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Dream Chaser Damaged In Landing Accident At Edwards AFB

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the any-landing-you-can-walk-away-from dept.

Space 73

RocketAcademy writes "The test article for Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft suffered a landing accident on Saturday when the left main landing gear failed to deploy, causing the vehicle to flip over. NBC News quotes a Sierra Nevada engineer saying that the pilot would have walked away. Sierra Nevada Corporation is developing the Dream Chaser to support the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo program. It is not yet known what effect the mishap will have on Dream Chaser development. A number of rocket vehicles have suffered landing-gear mishaps in the recent past. Several years ago, concerns over spacecraft gear design led to a call for NASA to fund a technology prize for robust, light-weight landing gear concepts."

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Sierra Nevada (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257281)

I always liked their "Celebration" Christmas ale and "Bigfoot" barley wine, and their pale ale is frequently the only decent choice at less reputable establishments. I had no idea they made spacecraft too.

Re:Sierra Nevada (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257423)

They do, but their craft space vehicles are a little hoppy for me.

Re:Sierra Nevada (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about a year ago | (#45259109)

*golf clap*

Re:Sierra Nevada (2)

GungaDan (195739) | about a year ago | (#45259197)

Dude, can it with the jokes. This thing barley survived its landing.

Too much? Want more? I've got a tun of them.

Dream Chaser or Death Chaser? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257287)

I'd prefer to return from space alive thankyou very much.

Would have walked away? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257307)

NBC News quotes a Sierra Nevada engineer saying that the pilot would have walked away.

But according to the article there were no injuries. So the pilot would have walked away except for what? That the pilot is a paraplegic? Great reporting there, Lou.

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about a year ago | (#45257325)

Would the passengers also survived? Key question.

Re:Would have walked away? (4, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#45257505)

Would the passengers also survived? Key question.

Have passengers survived crashes when landing systems didn't work properly with commercial aviation vehicles? In this regard, it is absolutely no different. Furthermore, the part that failed was something that was a standard part for military jet aircraft and would have failed with a similar landing situation (in terms of landing speed and weight of the aircraft) and would have similarly put the pilot and passengers in danger. Besides, if you RTFA you would have seen that Sierra Nevada is planning on replacing that landing sub-assembly with another landing system anyway. All this mishap has done is speed up that replacement.

What failed is already FAA certified and in fact this accident is likely going to force a grounding of other aircraft which use this same landing system. If anything, this engineering test might even save a few lives, which is sort of the point of doing engineering tests like this. Usually you learn far more with failures than you do if it is a flawless success. Because it was an engineering test, it would never have had passengers in the first place so your question is also moot. That is like asking if the engineering tests of the Boeing 777 were ever intended to have passengers?

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year ago | (#45257543)

the part that failed was something that was a standard part for military jet aircraft

and...

What failed is already FAA certified and in fact this accident is likely going to force a grounding of other aircraft which use this same landing system. If anything, this engineering test might even save a few lives, which is sort of the point of doing engineering tests like this.

you'd have thought they'd have done engineering tests on the thing before giving it the certification first time around..... :-)

I think a more pertinent question is - why did it fail this time, not whether the part is just generally deficient mas is the implication if they'll ground all aircraft that use it (do they ground military aircraft like they do commercial ones?).

TFA says that it failed to deploy, which suggests there is nothing wrong with it as landing gear anyway, so it had nothing to do with weight and speed of the aircraft.

Re:Would have walked away? (2)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#45257705)

you'd have thought they'd have done engineering tests on the thing before giving it the certification first time around..... :-)

What makes you think they didn't do engineering tests on the part prior to the flight? As I pointed out, it was a part used on other aircraft, which is where the certification came from in the first place. That means engineering data is available from not just engineering tests but also repair logs of numerous aircraft that have this part installed and thousands of hours of flight history to back it up. No doubt that engineering data is going to be used in the accident review.

I think a more pertinent question is - why did it fail this time, not whether the part is just generally deficient mas is the implication if they'll ground all aircraft that use it (do they ground military aircraft like they do commercial ones?).

TFA says that it failed to deploy, which suggests there is nothing wrong with it as landing gear anyway, so it had nothing to do with weight and speed of the aircraft.

Yes, military aircraft are grounded if there is a significant part failure like this. That implies that an engineering review of what caused the part failure will happen by the manufacturer and/or the military command which uses those aircraft. It may simply be having an engineer look at the data and say that the circumstances of this failure don't apply in the other aircraft and the engineer signs off for continued operations or that a more comprehensive fix needs to be applied. This is something that routinely happens in aviation all of the time, so it isn't exactly something new.

