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SpaceX Unveils Heavy-Lift Rocket Designs 248

FleaPlus writes "At the recent Joint Propulsion Conference, SpaceX's rocket development facility director Tom Markusic unveiled conceptual plans for how its current Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 commercial rockets can be evolved into heavy-lift rockets, ranging from a Falcon X capable of lifting 38,000kg to orbit, up to a 140,000kg Falcon XX (more than either the Saturn V or the 75,000kg shuttle-derived rocket Congress currently plans on having NASA spend >$13B building). SpaceX presentations also discuss a new Merlin 2 heavy-lift engine, solar-electric cargo tugs, adapting their current engines for descent/ascent vehicles fueled by Mars-derived methane, and a desire for the government to take the lead on in-space nuclear thermal propulsion while commercial focuses on launchers. In a recent interview, SpaceX CEO/CTO Elon Musk expressed his goal of lowering the price of Mars transportation enough to enable early colonization in 20 years, and his own plans for retiring to Mars."

Comment Re:Please give me GM everything. (Score 1) 835

I used to think it was whining too, until I suddenly became allergic or sensitive to everything I like to eat. I won't deny there are fear-mongers out there, but the fact is that people develop allergies to all sorts of things, and not knowing whether the protein that someone is are allergic to from one nut or grain is present in a completely different food could cost someone their life. Probably already has, but we'll never know. What if the cause of your diabetes is just that sort of a situation?

Comment Re:Obvious Choice (Score 1) 508

Since NASA can build the rockets more cheaply

Where do you get that crazy idea? $9 billion spent on the Ares 1 and not even a rocket launched, except the Ares 1-X which was just a 4-segment shuttle solid rocket booster from ATK with a fake 5th segment on top and a dummy payload -- a $500 million fraud. For the same amount SpaceX designed, built and tested 2 rocket designs, upgraded a launch pad and is designing building and testing a capsule for cargo and crew. The ignorant will say they did it with government money on the COTS contract, but that money is paid out only on performance, and the COTS launches are yet to happen -- most of the money spent so far by SpaceX is their own money. Furthermore, they have billions in contracts outside of NASA, making NASA's contribution to their revenue less than 50%. Plus NASA's plans is to do R&D on fuel depots and on-orbit assembly, making heavy lift like the proposed Ares V unnecessary.

Comment Re:Look for the upside (Score 1) 460

There was not trillions of present day dollars invested in the space race. It was not even one trillion. According to the Office of Management and Budget and the Air Force Almanac, when measured in real terms (Meaning: if the value of $1.00 at today's rate equaled the value of $1.00 in 1958), the figure is $806.7 billion, or an average of $15.818 billion dollars per year over its fifty year history.

Comment Re:That's Great But... (Score 1) 688

RTFA. It was actually Soviet geologists back in the 80's that made some of the first discoveries. If those stinkin' commies had become stinkin' capatilists just a few years before withdrawing from Afghanistan instead of a few years after, that past 30 years might have been very different. Later, Afghani mining officials hid the maps from the Taliban by moving the maps to there homes. Once the Americans came in, the maps were brought back. They told Americans about it, but no one checked it until the Pentagon took an interest.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Anti Terror Honor System 74

Fortunately for us, the FAA has imposed the honor system as our next best defense against terrorism. Hopefully this will allow them to increase the volume of non-bladder liquid I'm allowed to take on planes.
Data Storage

A Look Under Western Digital's Hood 131

Tom's Hardware got a rare opportunity to explore the Western Digital campus and show us what goes on under the hood of one of the favorites in storage tech. "When you buy a car, you look under the hood. Given the critical importance of hard disk storage in all of our lives, we thought you might want a peek under that hood, too. Now that Western Digital is in the business of breaking new capacity records (the latest Caviar Green was the first drive to hit 2TB, for example), we jumped at the chance to take a first-ever, unrestricted tour of its California R&D facilities. This is the place where magnetic technology of the 1950s meets the nano- and quantum-level technologies of the current decade."

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