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Layoff Anxiety Is Top Risk To Space Shuttle

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the new-guy-in-space dept.

NASA 178

pickens writes "Florida today reports that as NASA marches toward its final two shuttle flights, the safety of the crew rests with workers who know every bolt they turn, every heat-shield tile they inspect, brings them that much closer to the unemployment line in April 2011 raising concerns that people might jump ship early if other job opportunities open up. 'We've been most concerned about maintaining and sustaining the knowledge necessary to safely conduct mission operations,' says Retired Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Dyer. But shuttle work force surveys show a fierce loyalty and a dedication to sticking it out as long term employees want to be there when the last shuttle touches down. 'They love being part of NASA and what NASA does, and they love being part of the space shuttle program. And they want to be a part of it as long as we're doing the kinds of things that we're doing,' says LeRoy Cain, NASA's deputy shuttle program manager."

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178 comments

Layoff Anxiety? (4, Insightful)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331348)

This is exactly the reason that restaurants and other companies don't tell employees about plant or store closures until the last moment. It's not entirely fair to the workers, but many would rather find a new job quickly instead of being unemployed. I was out of work for nearly 2 months (and even then I was lucky in finding new work) when the restaurant I worked out told us 5 minutes before we walked out the door for the evening that we wouldn't be open in the morning.

I imagine those these folks working for NASA have skills that the private space agencies will definitely want and I wouldn't be surprised to see most of these guys going to work the next day for one of those companies.

Re:Layoff Anxiety? (2, Funny)

qpawn (1507885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331406)

From Arrested Development:

Narrator: "Before firing his employees, George Sr. would be sure to clear the office of its valuables. [...] The employees never saw it coming, although their first task was to unload their equipment from a truck."

look up warn act (4, Informative)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331460)

look up warn act

WARN Act layoff notice laws require employers to give employees notification before mass layoffs or plant closings

Re:look up warn act (5, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331730)

WARN Act layoff notice laws require employers to give employees notification before mass layoffs or plant closings

Or pay a modest fine that can't be collected from a bankrupt store/restaurant etc and is probably less than the productivity losses from pre-announcing at the plant.

On the other hand theres no point in carrying this too far, once you get to assembly plants (automotive, etc) everyone knows when no supply orders are delivered anymore, etc.

As a hint, if the store is accumulating empty unstocked shelves, its going down....

Re:look up warn act (4, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331920)

Yep.The WARN Act is practically pointless. You can always tell when massive layoffs are starting because the company will do things like institute a freeze on all hiring, stop buying office supplies, refuse requests for purchase orders, cancel projects previously thought to be important, etc.

Re:look up warn act (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331872)

look up warn act

WARN Act layoff notice laws require employers to give employees notification before mass layoffs or plant closings

Or just pay them for the notification time & let them go immediately. I know because it happened to me :(

Re:look up warn act (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333772)

Lockheed Martin only gave me and other engineers/programmers 8 hours notice in 2001.

Guess the WARN Act doesn't really work. As for looking for a new job, I've learned from experience that it's better to work until your last day. (And collect the 3-6 months of severance bonus.) If someone wants to hire you, they'll be willing to wait another 1 or 2 months.

Re:Layoff Anxiety? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332286)

Peter Gibbons: You're gonna lay off Samir and Michael?

Bob Slydell: Oh yeah, we're gonna bring in some entry-level graduates, farm some work out to Singapore, that's the usual deal.

Bob Porter: Standard operating procedure.

Peter Gibbons: Do they know this yet?

Bob Slydell: No. No, of course not. We find it's always better to fire people on a Friday. Studies have statistically shown that there's less chance of an incident if you do it at the end of the week.

Re:Layoff Anxiety? (4, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332462)

And that's why in many of those "socialist" countries like France, firing or resigning has to be preceded by a notice at least 3 months before. It can be shorter if both parties agree but if they do not, the three months salary is due (to the employer if the employee quits earlier or to the employee if the employer wants to fire quickly). Exceptions exist though (professional fault, mainly) but it tends to make things a lot clearer and to give less incentive to hide the situation.

Re:Layoff Anxiety? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332996)

And that's why in many of those "socialist" countries like France...

Uh, what the fuck are you talking about? The most cursory examination of French politics shows a wide streak of fascism.

Re:Layoff Anxiety? (2, Insightful)

ghjm (8918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33334256)

He's talking about the caricature of France as understood by Americans.

Why? (5, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331404)

Since I work at KSC I guess I can provide some insight. The purpose of these new space plans is to reduce the cost of launches. The way you do that is by using a simpler vehicle and less people. So there is no way all or most of the people here will get new jobs in private space. Also Brevard County has a few other employees but most of it relies on KSC. So as people need to start moving to find other jobs housing prices will continue to plummet so expect lots of foreclosures and a total decimation of the local economy. The article is correct. Even facing these prospects most of the employees continue to do their job perfectly day in day out because of the love of the program and their country. When you see the orbiters they look like they just rolled out of the factory. Anything you read about orbiters deteriorating is a lie. They are pristine. Many people are still in denial that this county would be so stupid as to throw away such magnificent machines and they want to be there to keep them flying when we come to our senses.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331482)

When you see the orbiters they look like they just rolled out of the factory. Anything you read about orbiters deteriorating is a lie. They are pristine.

With all the money and attention lavished on them, that is as it should be.

Many people are still in denial that this county would be so stupid as to throw away such magnificent machines and they want to be there to keep them flying when we come to our senses.

The shuttles barely have a niche now, and that niche only exists because people work hard to make it exist - the shuttles are a prime example of what not to do, and I couldn't care less (yes, that is the correct way to use that phrase - its "couldn't" not "could") if the shuttles never fleww again.

What the US needs now is a commuter vehicle, something that runs as regular as a standard family car, with similar maintenance levels, not classic car levels. The US does not need a 'do it all' vehicle which comes with an appropriately sized superbudget, it does not need the ability to haul the entire house with it each time it makes the commute from the house to the office. Leave the heavy lift to specialised vehicles, and leave the commuting to specialised vehicles - they are separate problems, they should have separate solutions.

