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Comment We have the trampolines (Score 2) 272

In any combination of Boeing, Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, or Lockheed Martin vehicles, we'll get up there with people fairly soon and in modern spacecraft that will be able to do useful things for the next few decades. What we do with them then and how much it will cost is the key question. The NASA program is stuck in pork that traps its potential so we may well lose the Space Station. Not many really care about it anyway, other than those who work on it. Those companies that are innovating for cost, certainly SpaceX, perhaps Sierra Nevada and Boeing, could make the NASA program moot. The Russian problem of access to the ISS might accelerate the non-NASA New Space regime slightly, but it will happen. If our national space program can take advantage of this new capability, if the politics of supporting old players dies, we could be in for an exciting future of human space exploration. That might still happen if human spaceflight becomes a mostly private affair. We'll know in a few years.

Comment Do we still have to dig power out of the ground? (Score 1) 551

If we have the capacity to change the fundamental dynamic, right now, why would we want to increase nuclear? Efficiency will much more cheaply get us where we need to go in the short term and profit-driven developments in wind/solar/"renewables" will get us where we need to be in 30-50 years. The nuclear option is idiotically expensive and a step away from distributed power generation. We can't afford it!

Comment Re:Who wants to make up such a story (Score 1) 258

Who wants to make a big deal about this "secret" information? Old guys that want some reflected glory. Now I am NOT talking about the overwhelming number of Apollo folks who have managed to keep their memories close to the events and are very willing to share them. But even there, conflation and haziness often combine to set the history just a little wrong. You need primary sources. Documents from the time period are best.

Comment Old men don't remember right (Score 4, Informative) 258

The linked story is a great example of why you should never listen to what old men remember about great events and their (often "heroic") part in them. At no time did NASA need some graduate student from MIT to help them with a Guidance 101 type problem on Apollo 13. The difficulty was in getting the Lunar Module prepped quickly enough to make a small burn that would get them on a free return trajectory, the same type used on the previous four Apollo missions to the moon. Apollo 13 was the first to use a less safe trajectory so they could visit a more interesting place, Fra Mauro. There were always many ways out of a pickle and abort guidelines had been carefully developed for different phases of the mission. At the point of Apollo 13's explosion, a direct abort going straight back was never possible, not least because their big engine was in the now dead Service Module. Free return was the only option. There *was* a very famous "hippy" type guy at the MIT Instrumentation Lab, Don Eyles, who was responsible for much of the Lunar Module's landing program. On Apollo 14 he was instrumental in solving a problem that would have prevented that landing and he did get official recognition for it and there are pictures of him with his long hair and mustache. So that's another part of the Gizmodo crap article that is wrong. As far as the photos of the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon go, there were about three pictures taken by Aldrin with Armstrong only incidentally in the frame. The shot with the flag is definitely of Aldrin, as you can see Armstrong taking the picture in the 16mm film taken from the Lunar Module window. Aldrin, unconsciously or deliberately, never took a proper picture of his fellow crew member and commander. It was only after Apollo 12 that a photo specialist at the Houston space center suggested red armbands for the commander to distinguish him in the photos and Jim Lovell, the Apollo 13 commander, never got to show them off, alas.

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