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40 comments

I hope school still closes early... (1)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976214)

I hope Brevard County schools still close early for the anticipated traffic that would engulf the region because of the, now delayed, launch. It's a Friday! Let my brothers go home early.

Temptation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976222)

I'm sorely tempted to take time of work and go for a road trip this June to see the final launch. Not sure if my 14-year-old car can take it but damn I want to go.

Re:Temptation (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35977972)

If you can, do it. You won't regret it. I saw STS-133, and though I'd probably not make the all-out push to do it a second time, I'm extremely happy that I did so once.

Re:Temptation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35978730)

I saw STS-132. I doubt I can ever get that fortunate again, aside from winning megabucks lottery. Everything was perfect.

But even with the chance of delays and a wasted trip, its worth the risk for an experience you'll never forget, especially if you get to watch from the causeway.

Re:Temptation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35978918)

I remember as a kid seeing STS-6 - Challenger's maiden flight. I will never forget it.

Re:Temptation (1)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 3 years ago | (#35979616)

Endeavour is about 20 years old, if it can take it, so can your car.

Shoestring budget (2)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976240)

Since NASA is on a shoestring budget and the US government doesn't see space exploration as a priority then I suppose delays and failures are inevitable?

China on the other hand can blow huge amounts of cash just like the USSR could before it split up, even more so given China is the workshop of the world.

Re:Shoestring budget (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976266)

NASA desperately needs to get public attention in order to get funding. Having an event such as this collide with a royal wedding just won't do. I expected a delay.

Re:Shoestring budget (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976416)

Dude, you are seriously flirting with tin foil hat territory.

Re:Shoestring budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976586)

Dude, you are seriously flirting with tin foil hat territory.

So are you if you are at least able to accept the axiom that being deluded as to the nature of the world you live in is a prerequisite.

Re:Shoestring budget (1)

Brucelet (1857158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976992)

Delays to Shuttle launches have nothing to do with the current budget. It's just a function trying to work with immensely complicated machines. Of course one can argue about how they could have been designed to be less prone to launch delays, but that ship sailed 30 years ago.

Re:Shoestring budget (3, Insightful)

FTL (112112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35977096)

Sorry, your facts are reversed. NASA's budget is $17 billion. China's space budget is $1.3 billion. Russia's space budget is $2.4 billion.

For eight times the money, the US manages to reach approximate parity with the Russians. This is the result of the badly designed Space Shuttle program which over its lifetime has cost $1.5 billion per launch.

Looking forward, SpaceX is on track to cut US launch costs by a factor of ten. That will make the US the #1 place to launch rockets -- for the first time since the 1970s.

Re:Shoestring budget (4, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35978272)

For eight times the money, the US manages to reach approximate parity with the Russians.

How many probes do the Russians have one the surface of Mars? How many in orbit around it? Or Mercury? How many of the station components have the Russian's delivered?
 
For our budget we do a hell of a lot more than Russians - whose space program consists mostly of a taxi and FedEx service to the station, the GLONASS navigation constellation, and power points outlining their brave new future.
 

This is the result of the badly designed Space Shuttle program which over its lifetime has cost $1.5 billion per launch.

Actually, the Shuttle only costs $250 million to launch (that is, the cost to add a Shuttle mission to the manifest.), the balance is the individual flight's portion of the fixed costs. The funny thing is when you add up the costs of the Soyuz and Proton boosters needed to replace a single Shuttle launch... you come in around $300 million dollars. (Mostly because of the horrible crew:passenger ratio of Soyuz.)

Re:Shoestring budget (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35984330)

Actually, the Shuttle only costs $250 million to launch

Plus another $200 million in refurbishing costs to return the Shuttle to flight-ready status. After all, none of the Shuttles are flown once. Then there's about $2 billion per year in fixed costs from the workforce and maintaining the infrastructure. But yes, the origin poster is right about the average cost of the Shuttle over its lifespan, especially once you include R&D and the costs of the orbiters. As I see it, that's one of the great disappointments of the Shuttle.

How many probes do the Russians have one the surface of Mars? How many in orbit around it? Or Mercury? How many of the station components have the Russian's delivered?

Sure, it's nice that the US has an expensive hobby which occasionally results in missions to other planets. But for the money spent, I figure they should have several hundred missions still active. We live in an era of diminished expectations. The one-eyed man is king in this land.

I think the above second guessing and armchair engineering is forgivable given the comparison of the outcomes of SpaceX efforts and the Constellation program. NASA blew about ten times as much money as SpaceX did and didn't do much of anything with it. They have a prototype Orion, but nothing to fly it on (unless they cut back the mass of the capsule a bit so that it can be lifted by a Delta IV Heavy).