Re:Why? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331528)

"What the US needs now is a commuter vehicle, something that runs as regular as a standard family car, with similar maintenance levels, not classic car levels"

Why? Commuting implies a destination. The Space Age is over. The sooner you fruitcakes come to grips with the fact that space is utterly hostile and empty, the better.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331742)

Why? Commuting implies a destination. The Space Age is over. The sooner you fruitcakes come to grips with the fact that space is utterly hostile and empty, the better.

Earth is, of course, a prime example of the utter hostility and emptiness of space. With considerable effort, I'm sure we could make a bunch more hostile and empty places like Earth.

Re:Why? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331776)

Do you listen to yourself, or read before you submit? You are *the* prime example of the deluded nutcases I refer to as Space Nutters. Please explain how you think we have anything near the energy resources and technology to build planets?

We can barely build tin cans in the high atmosphere with all the industrial might we can bring to bear.

Seriously, re-read what you wrote. You're a clinical example of delusion. Get help, in the form of a simple high-school level course of physics.

If you're that attached to ideas of colonizing hostile places, hey, 75% of the planet is underwater, and there's always Siberia.

What's that? Too harsh? Too difficult? There's nothing there? Hm. Strange that.

Re:Why? (1, Troll)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331850)

You think we can stay cooped up on one little planet with an increasing population and a diminishing pool of resources forever? You really are a small-minded, ignorant little creep, aren't you! Perhaps it's eluded your tiny, uninformed mind, but just about every war ever fought, once all the bullshit is stripped away, is about resources.

Come back when you've educated yourself. Until then, please quit intruding on your betters.

Re:Why? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331938)

Interesting to see what happens when someone criticises the space program.

Very revealing, the amount of defensiveness and resentment that comes out.

Re:Why? (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332212)

There's a difference between criticism and insult. If you don't understand this simple fact, then you don't understand much of anything. And yes, I'm being insulting in return. You richly deserve it.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332044)

Someday you will wake up and realize that you are stuck here with the rest of us until we clean up our own household. As things currently stand politically, culturally, and technologically, the best we would be able to manage for the next several decades would be to basically destroy our own civilization in order to get an unsurvivably small population of humans off this rock.

I don't think space exploration is a waste of time mind you -- we put about the right level of resources into it. If we're smart we'll put all our resources WRT space into unmanned capabilities where they do the most good, with a few long-term deep space survivability tests using human volunteers.

(My bet is we will be nothing resembling today's human by the time serious terrestrial emmigration occurs. Genetically modified and loaded with implants.)

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332192)

Someday you will wake up and realize that you are stuck here with the rest of us until we clean up our own household.

I realized that long ago, and have done more than a little toward that end. I won't bore you with a biography, but I helped design and implement a waste management program in a mid-sized city that tripled its waste diversion rate. I've also been active politically, and in habitat-protection programs for species at risk.

You don't seem to understand what a tiny percentage of the GDP, peoples' tax dollars...however you want to measure it...goes to space. A workable colony on the Moon or Mars isn't beyond our current or near-future capabilities, and needn't "destroy our own civilization". If that were true, the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would already have done the job. Here's just one suggestion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Direct [wikipedia.org] . There are others as good or better.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33332692)

(My bet is we will be nothing resembling today's human by the time serious terrestrial emmigration occurs. Genetically modified and loaded with implants.)

Pamela Anderson welcomes you to the future.

Re:Why? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331914)

Please explain how you think we have anything near the energy resources and technology to build planets?

[...]

We can barely build tin cans in the high atmosphere with all the industrial might we can bring to bear.

There you go. Demonstration that people can live in space. Keep in mind that the ISS isn't the only "tin can" that has made it into space/"high atmosphere". We have three others prior to it. It's also worth noting that the "industrial might" continues to grow more capable over the decades. I imagine what is barely possible today (especially when it's government run) will be considerably more routine in a few decades.

If you're that attached to ideas of colonizing hostile places, hey, 75% of the planet is underwater, and there's always Siberia.

That's already been done and we continue to colonize these places. Space is more interesting because it has greater potential, more stuff, space, and energy.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

WCLPeter (202497) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332220)

If you're that attached to ideas of colonizing hostile places, hey, 75% of the planet is underwater, and there's always Siberia.

True, but then all it takes is one little asteroid [wikipedia.org] to ruin your day.

It generally is not a good idea to "keep all your eggs in one basket". The small, admittedly expensive, forays we make into space today provide future generations the knowledge they need to create sustainable habitats away from Earth, necessary to preserve our species when another Extinction Level Event [wikipedia.org] occurs. You are welcome to live in a tin can under the ocean and be crushed by the intense compression waves of a meteorite impact, I'll be safely watching the from one of our orbital habitats. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332548)

Your post reminds me of yesterday's QOTD: "I'm prepared for any emergency, it's just day to day stuff I can't handle" (or something to that effect).

We have a much better chance of handling an 'Extinction Level Event' if we a) don't completely trash the planet so there are some habitable areas left by the time the big ball hits b) try to figure out how to run civilizations so that even trivial little things like earthquakes, floods and rush hour don't cause major issues and c) learn how to maybe, perhaps, get along with ourselves and our current lifeboat.

Remember, that even big ball hits leave survivors. I had one of them for dinner last night. Tasted like chicken.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

WCLPeter (202497) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333700)

We have a much better chance of handling an 'Extinction Level Event' if we a) don't completely trash the planet so there are some habitable areas left by the time the big ball hits

If an ELE occurs it won't matter how nice to the planet we've been, the entire ecosystem will be thrashed and the survivors are going to wish they had died. The life they will have to live will be so incredibly hard; war for the scant resources remaining will be common, many will die of starvation, and simple diseases easily curable before the impact will claim many.

b) try to figure out how to run civilizations so that even trivial little things like earthquakes, floods and rush hour don't cause major issues

If you think an earthquake or flood is a trivial event, you're not paying attention to recent events. Five years later they are *still* putting New Orleans [wikipedia.org] back together. Haiti is still a mess [wikipedia.org], I remember reading estimates its going to take years and at least 14 Billion [reuters.com] just to put Haiti back the way it was.

