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(Space.com)   Post-launch shuttle inspection complete, and all look good... if you don't count the "four very minor impacts." What could possibly go wrong?   (space.com ) divider line
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3641 clicks; posted to Main » on 11 Dec 2006 at 7:03 AM (9 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2006-12-11 02:18:21 AM  
Which I wouldn't count, doofus:

"That's about one tenth of what we think can cause can discernable damage," Shannon said. "We've seen this on previous flight at about the same time."

Would you call it a fight if I gently leaned over and literally touched you on the arm?

"Orders of magnitude". Look it up. Helps in situations like this...........
 
2006-12-11 05:46:39 AM  
Even still, I think I'd feel better flying in something that was a little newer. The Discovery is older than most farkers.
 
MoA
2006-12-11 07:08:59 AM  
Connect four!
 
2006-12-11 07:27:19 AM  
Newsflash: Flying into outer space might be dangerous.

/keep going
 
2006-12-11 07:28:47 AM  
I never cease to be amazed at the ability of internet junkies to be completely cynical and annoying. It boggles the mind, really.
 
2006-12-11 07:31:54 AM  
Whodat I never cease to be amazed at the ability of internet junkies to be completely cynical and annoying.

Including yourself?
 
2006-12-11 07:33:20 AM  
i16.tinypic.com
 
2006-12-11 07:37:48 AM  
I once read that the average cell phone has more computing power than most of the flight control computers on the shuttle. Granted they were built prior to the cell phone boom, but looks like they could atleast upgrade a little.

Heck, HP has em for under $300 now.

/if it aint broke dont fix it..
 
2006-12-11 07:42:50 AM  
Space junky FARKers might be interested in watching X-Prize Winner Burt Rutan Rip NASA and the shuttle program (pops)

"We paid hundreds of billions of dollars for NASA research. Only to see them regress over the last 20 years. Throwing away capabilites that we once had to go to the Moon, and ending up with the only thing to fly, something that is so complex, so difficult, so expensive and so dangerous that is has no promise for us."
 
2006-12-11 07:42:51 AM  
J. W. Booth
/if it aint broke dont fix it...

Exactly.

They did an upgrade a few years back to improve much of that stuff, however:

1. You don't need a fancy processor. Everything is pretty much embedded systems on those things, its not like they need the latest flash player to dock with the space station or something

2. The testing that goes into something before you can launch it is insane and can take years.

3. You have to deal with all kinds of crazy stuff in space flight and sensitivities to all kinds of things that you don't have on the ground. Newer stuff can be more sensitive to that
 
2006-12-11 07:47:19 AM  
Runs_With_Scissors_: Whodat I never cease to be amazed at the ability of internet junkies to be completely cynical and annoying.

Including yourself?


You prove his point most excellently.
 
2006-12-11 07:47:57 AM  
Those computers on the shuttle only have 1 MB of memory.

Granted, it's tried and true, but still, let's innovate a lil, shall we?

/Dad programmed on the shuttle program for NASA back in the 80's.
 
2006-12-11 07:49:47 AM  
Whodat?: I never cease to be amazed at the ability of internet junkies Farkers to be completely cynical and annoying. It boggles the mind, really.

This would also be true.
 
2006-12-11 07:50:42 AM  
colinake

My point above being, what would you do with that extra memory if you had it? Play a video game?

You want to re-write and re-test and re-everything all the code on the shuttle so you could find some way to take advantage of it?

Besides, you have a constant data link to the ground on that thing. No reason you cant process shiat down here with 10 levels of redundancy and send the data back up.
 
2006-12-11 08:03:30 AM  
The thing doesn't have much processing power because it doesn't need any more. Plus, it takes a very long time to program these things. I read an article once that the code that goes into the space shuttle has to be the most bug-free code ever written. And has to be very redundant. It takes a lot of time to program these things.

Plus, if there were more sensors on the thing it would never fly. You are never going to have a perfect vehicle, so sometimes it is best not to know that there is a pinhole sized dent (that will not have any real impact on the flight) in the hood of the 3rd of the 5 redundant systems that make sure the bathroom light turns on.
 
2006-12-11 08:09:32 AM  
LineNoise

My point is not that the shuttles need more memory. My point is that we've been flying the same spacecraft for the past 25 years. Why don't we build something new? Try something different? Let's explore, get people excited about space exploration again.
 
