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SpaceX Dragon Launch To ISS Set For April 30th

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the where-no-government-succeeded-before dept.

NASA 127

Spy Handler writes "NASA announced today a tentative April 30th date for SpaceX launch to the International Space Station on an unmanned cargo mission. 'Everything looks good as we head toward the April 30 launch date,' said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. If successful, SpaceX will become the first private company to launch a space vehicle and dock with the ISS."

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127 comments

Most Excellent (4, Interesting)

Penguinshit (591885) | about 2 years ago | (#39708413)

It's time to turn LEO over to commercial operators and let NASA get back to pushing frontiers. It was right to kill Constellation and Ares.

Re:Most Excellent (3, Interesting)

Canazza (1428553) | about 2 years ago | (#39708489)

This is a *brand new* private market. We need competition. So far who do we have? SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. And even Virgin only go Sub-orbital and is mostly publicity runs.
There's alot of players missing at the moment. For example: Where's Boeing? One of the biggest Government contractors for aircraft hasn't thought to invest in their own space vehicles?
I get the feeling that when SpaceX actually has a proper, reliable, regular launch schedule that the market for private space launches will absoloutly boom.

Re:Most Excellent (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708505)

Boeing is in it. They are designing a capsule called CST-100, together with Bigelow Aerospace. There is also a more direct competitor to SpaceX, the Antares rocket built by Orbital Sciences and also scheduled to launch this year. Not to mention many smaller but ambitious players like XCOR that work on upper stage engines with ULA.

Arianespace (4, Informative)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 2 years ago | (#39708515)

The European Arianespace is commercial since 1980. They launch their Ariane rockets on a regular basis. You want competition? You got it.

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

Re:Arianespace (1, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#39708527)

No, see, it's not proper rocketry unless you read about it in a NASA press release.

Which is the problem here: why are we hearing about this from NASA? Screw those lumbering dinosaurs and their thousand-dollar hammers, I'd love to see SpaceX, Virgin or any other player just go ahead and send a surprise cheap dumb booster up to the ISS for so little outlay that they can say "Oh hai, say, do you guys you want these supplies or not? Doesn't bother us much either way, we'll just leave them in orbit here in case you change your mind."

Re:Arianespace (2, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#39708605)

Which is the problem here: why are we hearing about this from NASA? Screw those lumbering dinosaurs and their thousand-dollar hammers,

If they had bought five thousand dollar hand tools instead, tested for space operations, instead of listening to those short-sighted people who want to pinch pennies whenever they see them, we might not have hand tools floating in space [wikipedia.org].

Re:Arianespace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39712927)

Duct tape and a piece of string may have helped there.

Re:Arianespace (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708713)

The big issue for NASA is station safety. Do you really want an untested vehicle near your 100billion dollar station? One that if there is an error in coding could easily ram it?

Re:Arianespace (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 2 years ago | (#39708791)

One that if there is an error in coding could easily ram it?

Define easily. Even Low Earth Orbit is pretty big.

Re:Arianespace (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 2 years ago | (#39710763)

Define easily.

"Mostly correct in the sense of plotting a course that intersects the ISS as intended, but not correct enough to finish the delicate procedure of docking without incident."

Sounds pretty easy to me, at least if you don't do proper diligence.

Re:Arianespace (0)

StoneCrusher (717949) | about 2 years ago | (#39708751)

While I understand your sentiment, if I was an astronaut aboard the ISS I don't think I would appreciate a unknown, unexpected, untested, unverified rocket hurtling towards my fragile little home.

"Don't worry, the boosters will shut-off in time. I wrote the code myself!"
"How hard could it possibly be to hit a 1 meter capture ring? And if we miss it'll bounce right off those solar panels."
"Com'on! Open your pressurised habitat to our craft. We used like a whole tube of silicone to seal it up."
"Oh... You might not want to eat the chilli-dogs I packed you after all. Uncle Billy has spent a week on the toilet after eating three."

And these are some of the best case scenarios that I imagined.

Re:Arianespace (2)

Megane (129182) | about 2 years ago | (#39708913)

While I understand your sentiment, if I was an astronaut aboard the ISS I don't think I would appreciate a unknown, unexpected, untested, unverified rocket hurtling towards my fragile little home.

Indeed. And I'm sure there would be some nice men from the government who would not be amused. Or nice, once this happened.

In fact, that's one of the reasons this launch was delayed. They need two people on the ISS qualified in the docking procedures for this mission, and they only recently got the second up.

Re:Arianespace (5, Insightful)

Necron69 (35644) | about 2 years ago | (#39710273)

Are you people really that stupid to think that both SpaceX and NASA haven't spent tens of thousands of man hours planning, testing, retesting, and triple testing this docking procedure? Are you aware that the only reason it takes two people to do the docking is that NASA won't _allow_ SpaceX to do the docking automatically like the Russian Soyuz? Instead, they have to pull up close to the station, and then get grabbed by the robot arm, for SAFETY.

Do you have any idea how many ex-NASA and space shuttle contractors have been hired by SpaceX? Do you know how many former astronauts work there?

God, it is like some people think Elon Musk hired a bunch of high school rocket club kids and is being allowed to dock with the space station based on plans drawn on the back of a napkin.

Get a freaking clue, people.