Every time the private world does work comparable to what NASA funds with the usual cost plus contracts, it beats it by one to two orders of magnitude. Even in the realms where NASA has been untouchable, such as probes to other planets, I think will be entered by non-profits with significant funding. Now maybe all these private businesses and non-profits will go away, but doesn't look like that will happen to me.

Re:Shoestring budget (1)

CtownNighrider (1443513) | more than 3 years ago | (#35987372)

Sure, it's nice that the US has an expensive hobby which occasionally results in missions to other planets. But for the money spent, I figure they should have several hundred missions still active. We live in an era of diminished expectations. The one-eyed man is king in this land.

You should see how much stuff NASA is working on [nasa.gov] , most of it is dull basic science (where government belongs, a 15 billion dollar telescope to look at the early universe isn't profitable) so it isn't in the public eye.

Re:Shoestring budget (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35987598)

You should see how much stuff NASA is working on,

I have. That's part of the reason I'm disappointed in the bang for buck that NASA has. A considerable number of these missions are joint missions with other space programs (such as ESA and JAXA), meaning it really counts as a partial mission. Some aren't space probes and hence, not counted by me (eg, Space Shuttle, J-2X engine development, "fire and smoke").

Re:Shoestring budget (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35977418)

Since NASA is on a shoestring budget and the US government doesn't see space exploration as a priority then I suppose delays and failures are inevitable?

China on the other hand can blow huge amounts of cash just like the USSR could before it split up, even more so given China is the workshop of the world.

The chasm between your understanding and the reality of current space activities is vast. NASA's budget ($19 billion per year) is more than triple the combined budgets of the Russian ($3.8 billion per year) and Chinese ($1.3 billion estimated per year) space agencies.

But that doesn't get at the scale of squandering going on in government space programs. SpaceX (a much abused example on these forums) developed in the US (a country not known for its cheap manufacturing costs) three engines (Merlin, Draco, and Kestrel) and progress towards another (Merlin 2), two rocket vehicles (the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9), 7 rocket launches (4 successful) and a current unmanned space vehicle (the Dragon, flown once). And all that was developed for less than a year of Chinese space program (roughly $800-$1 billion spent in total) and nine years of time.

So nobody increased NASA's budget very much? I can't imagine why they would. It doesn't actually do that much space exploration for the money spent. Meanwhile a small private corporation based in LA is shaming the best government space programs on the planet.

Re:Shoestring budget (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35979866)

And all that was developed for less than a year of Chinese space program (roughly $800-$1 billion spent in total) and nine years of time.

But the Chinese, unlike SpaceX, have a family of proven launch vehicles, have put men on orbit thrice, have launched multiple satellites into Earth orbit and two into Lunar orbit.
 

Meanwhile a small private corporation based in LA is shaming the best government space programs on the planet.

Oh? Many astronauts has said corporation on orbit? How many landers on the Martian surface? How many probes in orbit around it? How many on or around the Moon?
 
  (Sound of crickets chirping.)
 
Oh. I see. They haven't actually done any of those things, though they have Brave Future Plans. (Hell, even the Brazilian's have four operational birds on orbit.)
 
So, let's try a different tack - let's compare them to other commercial companies then. How many satellites have the launched?
 
  (Sound of crickets chirping.)
 
Oh. I see. They haven't actually launched any have they? (Though again, they have Brave Future Plans.) Well, let's try and find something they've done... is their launch success ratio better than 50% (considering the track record in the industry is around 98%)?
 
  (Sound of crickets chirping.)
 
Oh. I see.
 
So tell me again. what exactly have they've done to 'shame' everyone else?

Re:Shoestring budget (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35982538)

So tell me again. what exactly have they've done to 'shame' everyone else?

I already did. They developed a family of rockets with a number of launches (enough so that SpaceX now looks like another successful beginning of a launch family) on less than anyone else. And frankly, they look on track to uncut everyone with reliable and cheap launch vehicles. It'll be interesting to see how your points will be addressed over the next decade when SpaceX actually begins to handle some of the load of launching satellites and manned missions.

I have refrained from making predictions in the past, but my take is that we're seeing the beginning of the end for the current system of government based launch systems and government dominated space activity. NASA probably won't ever have a major launch vehicle again. The Russians and Chinese probably will have to do some fierce innovating to stay in the game.

I think we'll see a sea change from the fluff, complacency, and squandered opportunities of the post-Apollo era where one could be satisfied with spending billions a year for modest accomplishments such as a few probes or a few launches.

Lunch...Launch...what? (2)

OscarGunther (96736) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976278)

Was I the only one who saw this right above the Spolsky-likes-group-lunch article and wondered why the Shuttle's afternoon meal had been delayed? Sick kid kept me up last night...

Sucky (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976294)

Discussions are ongoing but it looks to be longer than 48 hours is the most likely situation. Sadly, my version of the Royal Wedding has been postponed for the day and possibly the whole weekend. Shitty.

