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Comment Re:But but but! (Score 1) 232

Is this going to be driven by space rednecks with astro-mullets carrying their space shotguns?

I think the image you are supposed to get is of space contractors throwing their space toolboxes and some space lumber into a pickup truck and driving over to a construction site.

Notice that if you hire contractors to do some work on your house, they are more likely to show up in pickup trucks than giant vans.

Realistically it's going to be more like a space van or lorry.

I didn't invent the term "space pickup truck". I saw others using it years ago in Internet discussions of space.

The idea is that it is specifically not a giant van or lorry. On rare occasions you might need a giant van, but a pickup truck can be something you use every day. That's the metaphor.

The Space Shuttle was metaphorically a lorry. It had a large cargo volume and could carry heavy loads... to low Earth orbit, on rare occasions. It would be much much more useful to have a fleet of vehicles that can each only carry a tonne or so but can do it frequently, economically, with little drama.

Space X et al. are really just trying to use current technology

They are advancing the state of the art, but yes they are only using the known proven technology. I just read the Wikipedia page for the Skylon, and if Reaction Engine can get that to work, then they deserve all the money. I hope both companies succeed but I'm not pinning my hopes on the radical new technology.

The Skylon promises to be a reusable SSTO craft with a 15 tonne cargo capacity. Obviously 15 tonnes is better than 1 tonne. If it can fly routinely, without excessive maintenance, it should be a huge step forward. But it's a lot more complicated than what SpaceX is trying to do, and therefore a lot higher risk.

If the Skylon works, but it turns out that the engines have to be torn down and rebuilt after every flight, and SpaceX can make 20 flights for every one Skylon flight, then SpaceX will win.

Comment Re:It is in the nature of the business! (Score 1) 160

Yes, they stand on that mountain, but they are still building it!

All the more reason to question their overhead since this "mountain" was already climbed in 1969. You do realize there's almost nothing NASA is trying to do today that wasn't already done better, faster, and cheaper by the Apollo program, right?

Comment Re:Can't blame NASA (Score 1) 160

I wonder if Americans will ever figure out that privatization is a con job by oligarchs to get your money for themselves under the guise of efficiency.

I dunno. Americans still haven't figured out government programs are a con job by politicians to get our money for themselves under the guise of efficacy. "Hey Taxpayer! You're too stupid to know what to do with your own money so we will take it from you and spend it in ways we think are best for you! Don't object! It's for your own good!"

This is why I'm a Libertarian.

Comment Re: Can't blame NASA (Score 2) 160

Welcome to Trumponian politics.

You know, I seem to recall there might've been a different guy in the White House for the last eight years who oversaw the ridiculous F-35 program and did...well, nothing. Gosh, what was his name? O-something? But who cares, right? Since he was a Democrat he can do no wrong, and since Trump is a Republican he must be blamed for everything, including things he had nothing to do with.

Comment Re:But but but! (Score 1) 232

And you don't think some other nations might have a problem with that?

You say that as if we didn't have enough nuclear weapons already to wipe out nearly any nation on the planet without fear of counterattack. Why should we give a damn about what other nations think about a mass driver? If we wanted to be a serious threat to them it's not like they could do anything about it NOW so a mass driver wouldn't alter anything.

Comment Re:But but but! (Score 4, Interesting) 232

I definitely am a fan of the idea of doing space exploration in a systematic way. We should build a space station that includes a fuel depot, and use it as the hub of space operations.

I am loathe to just destroy the ISS. It was expensive to get it up there and it should be affordable to keep it going. How hard is it really to just boost it into a higher orbit? If we want to save money we might want to stop having people on board for a while... just turn off the life support and other things, but do keep boosting its orbit to keep it where it is.

We will have a real game-changer once we have a "space pickup truck", a launch vehicle that can take a relatively small amount of cargo to orbit, but can do it affordably and frequently. The biggest problem with the Space Shuttle (aside from the fact that it was only 99% safe) was that it took man-decades of labor after each flight to service an orbiter for the next flight.

SpaceX is really working on the "space pickup truck" idea. Recovering the first-stage booster to be refueled and re-used is part of making launch more affordable.

Additionally I would love to see a mass driver or other sort of "cannon" to fire inert payloads (oxygen, water, fuel, dried food, sturdy electronics) to orbit. I've read about this. The biggest problem is that anything you fire from Earth will return to Earth unless its trajectory can be altered; the two obvious ways to do that are to put jets on the cargo capsules so they can adjust their own trajectory, or to have some sort of cargo capture system (a net? a drone with grabber arms?). I favor the latter because I want the cargo capsules to be as simple and cheap as possible.

Once we have an affordable way to get fuel into orbit, all sorts of things become possible. Make a rugged and simple craft that can shuttle back-and-forth between Earth and the Moon, and Moon visits become dramatically simpler and cheaper. Re-boosting the ISS, re-boosting satellites, launching space probes, all of it becomes much simpler and cheaper. Once you are in orbit you are halfway to anywhere in the solar system.

Comment Live Distros....find your desktop environment (Score 1) 495

Everyone has their opinions, I would suggest trying some out on your own using live distros (CD/DVD or USB drive). I have been using linux since 1998 at home, and it is great. Live distros are a beautiful thing.

You can boot into a fully running OS and try it out without installing it. It will also let you know if it is compatible with your hardware. It will run slower than if you installed it, but it will run and you can get the feel for it.

As you read through these comments, you'll see names of distros. All of them should have live versions you can try out.
Try them to see which desktop environment you like the best, that would be a good start. I use Mint XFCE. There is also Mint KDE, Mint Cinnamon, Mint Mate. Maybe others now too. Some distros, like Mint and Ubuntu have specific packaged versions with these desktop environments as the default. Others don't and you would hvae to install them and try them out. You can also have different desktop environments on the same machine and switch between them if you like once you install it.

For a beginner, I would say to stick with Ubuntu or Mint, which is based on Ubuntu. They have good guides/documentation, and large communities. You can also check out distrowatch.com, which shows the most popular in terms of downloads. I am sure there are some of the top ones I haven't tried yet.

That is the beauty of it - take some time and try them out.

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