- Necron69

Re:Arianespace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39709771)

Having actually been in SpaceX's factory... I could understand those musings.

Re:Arianespace (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 2 years ago | (#39708823)

I'd love to see SpaceX, Virgin or any other player just go ahead and send a surprise cheap dumb booster up to the ISS for so little outlay that they can say "Oh hai, say, do you guys you want these supplies or not?

i guess if you pay for it you probably can, but at the moment nasa calls the shots because it pays the money. that's why spacex is more a government contractor than a commercial enterprise. difference being that a commercial enterprise would be servicing multiple clients. as long as nasa is its only customer, it is the boss, not spacex. if spacex goes space cowboy, nasa may well just say "Oh hai, say, do you guys want to do as we tell you, or do you want us to pay space-y/ruskies instead; we're not averse to wasting our investment in you cos we've been wasting millions for years, so get in line or gtfo".

Re:Arianespace (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#39711323)

SpaceX has already put up satellites (on Falcon 1) for people other than NASA. Second flight of Falcon 1 carried a satellite on spec, as I recall.

In addition, SpaceX already has contracts over the next couple of years to put up satellites for MDA (Canada), SES (Europe), Thaicom (Thailand), NSPO (Taiwan), Asiasat (two launches), CONAE (Argentina).

Among others.

Re:Arianespace (1)

tsotha (720379) | about 2 years ago | (#39712591)

It's worse than that. SpaceX relies on all sorts of NASA launch, tracking, test facilities, and the entire regulatory environment associated. Even the SpaceX honchos admit they can't do it without NASA. The only real difference between SpacesX and Boeing is SpaceX designed and built the rocket with their own money and Boeing did it on contract.

Re:Arianespace (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 2 years ago | (#39713711)

Yes, just like Grumman, Martin, McDonnell and others relied on NASA back on the 60's, or like all their predecessors relied on NACA [wikipedia.org] in the 30's and 40's. The big difference is that SpaceX is selling launches at a guaranteed price, rather than the usual "cost-plus" contracts that have plagued the space program for decades. And SpaceX is hardly without competition... Orbital is running their first ISS re-supply mission this summer. Frankly, this is a step in the right direction. And when you get down to brass tacks, you can't argue with the fact that SpaceX keeps delivering payloads to orbit at prices that even the Chinese can't match.

Re:Arianespace (1)

Picass0 (147474) | about 2 years ago | (#39710551)

>> "...I'd love to see SpaceX, Virgin or any other player just go ahead and send a surprise cheap dumb booster up to the ISS for so little outlay that they can say "Oh hai, say, do you guys you want these supplies or not?..."

I understand your point and share your frustrations, but rockets pass through controlled commercial airspace as they launch. None of the carriers you mentioned want to get on FAA's bad side. Making feds pissed off is a bad way to kickstart a business.

The new commercial space carriers show great promise, but NASA shouldn't have just dropped the ball leaving a 5-10 year window where the US has no manned launch capability. Most businesses understand when you retire a platform you have it's replacement ready.

Re:Arianespace (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39712527)

Which is the problem here: why are we hearing about this from NASA?

Because NASA is going to use them to send supplies to the ISS, and probably a few other things as well.

Re:Arianespace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708541)

must... resist... urge... to make... Arianespace Museum joke...

damnit.

Re:Arianespace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39710695)

the pricing is vastly different. Arianespace launches the russian soyuz at twice the price of spacex. The migration to spacex falcon 9 by all the commercial satellite companies is pretty solid - it will take place over time as the quantity of safe lauches increases. It takes about 10 safe launches in a row to get insurance rates to come down. The Government companies, like Arianespace will continue based on political/lobbying issues, not related to technology/price.

One of two things will happen. Spacex will raise their prices continuously (which they have) to eventually get just below the price of the others, or the others will come down (unlikely).

Five years from now Spacex will be the dominant supplier.

Re:Arianespace (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about 2 years ago | (#39711161)

Ariane is nothing special, not sure why everyone treats them as if they are. There are a half dozen other commercial launch companies that do the same thing. Commercial space is nothing new. The only thing new is the potential payload including people sometime in the future.

Re:Arianespace (1)

cowdung (702933) | about 2 years ago | (#39714185)

Sure. But the cost of an Ariane launch is 10000 per Kg whereas the cost of a Falcon 9 is 5000 per Kg.

Re:Most Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708633)

This is a *brand new* private market. We need competition. So far who do we have?

Don't you worry. If it works and gives benefits, competition will appear.

The only thing that could break that consequence would be the first businesses lobbying to create laws that stopped all possible competition.

And even if that happened, those laws wouldn't apply to China.

"plus ça change..."

Re:Most Excellent (2)

xplosiv (129880) | about 2 years ago | (#39708737)

From the article:

Other companies in the private space race include aerospace giant Boeing, the Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Washington state-based BlueOrigin LLC.

More [ibtimes.com] info about their private space plans.

Re:Most Excellent (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 2 years ago | (#39708905)

don't worry, once the financial risk is low enough (after someone else has already put in the high risk hard yards - most likely funded by taxpayers), the cheap knockoffs will begin to appear, ready to kill off the cheapskate idiots who decide to fly with them, probably doing the world a favor.