Blame the programmer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976296)

He wanted to double check a few things after he found out he was going [slashdot.org] .

And no one was surprised. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976372)

Seriously, "launch delayed" has to be the most common phrase in NASA reporting.

To their credit, it's more of a space thing than a NASA thing. They can't control the weather (yet) and have fairly stringent guidelines about what acceptable conditions are, nor can they keep Finagle's law from throwing a wrench in the maintenance schedule.

Re:And no one was surprised. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976468)

They can't control the weather (yet) and have fairly stringent guidelines about what acceptable conditions are, nor can they keep Finagle's law from throwing a wrench in the maintenance schedule.

Just another reason why wings are a bad idea on a spacecraft; in an emergency you need to be able to see where you're landing.

Apollo launched in some pretty bad weather (though launching through a thunderstorm probably was a mistake) and I believe the Russians have been known to launch in the middle of snow storms.

Typical Public Transport (2)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976424)

Is there no government run transport system that runs to schedule?

Make that 72 hours (1)

SighKoPath (956085) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976530)

They just announced that it will be a minimum 72 hour delay on the live broadcast. Something about problems with fuel line heaters.

Re:Make that 72 hours (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35977392)

fuel lines are rather important. I'm sure they want to make a good impression, and go out with a bang. Well, er.

Not The Largest Crowds (3, Interesting)

cusco (717999) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976606)

The largest crowd that I know of for a NASA launch was the third liftoff of Columbia, which I hitchiked across the state to view from Cocoa Beach. That was just over one million. This one is estimated at 500,000 to 750,000.

Probably this same old stickler (1)

Alotau (714890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976688)

Must be this guy [theonion.com] screwing with the launch times again. Jerk.

Millions disappointed (1)

realsilly (186931) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976748)

With an expected 3/4 million people flocking to that area of Florida, it's disappointing to see a delay. But I am glad that our engineer are still following the safety guidelines. Traffic will be ugly for those trying to leave the coast and people on their daily commute, but this is life here in Florida. Those many people will grumble about the traffic, but it's part of the excitement. At least the tolls were suspended to help ease the traffic burden through Orlando.

For those who get to see the launch, you will experience something wonderful. For those of you who have never experienced it up close, the feeling of the rumble from the shuttle envelops you as the sound way passes you. The heat of the flame warms your skin. Goosebumps explode all over your skin and your sense of American Pride is enough to make a grown man cry tears of happiness.

Re:Millions disappointed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35981782)

It is only a 3 hour drive north for me to KSC. When my friends and I got the news of the scrub the guys next to us said they drove down all the way from South Carolina to see the launch. That really sucks for them! The launches are impressive. Not even so much for seeing it but for *FEELING* it -- especially if you can get causway tickets.

Avoiding competition with the Royal Wedding (1)

JimWise (1804930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35976812)

I was very disappointed at how little coverage this launch was receiving due to all the news outlets being so heavily focused on the royal wedding. Hopefully this will allow it to have more of the attention that it deserves.

And the Obama's move vacation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35976842)

With 48 hours to wait, the Obama family head home to visit relatives. Goofy and Daffy were happy to see their cousins.

Downer of a headline (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35977558)

I would've gone with: "Shuttle program extended."

Just Do It! (0)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35977692)

I don't know what's wrong with these idiots. Don't they know how bad this is for PR. They should just bite the bullet and launch anyway. No risk, no reward is what I say. It worked out so well for Reagan...

Re:Just Do It! (1)

Goose In Orbit (199293) | more than 3 years ago | (#35982050)

Ah... the Icarus option...

I live in Florida and have never been to a launch (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35979422)

It's a 3hr drive for me and it would kill me to commit to seeing a launch and then have to make the trip three or four times until they finally meet the schedule. The streaming TV is nice. I'll usually head outside if the launch is a go and get a good 15 seconds of visibility as the shuttle clears the horizon clutter, before the SRB's separate. Had a pretty good view back in elementary school when Challenger blew.

Re:I live in Florida and have never been to a laun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35981824)

It's also a 3 hour drive for me (from Boca Raton). I've lived my entire life here and only ever saw one launch. We ended up doing 4 trips before the launch went off. And I have to say it was worth the headache!

Drove 1000 miles to see this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980018)

I drove 16 hours and 1000 miles to see this launch. I am on the tour bus back to Orlando now. Major bummer. The question for me is to either stay down here for a couple more days or go back assuming it will be pushed further out.

They said that from an orbital mechanics view they are clear until May 19.

The problem was the heaters for the Auxillary Power Unit #1.

Crew was three miles from the pad when they got the call to turn the Airstream around.

This is a major bummer since I have never seen a launch and have been wanting to since the days of the Enterprise flight tests.

What If Its A Software Bug? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980650)

Then I'd say NASA [slashdot.org] has the right man at the right time to quickly repair it.
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