When an event like this happens even the concerted effort of a group of nations, and Billions in donations from a concerned public, can only alleviate some of the suffering and it will take years rebuild their lost infrastructure.

An ELE event, if it doesn't outright kill you first, is going to catastrophically cripple everyone.

We'd lose our global manufacturing base, the one thing that could help clean up the mess, and effectively put us back to the early stone age. In a North American society, and a good chunk of Europe, few of us know anything about basic survival. Do you honestly expect the majority of survivors from a "modern" society to know how to eke out a basic living when we're so used to the conveniences of take out, fast food, gourmet restaurants, and grocery stores?

c) learn how to maybe, perhaps, get along with ourselves and our current lifeboat.

It won't matter if everyone is all fluffy bunnies and roses when an ELE event occurs.

When it does happen our fluffy bunnies and roses mentality will get pushed aside and our base instincts will take over. The only reason "modern" societies are even able to function is because our manufacturing and infrastructure base allows even the weakest amongst us to survive without too much struggle. Take that away and it quickly will devolve into a "survival of the fittest" situation.

Our best hope for survival as a species is to spread out to as many places as we can, as far away from Earth as we can, so if something bad happens to any one of those colonies the rest of the species has a fighting chance for survival and can use their infrastructure and manufacturing bases to help the others pick up the pieces.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331774)

"There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?" --Robert Kennedy, paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw

If space is empty, then we can make it useful.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331944)

I think I could name a few other "utterly hostile" things that we've managed to come to terms with, and the only 'fruitcakes" in this debate are you neolithic know-nothings who continue to run your mouths bashing anything you either don't understand or which doesn't immediately benefit you personally. You should give up the tech field--you're a prime candidate for modern-day American management.

Now, it's easy to find some things that are wrong with the space program--more than a few, the root causes of most of which boil down to politicians to pandering to the military or pandering to know-nothings. The shuttle, for all you NASA bashers, is a primary example of the "pandering to the military" end of this, by the way. It's also pretty easy to say just about anything about just about anything if you're not the one who actually has to deal with the problem. That's also typical of modern American management.

Re:Why? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332210)

Cause it is fucking cool. Why the fuck do people think that we need some boring reason for going to space like minerals or w/e excuse we come up with. Going to space isn't really about backing up society off planet and it sure as fuck isn't about resources. Those are rationalizing doing something because its awesome.

I just watched a movie. It wasn't very educational. I probably could have been more productive doing something else. But I did it anyways. Why can't society do this together?

Think of it on a more personal level. What makes Aristotle, Gandhi Darwin or Caesar important to us as a society? They left a mark and changed history. Why shouldn't we then as a society strive for the same levels of greatness?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331634)

...the shuttles are a prime example of what not to do, and I couldn't care less (yes, that is the correct way to use that phrase - its "couldn't" not "could")

the usual phrasing ("could care less") is sarcastic, smart guy

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331794)

the usual phrasing ("could care less") is an Nth-generation requote so removed from its original context that all intention of the original utterance has been lost and all that remains is an awkward phrase which few realize is stupid and backward, moron.

Re:Why? (1)

PNutts (199112) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332732)

the usual phrasing ("could care less") is an Nth-generation requote so removed from its original context that all intention of the original utterance has been lost and all that remains is an awkward phrase which few realize is stupid and backward, moron.

Yeah, but I remember when it was the bee's knees.

Re:Why? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331822)

What the US needs is to not be in such a desperate rush to put humans in space with such very early supporting tech.

We could develop many of the robotic and remote-manned systems we (require) to function usefully in space without sending humans. Humans in space are sent to performs tasks. We should work to not needing that, then send humans for its own sake after other tech matures.

There is _zero_ reason to rush. Manned vehicles are doomed to glacially slow development cycles at our primitive level of supporting technology.
Astronauts _explore_ nothing, they are along for the ride. Robots and remote-manned systems are already highly effective for dangerous jobs on Earth. We can develop new ones and throw away the old ones. This is perfect for space exploration where sending anything valuable is silly.

Exploration of Earth proceeded quickly because ships and men were expendable. Now, men are not expendable, and the cost to protect them is more than their participation is worth.

Re:Why? (2)

Samy Merchi (1297447) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332938)

Why not go back to expendable men though?

One of the reasons manned flights are so damn expensive is because there's redundancy after redundancy to try to do absolutely everything to ensure 99.99999% crew survival rate. By letting crew survival rate go down to, say, 25%, things could get a lot cheaper.

Now, some people are going to say, it's inhuman of society to gamble with the lives of its citizens, but I ask, isn't it ultimately the choice of every *individual* whether or not they want to gamble with their lives? Shouldn't an individual have the right to risk their life if they choose to? Tons of people bungee jump, hang glide, ride motorcycles, parachute, rock climb and so on, taking risks with their lives and society doesn't stop them. I know there would be people who would also choose to risk their lives for the advancement of our spaceflight. Why not take on those people who are willing to volunteer their lives, build some risky rockets, and go to space a lot cheaper.

Re:Why? (1)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333596)

This is the right approach in my books.

For the effort, expense and materials you can do more with a robot in space
because it does not need food, water, or air.

If a robot breaks in space fair odds you can repair it with another robot
if you got the parts up there.

If a human breaks in space...not so much.

Any mission to mars with humans would require so much food, water,
and other supplies that it would take up most of the room on the spacecraft.

Build a few tougher rovers and send them.

Make it so they can repair each other.

Make it so it can dust its solar panel off so it doesn't just
end up parked due to dust on its panel.

Unfortunately, the commuter model doesn't work (4, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331868)

The energy distance from the ground to even low earth orbit is such that your "commuter vehicle" has to carry many times its own weight in fuel, and the fuel is very nasty stuff. Human beings with their fragility and their extensive maintenance requirements are the very worst kind of payload. If your car had to make it to the office through hard vacuum, carrying many times its own weight of fuel, it would indeed need to do the equivalent of carrying the entire house with it.

