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Comment: Re:This is why NASA needs to privatize (Score 1) 59

by thrich81 (#49305541) Attached to: Report: NASA May Miss SLS Launch Deadline

I can't say about SpaceX and they already have their Falcon Heavy in the works (which doesn't match the SLS specs), but Boeing is already the prime contractor for most of the SLS vehicle -- "Boeing is the prime contractor for the design, development, test and production of the launch vehicle cryogenic stages, as well as development of the avionics suite."

Being an old school aerospace contractor, Boeing knows the risks to deliver new, cutting edge space hardware*. I doubt they would take this project on as fixed cost or with a hard delivery date.

*Yeah, I know that SLS doesn't look cutting edge compared to the Saturn V or Space Shuttle, but it's development will be sucha large effort, it might as well be.
Don't take anything I said here as actual approval of how the SLS was conceived and is being done.

Comment: Re:Translation (Score 4, Interesting) 179

by thrich81 (#49261259) Attached to: Russia Abandons Super-Rocket Designed To Compete With SLS

The Shuttle never lived up to what it was sold as -- cheap, reliable access to space. The most damning evidence of that is that the only major sponsor/user besides NASA, the US Air Force, abandoned it as soon as its actual operational limitations became clear. The Air Force went to the expense of developing new large expendable launch vehicles rather than try to stick with the Shuttle. For the last few years the Shuttle had only one mission -- support the ISS, every other mission had been taken from it. And, the US had a perfectly viable space station program without the Shuttle -- Skylab, and for that matter, so did the Russians. Speaking of the Russians -- they figured out pretty quickly that the Space Shuttle concept was operationally a loser and abandoned their Buran version after one flight. So, the Shuttle looked good in the marketing slides from the 70's and early '80s, but has to be judged an operational failure by the standards set for its justifications to be built. The Shuttle could do things that no other vehicle can do, but those capabilities, such as its huge cross range landing capability, just turned out to be not very useful and not worth the cost.

Comment: Re: your uncle (Score 1) 681

by thrich81 (#49109137) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge

You must not have been following the debate in the 80's when the evidence that was coming in that the ozone layer was in trouble and some scientists were saying we needed to phase out chlorofluorocarbons -- there was a great cry that the civilized world was going to end without air conditioning and we would all die sweaty and uncomfortable. Same thing happened in the early 70's when leaded gasoline was phased out -- we were going to have to abandon gasoline powered cars, it would be impossible to design a usable engine to run on low octane unleaded. Those examples are why I am skeptical when told how expensive it will be and that it will practically destroy civilization to phase into non-fossil energy.

Comment: Re:Reality Flip Switch (Score 2) 252

by thrich81 (#49099155) Attached to: No Tech Bubble Here, Says CNN: "This Time It's Different."

Was the Fed flooding the market with cash in 2007-08? I think it was the private banks that were creating liquidity (money) with those weird investment vehicles and loans. What the Fed failed at was not withdrawing money from the economy and running up interest rates to cool things down, but nobody wants an economic party pooper and they would have been savagely criticized for ending the good times.

Comment: Re:Two words (Score 2) 131

by thrich81 (#49058517) Attached to: Bank Hackers Steal Millions Via Malware

There are two US government bonds you can buy which by definition keep pace with inflation as defined by the Consumer Price Index:
TIPS -- from
Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS, provide protection against inflation. The principal of a TIPS increases with inflation and decreases with deflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. When a TIPS matures, you are paid the adjusted principal or original principal, whichever is greater. TIPS pay interest twice a year, at a fixed rate. The rate is applied to the adjusted principal; so, like the principal, interest payments rise with inflation and fall with deflation.
or you can buy I-bonds: Series I Savings Bonds are a low-risk, liquid savings product. While you own them they earn interest and protect you from inflation. You may purchase I Bonds via TreasuryDirect or with your IRS tax refund.
The world is awash right now in investment money looking for a safe place to earn interest, with more demand than supply of safe interest bearing instruments the returns are going to be small.

Comment: Re:"Support" != actually sacrifice for (Score 1) 458

by thrich81 (#48975433) Attached to: Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change

I apologize again for being a little harsh. If you've had a C6 vette, then you know what the new cars can do. If I could clear it with the spousal unit here, I'd have a nice 70's Camaro or Firebird tucked away in the garage. I considered them the best styled of the 'muscle cars' though they were late to the party and most not so muscular. Several good choices, but I'd be fine with a '70 Camaro with a stock four-barrel small block. Good luck with your TA quest, they are pretty and the ones I had were nice drivers ('70 Formula 400, '78 T/A 6.6, '81 Turbo T/A).

Comment: Re:Backpedalled? (Score 1) 740

by thrich81 (#48969565) Attached to: New Jersey Gov. Christie: Parents Should Have Choice In Vaccinations

My neighbor across the street when I was a kid had polio as a child and was crippled for life after that -- we knew all about the threat of polio -- that is the real history I experienced here in the USA. You need to actually be there around polio before you can say which is the greater threat -- government coercion to get the vaccine or the disease.

