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Comment Re:Translation: preparing for sale (Score 1) 206

Its all about the financials As a buyer you don't want to be saddled with severence costs as it falls to your income statement and can negatively impact quarterly results (leading to extra-ordinary losses). As well, anytime you do anything that impacts the structure of an aquisition you need to reevaluate any associated goodwill which can trigger an asset write down ultimately impacting your balance sheet.

Comment Re:And so what? (Score 1) 650

Apparently you have no clue concerning about what the lifestyle of a modern CEO of a large multinational entails. It means you are "on" 24/7 from the moment you wake up at 4am till the time you hit the pillow at midnight, 6 days a week. It's meeting after meeting after conference call, after conference call, talking to customers, talking to regulators, talking to the street, talking to the board. It's about dealing with everything from the value of the yuan, to organisational issues, to corporate strategy, to finance. You fly in a corporate jet, not because you enjoy eating caviar and getting a foot massage, but because your day is so full that you can't afford a 2 hour stop over at Dulles. I used to work with the CTO of a 10 billion dollar tech company. He worked 100 hours a week on average, and spent so much time in the air that he was worried about the radiation dosage he was building up. Yes he had a nice car and a nice house, which he saw maybe 2-3 days a month. A vacation means only a few hours of conference calls a day. Wife, kids? not for him. Another exec I worked with talked about missing the birth of 3 of his 4 kids. Most people wouldn't last a day under the high stress, never ending workload that these people experience. It is not the "champaign wishes and caviar dreams" you make it out to be. You could never pay me enough for that pace of life. Is executive compensation out of wack, definately, but to claim that these people don't "work" for it is complete nonsense

Comment Re:They should be thankful (Score 1) 226

The biggest flaw was that NASA originally estimated that it would cost $10 billion to build the Shuttle. Congress said no, here is $5 billion, plus it has to do all of these extra things that the Air Force wants. Oh and we will cancel or deferr all of the projects that justify building the Shuttle in the first place. The Shuttle is a classic example of penny wise and pound foolish. To save $5 billion in the 70's, we spend hundreds of billions in the 80's, 90's and 2000's. It's stupid even if you use discounted cash flows

Comment Re:Take off, you hosehead! (Score 2, Insightful) 372

As one of the worlds largest producers of medical isotopes, Canada has much of the needed infrastructure to produce Pu-239 should it really want to. The NRU reactor at Chalk River would simply need to switch out its Molybdum targets for Uranium and we'd be in business. All of the reprocessing facilities are in place (currently processing medical isotopes). As well, the CANDU reactor design, for a civilian reactor, is quite capable of producing high quality Pu-239 with minor modifications since it can be refueled while operating (as India has done with its CIRUS reactor). Most civilian reactors have to be shutdown to extract the U-238 slugs (that breed the Pu-239) to either you run them for a while (and contaminate your Pu-239 with Pu-240, Pu-241, and Pu-242) or you're firing them up and shutting them down every few weeks. Tritium boosting and a berillium reflector would allow you to build a small enough device to carry on a CF-18. So if it really came down to it, Canada could probably build a couple of bombs in less than a year for a few hundred million, of course there is little reason for us to do so. Just remember the Northwest Passage is Canadian terittorial waters and the North Pole is ours :o)

Comment Re:This is painfully obvious. (Score 1) 772

"If you do not have enough money you cannot guarantee any of this in the USA. Canada is a different story, college education in Canada is relatively cheap if not free like it is in Europe so it's not to be compared to the $50k-100k Bachelors degree and another $50-100k for a Masters in the USA." College Education in Canada may be somewhat less expensive, but it is by no means "cheap" or "free". A 4-year Bachelors degree at a top tier University (Waterloo or Queen's) will run you $40k-50k in tuition alone never mind books and living expenses. So it may not be Harvard prices, but still a substiantal investment for a family

Comment Re:I think that this is a good idea (Score 1) 444

My understanding is that the "Skylab" module in the Air and Space Museum was actually intended to be launched "wet" as the flight hardware for the Venus flyby.

