Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Those weekend shuttle trips
Some needed humor about the shuttle
, courtesy of The Onion
How to talk to a human
Paul English has created a masterful list on how to bypass the phone systems at 108 companies
and get to a human being, fast.
The Radish Crimson writes: This guy is the Patrick Henry of the upcoming war against the machines made famous in the Terminator movies. I would think that Edward Furlong would be traveling back in time to retrieve this list and father himself.
I LIKE IVR systems... but too many seem perversely designed to lose a customer rather than retain one.
Male to Female translation tool wanted
I think Babelfish
and Google's translation tools are some of the best services to be had on the web. They bring people together who might never have been able to converse.
Aside from wishing these tools were more accurate, and wishing for translation of Arabic and other languages from hotly contested parts of the word, there's one translation feature I long for desparately:Accurate translation from Male English to Female english, and Female English to Male English
Life without google gender translation services is endlessly confusing for both halves of homo sapiens sapiens. Unfortunately, I can only speak for common mistranslations of my half...
|You look nice in that dress today||He wants to have sex with me||10%||Thank you for doing the laundry|
|I'm going to go down to my office and work for a while||He doesn't want me around anymore||20%||I need to support your shopping habit somehow|
|Fine||Fine||0%>||Something is wrong, but I don't want to talk about it right now, and you should know what it is, but you don't, so, "fine".|
While I am catching up from an overdose of triptophan, some items that landed in my queue:
There's now a space related podcast, The space show
, which looks likely to get added to my morning drive.
Neil Armstrong has a biography out
and has also been featured on 60 minutes. Sure wish I had a tivo that picked up these things.
Stephen Hawking was just here in Oakland, Ca
, and I missed him, too. He answered enigmatically to a reporters question about: "Bush's plan for exploring mars in 10 years". Hawking called it "stupid". Nobody knows what he meant, really, though, there's plenty of speculation on the subject
And Dick Rutan recounts his experiences with various aircraft, like voyager...
I'm going to stop blogging about space stuff for a while. I have a backlog on other subjects - like saving the net
, the success of the sony rootkit
meme... and, if I want to get my hits up, something about sex.
Another falcon's frustration... yet space continues to call
SpaceX's Falcon I
's launch, scheduled for saturday, was scrubbed for a week due to excessive boiloff of helium and oxygen
in the tropic heat.
I understood that the atoll was kind of remote but I was kind of shocked that the fuel making equipment was not based on the island.
Anyway, as Elon Musk cautioned all, delays in this first launch were inevitable
, and I retain high hopes that SpaceX can deliver small payloads to LEO at a cost per pound previously unthinkable.
remember... If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
It's going to be a wonderful decade for private space flight, what with Mike Griffin publically advocating that the alt.space community get into the fuel transport biz. Griffin gets it:
In order that we may devote as much of NASA's budget as possible to the cutting edge of space exploration, we must seek to reduce the cost of all things routine. Here in 2005, the definition of "routine" certainly should include robust, reliable, and cost effective access to space for at least small and medium class payloads. Unfortunately, it does not, and frankly, this is not an area where it is reasonable to expect government to excel. Within the boundaries of available technology, when we want an activity to be performed reliably and efficiently, we in our society look to the competitive pressures of the free market to achieve these goals. In space, these pressures have been notably lacking, in part because the space "market" has historically been both specialized and small. [...] We will put about a half-billion dollars in play over the five years to promote competition that is good for the private sector and good for the public interest. I'm confident that this kind of financial incentive, on different terms than are usual with NASA, or indeed with any government entity, will result in the emergence of substantial commercial providers. Such successes will, in their turn, serve as a justification for even greater use of such "non-traditional" acquisition methods. [...] if there were a fuel depot available on orbit, one capable of being replenished at any time, the Earth departure stage could after refueling carry significantly more payload to the Moon, maximizing the utility of the inherently expensive SDHLV for carrying high-value cargo.
But NASA's architecture does not feature a fuel depot. Even if it could be afforded within the budget constraints which we will likely face – and it cannot – it is philosophically the wrong thing for the government to be doing. It is not "necessary"; it is not on the critical path of things we "must do" to return astronauts to the Moon. It is a highly valuable enhancement, but the mission is not hostage to its availability. It is exactly the type of enterprise which should be left to industry and to the marketplace.
So let us look forward ten or more years, to a time when we are closer to resuming human exploration of the Moon. The value of such a commercially operated fuel depot in low Earth orbit at that time is easy to estimate. Such a depot would support at least two planned missions to the Moon each year. The architecture which we have advanced places about 150 metric tons in LEO, 25 MT on the Crew Launch Vehicle and 125 MT on the heavy-lifter. Of the total, about half will be propellant in the form of liquid oxygen and hydrogen, required for the translunar injection to the Moon. If the Earth departure stage could be refueled on-orbit, the crew and all high-value hardware could be launched using a single SDHLV, and all of this could be sent to the Moon.
There are several ways in which the value of this extra capability might be calculated, but at a conservatively low government price of $10,000/kg for payload in LEO, 250 MT of fuel for two missions per year is worth $2.5 B, at government rates. If a commercial provider can supply fuel at a lower cost, both the government and the contractor will benefit. This is a non-trivial market, and it will only grow as we continue to fly. The value of fuel for a single Mars mission may be several billion dollars by itself. Once industry becomes fully convinced that the United States, in company with its international partners, is headed out into the solar system for good, I believe that the economics of such a business will attract multiple competitors, to the benefit of both stockholders and taxpayers.
Bonus Link: Dr Ron Sugar (CEO of Northrop/Grumman) speaks:
History is clear. Far from being a drag on a nation's progress, exploration often accelerates a nation's progress.
Every age has its governing commodity, and the fortunes of nations wax and wane in correlation to their mastery of it. In past millennia it was the mastery of tools and weapons - first of stone then bronze, and finally iron. Centuries ago the governing commodity was precious metals. More recently it has been trade and finance, steel and oil.
But the ultimate governing commodity of our age is intellectual capital. Just think about that. As a nation, we are preeminent in the world because we dominate that commodity. It is the basis of our leadership in pharmaceuticals and medicine; communications and computer technology; aerospace, genetic engineering, national security, and many other categories.
If we ever lose our dominance in intellectual capital, we will lose our position of leadership in the world. And the world - not just America - will be far the worse for it.
The falcon (hayabusa) has landed!
JAXA's space probe Hayabusa, after traveling 2 billion kilometers, weathering heavy solar flux, and suffering multiple glitches, including the failure of two of its three reaction wheels, and the loss of its lander, Minerva, has proven an old adage true:
If first you don't succeed, try, try again. Harder. According to JAXA
, with the help of a communications array based in the US, Hayabusa successfully landed and collected samples of Itokawa on Saturday.
This is an unprecedented technical achievement. My hat is off to Hayabusa's science and engineering team, who successfully - after 4 prior attempts - refined their control software to make Hayabusa be able to land and take off again.
All that is left now is the long return journey back to earth. My prayers go out to this lonely probe to help will it home. Our knowledge of asteroids will be much enhanced thereby. Go Falcon!
Labels: asteroids, hayabusa, jaxa