2006-12-11 08:12:34 AM  
colinake

you are so right, we should send a robot to mars or something.
 
2006-12-11 08:17:44 AM  
rcain
"We paid hundreds of billions of dollars for NASA research. Only to see them regress over the last 20 years. Throwing away capabilites that we once had to go to the Moon, and ending up with the only thing to fly, something that is so complex, so difficult, so expensive and so dangerous that is has no promise for us."


I agree with what Rutan said, but it's important to keep in context - we're all looking at the shuttle today with 20/20 hindsight. That's not really fair. I promise you, if we hadn't build the shuttle, and instead were flying Saturn V's or something like them, by now we would have lost a few, and then Burt Rutan would be saying, "we've spent 20 billion on NASA and what have they given us? They could have built a reusable shuttle by now but instead they're still throwing away money on Saturn V's!"

See how it works? Hindsight is always like that. It's also important to have a little perspective. Here is an abbreviated history of the shuttle's development.

NASA: Hey engineer guys, is it possible to build a spaceship that's reusable so we don't have to throw the whole damn thing away every time?
Engineers: Sure, no problem.
NASA: That would rule! Get started on it.
Congress: Oh BTW, now that you've beat the Russians, no more money for you.
NASA: Crap, now we can't afford the shuttle!
Air Force: We'll help you pay for it, but we want it to be the size of a 737 so that we can use it to launch and recover spy satellites.
NASA: Uh engineer guys, can you make it that big?
Engineers: Holy cow, that's crazy! It's going to be a bear to work with it. That's going to be four times bigger than any heat shield ever made!
NASA: Well, it's either that or nothing - no manned flight at all - just do your best.

* later *

NASA: God, the shuttle is more expensive than coke and whores. We've got to replace it.
Boeing: Hey give us your money and we'll design the VentureStar

* later *

Boeing: Oh gosh, sorry, we can't make VentureStar work. Thanks for the money though.
NASA: Fark us, now what are we going to do??

Which finally, at long last, brings us to the present day, where they are working to replace the shuttle with two vehicles. A small manned launcher called Orion. Small is good because small is safe. And a large cargo launcher called Aries. All in all, I think it's good direction to go in.
 
2006-12-11 08:23:14 AM  
acronym
Actually, we're going to the moon first, and we have a BRAND NEW SPACESHIP to fly there in!

Check out the revolutionary design:
upload.wikimedia.org

40 years AFTER we first go to the moon and the craft we'll be flying there is basically the same as what we had before.

And that's progress?
I mean, it's better than not flying to the Moon, but this is the best we got?

If you go up and watch the video I linked to in my earlier post, you'll see exactly why the NASA space program is so screwed up.
 
2006-12-11 08:32:49 AM  
I can remember as a 10 year old boy sitting in rapt silence in front of my parents TV watching the grainy video as Neil Armstrong took those first steps on the moon. I remember thinking that by the time I grew up an became an astronaut we would be living in colonies on Mars, and maybe I'd get to go there.

Forty years later the best we've done is a 20 year old spacecraft that can't get into earths orbit without much hand wringing and gnashing of teeth. To say I'm under-whelmed by the progress of the human race in space is an understatement... Not that the other things I expected to happen when I was 10 have come true either, like a cure for cancer or the common cold.

Guess when you're a kid you have an imagination. Sad that adults lose that.
 
2006-12-11 08:36:10 AM  
enave
Rutan looks at the entire cycle of the NASA space program in comparison to other technology life cycles and shows that it's fallen flat on it's face, we've stopped taking risks and we've actually thrown away what it was we did have.

And did they stick with the Red Stone for 25 years?
Did they stick with the Saturn V for 25 years?
No.

And just what have we had for the last 25 years? The Space Shuttle.
No more manned missions to the Moon and certainly no trips to Mars.
Nope, manned spaceflight for the last 25 years has been the shuttle and nothing but.

In a nutshell, NASA stopped innovating and taking risks.
And hindsight isn't required to see that. It was obvious over 10 years ago.

I think you might enjoy the Rutan video, he's a hard working visionary with some great things to say.
 
2006-12-11 08:46:24 AM  
Tony Ceccacci, lead flight director for Discovery during the STS-116 mission, told reporters today, "After the amazing launch the crew had yesterday, they hit the ground running."


www.funkyfridge.com

Wise guy, ay?
 