Although the ideal requirement can be stated concisely, that does not mean it is actually possible. NASA's overall problem is one of mission incompatibility. Normally if I post something like this, somebody replies "with your attitude we wouldn't have discovered fire yet". To which the reply is that fire is ridiculously easy to discover; wait for a thunderstorm after a dry period. We have got where we are because energy became more and more readily available as our tools improved. But energy has ceased to become more readily available; we do not have any feasible technology for space lift that does not require exotic chemical mixtures. NASA is being asked to look at the wrong end of the telescope. Much better fuel or lift means needs to come first. Douglas Adams, who was no fool, satirised the problem with his infinite improbability drive and bistromath drives, but in fact he identified the core problem in space travel.

Re:Unfortunately, the commuter model doesn't work (1, Informative)

strack (1051390) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331992)

exotic chemical mixtures? its gasoline and liquid oxygen. you strike me as the sort of person who dosent know what hes talking about, so hes just spouting bullshit.

Re:Unfortunately, the commuter model doesn't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33332502)

exotic chemical mixtures? its gasoline and liquid oxygen. you strike me as the sort of person who dosent know what hes talking about, so hes just spouting bullshit.

Liquid hydrogen and hydrazine are so far removed from "gasoline" that I call troll or ignorance on you.

Re:Unfortunately, the commuter model doesn't work (2, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333648)

Hydrazine is used because it is hypergolic [wikipedia.org].... this is a very nice property for thrusters that need to be used on demand in short pulses for station keeping but it isn't the primary fuel that is used for getting into space. The main fuel being used for the 1st stages of most rockets today is simply kerosene and liquid oxygen..... the original poster was correct.

As for the difference between kerosene and gasoline, I'll leave it to a petroleum engineer to explain the difference if you care... both are hydrocarbons derived from crude oil. While I suppose it would be possible to fuel an entire rocket on this stuff, it wouldn't be the most ideal propellant.

Re:Unfortunately, the commuter model doesn't work (2, Informative)

6ULDV8 (226100) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332796)

Gasoline, huh? I guess that big tank of liquid hydrogen is just used for buoyancy.

From http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/newton/askasci/1995/environ/ENV165.HTM [anl.gov]

"Author: bob w whitbeck
What kind of fuel do space shuttles use?

Response #: 1 of 1
Author: jade hawk
It depends on what you mean by "space shuttle" -- the official name is Space
Transportation System (ever wonder what the "STS" stands for in the mission
names?). For launch the STS uses 2 systems: the main engines in the orbiter
that burn hydrogen and oxygen from the external tank (the great big orange
cylinder that the orbiter is attached to for launch); and the SRBs (Solid
Rocket Boosters) that burn a solid rocket propellant that is a mixture of
powdered aluminum and ammonium perchlorate. These are used only for launch.
The orbiter (what most people think of as "the Space Shuttle") has two
propulsion systems: OMS (Orbital Maneuvering System) used to change orbit and
to return to earth, and the RCS (Reaction Control System) used for station-
keeping and attitude control. Both systems burn hydrazine with oxygen."

Re:Unfortunately, the commuter model doesn't work (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333702)

Yes, the STS is using liquid hydrogen, but the Saturn V [wikipedia.org] used the kerosene/LOX fuel mixture, as does the Delta IV, Atlas V, and Falcon 9 rockets for their first stages. Kerosene or some other petroleum product is indeed one of the primary fuels being used for spaceflight. If you don't mind the smell of fried foods, you could use bio-diesel for that matter. Liquid Hydrogen is being used on the Shuttle because it has a slightly higher ISP than kerosene when combined with LOX, but it requires fancier handling procedures, a whole bunch of "insulation" to keep the cold things cold and the warm things warm.

Oh, wasn't it the "insulation" that ended up killing the astronauts on the Columbia? All on that quest to get some slightly higher performance that might not have been needed in the first place. Kerosene is liquid at "room temperatures" so you don't need any special cryogenic facilities for handling it when used for rocketry.

Re:Unfortunately, the commuter model doesn't work (1)

multi io (640409) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333776)

It depends on what rocket and what stage of it you're looking at. The Saturn V first stage did run with a somewhat refined kind of kerosene, iirc. In any case, what fraction of the total launch cost goes into actually producing the fuel? I'd be surprised if it's even one percent.

Re:Unfortunately, the commuter model doesn't work (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33334248)

The only company I've heard of that spent more on rocket fuel than for the engineering department's office supply budget was Armadillo Aerospace. Even for "established" vehicles like the Space Shuttle, that still is the case.

Or put it more this way: More paperwork is generated for each "routine" launch for most government spacecraft in both volume and weight (and all of this paper work arrives in Washington DC as "paper", not just electronic documents) than the mass which sits on the launch pad before the vehicle lights up. This isn't even the scientific reports or anything fancy, but the safety records and manufacturing sign-offs necessary just to build the thing according to government specifications. Not only is all of that paper work generated, but somebody has to read all of it too, sometimes more than once.

As for Armadillo Aerospace, that says much more about that company and the willingness they are to actually fly hardware, to blow things up or crash them, than it says about their fuel budget. Also note that they don't have to worry about pesky government regulations (for the most part... they are now doing some NASA contract work) which helps keep their engineering to fuel cost ratio more favorable.

Compare that to an automobile too, where you compare the cost of a new car to the amount of fuel you will be pumping into it over its lifetime. I would be surprised if you ended up spending more on fuel costs than the price of the vehicle. For the Space Shuttle, on the other hand, the fuel costs are statistical noise that might even be less than the catering budget for the public relations staff at KSC.

Re:Unfortunately, the commuter model doesn't work (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332596)

You misunderstand my point on several levels.

Firstly, my point about hauling the house was meant for the unbelievably stupid concept of having the shuttle built to haul several tonnes of cargo on top of its crew of seven people while the basic issues of risk have not been solved. The very fact that you have a heavy cargo on board increases the risk to the crew to, in my humble opinion, unacceptable levels as you increase the complexity of onboard systems, control, abort scenarios etc etc etc.

