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Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 42

The assumption is that if flying cars were common, there would be vastly more locations. As they basically function like helicopters (in most conceptions - VTOL), they need only something equivalent to a helipad, not an airport. Which is much cheaper and smaller footprint than an airport.

To get to the point of allowing takeoff and landing from, say, a driveway, you'd have to have a long track record of excellent proven safety, and levels of noise reduction that current technology doesn't yet support. It's certainly conceivable in the future, but is anything but a first step for companies working on flying cars today.

I personally view flying cars as pretty much inevitable (although not around the corner) regardless of whether or not they're pursued directly at present. Namely because of delivery drones. Businesses are not going to stop pushing for them because there's such an economic case for them (not having to drive a big truck around city streets, pairing trucks with drones to not have to go down each sidestreet or stop at each location, etc), and they'll advance the technology as needed to get approval - starting small. But economics will continually push them toward making larger and larger models, and the technology to get approval for those. And eventually you'll have models large enough to carry people around, wherein the question will inherently arise, "Why, exactly, aren't they carrying people?"

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 42

So your concept is that something statistically likely to crash and injure people would be approved by regulators, rather than manufacturers being forced to prove reliability in real-world usage conditions before being granted approval?

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 42

The assumptions involved in your post:

1) Flying cars would be allowed to just take off and land wherever they want.
2) People would be manually piloting them.

I don't know where you're getting your concept of flying cars, but none of the flying car advocates I've ever heard from advocate for either of those things.

Comment Re:The problem with flying cars is... (Score 2) 42

I don't want to think of what they would be like as pilots

Yes, because when people talk about flying cars, they totally mean manual piloting.

I don't even want to consider those traffic jams.

Um...

Waterfall Sr.: Our peace ring has 'em trapped like a tiger in a washing machine!
[The engine of the Planet Express ship flares up.]
Leela: Get ready!
Protestor #1: Look out!
Protestor #2: Hold on!
Waterfall Sr.: Here they come!
[The ship rises up from the middle of the peace ring and tows the tanker over the top of the protestors. It flies away.]
Leela: When you were planning this peace ring, didn't you realise spaceships can move in three dimensions?
Waterfall Sr.: No, I did not.

Comment Re:Speaking of delays... (Score 1) 107

ULA's track record with the Atlas V: 100%

Yes, let's take one vehicle in its fifth generation (not counting subrevisions), and ignore its track record with all of its earlier versions that led up to this point and all of their failures, and all of Lockheed and Boeings' other launch vehicles over time, with all of their failures. Lets also ignore that they're going to have to switch engines soon, to an engine with zero track record.

Payloads typically launch on schedule or within a few weeks. .... Some payloads have been waiting literally years due to delays.

Let's totally ignore that Atlas V launches once per two months, while SpaceX launches once per month, and that almost all of the wait time was due to investigation backlog. When it comes to hitting launch windows, SpaceX has a higher average success rate than average than Atlas V

And lets entirely fail to mention the point that ULA charges nearly double what SpaceX does per kilogram. Or that SpaceX is doing everything while rapidly evolving its rocket, to the point that they've basically even switched propellants partway through (denisification radically changes their properties). And while at the same time running an aggressive recovery and refurbishment programme and developing a heavy lift vehicle, with a small fraction as much capital.

Comment Re:What governmen brought to the table (Score 1) 107

As if liquid boosters can't fail catastrophically? Check out SpaceX's last failure. Liquids are hardly immune to catastrophic failure.

And actually more to the point, you've got it backwards. The SRB failure on Challenger was slow, more like a blowtorch. The explosion was when it compromised the external tank (which, obviously, stored liquids).

Solid propellants aren't like explosives. More to the point, you have to keep them under pressure to get the sort of burn rate that is desired for a rocket.

Comment Re:Speaking of delays... (Score 2) 107

Could you remind me how many people SpaceX has killed? Boeing and Lockheed have certainly killed people in the past.

If you're referring to the AMOS 6 ground failure, ignoring that part of the whole point of flying a stack unmanned as much as you can before you fly it manned is to shake out any problems, is that a manned mission would have almost certainly survived that. Unless the launch escape system failed, despite the drama, that was an eminently survivable. How do we know this? Because AMOS-6's hypergolic propellant tanks didn't ignite until the satellite hit the ground. AMOS-6 had the fairing as some extra protection, but on the other hand, the satellite itself isn't nearly as durable as a crew dragon.

The launch escape system ignites within milliseconds of a failure being detected and almost immediately reaches full thrust, accelerating away at 10gs. Here's a graphic of Dragon's abort test superimposed over the AMOS-6 failure. Things like this are the very reason that launch escape systems exist. NASA's last manned space vehicle lacked such a system entirely. And while their design for the Shuttle ultimately wasn't chosen, you know what? Lockheed's proposal didn't have one either. And it had a strong impact on influencing the final Shuttle design outcome.

Comment Re:What governmen brought to the table (Score 1) 107

SpaceX and Blue Origin would not use solids, not because there's something wrong with solids per se, but because they're not "fuel and go", which makes them expensive to reuse - and SpaceX and Blue Origin are all about reuse.

A lack of experience with hydrolox surely factors into the picture for SpaceX and Blue Origin; they'd get significantly higher payload fractions by using a hydrolox upper stage. But they're willing to accept lower payloads in order to simplify their manufacture and ground infrastructure, and in particular because the need their propellants to be storable, and storing LH for long periods is a PITA. Storing methalox is quite difficult, but nothing compared to hydrolox.

Comment Re:What governmen brought to the table (Score 2) 107

Solids really aren't that bad when reusability isn't a concern. They're very high thrust, which is exactly what you want out of a booster, and they're structurally very simple. Their low impulse and high structural mass are not particularly important aspects for boosters. Reuse of solids however gains you very little, because there's so much work in refurbishing them.

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