2006-12-11 08:53:24 AM  
"I knew as a child I would live to see the first man on the Moon. I didn't know I would live to see the last one." -- Jerry Pournelle

/seemed appropriate
 
2006-12-11 08:53:36 AM  
rcain: I mean, it's better than not flying to the Moon, but this is the best we got?

Actually, we don't even have that yet. At least not in the sense, that we have a working production model that we could actually launch. All we have is prototypes (at least last I checked).

vinny2cubes: Guess when you're a kid you have an imagination. Sad that adults lose that.

True that. I suppose the future may actually be in affordable space travel. Just look at all the excitement the X-Prize generated. The problem is obviously to find people who won't have a problem with spending $100k on a space flight. $10k, sure. A lot of people spend more than that on their weddings. It's going to take years before even that becomes realistic though and it only takes one single fark up to give the safety nazis a reason to whine.
 
2006-12-11 09:01:14 AM  
I mean, it's better than not flying to the Moon, but this is the best we got?

So what's wrong with not flying to the moon? You do realize there are no moon women to be found, right? We can come back with some rocks, but that's about it for right now.

Unless you think we need a base up there for some odd reason. Like spending billions now so that we can spend trillions later and maybe go to Mars. 'Cause, you know, they got rocks on Mars too.
 
2006-12-11 09:04:34 AM  
And _that's_the_way_the_cookie_crumbles
Very true. I'm just being optimistic in my hopes that we'll be able to at least meet the achievements we made 40 years ago. We need a craft to get to the Moon with if we're going to set up that lunar base for the next generation to play with.

I mean, under their current timeline, they have till the year 2020 to send a man to the Moon, which is what we did in just a few years in the 60's... So, 14 years to do that *should* be long enough right?

hmmm..

Now I'm back to thinking how pussy-ass, weak and ineffective NASA is and wishing we would just scrap the agency and start fresh.
 
2006-12-11 09:05:04 AM  
So far there has been two different topics in this thread.

1) Improve the systems on the shuttle
2) What happens when we encounter issues after launch

My personal opinion is that yes, we need a new vehicle of some sort to get up into space. I would personally like to see a craft that could maybe have the ability to go on longer range orbits. Maybe something that we can use as a test for actual space travel. That'd be pretty cool I think.

As for the second topic, shut-up... The reason we have those nerds there are to fix, or determine whether the issues the shuttle encounters are significant or not. You/we are unable to build something that goes into space that will never see any issues. At least we can't right now.

/I fart in your general direction...
 
2006-12-11 09:05:27 AM  
What could go wrong?

The continued waste of money that could be spent elsewhere and put to better use.

That's what.
 
2006-12-11 09:08:02 AM  
We need a craft to get to the Moon with if we're going to set up that lunar base for the next generation to play with.

Um... again... why is that? I mean space travel is cool and all, but what do we really get out of it? Besides new applications for existing technology that would have come about out of actual need anyway. And Tang.

Don't forget the Tang.
 
2006-12-11 09:09:21 AM  
I remember reading somewhere that the reason they use such pathetic computing power compared to the average desktop PC has to do with the robustness of the simpler hardware, that if you took the latest and greatest PC into space it'd probably start generating errors due to the higher levels of radiation up there that gets filtered out by our atmosphere here at sea level.

I also remember an article about how NASA was having problems finding replacement parts for their dinosaur systems, that they were shopping places like e-bay for what most people would consider little more than junk, stuff like 386 CPU's.
 
2006-12-11 09:15:39 AM  
The Soviet version of the shuttle, the Buran, could take off, orbit, and land all by itself and it probably had computing power that would make the shuttle look super advanced. Sometimes more isn't better.
 
2006-12-11 09:25:19 AM  
NineInchNader
One word: Colonization.

Once we can colonize, we can militarize and commercialize. Our history shows us that with active Military and Corporate involvement, technologies flourish much more rapidly. The key is kick starting that process.

If we could get 500,000 people to live off world, there begins the incentive for trade, which means further advancement in space travel technologies for military, merchant and transit use.

The challenge wont be finding the people to create a colony. The challenge is getting them there and having them be able to sustain themselves and develop that colony. The Moon isn't suitable for permanent habitation, but Mars is. And if we can't get ourselves to the Moon, why even think about Mars?