Secondly, aviation was horrendously dangerous in the first few decades - today, the number of people in the air at any one moment drastically outweighs the number of people killed in aviation related accidents every year. Airplanes regularly carry 400 or more people through the air, all the while carrying several hundred tonnes of highly flammable fuel onboard - but improvements in safety have drastically reduced the risk of carrying that fuel, allowing for longer and longer flights.

"Heavy cargo...increases risk" (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333118)

I'm not sure what you are saying here. I thought you were arguing for a "commuter vehicle" to get payloads to LEO. My point is that it isn't the cargo that makes the system expensive and unreliable; it's the crew and the fuel. If the payload is a satellite, it's quite happy with hard vacuum and a wide temperature range. Human beings don't much like either, plus a satellite doesn't need to pee. If you are arguing for a "commuter vehicle" to deliver people to LEO, my immediate question is "why?".

I agree that the Shuttle was always a ludicrous idea (if you like, the victory of the "pilots" and the X-project over the "chimps" and the Apollo program, sociology rather than engineering), but then so is the ISS. If rather than engage in manned spaceflight willy-waving we had waited until we had our current robot capability, we would have spent a lot less and found out just as much, and we could have had more suitable delivery vehicles to put robots around the Solar System.

You might like to consider, vis-a-vis aviation, that we looked at supersonic passenger aircraft and then walked away from them because they were stupidly expensive (and actually unsafe.) We did much better with aircraft designed to work, as it were, with the atmosphere rather than against it. Jeremy Clarkson, no less, suggested that supersonic aircraft went away because of mobile phones and the Internet. In the same way, within the limits of our current technical capability, the need for manned spacecraft (if it ever existed, which I doubt) went away once we could put a little robot on Mars and have it wander around for years looking at things.

Re:Why? (4, Interesting)

Kaboom13 (235759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332184)

The shuttles are a definitely not the best possible design, we know that now, but at the time they were built they seemed like a good idea. Either way, just because the shuttles aren't the ideal vehicle doesn't mean we should toss the whole program away, which is what we are doing. I live in Floida, and visit the space coast often and know a lot of the "little people" in the space program. They are insanely dedicated, even the people who do jobs others would consider demeaning or unimportant. They knew the people who died in the various NASA accidents way better then the engineers in Houston did, and they work every day to keep the astronauts safe. The majority of them can and will get better paying jobs in the private sector, many of them routinely turned down offers when economic times were better (no one is getting rich at NASA).

There is a ridiculous amount of institutional knowledge in the shuttle program, as well as a culture the defies all the regular government stereotypes. Once the team is disbanded and goes their separate ways we will have lost our best shot as a country at safe sustained manned space flight. We should have had a next generation vehicle ready to transition them too, but politics and the vague promise that somehow commercial space flight will fill in has killed it. Apparently as a country we no longer want to lead in the realms of science and engineering, and are content to have our only government funded innovations come in the form of new banking procedures to steal from the poor and give to the rich.

Re:Why? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333780)

The Shuttle is history already, only the walking zombies are insisting that it lives on. The time to save the Shuttle was about two years ago.... and about two years after (at the time) the original decision to end the Shuttle program had been made. There was a chance and there were even groups within the space community that were saying "now is the time to save the Shuttle".... but nobody paid attention at the time in terms of politicians or anybody that mattered.

Yes, I realize there may be institutional knowledge in the Shuttle program that is going to be lost, just as there was a whole bunch of useful knowledge lost when the Apollo program was canceled. America survived just fine, recovered, and moved on although we lost the ability to go to the Moon. That is the sad part, if anything.

We can preserve at least some of that knowledge by supporting a robust commercial spaceflight industry where the costs for access to space are in a steady decline and more people would be willing to invest into those vehicles. If the costs for access to space decline, more and new opportunities will arise in terms of what can be done, and hopefully some of those laid off will be of use to some of these new companies that are being created.

Bigelow Aerospace is hiring right now, and they need people with the kinds of experience that the workers at KSC can provide. Moving from Florida to Las Vegas may not be the most idea thing in the world, but it is at least a job and I hear that the housing is pretty cheap in Vegas at the moment (compared to a couple of years ago). Besides, Bigelow may be opening a facility at KSC in the near future too.

Re:Why? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332208)

I couldn't care less (yes, that is the correct way to use that phrase - its "couldn't" not "could")

Phrase it any way you want to, I could care less.

Re:Why? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332320)

Why haven't we tried an update of the shuttle?

I know it's got like, 60s-70s era computers in it and whatnot and it has its flaws, but they've run hundreds of missions with the damn thing and they've went pretty fine. The ability to land on a runway has got to be a pretty big bonus as well. Why haven't we tried to make a modernized version of that?

I'm sure there's valid engineering and financial reasons for the "rocket and capsule" route that we (and pretty much every private agency) seem to be going, but aesthetically it seems like a step backward from what I imagine would have eventually been a vehicle that could launch into space under its own power and land similarly.

Re:Why? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333848)

Why haven't we tried an update of the shuttle?

NASA has tried. There has been a singular failure within NASA to get any sort of new vehicle for manned spaceflight developed. From the CRV to the DC-X, the Apollo II project and several other interesting but failed experiments leading up to the Ares I/Ares V/Orion spacecraft system (and arguably even the DIRECT concept) keep getting massive amounts of funding but also consistently get shut down eventually... usually due to political expediency or lack of congressional support to get those projects to completion. Like the Ares I-X vehicle (arguably just a slightly modified Shuttle SRB designed to fly on its own), the DC-X also had "hardware" built to demonstrate the concept and even flew a couple of missions (a couple short hops off the ground to a couple hundred feet).

As for why a Shuttle "Mark 2" vehicle hasn't been built? A very excellent question. I would argue because the company who made it in the first place (Rockwell International) doesn't exist any more and the engineers who designed the vehicle are either retired or dead from old age. It is a classic case of "not invented here" syndrome, where everybody wants to do something new and different. Starting up a Shuttle orbiter production line would also cost billions of dollars... something that Congress is very reluctant to spend all at one time as would be necessary for such a project.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33332850)

(yes, that is the correct way to use that phrase - its "couldn't" not "could")

IHTBAGN (I hate to be a grammar nazi) but it's "it's not "its."