Comment: Re:Demagoguery (Score 1) 740

by thrich81 (#48968921) Attached to: New Jersey Gov. Christie: Parents Should Have Choice In Vaccinations

"Many people in the news on their high horse about Christie 's comments are the same ones who were shitting bricks about Perry's mandate" -- I'd have to see some support for that statement. I live in Texas and as I recall the main objection here to the HPV vaccine was that it would turn everyone's daughters into sex addicts by removing the threat of one STD. I don't see that now in the general vaccine debate.

Comment: Re:"Support" != actually sacrifice for (Score 1) 458

by thrich81 (#48946521) Attached to: Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change

Hey, I was there. The gas crisis didn't hit until 1973, when the Arabs put on the oil embargo. The muscle cars peaked in 1970 and by 1973 there was only one real contender left -- the '73 455SD Trans-Am and they only sold a couple of hundred of them. Go compare published power outputs from the engines of 1970 to those of 1973. In 1971, General Motors reduced the compression ratios of their engines across the board in anticipation of the phase out of leaded gas, and in 1972 Chrysler and Ford did the same. Emissions restrictions brought in lean mixtures and exhaust gas recirculation in the early 70's which killed engine output. Safety regulations added a couple of hundred pounds to each car. The insurance companies and the government had killed the muscle car by 1973; the oil crisis just put one more bullet in the corpse. Hi tech (ricecars, etc) did not bring performance cars back until the late 80's and early 90's.

Comment: Re:"Support" != actually sacrifice for (Score 5, Insightful) 458

by thrich81 (#48944457) Attached to: Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change

This is going to sound harsher than intended, but ... from younger days I already have owned a couple of Trans-Ams, Corvettes, a factory 455 cubic inch Buick GS Stage 1, 69 Camaro with a L-88 engine swap, big block El Caminos, etc, all big blocks at least 400 CID and they are all crap compared to what you can get for about $30K now in a new (or much less used) Mustang, Camaro, or Challenger. The old cars weren't that fun to drive because no matter how much power the engines made (and it wasn't as much as everyone 'remembers'), the suspensions could not put the power to the road. If you really want to enjoy a ride, go buy a 2015 Mustang GT which will outrun any old muscle car and do it with full emissions equipment, safety equipment and air conditioning. By the way, if you want 500 HP, don't try it with a Pontiac 455 -- that long stroke motor was a POS -- if you have to do it the hard way with 1960's/70's tech, go with a 427/454 Chevrolet, even then the factory race engines(427-L88 and 427-ZL1) were only making about 550 horses with open headers. Oh and those mid-70's Trans-Ams couldn't take all that much horsepower anyway -- their crappy bodies with the partial subframes twisted all up under real torque, especially the T-Top cars. I was a huge muscle car guy and went through the 70's when "government regulations" killed the muscle car, but the cars now are supercars compared to the best from back then and you don't get a lungful of lead, hydrocarbons and CO from behind them. I'm convinced that this would not be the case had the government not forced the automakers to clean up. If cars can be this good and this clean now then there is no excuse for anything else to be dirty either.

Comment: Re:throwing punches (Score 5, Informative) 894

by thrich81 (#48819649) Attached to: Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression

Bad example -- Dr. Aldrin was not just provoked by the dumbass moon hoaxer saying something offensive, but the hoaxer was following Aldrin and his daughter around, harassing them after he was asked to leave the couple alone. Aldrin had a plausible defense that he and his daughter felt physically threatened.
"Beverly Hills police investigated the incident, which occurred 9 September, but said that the charges were dropped after witnesses came forward to say that Mr Sibrel had aggressively poked Mr Aldrin with the Bible before he was punched."

Comment: Re:Great to see (Score 1) 152

by thrich81 (#48811445) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

I stand corrected on the state of the Dragon. Still, I don't feel the angst about the US space capabilities which is often expressed around here. Having lived through the 70's with the abandonment of the Apollo/Saturn hardware, with two flyable Saturn Vs left to corrode away on the ground, and then the long, slow disappointment of the STS, the rebuilding situation in crewed capabilities we have today just doesn't seem so bad, and that doesn't consider the golden age of interplanetary programs going on now. And, come on, you can't really stand by your statement that the US couldn't build a system equivalent to Mercury-Redstone in a couple of years if some billionaire wanted to do it. Anyway, thanks for the (nearly) direct info on Dragon.

Comment: Re:Great to see (Score 0) 152

by thrich81 (#48801803) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

During the period 1975 to 1981, the period between the last crewed Apollo flight and the first crewed Space Shuttle flight, the US did not have an operational system to launch crewed spacecraft. I was around during that time and don't remember any of the wailing that "America has lost the ability to go into Space!" like is common now. The Russians could still do it then (with pretty much the same hardware as they use now) so that wasn't the difference. I think it is just trendy now to bash American technical prowess in space which is uninformed as proven by rovers on Mars, probes on the way to Jupiter, Pluto, and Ceres, and orbiters around Saturn and Mercury. Unlike the 1975-1981 period there are currently THREE (four if you count Dreamchaser) crewed American spacecraft in advanced development, two of which have already flown in uncrewed configuration. So by any standard the US space program is stronger now (far stronger on the robot side) than it was in the late 70's. And, to be blunt, the statement that "America has lost the capability of being able to reproduce the original Mercury flight of Alan Shepard," is just ignorant -- Space-X could reproduce the orbital flight of Apollo 7 (first crewed flight of Apollo) tomorrow if there was a reason to, using the Falcon 9/Dragon system.

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."