No, the Venus Fly-by mission never got past the study stage, like many many other proposals of the day. The module on display at NASP is Skylab B, the backup module for the Skylab station and was originally planned to be launched after Apollo-Soyuz to help fill the gap until Shuttle was ready. However there was no budget to build additional Apollo Command Modules which were needed to carry astronauts to the station so the whole idea was cancelled. The wet lab concept was more developed with some mockups built, but when Apollo 20 was cancelled and its Saturn V freed up, the whole plan was shifted to launching Skylab dry and no wet lab hardware was actually built (It would have been substantially different from Skylab module on display)

Comment Re:What happened? (Score 1) 444

Nixon was actually a big supporter of the space program, he was instrumental in the creation of NASA in the first place. He's the reason that NASA is closely associated with the Office of the Vice President. However like every President since Kennedy, it wasn't a priority and so space policy was largely delegated to politicos at the OMB. Still Nixon burned a fair bit of political capital to get the Shuttle approved when it looked like Congress was going to kill it. Most post-Apollo plans were killed in 1967 when the budget for FY68 was being developed. Johnson and Congress pretty much killed everything except for the initial series of lunar landings (Saturn V production was ended, Voyager cancelled, Apollo Applications slashed, advanced planning killed, engine development killed). Much of this can be blamed on the CIA's National Intelligence Estimate of the Soviet Space Program that came out in March 1967. It pretty acurately detailed just how screwed up the Soviet program was, and that they were a long ways behind the US in the race to the moon. BTW, the Venus fly-up was only a study, like so many others. The module at NASP is Skylab B and was originally scheduled to be launched after the Apollo-Soyuz mission to help cover the gap until the Shuttle was ready. However there wasn't any budget to build the Apollo Command Modules needed to carry astronauts to the station, so the whole thing was cancelled.

Comment Re:How about "Robots Only" (Score 1) 224

Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt during their 3 days on the moon during Apollo 17, accomplished orders of magnitude more work, covered more ground, provided more samples for analysis than Spirit and Opportunity have combined, during their several years on Mars. For comparison Spirit and Opportunity have traversed just under 25km on Mars over 5 years. Apollo 17 did 34 km in 3 days. Humans demonstratively add significant value and flexibility over current robot explorers. For example Spirit has been stuck in the sand since May as scientists and engineers determine the best way to get the rover out. If we had an astronaut there, Spirit would be back on its way in 10 seconds. Same with the issues with dust covering the solar panels, the rovers have been lucky that the wind has cleared them from time to time. Again an astronaut with a brush would take care of the problem in a few seconds. The question is not, do humans add significant value? The question is, is the value humans add, worth the cost. I say yes

Comment Re:Good To See Grownups In Charge (Score 3, Informative) 133

Not to belittle the accomplishments of Opportunity and Spirit, but in their combined 10 rover years on Mars, they've covered 21km of terrain. Apollo 17 did 34km in 3 days and collected over 100kg in samples. Data from the Apollo missions is still being analyzed almost 40 years later. Manned and unmanned exploration each have their place, but neither trumps the other.

Comment Re:It's a space salesman race! (Score 3, Informative) 82

The failures of the N1 were more related to lack of sufficient funding, poor quality control and lack of any test stands (The first time the N1 fired it's 30 engines was during its first flight attempt). There was nothing inherently flawed in the approach they Soviet's took, it's just that the engineers were forced to do it on the cheap The first flight failed due to the engine control system shutting down all engines on the first stage after a problem was detected with one of the engines (an engine fire). Second flight was almost the same problem, except one of the first state engines exploded after it ingested a wrench that someone left in the fuel line. During the third flight an unexpected interaction between the engine thrust and prevailing winds resulted in a roll that exceeded the command authority of the rocket and it broke up. The Last flight almost successfully completed it's first stage burn, but a few seconds before shutdown the N1 was designed to shutdown 6 engines to keep thrust within design limits. The shutdown resulted in unexpected pressure transients, the fuel lines ruptured and the vehicle broke up.

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