Nearly all of the people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33333580)

at KSC can tell you exactly the problem with the Shuttle program. You are correct, it's a niche market that was created out of politics. So what? That's not fault of those who have worked at KSC, it's the fault of those at Washington DC who refused to listen to engineers and, ahem, the voters that voted the idiots in.

Frankly, many people at KSC are excited by the idea of having multiple launch vehicles, including heavy life and personal lift. Cape-side, there is a host of vehicles, everything from deltas to atlases.

Just for the record, NASA doesn't don't have a family car....or a heavy lift vehicle...currently.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331490)

proud of our country?

do you realize (I'm sure you do) that all chips, transistors, resistors and caps (especially caps; see the china syndrome 'bad caps' that made the news the last, oh, 10 or so years) are made overseas.

we can't trust or rely on their parts quality anymore (the entire world got screwed over by trusting the chinese build caps and not have the electrolyte explode in years to come).

I'm actually surprised more things aren't failing and falling out of the sky due to bad caps (they are even in military supply channels from what I've been told).

if we want pride we should start making parts (tiny parts, not just whole boards) and THEN we can say 'hurrah! this was really an american accomplishment'.

as it is, its a world wide effort and I wonder - I really wonder - how much design and engineering is done onshore these days.

the space program used to get us 'new inventions' but lately, in the last 10 or 20 yrs, what have we gained from it? how much has it cost?

I'm just not sure its the best use of our VERY limited funds, these days. we're hurting, in case you haven't heard. money is better spent on other things (and yes, I'm a science guy but even I realize that we are throwing a lot of money away at a time where its needed on more directl and urgent things).

if/when we have a sound financial footing again in this country (...) then it would be time to put money toward luxuries like 'space'. but it clearly is a luxury and one that I'm not sure we can (or should) afford right now.

national pride in 'space' is bullshit, these days. lets feed our own people, send them to school and rebuild our failing roads and infrastructure! invest in our data comm infra (we're way behind in that compared to many other countries). lots of things our money could go better towards that would improve the life of real people, not just the select few that go into space.

Re:Why? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331516)

The ARRA (your boy's road and infrastructure project) is causing people to dig a hole and fill it in, and back up traffic in the process.
STFU commie n00b. Your kind voted in Obamanation, and watch as he doesn't get re-elected for screwing everything up.

It will take at least 30 years to undo the damage his administration has caused.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

RaymondKurzweil (1506023) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331534)

Well thank god we didn't outsource those O-rings for the fuel tanks to some country of assholes! Who knows what could have happened.

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333236)

There's so much CYA going around about those, I'm not sure what to believe, but I was under the impression that they performed to specs. The issue is they were operated out of spec. Whether that's because the spec wasn't properly defined, the requested spec didn't match the delivered spec, or the shuttle was launched outside its specified environmental window, I don't know. But my impression is that the o-rings were delivered with a rated operational temperature and never failed in that range.

Re:Why? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331644)

Well, I'm very sorry to say that aluminium electrolytic capacitors are not used in space vehicles. Their inherent poor reliability (even the best japanese ones) and tendency to outgas nasty things makes them a no-no. You can find some steel-cased, hermetically sealed ones in jet planes, but not in space applications.
And by the way, lots of american semiconductor manufacturers have their rad-hard/space-grad fab located in the US.

Re:Why? (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331996)

you do realise that what you have to say is not important enough to warrant double spacing every damn line of your comment.

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333744)

The biggest expense for the US is military.

We have 700+ bases in 130+ countries, we are the new Rome.

Just the cost of maintaining multiple carrier groups is staggering.

Eisenhower warned us about the Military Industrial Complex on
the way out of office.

JFK tried to do something in that regard and he got his head blown off.

The NASA budget is a tiny joke compared to the military one.

The next biggest budget is Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid and
the way to deal with that would be a Co-op similar to the way
the insurance company USAA is run.

The current system is bloated and ppl have to sue the government
just to get their benefits some of the time.

Having the nations of the world police themselves and reforming
SSI and Medicare would take care of our money problems.

Using Algae oil grown in the desert and ending all imports of
oil would totally eliminate the trade deficit in just a few years.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hioZ7C6HLs [youtube.com]

100,000 gal/acre/yr in the desert using non-arable land.

It would pay better than any legal crop at this time.

It would make jobs and solve our energy issues til we
can migrate the infrastructure over to hydrogen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_hydrogen_production [wikipedia.org]

Then with time we can get one of the several ideas for Fusion
off the ground and move to an primary electric system.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dense_plasma_focus#DPF_for_nuclear_fusion_power [wikipedia.org]

Dense plasma focus has the lead at this point for cost
effective use.

Acronyms on Sunday Mornings (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331492)

OK. Being groggy on a Sunday morning and reading your post, I got hung up on the 'KSC' for a couple of minutes - and consider our advertising saturated society. I was thinking "KSC" ???

Kentucky Seared Chicken...

Kentucky Space Chicken

Kentucky Sauce Chicken?

Kentucky .S.....Chicken...

What could the 'S' stand for...

Re:Acronyms on Sunday Mornings (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331936)

the John F. Kennedy Space Center (in Florida).

    http://www.ksc.nasa,gov

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennedy_Space_Center

Re:Acronyms on Sunday Mornings (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33334026)

KSC == Klondike Spicy Cheese

Korn Sugar Calories
Kennebunkport Salad Condiments

Yeah, I thought of all of that, including the Colonel's spicy chicken recipe too.

Now about that "S". There is a word there that I'm missing too.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331496)

... Or use the same resources, but get more launches/mass to orbit.

