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+ - NASA's $349 Million Empty Tower->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "In a scathing indictment of the NASA bureaucracy, the Washington Post documents a $349 million project to construct a laboratory tower that was closed as soon as it was finished. "[The tower was] designed to test a new rocket engine in a chamber that mimicked the vacuum of space. ... As soon as the work was done, it shut the tower down. The project was officially 'mothballed' — closed up and left empty — without ever being used. ... The reason for the shutdown: The new tower — called the A-3 test stand — was useless. Just as expected. The rocket program it was designed for had been canceled in 2010. ... The result was that NASA spent four more years building something it didn’t need. Now, the agency will spend about $700,000 a year to maintain it in disuse. ... Jerked from one mission to another, NASA lost its sense that any mission was truly urgent. It began to absorb the vices of less-glamorous bureaucracies: Officials tended to let projects run over time and budget. Its congressional overseers tended to view NASA first as a means to deliver pork back home, and second as a means to deliver Americans into space. In Mississippi, NASA built a monument to its own institutional drift.""
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+ - NASA built a $349 million rocket test stand, to abandon it->

Submitted by savuporo
savuporo (658486) writes "As a leftover from cancelled Constellation program, NASA kept building a vacuum rocket test stand called A-3, that was originally intended to test upper stage engines. The work on the tower was finished this summer, which ended with the project being about three times more expensive than original estimate, and 3 and a half years late. By now, NASA does not have a use for it, so the facility was immediately mothballed and it will cost about $700 000 a year in upkeep.
For reference, the cost of designing, building, launching and operating Spirit and Opportunity through their initial mission was about $820 million."

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Comment: Re:I suppose this is a good thing... (Score 1) 87

by savuporo (#48598993) Attached to: California's Hydrogen Highway Adds Another Station

Hydrogen lobby is anything but letting the market decide. Transportation is actually kind of tricky to leave to the market as transportation requires large infrastructure investments. Such as distributing gas, diesel, laying down train tracks, installing charging stations and so on.
Governments will inevitably meddle, and meddle they will. Corn ethanol was/is a perfect example of government meddling gone wrong. Hydrogen is another disaster waiting in the winds.

Comment: Re:I suppose this is a good thing... (Score 5, Informative) 87

by savuporo (#48590965) Attached to: California's Hydrogen Highway Adds Another Station

Well to wheels, hydrogen is probably the most polluting fuel cycle imagined. At present like 95% of the hydrogen supply comes from fossil fuels, and end to end cycle efficiency is even lower than an average gas guzzling SUV.

Rather than trying to push this into passenger cars, working on hydrogen based long haul trucks and airliners makes a lot more sense. But even then the theorethical "green" benefits are not clear cut.

Comment: Re:China is not in space competition (Score 2) 86

by savuporo (#48553097) Attached to: China Plans Superheavy Rocket, Ups Reliability

What is awesome about the Chinese efforts right now is that you know there is a followup for everything in the works. Slow, meticulous, but it is happening.

Change'2 was built as a backup to Chang'e-1. After the first one succeeded, the second one was upgraded and launched on a more ambitious mission. Chang'e-3 had a backup built. Reentry vehicle test flew. Tiangong-2 is in the works. There is gradual engineering capability build-up happening, sort of similar to early era US/USSR spacecraft series. Except that the success rates now are much higher than they were 40 years ago.

Remember Mariner, Pioneer, Venera , Ranger, Surveyor, Luna .. all of these were kind of similar in that they were steady improvements in what could be achieved.

Comment: Re:Joyent unfit to lead them? (Score 2, Insightful) 254

by savuporo (#48532353) Attached to: Node.js Forked By Top Contributors

Thats exactly it. Drama is hostile, doesnt matter over what exactly. SJW or something else.
I choose to work somewhere to build a particular product, idea or service - thats what im there for, if it comes with a truckload of drama and emotion i will simply go elsewhere. Which is what the devs here did.

Comment: Re:triggering below percentage is dumb (Score 1) 96

by savuporo (#48528743) Attached to: Windows 10 Adds Battery Saver Feature

You completely missed the point. Rate of drain is CRITICAL when the phone is on standby, i.e. in my pocket. When the screen is on with a bunch of foregrounded apps, the equation is completely different and rate of drain is not the primary issue.
For example, in screen active mode most of the time clocking down the CPU is about the stupidest thing you can do from battery saving perspective, as short bursts of high activity with long deep sleep cycles are more efficient than dragged out activity cycles on lower clock.
Saving battery is an active fight, and operating systems are always going to be fighting a losing battle against the apps - but by no means should they give up, there are myriad of untapped ways how to make the current situation much better for an average user.

The idea of having a 10% dumb phone in my pocket that cannot do anything does not match with any of my use cases. I simply dont send texts and rarely have to do phone calls. However, it is often critical that i can still open email and maps, for my wife it is critical to take this one last photo for which she has been saving for, and for someone else it is that one last foursquare checkin. Your pattern is not my pattern and vice versa, and there is a lot of improvement room for mobile operating systems to get much much smarter about that.

Yelling panic at 10% is something that my laptop did in 90ies.

Comment: Re: rounding error (Score 1) 71

by savuporo (#48526917) Attached to: Technical Hitches Delay Orion Capsule's First Launch

more hardware and fuel could be lofted any day, there are plenty of operational launch vehicles all around the world.
if you add up the actual launch capacity of all the operational rockets and pads you could put like thousand tons or more to orbit every year.
to get to mars, you will need to launch more than once in any case. to get to moon in a useful capacity with more than flags and footprints, you will also need to launch more.

what exactly is the point of spending another decade, tens of billions and building yet another launcher to actually start going anywhere?
orion is dumb because it is not actually designed to go anywhere, SLS is dumb because it is redundant.

Comment: Re: triggering below percentage is dumb (Score 1) 96

by savuporo (#48526833) Attached to: Windows 10 Adds Battery Saver Feature

rate of drain is obviously a critical variable when the screen is off and the thing is in my pocket. I.e after I have not actively used it for a minute or so. and even then instantaneous draw doesn't matter, but average draw over a minute or 5 matters a lot

as long as I'm holding it and doing something I know full well I am burning power - including doing things like playing games

Comment: Re:triggering below percentage is dumb (Score 1) 96

by savuporo (#48525173) Attached to: Windows 10 Adds Battery Saver Feature

I actually want it to warn me even if it is 99% full and draining fast, because i was planning to hike around all day in a city that i am visiting and will have no opportunity to charge. I know i will need every drop of charge for photos, google maps etc, but all of it needs to go into useful activities, not into background drain with some obscure rarely used app trying to randomly download updates or some BS like that.

If it happens once, it's a bug. If it happens twice, it's a feature. If it happens more than twice, it's a design philosophy.