BTW, I wouldn't really infer anything from the scanty information presented in this article as it certainly isn't an engineering report but instead a mass consumer news publication. I'm somewhat familiar with FAA engineering protocols which is why I suggest that an engineering review of what caused the part failure (and a failure to deploy is a part failure) will most certainly happen.

Re:Would have walked away? (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#45259845)

do they ground military aircraft like they do commercial ones?

Yes, when I was in the USAF they often grounded whole fleets. The C5As were out of service for a few months after a piece of equipment used to service the tail fell over and killed a guy. Unlike civilian planes, when military planes get grounded it seldom makes the news.

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year ago | (#45259023)

I still think that "the pilot would have walked away" is the wrong thing to say. It is the kind of thing that NASA management used to say about the regular, everyday *failures* that eventually caused the destruction of the Challenger, and later the Columbia.

Don't say the pilot would have walked away. Say, "Good thing we didn't have a pilot on board this time, he *could* have been killed" which is also true, because once you have a failure and an unplanned event, lots of other things can go haywire as well.

Say, "What failed, why did it fail, and how does this affect other aircraft with the same landing system?" PM the entire event, reinspect *everything* -- you don't know what else may have been damaged -- and especially reinspect *and also replace* the other landing gear that didn't fail.
   

Re:Would have walked away? (2)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#45260465)

Everything you say is going to happen with an engineering review of the accident. Even though this was a civilian flight test (or rather even more so because it was civilian and not military), the FAA is going to be all over this and treat it just like an accident investigation like any other flying mishap. It certainly is going to be a major point of review on granting any flight worthiness certificate on this vehicle and any attempt to whitewash this incident during that review process is going to have the engineers involved treated like a bunch of idiots who need to go back to college if they don't have answers to every one of your questions.

What happened with NASA in regards to the Space Shuttle is that the inspectors who should have had the authority to prevent those launches had elected and appointed politicians over them who overrode their decision making authority and demanded that the vehicles were launched in spite of very legitimate engineering concerns. The causes of both "loss of vehicle" events of the shuttle were well known before either of those launches took place, and there were formal engineering reports demanding a grounding of the shuttle fleet until those problems were fixed. Hell, the fiasco which destroyed the Columbia was known about even with STS-1 (aka the very first flight of the Shuttle).

In this case, Sierra Nevada is not even remotely powerful enough in term of lobbying power nor has the Dream Chaser the huge political necessity to fly like the Shuttle to get such kind of games to be played. This is also one of the reasons why programs like this need to be done, as there are at least four manned spaceflight vehicles under development (five if you include Orion) which each have their own flight histories, engineering teams, and certification reviews. If one of those vehicles is grounded due to some significant engineering problem that could endanger the crew, passengers, or the uninvolved public (aka having the vehicle or a part of it land on somebody's house and kill somebody on the ground), it won't stop crewed spaceflight from happening. That unfortunately did happen with the Shuttle, but even more unfortunately seven people needed to die each time those engineering reviews finally happened. The Space Shuttle would never have been given an air/space worthiness certificate if it had to go through current FAA-AST regulations.

Re: Would have walked away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45271881)

Funny, the private industry places I've worked had the same problems due to profiteering owners/managers. They'd also undermine the inspectors, falsify records and tests, and override quality. One might ask why not blow a whistle, but we (a) destroy the whistleblowers, (b) ignore the evidence, and (c) permit the abuses to continue. Thus, in the words of Clinton, there is ne controlling authority. Whistleblowing is impossible. Been there, done that, built my own gallows, swung on it. It isn't just politics; it's corruption in general. Welcome to the neonazi^H^H^H^
Hliberal world.

Re:Would have walked away? (5, Insightful)

pe1rxq (141710) | about a year ago | (#45257339)

RTFA, the reporting is fine, you are doing a lousy job at reading.

It was unmanned... that is why there are no injuries.
The damage was such that if a pilot had been in there he would have been able to walk away.

Re:Would have walked away? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257529)

The article says "a pilot would have walked away", and the Slashdot summary says "the pilot would have walked away". The later implies a pilot existed.

I realize the finer points of English are difficult for internet flamers like you. But please try harder.

Captcha: Murders (kinda what you do to civility on the internet).

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about a year ago | (#45257811)

The article says "a pilot would have walked away", and the Slashdot summary says "the pilot would have walked away". The later implies a pilot existed.