Re:Why? (5, Insightful)

strack (1051390) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331566)

when it costs a billion dollars per launch, it had better bloody well be pristine. a bad design still in pristine condition is still a bad design. the original concept of the space shuttle was to make space access inexpensive and safer. it has failed on both those fronts. it has frozen advancement in space launch for 30 years. hell, more than 30 years. the saturn V could do it cheaper, per kg, and safer too. with engine out capability, a real crew escape system, etc. etc. the shuttle is a dead end, and i for one want to make sure the door hits it in the ass on the way out. and as for those people out of a job, well damn, they could all still be employed by private space if nasa ups its commitment to private space, to the extent that they need the same manpower. only this time, a whole lot more tonnage will be getting to orbit.

Re:Why? (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331722)

There's never any moderator points around when you really want them. That's one of the best summaries of the shuttle program's failures I've seen. We're still screwing around in Low Earth Orbit when we should be well on the way to putting a Mars colony together, and that's thanks in large part to the shuttle.

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33332078)

Most of the "Private Space" jobs are not at KSC though, they are elsewhere in the US...it's not trivial to up and move when everyone else is trying to do the same at the same time. That whole region will look like the rust-belt in a few years with nothing left...

Re:Why? (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332166)

Please tell us all, with your clearly vast experience putting spacecraft into space, how you would have met the same requirements. Let's make it simple for you, 65000 lbs to a polar orbit with a 1200 mile crossrange capability. Dazzle us!

Re:Why? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33332422)

I have had vast experience working STS ascent GN&C in the 80's and early 90's. I worked about 22 missions and I can tell you the Shuttle has never been able to put 65,000 lbs in polar orbit. The best it could do for a 90 degree launch would be about 35,000 lbs. It would also have had to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base since you can't launch polar from KSC due to abort restrictions. Vandenberg was never used due to the Challenger disaster and the launch pad there was converted to launch Delta IVs so you couldn't even do a Shuttle polar mission.

BTW, even though the original design specs called for 65,000lbs, the Shuttle has never been able to put 65,000 lbs in orbit heading due east from KSC. It gets a maximum of 55,250 lbs.

Even though I loved working on the Shuttle program, I think we would have been better off building a separate crew transport and improving the heavy lift capability we already had.

Re:Why? (1)

thrich81 (1357561) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333148)

The AC's reply before mine is much better, so read that one, but the Shuttle never put a payload into polar orbit (at least not any big ones, and none at all that I'm aware of) -- that would have required a launch from Vandenberg which never happened after some billion+ $$ was put into a launch facility there. And the Shuttle certainly never exercised a 1200 mile crossrange capability. Given its lack of meeting any other operational requirements, who knows if it ever could? The customer for those requirements (USAF) abandoned the system as soon as it could. NASA didn't have that option.

Re:Why? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33334076)

The Saturn V could put more into orbit and do it cheaper than the Shuttle. So why was the Saturn V abandoned again? This time the Shuttle is being abandoned for the Ares I, which puts even fewer astronauts into orbit for more money still, and this time without any cargo capacity at all except for a couple hundred pounds in the "trunk". Yes, an Ares I launch is at least the same cost if not more than a Shuttle lanuch.

I'd like to be dazzled too. And as pointed out by the AC poster, the Shuttle never had a 65k pound payload even in the best of circumstances.

Re:Why? (1)

alexmin (938677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331694)

Talking about "local economy", I have great idea how to really revive it. Why don't we all get a slingshot and a bunch of stones; then shoot out about 10 windows each? That's sure to provide great jobs for laid off construction workers. Maybe not so much that Space Shuttle, but it could be a start.

Flashback (1)

dammy (131759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331768)

Seems to be a flash back of the 1970s when NASA and subcontractors were laying off workers (including my father who was working with TRW at the time) after Apollo 17 flight. I think Radiation (now Harris) was laying as well so it was truly a ugly time for Brevard County. This time there isn't as many subcontractors and there are more industries located in Brevard County to hire some of the soon-to-be ex employees.

I guess the main reason why so many are going to be sticking around until the final mission is there is simply not much else out who will hire them. May as well enjoy the meal ticket until the last day.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

The Shootist (324679) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331802)

sorry bub. I have no desire to dis NASA, but you fucks haven't done anything since we landed on the moon. Politician's fault, not yours.

When I see NASA monies being used to "uplift" Moslems and Women, I shake my head in wonder.

Then I notice that Advanced Propulsion research has been canceled.

Then I noticed that while we once flew to the Moon, we no longer can.

Pournelle's Iron Law has prevailed at NASA. Fire them all and give Space to the Navy.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33332644)

"you fucks haven't done anything since we landed on the moon"

You have not been paying attention.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331856)

I also live in Brevard County, there is little or no opportunity outside of the aerospace industry or service industry. Thats about it.

Re:Why? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33332058)

When you see the orbiters they look like they just rolled out of the factory. Anything you read about orbiters deteriorating is a lie. They are pristine.

While I agree that they may be in near perfect flight condition, this photo [wikimedia.org] of Discovery prior to entering the VAB (meaning after leaving the Shuttle Processing Facility) for STS-131 says otherwise. Yes, it's in pristine MECHANICAL condition, but to say it LOOKS pristine is a bit farfetched.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33332122)

That's nice to hear, given who was quoted, the program director, I wouldn't really expect to hear him acknowledge wide spread defections even if that were the case. Hope everyone finds new work quickly after the shuttle ends.

Re:Why? (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332660)

Wow I got a lot of flak there. All I was doing was giving some of the reasons people I know plan to stick around to the end of the program. I personally think NASA should get out of the launch vehicle business completely. We should design the missions around what LV's exist. This would leverage all of the money DOD spends on developing it's rockets. When DOD upgrades we can use them as well. And for some reason what DOD wants DOD gets.

Re:Why? (4, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33333370)

I have no doubt that the finest work ever done in relation to the Shuttle program is perhaps being done now by the workers at KSC, and that these vehicles are in the best shape that they have ever been in.

The issue is that the time to save the Shuttle program has passed by and that the production lines needed to replace parts currently being used for the maintenance have now shut down, and that there is a need to at least replace the Columbia and perhaps create a few more new orbiters in order to really use this capability to its fullest. Getting that supply chain going again including restoring the staff at the Michoud Assembly Facility is not just difficult, I would dare say that in the current federal budget environment would be impossible to accomplish. And that is but the most obvious facility that has already had lay-offs with the employees already gone and moved on to other things. Many other factories involved with the construction and maintenance of the Space Shuttle have had similar kinds of lay-offs.