Re:Most Excellent (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#39709941)

Considering that the Chinese have said that SpaceX is flying at a price point cheaper than they can provide launch services, I'm sort of curious who this "cheap knockoff" might be? The Mexican Space Agency?

Re:Most Excellent (1)

damburger (981828) | about 2 years ago | (#39710121)

Citation please. Bear in mind, I want a credible source. Lots of people in China talk shit and don't have any real authority.

Re:Most Excellent (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#39711421)

There was a /. story last year (one year ago today, in fact) mentioning this. Guy from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., speaking "not for attribution".

Re:Most Excellent (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#39709945)

don't worry, once the financial risk is low enough (after someone else has already put in the high risk hard yards - most likely funded by taxpayers), the cheap knockoffs will begin to appear, ready to kill off the cheapskate idiots who decide to fly with them, probably doing the world a favor.

Given that the massively expensive space shuttle destroyed itself and killed the crew about one time in sixty, a 'cheapskate' doesn't have to try too hard to kill their crew less often.

Re:Most Excellent (1)

robot256 (1635039) | about 2 years ago | (#39710879)

I think the point about the shuttle is just the opposite: SpaceX is cheaper *because* they are more reliable, not in spite of it. If you build the thing without cutting corners up-front, you save a bundle in the long term, which is what SpaceX is getting right where so many others got it wrong. The only way to get cheaper is if you designed a rocket with the *intent* to blow up 1 in 100. Even the Soyuz capsules, which have almost no redundant systems whatsoever, have a reputation as being reliable.

Re:Most Excellent (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 years ago | (#39711471)

Even the Soyuz capsules, which have almost no redundant systems whatsoever, have a reputation as being reliable.

And, oddly enough, have had loss-of-crew accidents twice, just like Shuttle (which translates to a higher percentage loss rate, since there have been fewer Soyuz missions than Shuttle missions, in spite of Shuttle being developed a decade later).

Re:Most Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39709301)

OSC [orbital.com] is competing with SpaceX on the ISS flights with their Antares launcher and Cygnus supply vehicle.

Re:Most Excellent (1)

caseih (160668) | about 2 years ago | (#39710739)

All American rockets today that can deliver payload to orbit are made by private companies. They just happen to be under contract for government agencies like the air force, or even NASA. None of these rockets are man-rated, though, which is something SpaceX is gunning for in a big way. I'm definitely excited. Even if they are the only ones who can do it for a while, that's okay too. It's unlikely that a monopoly situation will lead to prices any higher than they are now!

Re:Most Excellent (1, Insightful)

lxs (131946) | about 2 years ago | (#39708525)

Bad idea.
Why?
Two words: Space junk.

The Invisible Hand has a bad record for picking up after itself.

Re:Most Excellent (3, Funny)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about 2 years ago | (#39708561)

It's just a matter of time you know... if enough people go there, it's just a waiting matter before:
  - space hippies go collect garbage (and re-invent the cradle2cradle concept, making nice new stuff from spacejunk);
  - greenpeace goes there with big solarsail-made-into-banners;
  - Al Gore will say he invented space and then make a movie about how terrible the whole spacejunk problem is;
  - We will see spacejunk-sceptics;
  And when they are all up in arms, here on /. we will discuss the next big thing... terraforming Mars. Someone will say that is a bad Idea, and I would say: It's just a matter of time you know... if enough people go there, it's just a waiting matter before:
  - Space hippies will go there hugging the marstrees
  - Greenpeace will go there and... well you get the point huh? :-D

Re:Most Excellent (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708735)

Another right winger claiming that all will be well because fully funded charity work will step in where governments fail to operate; apparently they think that the rich will donate more if taxed less and that the poor should don't pay enough.

"don't should pay" (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#39708899)

..rich will donate more if taxed less and that the poor should don't pay enough.

A stunning example of the brilliance that is the statist mind.

And if that wasn't telling enough, they couldn't even figure out how to create an account...

Re:"don't should pay" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39710823)

A snarky right winger with little to say but vague insults, very typical. So, how does that not accurately portray your views? People such as yourself often claim that charity would 'step up' to replace government assistance, my parent poster, (also an AC) said just that. I guarantee that you've said such things in the past, perhaps that's why you were so 'stunned'.

Re:Most Excellent (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#39708665)

Space junk is a bit different to the normal polluting behaviour though, since it will directly and literally impact the polluter's future operations. Also, its not like publicly funded endeavours have that great a record when it comes to space junk either.

Re:Most Excellent (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#39709129)

I wonder what the insurance is for something like that? A dent in the ISS must cost an arm and a leg to fix.

Re:Most Excellent (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 2 years ago | (#39710779)

It's OK. Flo told them that they could just plug "snapshot" into their spaceship and get a huge discount!

Re:Most Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39710061)

Except it will cost more and have less capabilities that what NASA hardware can do. For I stand remember the NASA zero gravity plane, the vomit comment? Congress has ruled that NASA is no longer allowed to own or develop their own zero gravity plane. They now have to contract out to Zero-G. Their costs are more contracting out then when they ran their own hardware. On top of that the Zero-G plane cannot achieve true zero gravity. The NASA plain has thrusters that nullified the x and y direction accelerations. The Zero-G plane does not have this capability so when in the flight there are constant x and y accelerations messing up experiments.