I realize the finer points of English are difficult for internet flamers like you. But please try harder.

Well, the discrepancy may be because the DreamChaser is intended to have only one on-board pilot; it's pretty small. "A pilot" suggests there might be more than one, but only one would walk away. "The pilot" suggests there would only be one, and he would walk away. I agree, though, that it should've first been made clear that the flight was unmanned.

And also, as even the man in the street knows, you can use the definite article for hypotheticals sometimes.

(Also, I think you meant "latter," not "later.")

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257933)

Ah yes, the finer points of English, such as the meaning of "would have".

Re:Would have walked away? (2)

chihowa (366380) | about a year ago | (#45258129)

"The pilot would have walked away, if the flight were not unmanned."

vs

"The pilot would have walked away, if his legs hadn't been replaced with wheels as a child."

"Would have" was used appropriately in both sentences, yet the meanings of them are drastically different. Use if the definite article "the", without establishing which specific pilot we're talking about (the one who flew the test or a hypothetical pilot), is not proper English. English has an indefinite article, "a", which would have made the sentence much clearer. Using the indefinite article: "A pilot would have walked away," strongly implies that there was no pilot onboard and that we're referring to a hypothetical pilot.

God schmod, I want my BIONIC MAN! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year ago | (#45258937)

"The pilot would have walked away, but he was too drunk to stand".
Oh wait, this isn't Russia.

If this was an American pilot, obviously he was just too lazy to walk away and had to wait until they winched him out of the cockpit and lowered him onto his Little Rascal XXL.


yeah, yeah, /. summary is the suck, RTFA, vehicle was unmanned. Man, way to ruin 10E5 cheap jokes.

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about a year ago | (#45257665)

Before I RTFA I too thought that a pilot was injured or killed. It should have been noted that the flight was unmanned or autonomous.

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year ago | (#45257871)

I agree - the summary could have been much clearer had a single word been included...

"The unmanned test article for Sierra Nevada's ..."

or

"... causing the unmanned vehicle to flip over."

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#45258149)

RTFA, the reporting is fine, you are doing a lousy job at reading.

The summary is lousy for not including the information that the flight was unmanned, especially given the "would have walked away" quote. Reading the article is supposed to be an option if you want more detail, not to clear up the ambiguity of a bad summary.

Re:Would have walked away? (2)

freeze128 (544774) | about a year ago | (#45258361)

The damage was such that if a pilot had been in there he would have been able to walk away.

Yes, but the craft flipped over, so he would have spilled his beer.

Slashdot editing (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#45258909)

At least they didn't say "There were no survivors".

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about a year ago | (#45257441)

Doh a test flight no pilot.

Re:Would have walked away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257707)

But according to the article there were no injuries. So the pilot would have walked away except for what? That the pilot is a paraplegic? Great reporting there, Lou.

They meant, "Had there been a pilot, he or she would have walked away."

Great reading comprehension there, AC.

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#45258247)

But according to the article there were no injuries. So the pilot would have walked away except for what? That the pilot is a paraplegic?

For you, the only reason for not walking away is being a paraplegic? What about "The pilot would have walked away, but he was carried on the shoulders of the grateful passengers to a waiting limousine. 'All through the ordeal, all I could think about was that scene at the beginning of The Six Million Dollar Man [youtube.com] where a similar craft crashes' said one of the survivors. 'The fact that our pilot was able to hold it together, and get us safely down... well, he's a hero in my eyes.'"?

Re:Would have walked away? (3, Funny)

XNormal (8617) | about a year ago | (#45258483)

And if he doesn't, well, we can rebuild him. [youtube.com]

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year ago | (#45260345)

But according to the article there were no injuries. So the pilot would have walked away except for what? That the pilot is a paraplegic?

No, he would have walked away, but he was killed in the accident.

Re:Would have walked away? (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#45270051)

So the pilot would have walked away except for what? That the pilot is a paraplegic?

Or it crashed in a swamp and the alligators ate him.

This is Slashdot. The details will be made clear in subsequent duplicates of this post.

biznat3h (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257379)

What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257385)

With a crappy economy, record debts to China, and collapsing income, why is the US wasting its time with these boondoggles? At least in two months, the nation will be back on Cruz control and perhaps focusing on its priorities when it runs out of cash to pay its bills yet again.

The ISS should be a private venture, as it gives no returns whatsoever.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (5, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#45257419)

The ISS should be a private venture, as it gives no returns whatsoever.