If anything, what is happening at KSC is just a delayed action to stuff that has been happening for years now.

Would it stink if it were me in the position you are in? Absolutely! I would be hating life in that kind of circumstance. I am very much aware that this is going to force many people to change their lifestyles in Brevard County. Then again, the problem is that everybody is depending on the government here where there are another thousand counties or so in America that are asking why are they sending money to this county when they would be just as deserving.

Over time, I think this is going to be something better for that part of Florida anyway, and in terms of places to perform launches into orbit, KSC is quite difficult to beat. It still is one of the premier locations on the Earth for orbital spaceflight and that is a fact of geography that other places like Virginia, Texas, and New Mexico can't beat.

I agree that what needs to happen is to reduce the cost of launches and spaceflight in general. I personally don't think that the Ares/Orion (or this new "heavy lift vehicle" for that matter) is going to be any cheaper, but that is a personal opinion and the sentiment is well in hand. To me, the best chance that KSC has is to encourage The Florida Space Authority [spaceflorida.gov] to get its act together and turn KSC into the spaceflight equivalent of the O'Hare International Airport. I believe that day is coming where even NASA is going to be told to wait for an opening for launch with a launch window measured on the order of minutes instead of days because of the sheer traffic happening there. Perhaps other locations could open up that might work out better, but I think it would take an idiot to pass up on the potential of that launch location for all but specialized flights.

It is time to let the Space Shuttle go gracefully into history. That program has served our country well, and so have the thousands of dedicated people who have help to get that hunk of equipment into orbit. The jobs are eventually going to return, but it won't be the same kind of jobs and the companies involved won't be the same either. In fact, many of the companies who will eventually be there may not even exist yet. That would be my suggestion: find those companies or form one of them if you have the skills necessary.

So much astroturf! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33334172)

This post stinks of PR. Were you paid to write this? The orbiters are falling apart, that's why the last one blew up and endangered millions of lives on the ground! The ability of Americans to ignore reality will forever mystify me. In any event, I suppose it doesn't matter anymore - The writing is on the wall! American domination of space is coming to an end! The faster the Americans are grounded the safer the rest of the world will be. We'll all be cheering when the last shuttle lands forever and faces the scrapper's torch. Now all we need to do is get rid of the American parts of the ISS, get some Chinese or Indian workers up there, and we can get some REAL work done! (The russians are lazy drunks, but that's better than ignorant rednecks!)

Hey, maybe they'll even sell the scrap to a properly civilized country with a properly civilized government! Wouldn't that be nice? Your glorious white-elephant of a shuttle might become beer cans for the REAL engineers who design SAFE, SUCCESSFUL, RELIABLE space transportation systems! I guess then it wouldn't be a complete waste, right?

Florida Today (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331412)

Florida Today. Capital T. Jesus Christ, are the "editors" blind or what?

Welcome to the Real World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331432)

Oh great.. government employees now have to worry about being laid off? Those poor bastards.
Meanwhile, millions of workers in the real world who actually produce and contribute to the economy have been watching their backs for the last 2 years.

 

Layoff Anxiety Is Top Risk To Space Shuttle? (5, Funny)

vandelais (164490) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331442)

Here it was I thought dying in a gigantic fireball upon liftoff or reentry was the top risk.
Those were the days.

Re: Layoff Anxiety Is Top Risk To Space Shuttle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331550)

No, that's not a risk to the Space Shuttle. It's a Risk OF the Space Shuttle.

Slight, but critical difference in parsing.

Headline FAIL (1)

Catbus (699258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33331480)

As I read the article, layoff anxiety is a risk but not a top risk. It was addressed, in part, by worker pride wanting to stick with the mission, and a bonus scheme that encourages workers to stick to the end. On the other hand . . . "Among the chief technical risks in the latest review, presented to program managers this summer: -- Catastrophic strikes by space debris; -- Aging propellant pressurization tanks that might explode; -- Foam or ice breaking free from the shuttle's external tank and doing critical damage to heat-shield components." Those would be your top risks at the moment.

Re:Headline FAIL (1)

MurphyZero (717692) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332496)

Trust me, NASA's ability to identify & estimate risks is sub par at best. But they are getting better. Those you listed are among the chief risks. But the biggest risk in space flight has always been human error. Mainly because you don't launch unless you've addressed the external environmental risks. Stress just increases the chance for human error. All that means though is that the chance of a catastrophic failure goes up from about 1.6% per launch to 3 or 4%. Hopefully that's all. NASA will probably says those odds are more like 500 to 1 or maybe in the range from 75-150 to 1 (they'll blame most of that on micrometeorites and orbital debris), but they said the chance of a Challenger disaster was 100,000 to 1.

"Layoff Anxiety" ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33331688)

"Layoff Anxiety" ? ...

"Fuck You" !

NASA tanked a long time ago (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33332352)

This is just the maintenance crew. NASA's real collapse came at the end of Apollo, when they laid off most of the people who designed and engineered spacecraft. NASA, like Google now, had been the place where the really smart and competent people went. That all ended around 1973.

Re:NASA tanked a long time ago (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#33334094)

Always the same thing; the same either/or choice: Choose to pay to prepare America for the future, or choose to pay for stupid wars.

Loyalty will get you nowhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33332544)

". 'They love being part of NASA and what NASA does, and they love being part of the space shuttle program. And they want to be a part of it as long as we're doing the kinds of things that we're doing,' says LeRoy Cain, NASA's deputy shuttle program manager.""

Yeah, and those that stick it out....NASA will be more than happy to serve their pink slip as soon as that last shuttle touches down. In fact, I wonder how many will make it back to their offices to find that pink slip sitting in their chair or the more cowardly alternative, in their email inbox.

Spaceshuttles are dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33333166)

When you have a suit that has boosterrockets like ironman, you know you're on the right way.

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  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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