NASA is lazy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708465)

NASA is lazy.

The deeper problem (5, Insightful)

zippo01 (688802) | about 2 years ago | (#39708485)

The failure of NASA, speaks to a much deeper issue growing in US culture. People only care that it works, not how or why it works, and make no effort to understand. This is also why the US is falling behind as the world leader in tech. This is the same thing that causes us to buy cheap products from china, that break, and instead of fixing them, we just buy more. It makes me sad.

Re:The deeper problem (2)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#39708533)

Hi, you're using one of those Freedom Eagle brand computers made in Omaha? Flip it over, read the Made in China sticker, then lead by example, please.

Re:The deeper problem (2)

zippo01 (688802) | about 2 years ago | (#39708537)

Indeed, hence the failure and the mindset of the failure. I would gladly by American made, but I can't find any.

Re:The deeper problem (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708565)

Actually what makes westerners, you and me included, to buy new items instead of fixing them is the just cost of repair. Let's say a reasonably well-performing nondescript toaster from your local hypermarket costs $50 or $100 for a "high end" one. Let's also suppose that you get $20 an hour. You basically have three choices:

1. Find out what is broken, get a replacement part, and replace it yourself.

Sounds easy, but if it's anything except the heating element, you need more than a multimeter to figure out which individual component is broken. Suppose you're so lucky that you actually find it in the local repair shop. Now, just do that math between cost of replacement part + cost of labor versus cost of new toaster. Even if you get the part for free, and you are such an amazing tech that a fixed toaster is as good as new, anything over 3 hours is a waste as that's about how long it takes, after taxes, to get the money for a new toaster

2. Take it to the repair shop.

Still easier, but you cannot be guaranteed that cost of troubleshooting + cost of repair + cost of parts + cost of trip to take the toaster + cost of trip to pick it up will be less than cost of a new toaster. Anyhow, since the cost of labor in this case has to be paid with after-tax money, this is guaranteed to be more expensive than DIY (Assuming you are every bit as competent as the repair guy)

3. Just buy a new one

Sadly, this is the cheapest choice. I say sadly, because I for one would rather buy sturdy appliances that last for ages, especially when the underlying user requirement stays unchanged. Would go a long way in saving the planet

Of course, if people were willing to pay more for repairability and ecological soundness then maybe such solutions would emerge, but behavioral economics tells us otherwise...

Re:The deeper problem (2)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#39708613)

Option 4: Do NOT buy or repair your toaster oven until you can afford a much higher quality replacement.

This seems to me like the soundest decision, but with consumerism, people want instant gratification and the quality converges to the lowest that producers can get away with.

Re:The deeper problem (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#39708643)

This seems to me like the soundest decision, but with consumerism, people want instant gratification

And toast.

Re:The deeper problem (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#39708695)

And toast.

which you don't need a toaster or toaster oven for.

While I have a toaster oven, I prefer to make toast the old fashioned way, because it's easier to clean up - the only way a toaster oven makes sense is if you are a lazy slob - too lazy to flip a toast and most of the time won't bother cleaning the oven.
A toaster can make sense if you don't want to keep the family together and not leave the table during breakfast, but that's generally not how it's used.

Yes, I prefer to slice my bread myself too. Which means I can buy bread without humectants, because it not being cut helps prevent it from drying out. So it tastes better.

Re:The deeper problem (4, Interesting)

dpilot (134227) | about 2 years ago | (#39708793)

How do you buy a much higher quality toaster? On occasion I have tried to buy higher quality appliances. Price is no indicator. Brand is only a weak indicator. Reviews are only a weak indicator, because product lines are constantly being churned, even if the name has remained the same.

Re:The deeper problem (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#39710315)

Look at the warranty. Anything less than 5 years is cheap crap, 10 years is good. Some German and Japanese manufacturers offer them.

Re:The deeper problem (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 years ago | (#39710175)

Option 4: Do NOT buy or repair your toaster oven until you can afford a much higher quality replacement.
Unfortunately, in my experience, the premium items break down just as frequently as the cheap crap, but are more expensive to repair, either professionally or DIY because they make the repair parts cost 50% of the price of a new unit.
As an example, I have a Maytag washing machine which cost about $1100. Maytag is the one with the commercials of the repairman sitting around doing nothing because nobody ever calls in. Well, it has broken down on me about 5 times. Twice, it has been the circuitboard, which has to be replaced in its entirety and costs well over $100. The most recent item was a cracked outflow pump housing. How did it crack? Why, pennies got into the housing. But how can that be? They've been in the business 100 years. Surely they learned in the second year of business that they need to have a screen or boot to catch small items that unintentionally got into the washer. Cheap imported washers have them. Of course, they do not sell the housing by itself, but you have to buy the pump as well. The unit costs about $100. So I bought a $4 tube of JB Weld Marine and fixed it myself. Apparently, this same problem has happened to a lot of people because I googled it to find out what others had done to fix it.
We're not going to get people to stop buying cheap Chinese junk until the expensive American junk exceeds the quality of the cheap Chinese junk.

