without it rippling outward. And that's ultimately where the US is going.

The US needs to look outward to save not only its position in the world, but also preserve the underlying morale of the people who live in it. Granted, the old method of looking outward tends to lead to wars, but the interesting thing about space exploration is that it provides people a means of looking outside their borders without having to dominate their neighbors. And if you think about it, that might well be the greatest advantage of all.

So, I agree with you on what needs to happen. Astronauts and test pilots dying in accidents needs to increase our determination, not cause it to fold, but that is a problem with our inward looking society which NASA engineers can't control. What they can control is trying to be as safe as possible to make sure they can keep going. What we need to do is to not accept that there will be deaths, but to make the case that there is concrete benefit to those risks to begin with. The case isn't being made where it needs to be.

Comment: Old news (Score 2) 175

Almost anyone you talk with about the value of the Space Station eventually starts talking about Mars. When they do, it's clear that we don't yet have a very grown-up space program. The folks we send to space still don't have any real autonomy, because no one was imagining having to "practice" autonomy when the station was designed and built.

That's old news to anyone actually paying attention. It was highlighted as a problem as far back as the Skylab SL-3 and SL-4 missions. In an email exchange with NASA scientists working with the Flashline Research Station back in 2002 (or so) I outlined the need to streamline communications and transfer some of the decision making and planning authority from the (simulated) mission control to the station commander and from the station commander to his subordinates. Unsurprisingly, the NASA study ended up reaching the opposite conclusion - the existing system worked,and there was no need to even seriously try any other system. That, ultimately, is why they don't have any real autonomy or practice having real autonomy.

Comment: Re:scheduling (Score 3, Insightful) 175

A good example of the over-thinking that NASA does is the Columbia Crew survivability report. Many tens of thousands of hours were spent on the analysis that concluded the same thing that just about anyone could have stated after 30 seconds of deliberation: There were many different factors involved in supersonic re-entry, most of which are fatal, and there is no known technology that could have saved the crew from any significant portion of those factors. Yet NASA felt it necessary to spend millions on that part of the investigation...

And here you aptly demonstrate what "just about anyone" in their cluelessness doesn't grasp - there's a vast gulf between a thirty second conclusion, and actual analysis. Among other things, the Crew Survivability study discovered an unexpected failure mode in the titanium structures of the crew compartment.
 

I can virtually guarantee that no one cares if NASA achieves any more science. What people want NASA to be achieving is the engineering of going into space and staying there.

I can completely guarantee you have no clue what you're talking about. The man-vs-machine debate is one of the loudest, deepest, and bitterest debates there is when it comes to space travel and exploration. There's many people who want NASA to be doing *more* science, and much less of anything having to do with people in space.
 

Given the progression of human engineering expression, space travel should be accessible to a significant minority of the worlds population. 35 years after the wright brothers, the entire upper middle class could afford to fly.

You're off by at least twenty years and a second world war's worth of engineering investment. You also fail to note that air travel has an economic function (in connecting existing destinations and enabling economic activity) - while space travel is largely a money pit.

Comment: Re:Get your drunk on... (Score 1) 268

by CrimsonAvenger (#48684071) Attached to: Drunk Drivers in California May Get Mandated Interlock Devices

then there is a market for some kind of private van service that makes runs from the area with the bars. Load 10 drunks into a passenger van, get their addresses, let a computer pick the most efficient route, and charge each of them half the cab fare.

Hmm, sounds like a business model there. I know, we could call it "Uber"!

It's not like the cab companies would give us a hard time with this sort of thing, right?

+ - Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "As a power user, you notice certain things that the average person might not. One of those is the difference between typing on a sweet mechanical keyboard with luxurious key action, versus pounding away on a run-of-the-mill squishy plank that relies on membrane switches to register your keystrokes. The difference may seem subtle to the uninitiated, though even casual typists can recognize that there's something inherently superior about a mechanical keyboard. Of course, it's the mechanical key switches that are responsible for elevating the typing experience. These are better than the rubber domes found in membrane keyboards in a number of ways, including feel, responsiveness, and durability. Mechanical keyboards are growing in popularity, as word is spreading about how good they are. In turn, keyboard manufacturers have responded by feeding more mechanical models into what was once a niche market. If you go out in search of a mechanical keyboard, you'll now find a mountain of options. This roundup further reinforced something we've known for a long time, which is that mechanical keyboards are the superior choice for both gaming and daily typing chores. That doesn't mean they're all created equal — there are different key switches to choose from, and features vary from one plank to the next. The choice of key switch type is highly subjective but we can say that Cherry MX key switches are indeed of higher quality than knock-offs like the Kailh switch. That's not to say Kailh switches are bad, just that you can discern a difference when going from one to the other."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:FFS just keep the Warthog (Score 1) 248

I don't think the great-grandparent grasps the degree of specialization the various sub-components of and individuals in the services have.

It's more that I don't see how the Army can have the level of generalisation enough to have an air corps, and an engineering corps, but somehow running their own A-10 division is suddenly out of scope. The division seems arbitrary.

Like I said... you don't grasp the level of specialization. Army engineers (which isn't the same thing as the Corps of Engineers) are specialists in battlefield engineering. The aviation corps (like the tank corps) is specialized to Army needs (and isn't quite the same thing as the TAC air groups of the USAF and USN).

As far as the A-10 goes, yes, the division is somewhat arbitrary and dates back to the Key West Agreement (and subsequent updates) that split the various roles and missions of the armed services up to prevent duplication. Any system is going to have edge cases, and the A-10 is one of them.

Comment: Re:FFS just keep the Warthog (Score 1) 248

Both the Army and Marines operate their own rotary wing aircraft, but only the Marines operate their own fixed wing aircraft too

It should be noted that every time the Army tried to get its own fixed wing aircraft for ground support, the Air Force blocked the move.

And the only reason the Air Force doesn't do the same to the Marines is that the Marines are NAVY. And the Navy never let the Air Force camel's nose into their tent.

For those who aren't big on inter-service rivalry history, this all grew out of the squabbling between the Bomber Generals and everyone else in the WW2 Army Air Corps.

The Bomber Generals believed that the Army (and Navy) were no longer necessary, because any enemy could be defeated by just bombing him into oblivion. They didn't even see a burning need for fighters, since the massed bombers could defend themselves nicely.

After WW2, when the Army Air Corps started pushing for their own branch of service (US Air Force), they very conveniently overlooked things like the Schweinfurt Raid (bombers only, no fighter escort, since the P47 and P51 weren't ready, lots of bombers didn't come home. Not quite a majority didn't come home, but it was close), and demanded control of ALL fixed-wing aviation. The Navy told them to f**k off, but the Army was forced to give it all up.

Since then, every time something new that could fly came along, the Air Force has tried their best to make sure it was forbidden to the Army. They failed with helicopters, but they've always succeeded with armed fixed wing planes....

Comment: Re:the problem with stealth technology (Score 1, Insightful) 248

Wrong. You said it yourself: radar technology is so sensitive that they have to dial it down, otherwise they're swamped by false positives. If a giant bomb-dropping machine traveling at Mach 2 can pretend to be a sparrow flying over some forest, it's already a win. So it's a huge positive when fighting someone even with that kind of technology. When fighting someone whose AA system is a guy holding an AK-47, it is 100% useless. Until we get to active camouflage.

Comment: Re:FFS just keep the Warthog (Score 3, Insightful) 248

Seriously, though, as long as the combined size is about the same and the respective size of the service branches (or "specialty branches") stays the same, all you will have done is to (slightly) rearrange the deck chairs.

Indeed. And your warfare specialists will still be specialists... an infantryman will still be an infantryman, and you'll still need differently trained techs to work on the gas turbines in a tank or on the gas turbines of a tin can or a cruiser. A land based pilot still won't be a carrier based aviator. Etc... etc... You *might* save little bit on the aviation side by only having one school for some of the subsystems on the JSF, or only one basic electronics school, but that's about it.

I don't think the great-grandparent grasps the degree of specialization the various sub-components of and individuals in the services have.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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