So in other words, it shouldn't exist at all. What private company is going to embark on an endeavor with "no returns whatsoever"?

Of course, you're only talking about monetary returns. In terms of scientific value, the ISS experiments and observations have been some of the most productive projects in recent years.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257675)

Don't ever forget that pretty pictures from space, the ISS and other Things That NASA Does are just about the only way to really get the public engaged in science. It's that public engagement that means *public* science gets funded.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

stiggle (649614) | about a year ago | (#45257725)

They're also pushing the length of time humans can remain in micro-gravity which is needed for a trip out of near-earth orbit to other bodies. So yeah, the ISS doesn't produce anything immediately evident, but they do improve our general understanding of space travel and improve international co-operation on further goals in space exploration.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year ago | (#45258139)

Of course, you're only talking about monetary returns. In terms of scientific value, the ISS experiments and observations have been some of the most productive projects in recent years.

How many of those experiments needed to be performed on the ISS. The complaint isn't with experiments in space, it is with the ISS. There is no reason that you can't launch a satellite, have an unmanned experiment performed, and then de-orbit the satellite.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#45258471)

Well, since one of those observations is "what happens to humans in microgravity under these conditions?", an orbital vessel of significant size and duration is necessary. Once you have that, it's cheaper to load experiments into that than to build separate launch vehicles and try to automate it all. The humans need to do something to occupy their time.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#45260013)

Except you're then in a circular argument: the purpose of having humans in space is to study humans in space. Why is that important enough to spend $100,000,000,000+ on over the last few decades?

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#45260497)

The purpose of having humans in space is to be able to study humans in space. The purpose of studying humans in space is to better understand the human body and its processes, which has already led to advances in medicine, especially in the areas of degenerative conditions like osteoporosis and atrophy. The purpose of seeking better medical treatment for such conditions is to improve the longevity and comfort of all mankind.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year ago | (#45260811)

The purpose of having humans in space is to be able to study humans in space. The purpose of studying humans in space is to better understand the human body and its processes, which has already led to advances in medicine, especially in the areas of degenerative conditions like osteoporosis and atrophy. The purpose of seeking better medical treatment for such conditions is to improve the longevity and comfort of all mankind.

Citations? This is a LOT of spending to justify it primarily based on its impact to some gains in osteoporosis and atrophy. That research would have to have a HUGE impact on quality of life for the elderly to support a $150B investment, plus the ongoing costs to maintain it. I'm not an expert on those conditions, but I'm not aware of any big breakthroughs that have really had an impact on the treatment of these conditions.

I don't think this was really the reason for building the ISS. It was more about giving scientists in the former USSR something to do besides building ICBMs for countries like North Korea. The science was more of an after-the-fact whitewash.

If you're going to build a $150E9 space station, I agree that you might as well get use out of it. However, longer-term I'm not sure that keeping people in space is really the right solution. At least, not in this particular way. I'm all for even more permanent settlements in space, but I think before we do that there are a lot of fundamental technologies that need to be perfected down on the ground. Everything short of microgravity can be studied more effectively on Earth. Let's get better rockets, self-contained life-support systems, terraforming, etc all worked out in lab environments. Then once we know what we're doing we can think about putting them in orbit.

If you can build self-contained settlements that require nothing but solar power to operate and maybe the very rare resupply (ie it grows its own food and creates its own O2), that would go a long way towards making life better on Earth, and it will make maintaining a space station much cheaper.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#45261467)

Citations? This is a LOT of spending to justify it primarily based on its impact to some gains in osteoporosis and atrophy.

There's a lot [nasa.gov] more research than that. Those are just two off the top of my head.

...a $150B investment, plus the ongoing costs to maintain it.

Check your numbers. The $150B figure is the high estimate for the total cost so far, including the initial investment, maintenance, and operations, a significant portion of which was paid by private companies and other countries. NASA's actual budget is under $3 billion annually.

I'm not an expert on those conditions, but I'm not aware of any big breakthroughs that have really had an impact on the treatment of these conditions.

And you'll never be aware of any such thing, because that's not how medical research works. We don't just venture forth on a grand adventure and return from parts unknown with a cure for disease. Instead, we'll find, for example, that increasing a particular enzyme will slow the otherwise-quickened progression of osteoporosis in microgravity. That narrows further research in mechanisms that remove calcium, hastening the development of treatments. No, you're not going to see the headline "ISS cures osteoporosis", but somewhere in a research paper, you might see a reference to an experiment mentioning an osteoporosis-promoting environment.