Re:The deeper problem (2)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#39711209)

As an example, I have a Maytag washing machine which cost about $1100. Maytag is the one with the commercials of the repairman sitting around doing nothing because nobody ever calls in. Well, it has broken down on me about 5 times. Twice, it has been the circuitboard, which has to be replaced in its entirety and costs well over $100. The most recent item was a cracked outflow pump housing. How did it crack? Why, pennies got into the housing.

I hate to tell you, but at $1100 you're still in the cheap consumer territory - you've paid for features, not quality. Higher end consumer washers are more in the $2000 range.

You won't find a $1100 Maytag at a professional cleaner or tailor's - they need quality, and are willing to pay for it. Consumers aren't, and when comparing items, will either pick the cheaper, the one with more features, or the one that looks best.

But how can that be? They've been in the business 100 years.

I hate to tell you this too, but Maytag went out of business in 2006, after consumer fled it due to poor quality. It was bought by Whirlpool who continues to use the name.

We're not going to get people to stop buying cheap Chinese junk until the expensive American junk exceeds the quality of the cheap Chinese junk.

Whirlpool doesn't generally make washers from the ground up - the Maytag plants are closed down. They have a plant in Ohio, which seems to be mainly assembly. So you might have bought cheap Chinese junk assembled in the US.

Re:The deeper problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708811)

Even if you get the part for free, and you are such an amazing tech that a fixed toaster is as good as new, anything over 3 hours is a waste as that's about how long it takes, after taxes, to get the money for a new toaster

If someone makes $20/hr, that does not mean that ALL their time is worth $20/hr. Only the time spent actually working is worth that. What you seem to be saying here is true only if you have to take unpaid time off from work to fix the toaster. Otherwise, the time spent fixing the toaster is essentially free.

Re:The deeper problem (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39710781)

So, you love your job so much that your time off is worth *less* to you than the time you spend at work? Glad to hear it, not everyone is so lucky.

Your "basic economic resource" isn't money, it's time. Money is only one thing you can exchange that time for, and unless you're under-employed you're already selling about as much of it as you care to at the wage you're receiving. Ergo your remaining time is worth *more* in dollar terms than the time you spend at work.

Re:The deeper problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39712659)

Ergo your remaining time is worth *more* in dollar terms than the time you spend at work.

Ok, since you want to be absurd, that means that an attorney who bills out at $500 per hour loses $4,000 for getting 8 hours of sleep.

Your time, like anything else, is worth only what the market will bear. Generally, people cannot just go off and get piecemeal work in any amount desired at any time they desire. Their time can't automatically be exchanged for money. If you make $20 per hour, but the market can't or won't buy more than 40 hours per week of your time, then the remainder of the hours in your week are not worth $20 each, no matter how much you want to think they are.

Re:The deeper problem (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#39709375)

My Mom and Dad are still using the toaster they got as a wedding gift, and they'll be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year.

Re:The deeper problem (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#39711255)

Actually what makes westerners, you and me included, to buy new items instead of fixing them is the just cost of repair.

That's why repair is a hobby (DIY). That way your time is basically free and you're doing it for fun or experience. (It's just like people who admin Linux machines for fun).

Now, a toaster is actually a very simple product and a poor example - anyone competent with electricity can rapidly fix it.

Take something that doesn't cost a lot more - say a computer monitor - you can pick up a 20" or more one for under $200 on sale. Now it breaks - do you fix it, or buy a new one? Fixing it will probably cost you a high-paid technician to look at it at probably a good $50+/hr plus parts ($expensive in most cases). At which point you probably have to invest around $150 or so to fix it. Or just buy a new monitor on sale that probably does more for a few bucks more.

If you do repair as a hobby - you stand to benefit since you can ask for these old broken electronics and fix it yourself - if the part costs $100, it's a $100 monitor to you.

For a lot of things, even the manufacturer never repairs individually - phones and such the store will gather up a pile of them then send it off to the manufacturer to refurbish. Even then the manufacturer will probably wait for more units to come in before sending the whole lot off to refurbish (parts from several phones combined to make a working one, that sort of thing). It's just cheaper that way (depending on the circuit board, it may not be economical to fix - if it's a dud capacitor or resistor, it's easy, but if it's a chip that's BGA or so, it can easily cost $200 to replace the chip).

Now go to places like China where labor is cheap, and you'll find people repairing lots of stuff because even highly paid technical people are really cheap. (It's the flip side to all the factory workers making peanuts a day - even the highly skilled workers make just a few peanuts more. Though in China, there is also a pile of businesspeople that really rake in big bucks the same way Wall Street does).

Re:The deeper problem (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#39710053)

The failure of NASA, speaks to a much deeper issue growing in US culture.

What failure in NASA? Not providing Buck Rogers for your entertainment and amusement? (As opposed to actually getting on with the hard and mostly boring bits, which they have done.) Failing to meet some abstract standard of cost and performance? (Which borders on the ludicrous - it's like complaining about the low performance and high cost of a 8008 in 1971. There's simply no track record on which to base such a standard.)
 

This is the same thing that causes us to buy cheap products from china, that break, and instead of fixing them, we just buy more.

You should read up on the history of discount stores - the desire, in the US, for lower cost and greater convenience without regards to quality goes back several generations (at least).
 
Basically, you're remembering a golden era that never existed and are thus depressed because of the failure of a golden future (which vision you created from whole cloth in the first place) to materialize.

