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Comment Re: interstellar mission (Score 2) 347

a solar sail with a number of cubesats as the payload.

with a lightweight payload, a solar sail could reach a significant fraction of the speed of light, letting a spacecraft make the journey to proximal centauri in six to eight years, within the lifespan of a robot probe.

CubeSats are small and light enough for several to be packed into a solar sail payload. the individual sats can be configured for separate tasks like imaging, field measurements, etc. perhaps with some extras for redundancy.

i think the cubesats would still need some sort of relay satellite to receive their transmissions and send them on to earth, but a large number of small satellites would allow the solar sail probe the flexibility multiple points of interest.

Comment Re:frist post (Score 1) 569

41,149 - suicide (21,175 of them by firearms, about 2/3 of all firearm deaths)
38,861 - accidental poisonings and overdoses (passed traffic accidents recently)
        packages of poisons (insecticide, weed killer, rat poison) and toxic materials like cleaning fluid are regulated.

37,908 - (land) motor vehicle accidents (nearly 3/4 alcohol-related)
        motor vehicles have to be registered and drivers licensed and insured. drunk driving is illegal.

30,208 - accidental falls (mostly among the elderly)
        slippery floors have to be marked. public areas have to beveled in non-slip materials.

16,904 - other accidents
16,121 - homicide (11,208 by firearms)
4,587 - Other undetermined events (281 by firearms)
3,391 - accidental drowning
          pools have to be fenced off and public pools and beaches have to have lifeguards

2,768 - complications from medical and surgical care
        doctors and health care providers have to be insured.

2,760 - accidental fire
        fire codes

1,569 - water, air, space vehicle accidents
        solas for boats, FAA regulates air safety.

1,000 - other land transport accidents

516 - killings by law enforcement (usually by firearms)
505 - accidental discharge of firearms

basically, all the man-made potential causes of death are regulated for safety.some quite successfully (traffic deaths are way down from their peak). why should firearms be exempt from safety regulations when practically everything else is regulated for safety?

Comment Re:Ever seen a ruskie car? (Score 1) 55

NASA pulled ahead of the russians in the 1960s because, while the russians pursued a lot of political "stunt" missions (first space walk, first woman in space, etc.), NASA methodically developed better spacecraft and techniques for a manned mission to the moon.

in the 1970s and '80s the situation was reversed. NASA dropped the development of improved spacecraft (blame it on congress or nixon or whoever) while the soviets plodded away at making bigger and better space stations and made steady incremental developments to the soyuz system.

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