So that's why we should go to the Moon.
 
2006-12-11 09:25:58 AM  
rcain: One word: Colonization.

Jesus. Get out of mama's basement already.
 
2006-12-11 09:26:15 AM  
rcain Agree for the most part - but I think NASA was looking at the exploitation (in the non-negative sense) of near earth orbit - something that has obviously happened - but they should be the ones pushing the envelope not sitting around waiting to give taxi rides into low earth orbit.
 
2006-12-11 09:26:21 AM  
Befuddled:
The Soviet version of the shuttle, the Buran, could take off, orbit, and land all by itself and it probably had computing power that would make the shuttle look super advanced. Sometimes more isn't better.


What do you mean by "all by itself?" It would require an external tank and boosters the same as the Shuttle. It's almost an exact copy of our design.

liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov
 
2006-12-11 09:29:17 AM  
Saturn5: What do you mean by "all by itself?"

The Buran took off, orbited, and then landed on a runway without anyone on board. The Soviet era computers managed to do all that.
 
2006-12-11 09:31:47 AM  
If we could get 500,000 people to live off world, there begins the incentive for trade...

Trade for what? If I recall correctly, the main incentive for Earthbound colonization revolved around natural resources. I suppose if it's determined ultra-rare materials exist on the moon then I can see the use of a mining colony or some such. Even then it'd have to be some damn rare and abundant materials to offset the shipping and handling expenses.

Other than that we have... what... zero-g manufacturing? I know that's a field in its infancy, but have we yet discovered a market that would justify the cost?

Without those two all you have left is, pretty much, tourist trade. Or am I missing an element here?
 
2006-12-11 09:33:22 AM  
Most of that damage will buff right out.
 
2006-12-11 09:34:40 AM  
scotttothety
"Jesus. Get out of mama's basement already."

No can do.
The sun... it burns.
it burns my eyes.
 
2006-12-11 09:36:43 AM  
www.starmagic.com

Screw the Tang, I'll have the ice cream.

After growing up in Brevard County with a father who worked at the Cape and Patrick for 30 years, I think I understand the need for redundant safety and robust computer systems. What I don't quite understand is why they can't make a newer, not state of the art, but newer hardened system that would at least save on weight, increasing payload.

My understanding is that the memory on the Shuttles' computers looks something like an old knob and tube home electrical system.
 
2006-12-11 09:38:35 AM  
Even then it'd have to be some damn rare and abundant materials to offset the shipping and handling expenses.

I'm basically of the opinion that our new infatuation with the moon revolves around the availability of Helium-3 on the surface of the moon - it basically fits to a "T" what you wrote - its relatively abundant there, rare as hell here and if we can master fusion (that was a 65 pt. font IF) would be WELL worth the expense involved.

Of course I can see a colony of (at most) a few hundred people being necessary to strip mine the surface for this stuff as it would be a mostly robotic effort.
 
2006-12-11 09:40:32 AM  
D'oh

HYDROGEN-3 no He-3

Should really proof read more.
 
2006-12-11 09:44:45 AM  
Befuddled: I remember reading somewhere that the reason they use such pathetic computing power compared to the average desktop PC has to do with the robustness of the simpler hardware, that if you took the latest and greatest PC into space it'd probably start generating errors due to the higher levels of radiation up there that gets filtered out by our atmosphere here at sea level.

I also remember an article about how NASA was having problems finding replacement parts for their dinosaur systems, that they were shopping places like e-bay for what most people would consider little more than junk, stuff like 386 CPU's.


The radiation thing is a serious problem for systems in space. Cosmic rays can flip bits in computer memory or even in CPUs, and the probability that a bit will be flipped increases when the size of the electronic components decreases. Newer computer systems have both far more components (=increased overall probability of bit flips), and far smaller components (same). The flipped bits can be dealt with to a degree by things like error correcting codes, but those aren't well suited to all types of things that CPUs do. So there is a really good reason that NASA uses old technology for their flight hardware.

BTW, they do bring laptop computers that are quite a bit faster up there with them. We're only talking about the actual computers that guide the shuttle during launch and re-entry. For those machines, reliability is far more important than "computing power" because the things they need to compute can easily be done by efficient software on older CPUs.

