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Comment Re:Only half true article (Score 1) 269

Hm... my impression was that the Japanese had only invested a couple-hundred million in this area, primarily in IThEMS. AFAIK no entity on earth has ever put "tens of billions" on this. If you have info indicating otherwise, please cite.

As for the Chinese, it appears I got a few details wrong. They have spent $300M thus far, with plans to maintain this level of funding for the next few decades. You'll find a decent description of their program here. (But one thing I do know, which is not mentioned in the article: the project is led by a guy named Jiang Mianheng, who happens to be the son of Jiang Zemin, the former president. So I would guess their funding is pretty secure.)

Anyway, thanks for prompting me to look into it and get my facts straight.

Comment Re:What is... (Score 1) 117

Presumably they're talking about something like this: Using renewable energy to synthesize liquid fuels for storage and transport. They can either work in conjunction with carbon capture or simply harvest CO2 from the air. I've heard of several ways to do it, but thus far it's mostly still in the lab. I haven't seen any "grid-scale" deployment. Apparently the Chinese intend to be first.

Comment Re:And I was modded down... (Score 2) 182

I'd bet that from now on SpaceX will have a Hi-Def camera mounted on every lightning tower, recording 24/7, whenever there is a rocket on the pad. Also, if possible, they might add a few more sensors to the upper stage if they can spare enough telemetry channels for the data.

I suspect they'll also voluntarily eat the cost of running the static-fire tests before integrating the payload for the next year or so, just to avoid higher insurance fees for their customers. (How long before they start offering vertical integration as a 'menu option' service?)

Comment Re:Too much ambition, too fast? (Score 1) 289

(I of course am a lot more interested in hearing the results of their AMOS-6 investigation right now than about their ITS plans... as are I think most people)

I for one am more interested in hearing about the Mars architecture. AMOS-6 is just another anomaly that will eventually get resolved. Yes, of course I'm interested in finding out what happened, but the Falcon platform has already proven to be pretty reliable, especially considering it's undergone several major revisions in less than 30 flights. But the Mars architecture is going to be inspiring in a way that recalls the glory days of Apollo.

Comment Re:Sabotage? (Score 1) 64

It's certainly possible, but... cui bono? Blue Origin? Boeing?

I don't think 2.5km is far enough to get past the exclusion zone, but a good sniper could probably sneak within range. Of course, you'd need an incendiary round to be sure of a kill shot, but I would think a bullet would leave some sort of tell-tale signature in the wreckage that would survive the explosion. (OTOH, if you could find a way to do the job without leaving such a signature, that could really mind-fuck SpaceX engineers for years to come.)

Submission + - SpaceX needs to find a 'plateau' soon, or risk losing customers

taiwanjohn writes: For /.ers who are sick and tired of Elon Musk stories, the last couple of weeks have been a mixed blessing... too many Musk stories in the feed, but OTOH a lot of them have been bad news for Elon and his fanbois. This Op-Ed in ParabolicArc falls into that latter category. The author, borrowing from George Leonard's book Mastery, compares Musk's drive to accelerate development to a martial artist trying too hard to advance, and getting injured in the process. Though I count myself among the fanbois, I must admit this is a thoughtful and well argued point.

Comment Re:Elon Musk (Score 5, Insightful) 79

Let the games begin! I for one welcome a worthy competitor to Musk. The more billionaires we have focusing their attention and resources on real-world problems (rather than squeezing a few more basis points out of their high-frequency trading algorithms) the better off we'll all be. Even Bill Gates -- however buggy his software and however ill-gotten his gains -- appears to be using his economic power for "good" these days.

Meanwhile, what has Jamie Dimon done for you lately? (cough!)2008

Comment Re:Attica! Attica! (Score 1) 367

Constitutionality? ... Ok, let's assume we can do all this in the "cutting" room... bring in our "desirable" traits while also rendering the offspring infertile. We're not talking about a lab mouse here, it's a sentient human being...

Yes, there are circumstances wherein a fetus may be viable but not fertile, but to do this deliberately? That strikes me as unnecessarily cruel.

I don't deny that it may happen someday, but I would be comfortable with keeping this beyond the "prohibition" line, and thus relegate it to the black market. But now we're back to square one again. How do you simultaneously prevent the deliberate creation of circus freaks while also allowing reasonable prophylactic measures and enhancements for people who just want a healthy child?

Comment Re:Attica! Attica! (Score 2) 367

It's an interesting question; where should we draw the line? Obviously, if your embryo/fetus is destined for cystic fibrosis, we would all cheer for a genetic intervention. But if you just think it would be cool if you kid would glow in the dark, it may be quite reasonable for the rest of us to resist allowing those "imported" genes into our collective gene pool.

I think a key concept to consider in all genetic modifications is the difference between vertical gene transfer and horizontal gene transfer. The former is manipulation of genes within the same family tree, whereas the latter involves importation of exogenous genes from other species.

If you ask me where I would draw the line, in terms of legislation, this is it: endogenous (vertical) vs. exogenous (horizontal) gene transfer. Do whatever you want within the human genome, but don't import any genes from any other genome.

Comment Re:Attica! Attica! (Score 5, Insightful) 367

No wait... I meant "Gattaca! Gattaca!"

We may enact some legislation to "prevent" this sort of thing, but it's going to happen anyway, because there will be a demand for it.

Prohibition simply doesn't work, whether it's prohibition of drugs, prostitution, alcohol... or genetic manipulation. One way or another we're going there. Perhaps this is a chance to "get it right" for a change, and educate the public about this emerging technology, rather than the usual FUD tactics.

Comment Re:No, they don't need to focus (Score 1) 84

True enough. But by the same token, if you're paying $60M to launch your $120M satellite, you might want to pay the extra $500k* to protect your asset.

* Note: I have no idea what the extra cost would be. But at minimum it would have to pay for hauling the booster stack back to the hangar after the static fire, to 'integrate' the payload, and then hauling the now-loaded rocket back to the launch pad again.

Perhaps, in response to this, SpaceX will figure out some sort of gantry system to allow vertical integration right on the launch pad. That way, they could avoid this situation entirely.

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