Re:The deeper problem (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39715033)

Basically, you're remembering a golden era that never existed

The young are prone to doing that. We who have been around a while know how bad the past sucked; we were there.

?I can't understand why we don't take them in hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708593)

Good Morning, Omaha! Home of the next Mission Control!

Hey everybody won't you lend me your ear
There's something to fear - it's here and that's clear
Men gettin richer rapin the land
I can't understand why we don't take them in hand

Woa oh - Lord I don't want to be their fool no more
I don't want to be their fool no more
Open eyes but you're sleepin
You best wake up 'fore tomorrow comes CREEPIN in
'fore tomorrow comes CREEPIN in

Feel that our lives are in the hands of fools
Loosin their cool - it's us that they rule
Too many people sittin dead on their ass
They aint got no class people this time must pass

Woa oh - Lord I don't want to be their fool no more
Heeeeey, I don't want to be their fool no more
Open eyes but you're sleepin
You best wake up 'fore tomorrow comes CREEPIN in
'fore tomorrow comes CREEPIN in

Woah ooooooohh - yeah tomorrow comes CREEPIN'

Ooooooh hear me cryin 'cause the people like me
That long to be free are not actually
Please everybody won't you hear this song
Help a country that's wrong to someday be strong

Woa oh - Lord, I don't want to be their fool no more
No! Lord, I don't want to be their fool no more
Open eyes but you're sleepin
You best wake up 'fore tomorrow comes CREEPIN
CREEPIN'...
(tomorrow comes CREEPIN' on...)

[tick!]

Woooooooowie!

another bold human endeavour... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708637)

...squeezed out of the people's hands with constant political bickering, penny-pinching and forced contracting-out so they seem "inefficient"... ...then handed over to a few short-sighted profiteers to wither on the vine.

About to happen to the NHS in the UK. Well done, you libertarian bastards, you've made life miserable for the average majority, and much more difficult than it need be for the more intelligent.

Oh well, at least there's the oceans. How about a journey to the centre of the earth? That's the ultimate expression of being up our own arseholes, isn't it?

Why all the hype?! (1, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#39708655)

I glanced over the article... hoping to find some pictures.. didn't find any. Boring. Then I read some of the words. Someone was in there whining "the space station is moving faster than a bullet!!!" Yeah? So? It's orbital space. That's how it works and speed is "relative." That's why it's not such a big deal to negotiate an exit from a freeway moving at 70MPH... the other cars are moving at that speed too! I'm not saying that docking to something in orbital space is child's play, but to talk about the station's speed relative to the earth is ridiculous and irrelevant. Only two things seem relevant to me. The first is the speed of the two objects relative to each other. The second is the possibility of space junk getting in the way.

All this stuff is interesting but it's not rocket science... well... okay, so it IS rocket science... but rocket science is not so new and awesome any more you know?

Re:Why all the hype?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708721)

Here is an article with pictures. http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/04/frr-sets-april-30-dragons-first-flight-fully-prepared-iss/

Re:Why all the hype?! (1)

joh (27088) | about 2 years ago | (#39708833)

I'm not saying that docking to something in orbital space is child's play, but to talk about the station's speed relative to the earth is ridiculous and irrelevant. Only two things seem relevant to me. The first is the speed of the two objects relative to each other. The second is the possibility of space junk getting in the way.

All this stuff is interesting but it's not rocket science... well... okay, so it IS rocket science... but rocket science is not so new and awesome any more you know?

Those two objects are not just moving in a straight line, they're in a orbit. This means the one object moving faster than the other (to close up to it) can't be and won't be in the same orbit as the other object. Getting one object near enough to another with no or very little relative motion between them (rendezvous) requires some totally non-intuitive ways of maneuvering.

Not that this is the hard thing about that mission. What SpaceX did here is building a launcher and a spacecraft to get into orbit and back again. *That* was hard.

Re:Why all the hype?! (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | about 2 years ago | (#39708877)

I've been saying it for a while now.. rocket science is easy. It, and the associated orbital mechanics, are governed by a relatively small handful of equations, and most problems have been solved already. Rocket engineering, on the other hand, is still a very tricky and complicated business.

if we can put a man on the moon, why can't we... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 2 years ago | (#39710015)

After all, it's not brain surgery. Or quantum mechanics. Or fusion power plant engineering....

Re:Why all the hype?! (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 2 years ago | (#39708983)

rocket science is not so new and awesome any more you know

...just (still) ridiculously expensive, and getting moreso with ever increasing legalities and lack of trust in government and companies (increased political instability and lack of shareholder confidence).

the risk of significant R&D investment by any company far outweighs the benefits. its much cheaper to ripoff little innovators who can't defend their IP rights.

if courthouses were only allowed to be in space, we would have a huge space transportation industry funded by big corporate clients of greedy lawyers

Re:Why all the hype?! (1)

OwMyBrain (1476929) | about 2 years ago | (#39709101)

... but rocket science is not so new and awesome any more you know?

Maybe not so new. Still awesome though.

Re:Why all the hype?! (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about 2 years ago | (#39709381)

Hang on a second...First you're mad that the article didn't have any pictures and was just full of words. Now you're mad that those words aren't complicated enough? At war with your inner child perhaps?

