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Comment Re:...and lunges at you (Score 1) 29

I can just imagine some rogue programmer installing the following on it:

1) As big of a battery pack as it can carry as "payload", strapped to its back.
2) Facial recognition software that measures the number of and distance to any people recorded by its camera
3) Modern neural net, trained by being rewarded when the actions it takes lead to 1) it approaching other people, and 2) people fleeing from it.

' ... and then setting it loose in the streets.

Comment Re:we can't even be bothered to get that right.... (Score 1) 89

Another option apart from orbit is going to L2 and back, if they want to basically "hover" with the moon blocking the Earth, right on the cusp of drifting away from the Earth-Moon system and into a free orbit around the sun. They'd be the first people ever to go there. It's 3.5km/s outbound, 0.6km/s back. Or if they want a long-duration stay (~100d) they can get back by the interplay of the Sun-Earth-Moon system for only 0.1 km/s (in the process going way far away from Earth).. There's probably some such returns with intermediary dV and durations as well.

But obviously a free return trajectory is the lowest energy. If I recall correctly Apollo's burn was ~3.2 km/s

Comment Re:Lottery? (Score 1) 89

Is there a legal reason SpaceX can't have a lottery for tickets? Seems like a good way to fund these types of things.

Well what do you do if you don't sell all the lottery tickets, is the lottery stuck? Normally the prize pool is relative to the total paid in, but either you get a seat or you don't. Also you might end up with people that for medical or mental reasons shouldn't be trapped in a tiny little space capsule for a week with no chance of assistance, sure you can disqualify them in the terms and conditions but the whole "my number came up, but I was refused" bit would be negative PR. And it's just one lucky winner, in a regular lottery people like to win a little now and then while they hope for the jackpot. The rest will really be trinkets by comparison.

And I think this is still just a joyride, not a life changer. You take a fling around the moon and then you're right back to where you were, sure it's for space nerds but hardly the mass market appeal an ordinary lottery has. I think it would be totally different if it were say a ticket to Mars. That's the kind of thing you could probably make a living off afterwards, just from selling interviews and speaking engagements and such. Then again you'd probably want to be more selective in the selection process so... I mean it would be cool, but I understand why SpaceX wouldn't do it. And it's easy to get their lottery confused with (semi-?)scams like Mars One.

Comment Re:"borrow money to make it through the month" (Score 2) 462

$4K/mo left over is still a lot of money. That's almost as much as I take home *before* taxes and before paying a mortgage, yet I can afford to run a light aircraft *and* save money each month. If you've got $4k left over after paying the rent and taxes, you're still doing well, and if you're struggling on that then you're living extravagently.

Comment Re:Onward to Venus [Re:Moon- not perfect, but has. (Score 1) 311

That's an old graphic, but yes, we have an excellent artist aboard. Of course, they mostly want to go for what looks the most aesthetically pleasing, while I'm always niggling on the technical details ;) The conversations usually go like,

"But.... you can't have people living there, the ballonets are going to expand into that when they launch the ascent stage... either the ballonets are going to dramatically expand or the habitat is going to dramatically collapse, take your pick. And if you store the ascent stage that close, it's going to destroy the whole habitat if there's a mishap while it's fueled. And how can I possibly fit all of that floor area into the fairing? Plus I don't see any scrubber for ISRU... it's going to need to be big, I'm struggling to get the absorption figures to work for sufficient resource collection with a 4.2 meter prop....." ;) But really, so long as their final graphics don't end up with a giant pirate flag or anything like that, I'm sure we can deal with a bit of "artistic license" :)...

Oh wait a minute, I just noticed your username. Geoffrey.landis? As in, the Geoffrey Landis? Oh wow, hey, we should chat some time. ;) (bare minimum, I at least need to ask for permission to reproduce some figures from a few of your papers). If you get a chance, definitely drop me a line at mQeme@eaQku.neQt (remove Qs to despammify). I actually just dropped by Slashdot as a break in the middle of working on some graphics illustrating non-Hohmann transfer times vs. delta-V between Earth, Mars and Venus, demonstrating the advantage Venus has due to the Oberth effect ;)

Comment Re: CEOs are smarter than anyone (Score 2) 188

Bingo. All of the new and exciting developments of the last decade have been in machine learning tasks. That says nothing about generalization. What we're developing are very efficient tools to accomplish new tasks, but those tools have precisely zero skill in the cleverness department. It's so common for people to forget this fundamental distinction that there's a term for what happens when they remember it. AI research has its own genre of tech bubbles caused by overoptimistic futurists.

Comment Re:Rockets are too expensive (Score 1) 311

1) It's about 7% of what NYC consumes, not 10%. NYC being only a tiny fraction of total US demand, which is in turn just a fraction of world demand. Global electricity production averages around 15 TW.

500MW is a moderate sized power plant. Not even a large one. It's nothing that impressive. Cost of such a plant is 500M-$1,5B, which is nothing by rocketry standards.

2) That's not 500MW to stand idle; that's 500MW to launch 175 tonnes per day. That's 68.5kWh per kilogram. $7 of electricity per kilogram. Oooh, what a terrible waste of power.

3) If that's too much, the larger version uses significantly less per kilogram.

Is there some reason to get so much mass out of this gravity well

Do you seriously have to ask what sort of market there would be for ~$800 tickets to orbit? I'm sorry, but we're not talking "for the wealthy", we're talking for everyone at those prices.

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