And although I don't know if you were implying this or not, NASA is not going to be buying new flight CPUs for the shuttle on Ebay. They might have some old systems on the ground that they need that stuff for, but the flight systems are custom-made, radiation-hardened variants of the "normal" CPUs, IIRC.
 
2006-12-11 09:44:57 AM  
HYDROGEN-3

That'd be good enough for me -- but we'd be doing it ass-backwards. First we'd have to develop a process to make use of the material before we go through the trouble of mining the moon for it.

Plus we'd have to exhaust all avenues of manufacturing it here on Earth. Stuff like that often has a cheap, synthetic alternative that we simply haven't discovered yet.
 
2006-12-11 09:46:52 AM  
Befuddled
Oh, you mean this one:

On May 12, 2002, the hangar, housing a Buran 1.01 orbiter and a mockup of the Energia booster rocket, collapsed due to incomplete maintenance, destroying the vehicle. Eight workers were also killed in the collapse of the building's roof.

The rubble is clearly superior to the the US shuttle, I am sure.
 
2006-12-11 09:52:04 AM  
Although it "can" be manufactured - it requires a nuclear reaction to produce - and it would probably be counter productive to use fission reactions to produce a product for fusion reactions to make electricity - we'd be better off just using the original fission reaction as the primary energy soure.

My guess is that (again I'm no expert, just a chemistry teacher) they believe theyre about 25 years away from fusion reactors being viable (of course they said that 30 years ago as well)...

They know it will take at least that long to get a program to go to, inhabit and mine the moon going.

So basically SOMEONE there with some influence and a little bit of foresight has convinced them to develope these two things in paralel rather than sequentially - at least that is my (naive?) hope.
 
2006-12-11 09:53:02 AM  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritium (no skillz)

if you are interested in just a bit more info.
 
2006-12-11 09:58:42 AM  
So basically SOMEONE there with some influence and a little bit of foresight has convinced them to develope these two things in paralel rather than sequentially - at least that is my (naive?) hope.

I'll check Wiki in a bit... but I think you're talking about an unsound business plan there. Since the material 'is' available on Earth for now -- expensive to make, yes, but still available -- we have ways to perfect the fusion process without the space mining. Is that correct?

Because we don't know for a fact that Tritium can be used for fusion at this time. We're just theorizing that it will. Sounds pretty risky to me. We might piss away trillions of dollars and then go "Oh, whoops, we didn't need the colony after all. Sorry about that, taxpayers!"
 
2006-12-11 09:58:56 AM  
NineInchNader
"Trade for what?"

Colonists will still want their name brand designer stuff. And import brands are always hot, if only because they're pricier. Also, certain food stuffs will be hard to get. Livestock would be in short supply, so meats and dairy will be hard to get. Computer hardware and technology items will be tough to get as well.

As soon as you get a sizable city full of people that are all essentially homesick, you have a captive audience. And what marketer wouldn't call that a wet dream come true?

As far as Mars labor, beyond mining and ZeroG manufacturing, what about basic construction jobs? Also, what about hospitality and tourist industry? The wealthy would pay out the nose for a week at a resort on Mars. Communication technicians, in fact lots of technicians in general. Infrastructure would need to be in place like any city, so you have utilities such as Quest, AT&T, get in PG&E or some other electric company up there. You have shipping, warehouse and delivery services. You also have to account for a Municipal system with a legislative, judicial and executive system, as well as Police, jail facilities and Social Services.

In fact, you end up having everything we have here.

People tend to invision some total state run society up there where it's all white plastic, bright lights and ultra sterile. I tend to envision what we have now, just in a very remote place.
 
2006-12-11 10:05:30 AM  
Not only can it be used it is actually ideal for the application - we can produce it in sufficient quantities to perfect the reactor design but it would be pointless to produce it as the fuel for generating electricity.

It would be like using oil to produce coal to make electricity - why not just use the oil in the first place.

The advantage of fusion over fission is that it is much cleaner from a radioactivity standpoint (basically nothing compared to our current problem) - the energy output (on a per pound of fuel basis) is also MUCH higher.

In any case I'm not saying this IS their reason for doing what theyre doing - I just hope it is. They could be flushing billions down a giant crap hole because thats what governments do - I just hope theyre not.
 
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