Future progression... (3, Interesting)

Covalent (1001277) | about 2 years ago | (#39708827)

Orbital flight is great. So is docking with the ISS.

But my hope is that the future of private space is a private space station that does what a space station really should: Serve as an rotating orbital way station (e.g. see 2001). If you store fuel there, NASA can purchase fuel for fast-track missions to Mars, Europa, whatever. Let SpaceX raise money via space tourism and charging for the fuel. People can LIVE there (artificial gravity eliminates many problems) and train for Lunar or Martian missions there (closer to the rotating hub there are natural low-gravity zones). People can also increase their gravity on the return trip from these missions so as to be able to return to earth.

This would make the space station a usable thing for MANY missions, not just an extremely expensive orbital platform. It would also facilitate our permanent colonization of other worlds. And (best part) it can be done with existing tech.

Re:Future progression... (1)

damburger (981828) | about 2 years ago | (#39710087)

I really don't see how spinning round an enormous space station (radius has to be on order 100s of metres for the occupants not to get sick from the rotation) where much of the mass is given over to providing one of the very conditions you go to space to escape will facilitate interplanetary space travel. It certainly won't facilitate easy fuel transfers. If you think it will, ask someone to do donuts in your car whilst you try to fill it up with petrol.

Re:Future progression... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39710415)

That's because you're talking with a Space Nutter. There's nothing rational about what they propose. They just think space is some kind of giant Wal Mart filled with resources waiting to be plundered, instead of the deadly, hostile, huge vacuum it really is. Any sci-fi they read is the equivalent of fully thought-out realistic engineering.

I rarely ever reply to ACs...but for this idiot... (2, Insightful)

Covalent (1001277) | about 2 years ago | (#39711403)

That's because you're talking with a Space Nutter. There's nothing rational about what they propose. They just think space is some kind of giant Wal Mart filled with resources waiting to be plundered, instead of the deadly, hostile, huge vacuum it really is. Any sci-fi they read is the equivalent of fully thought-out realistic engineering.

I'll make an exception.

I'm a physicist, so I'm willing to bet I know more than you do about this topic. I'm familiar with the idea that space is, in fact, a deadly, hostile vacuum. But I'm also familiar with the fact that lack of gravity is, at least currently, horribly detrimental to human health. If we are going to exist in space long term, we need gravity.

The beauty of a rotating station is that the hub has zero centripetal acceleration. I'll simplify that for you: THE MIDDLE DOESN'T SPIN. That means that you can do all kinds of great zero-g research in the middle and also do your fuel transfers and other "easier in zero g" things there. And on the rim you can do all of the other valuable things I mentioned previously.

Now go back to your Jersey Shore and your Lite Beer and leave this conversation to people who know of what they speak.

Re:Future progression... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39711915)

Of course, it's obvious we'll never get off this rock. The Aether doesn't allow it.

sad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39709455)

What I don't understand is why did BO kill off NASA? Why do we keep rewarding sloth and welfare losers who refuse to work? We should take that money and do something useful with it instead of wasting it on people who wont work. I know this site hates profits and the man and banksters blah blah blah, but come one comrades. I know you all hate capitalism, but you only do because you can't compete in the real world and capitalism was kicking everyone's a$$. Lets go back to space and stop rewarding sloth my red friends.

Re:sad (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 2 years ago | (#39709849)

Umm... Not into history much, eh? Nail in coffin might have been Obama, but NASA's manned space flight mission was killed by W with the 2006 budget cuts (exacerbated by congress).

Reality check (5, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | about 2 years ago | (#39709997)

A little perspective is needed here.

SpaceX is doing something that the US managed during the Gemini program, the USSR perfected in the 1970's with the Salyut stations, and the Chinese have just done. The first two of those national programs did so without any help or prior knowledge to draw on, and the Chinese had less help from the Russians than is commonly acknowledged.

SpaceX has had their hand held every step of the way by NASA, and have benefitted greatly from NASAs expertise, experience and technology - as have all commercial space launch companies in the US. The people running these companies freely admit this, but the libertarian fanboys simply refuse to, and demand NASA "get out of the way". This is like a teenage, entirely dependent on his parents income to live, demanding they "get out of the way" of his life.

Secondly, the "commercial" label is quite a stretch. These companies are offering a service that is almost exclusively used by a government agency (the very one that fanboys want to die right now quickly please) - they are not catering to a market. The artificial generation of demand that they are exploiting is pure Keynesian. No wonder the space libertarian crowd don't want to talk about this aspect of it.

It is nice that the US is working towards a Shuttle replacement, regardless of how it achieves this - but it is wrong to take this as a sign of the Ultimate Capitalist Triumph In Space, or as a cue to tear apart NASA in the name of ideology.

The reality at present is this; you can support the Libertarian Party, Ron Paul, and any other markets-above-all nuts - OR you can support the continued presence of the US in space. You cannot do both, at least not honestly.

Re:Reality check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39710805)

THANK YOU. It is refreshing, and quite reassuring, to read a mature, rational and reasonable post in a space thread. Now just wait to see how quickly the Space Nutters start howling and crying and hurling insults.

