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Comment Re:Sad, actually (Score 5, Informative) 285

If we wanted to build a Saturn V rocket today it could not be done. The original design is gone.

GOD DAMN IT. I really, really wish people would quit perpetuating this wildly incorrect urban legend. The original design details, down to the very last nut and bolt, are on file at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Absolutely nothing at all is "gone". Source.

The experts that had been working with rocket engines since the late 1940s worked on the Saturn V. Today there is nobody that knows anywhere near as much about rocket engines left. While the main engines for the Shuttle are somewhat of a marvel, I doubt they could be reproduced today either. The people resources simply aren't there - it would take 10 years of experimentation and learning about rockets.

Also ridiculously incorrect. You truly don't believe that the Space Shuttle Main Engines could be "reproduced" today? You're completely unaware of the fact that they've been continually "reproduced" since the beginning of the program, right? That they're rebuilt between missions, and that the design has improved and evolved over the life of the program? That as of right now there are in fact nine fully-built spare ones in storage at KSC? The engineers didn't just build a bunch of them in 1980 and then zap themselves with the Men In Black flashy-thing--SSMEs have been constantly built for the past almost thirty years. If my tone is coming across as a little coarse, it's because I'm having a hard time understanding how you could have a highly-moderated post to Slashdot when thirty seconds of research would refute almost everything you just said.

The reason why building a Saturn V today from the old plans is impossible has nothing to do with "cheaper labor" or "people that didn't mind getting their hands dirty" or whatever stupidness you wrote. Rather, you can't build a Saturn V today because a Saturn V isn't just a bunch of tanks with engines strapped to it--it's half of a complex launch system, with the other half being the Apollo CSM that sits on top of it. A Saturn V is an end-to-end system designed around the IBM-produced instrumentation unit, two tons of analog and basic digital computers and instrumentation. It's not that you can't build it--it's that building it wouldn't make any sense. You'd need to completely de-Apollo the rocket for it to work right, and guess what? That's exactly what NASA has been doing, although the political will to make it happen is sorely lacking.

Please educate yourself before you spout off such a mixture of urban legend and outright incorrect craziness.

Comment Re:One lone protester (Score 1) 411

You're being disingenuous, whether you mean to or not. I drive past that same corner every day on the way to and from work at one of the major subs, and while the turnout today might be low, I've at times seen dozens of folks with signs standing on that same spot. Couple that with the signs that are pasted up in the windows of business up and down NASA rd 1 and Bay Area Blvd, along with the words of coworkers in my group and in other groups, and the impression I get is that the Obama plan is wildly unpopular among the people doing the wrench-turning.

I actually read the Augustine report, cover to cover, and it most emphatically did not say that the current plan is broken and unworkable--it said that the current plan is $3B/yr underfunded, and that given the correct amount of funding, would be perfectly viable. Given that you can pretty much trip on $3B while walking down the hallway on the way to the bathroom at the Capital building, it's shameful that those monies can't be allocated to NASA. Further, the direction being pushed by the administration is a half-assed take on one of the Augustine "Flexible Path" options, and the implementation details and goals are disgustingly vague. It makes me wonder if the folks responsible for drafting the plan bothered to read more than Augustine's executive summary.

The most disheartening thing happening right now, though, is that everyone at the subs--from the major players of Lockheed & Boeing all the way down to the tiny shops--is still doing what they were doing in December, prior to the new budget announcement, because nothing's actually been passed yet. So all the folks working Ares I are still working Ares I, all the folks working full-mission Orion are still working full-mission Orion, and so on, and everyone pretty damn depressed about it. It's one thing to be told that the project on which you've killed yourself for three or four years is now dead; it's quite another thing to be told that the project on which you've killed yourself for three or four years is almost certainly about to be dead, but for now just keep slaving away at it full-tilt because nothing's actually happened yet.

Comment Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (Score 2, Interesting) 166

Imagine the hilarity when they realize they paid twice for the project, and one of the costs is already in the house...

Judging by how most workplaces function, his employer would immediately source the in-house cost. Then they'd end up with one offshore code house fixing another offshore code house's mistake. They'd still pay twice for the work, but now it would be "aligned to strategy."


Submission + - NASA names space station treadmill after Colbert (sfgate.com)

willith writes: "Looks like the SF Chronicle is jumping the gun by an hour or so, but they've got an AP article up detailing the results of the International Space Station Node 3 naming contest (previously on Slashdot). Comedian and fake-pundit Stephen Colbert conducted a bombastic write-in campaign and repeatedly urged his show's fan base (the "Colbert Nation") to stuff the ballot box with his name, which resulted in "Colbert" coming in first in the write-in contest with almost a quarter-million votes. Although the Node 3 component will not be named "Colbert"--NASA has instead chosen to call it "Tranquility"--one of the Node 3 components will bear the honor: the second ISS treadmill, which will be installed in Node 3, will be named the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill. The formal announcement will be made on air tonight at 22:30 EDT on the Colbert Report on Comedy Central by astronaut Sunita Williams."

Comment Re:research in motion (Score 4, Funny) 374

Canada comes from the Iroquois word 'Kanata', which means villiage, or settlement. It was in common use anywhere the Iroquois were - which includes the area above the Great Lakes - but also below, and around

Really? I thought the name "Canada" came from the two folks who first discovered it.

"Great country, eh?," said the first one. "What should we name it, eh?"

"I know," said the second one. "We'll put some letters in a hat, eh, and then we'll take turns drawing the letters out, eh, and that's how we'll name the place!"

"Good idea, eh!" said the first one. He pulled off his toupe, scribbled some letters on some paper scraps, dumped them into the toupe, shook it up, and they began to draw.

"Oh, I got a 'c', eh!"

"I got an 'n', eh!"

...and so on.


LittleBigPlanet Sequel Already In the Works 27

Now that the delay caused by a rogue song has come and passed, the LittleBigPlanet servers have been turned on, and creations are beginning to filter in. A BBC feature on the game revealed that plans are already underway for a sequel. Another report suggests that they're looking at other methods for expanding the game as well: "With the game just hitting stores, it's too early to start talking about sequels, but Media Molecule already is looking into how they can get more creative tools into the hands of their users. 'We can release new levels, new stickers, new content,' Evans said. 'It's pretty clear to me that we have to move in a fluid direction about what's a sequel and what's not a sequel.'"

Submission + - Robert Jordan dies (dragonmount.com)

willith writes: "James Oliver Rigney Jr, author of the long-running fantasy series The Wheel of Time and better known to millions of fans by the pen name Robert Jordan, died on 16 Sept 2007 from cardiac amyloidosis. Jordan announced he had been diagnosed with the disease in March 2006 and vowed to beat the odds, but determination and gumption sometimes just aren't enough in the face of a disease with a median survival time of just over two years. Jordan was in the process of writing the twelfth and final book in the Wheel of Time series, A Memory of Light, but the book was not slated for release until 2009 and is still incomplete. While there is hope that the book will still be finished from Jordan's notes, this is devastating news to all of us who have been reading the series since 1990."
Portables (Apple)

Submission + - iPhone release date confirmed for 29 June (apple.com)

willith writes: "Apple has placed three iPhone commercials on their web site today, and each of them end with a tag: "Coming June 29". This puts to rest the question of when the thing will hit the streets, but there are still worries about allocation — some sites are reporting that the allocation of iPhones to Cingular/AT&T stores will be relatively tight. The adverts do however shed light on another previously-unanswered question — the iPhone will only be available with a new two-year contract."

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