Re:Reality check (2)

Penty (3722) | about 2 years ago | (#39711251)

SpaceX has over 40 booked launches for the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, that qualifies for commercial in my books. It's one of the reasons they are looking for an additional launch site.

Re:Reality check (1)

damburger (981828) | about 2 years ago | (#39711407)

We are talking about manned spaceflight. I am well aware that SpaceX has attracted commercial clients for satellite launches; that you can make money putting communication satellites up is not news.

But their flagship program, the one that is being discussed here and touted as evidence that the glorious Invisible Hand will take us all to the stars, is what I am saying is completely dependent on NASA, and I'm, right.

Furthermore, the development of SpaceX launch technology, whilst commercial in its operation, would have been far more difficult or impossible without technological inheritance from NASA (e.g. pintle injector) and their support and facilities (remember where the first Falcon 9 was launched from...)

SpaceX is just an engineering company. They are a pretty decent one, so far. The fanboys (with a little subtle encouragement from Musk himself, unfortunately) are blowing them up to be a lot more than they are, and claiming that their Final Ideological Victory is at hand. It simply is not.

Re:Reality check (1)

Penty (3722) | about 2 years ago | (#39712327)

And your point is? Elon Musk has never been shy about the help they got from NASA and all the pioneers that went before. Since SpaceX is selling launches they are now more than "just" an engineering company. If all they were doing was NASA related activities I'd agree with you; but that is not all they are doing.

If you are looking for big dreams Mr. Musk's stated goal is to retire on Mars. You can't get much bigger than that.

Re:Reality check (0)

damburger (981828) | about 2 years ago | (#39712523)

My point is, it isn't likely. More likely is a successful but unremarkable existence as a LEO launch service provider.

Launching satellites, and even manned spacecraft, IS just engineering. That is not meant in a dismissive way, by the way. I just object to the ideological spin (only a fraction of which emanates from Musk himself.

Re:Reality check (2)

Penty (3722) | about 2 years ago | (#39712747)

An engineering company would not be gearing up for volume production of their primary product. They would be shopping around trying to sell their design after having proven it.

Re:Reality check (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 2 years ago | (#39714111)

The definition of "just engineering" depends on what the goal of engineering is. Musk's stated goal with SpaceX is to make life multi-planetary, and he has identified the most crucial enabler of that goal as rockets that are rapidly and completely reusable (IOW, what the shuttle was supposed to be). They are already selling launches (Falcon Heavy) for less than $1000/lb to LEO, but the big break will come when they crack the reusability barrier. That will open up a whole new range of possibilities and markets.

This may be "just" an engineering problem, but the ramifications are huge.

Re:Reality check (0)

Bigby (659157) | about 2 years ago | (#39712715)

As a libertarian-leaning person myself, you are right on so many levels. SpaceX is entering into a heavily subsidized field. But the jury is still out on what they do after get through the POC. That will be new ground.

Will the "international government" allow for colonization on the moon? Mars? If they do these and issue Moon/Mars property rights, they could actually create quite a tourism market. Rich people would spend oodles of money on a day or two luxury vacation on the Moon.

But until the concept of "new markets" isn't in the equation, it will be a Keynesian drain on the government. We'll dig ditches just to fill them back up.

PS: I don't like the idea of drilling the moon; I don't want mass transported from the Moon to Earth and have the orbit get screwed up and send the Moon crashing into Earth. I think it is best to just avoid that temptation.

Why all the docking hyperbole? (1)

BMOC (2478408) | about 2 years ago | (#39710945)

Why do people in spaceflight always resort to hyperbole when describing docking maneuvers? Example from this article:

Then there is the complicated matter of latching on to the space station, which Musk described as moving faster than a speeding bullet. "I think it is important to appreciate that this is pretty tricky," Musk told reporters. "The public out there, they may not realize that the space station is zooming around the Earth every 90 minutes, and it is going 17,000 miles (27,000 kilometers) an hour," he added. "So you have got to launch up there and you've got to rendezvous and be backing into the space station within inches really, and this is something that is going 12 times faster than the bullet from an assault rifle. So it's hard."

But... your RELATIVE velocity is something that is tightly controlled, and during final docking maneuvers on the order of millimeters per second. So exactly what is so tricky? Yes you're moving extremely fast relative to the earths surface, who cares when that surface is 300 miles away? There isn't even any atmosphere to affect your relative position/velocity.

If this maneuver were indeed so difficult, why has there never been a major docking incident in orbit? We can't get computers to drive autonomously on earth, but we can program computers to automatically dock with the space station, that tells me it's EASIER than driving. I would wager that any navy pilots who turned shuttle pilots would say that carrier landings at night or in-flight refueling operations are far trickier than docking with the ISS.

Re:Why all the docking hyperbole? (1)

BMOC (2478408) | about 2 years ago | (#39711353)

oops, I forgot about the mir re-supply crash. But IIRC, that crash was during a manual docking from the station due to some other complications.

attention haters: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39714263)

Elon Musk's track record speaks fro itself:

Failed Tesla electric car venture, trying to bamboozle the brain dead with high price and no range.

60% failure rate of Falcon-1 launch vehicle to-date.Falcon 1 [wikipedia.org]

So before you trolls open you ignorant mouths, have a look at Tesla/SpaceX track records before you start condemning SpaceX Dragon.

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