I don't think this was really the reason for building the ISS. It was more about giving scientists in the former USSR something to do besides building ICBMs for countries like North Korea. The science was more of an after-the-fact whitewash.

False dichotomy. There's no reason they couldn't be building missiles now, too, and no real evidence they would be without the ISS. Nice conspiracy theory, though.

Everything short of microgravity can be studied more effectively on Earth. Let's get better rockets, self-contained life-support systems, terraforming, etc all worked out in lab environments.

...but none of that matters once you get into hard vacuum and high radiation. Sure, your rockets and life-support might work fine here, but once you're in microgravity for, say, the several-month-long trip to Mars, you're going to have to deal with debris, dust, and all those long-term biological effects currently being studied on the ISS. Your plan still requires a $150B expense, but you just push it off a few decades, delaying our ultimate interplanetary voyage.

If you can build self-contained settlements that require nothing but solar power to operate and maybe the very rare resupply (ie it grows its own food and creates its own O2), that would go a long way towards making life better on Earth, and it will make maintaining a space station much cheaper.

Yeah, we did that [b2science.org] . Turns out it's also expensive, error-prone, and doesn't yield nearly as much scientific results. Then there's still the whole gravity thing to deal with, and a self-contained habitat with our current technology is really big.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about a year ago | (#45269113)

There's a lot [nasa.gov] more research than that. Those are just two off the top of my head.

That is a list of all of NASA publications, not just ones that necessitated putting humans in microgravity for long durations, which is the only mission that can only be performed on something like the ISS.

And you'll never be aware of any such thing, because that's not how medical research works.

Having a degree that qualifies me to perform medical research and being employed by a company that performs medical research, I do understand the nature of basic research.

That's why I'm skeptical of such claims. Rarely are advances like this made by ad-hoc experiments on a few subjects in a space station.

I don't think this was really the reason for building the ISS. It was more about giving scientists in the former USSR something to do besides building ICBMs for countries like North Korea. The science was more of an after-the-fact whitewash.

False dichotomy. There's no reason they couldn't be building missiles now, too, and no real evidence they would be without the ISS. Nice conspiracy theory, though.

I'm not saying that it worked. I'm saying that this was the main reason for it. That and just promoting US-Russian cooperation at a time when this was politically important. The US has never launched a manned mission primarily to accomplish science. It was about international acclaim and such back in the 60s, and other political concerns more recently. That's why the manned space program is slowly falling apart today - no political will to keep it going. The science needs haven't changed a bit, but they were never the driver.

...but none of that matters once you get into hard vacuum and high radiation. Sure, your rockets and life-support might work fine here, but once you're in microgravity for, say, the several-month-long trip to Mars, you're going to have to deal with debris, dust, and all those long-term biological effects currently being studied on the ISS. Your plan still requires a $150B expense, but you just push it off a few decades, delaying our ultimate interplanetary voyage.

An expense pushed off a few decades is a MUCH LOWER expense. Put $10B in the bank today and you have $150B in a few decades. It doesn't delay the ultimate voyage unless it is on the critical path. I've yet to see any evidence that human living in microgravity is the main factor delaying an interplanetary voyage. High radiation and space debris certainly is a factor, but I don't see how we're learning anything about dealing with those by sticking people in a can in LEO which is completely unlike interplanetary space in both regards. Besides, if you want to experiment on radiation and micrometeoroids, surely there are better ways to do the initial experiments than sticking humans in those conditions.

Yeah, we did that [b2science.org] . Turns out it's also expensive, error-prone, and doesn't yield nearly as much scientific results. Then there's still the whole gravity thing to deal with, and a self-contained habitat with our current technology is really big.

So, why not figure out how to actually make it work on the ground before trying to put it in space? If you think it is hard to do here, it is going to be REALLY hard to do up there.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't research technologies that will get us to other planets. I'm saying that we should put the money into solving the inexpensive problems before we try to put money into the expensive ones. The expensive ones will then become less expensive to study by the time we get to them. Most interplanetary travel research should be done on the ground, not in space. We don't put engineers on planes to design aircraft, and we don't need to put engineers in space to make a lot of progress on building spacecraft.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#45261983)

There are a lot of things that can/need to be worked out on the ground before creating permanent settlements in space, possibly the biggest being radiation protection outside of the Van Allen belts. But there is one thing which absolutely cannot be done on the ground, and that's figuring out what happens to mammals (and other critters, but that's going to be our highest priority) in microgravity. The type of person approved for space missions will not want to go on a trip that may leave them unable to return safely to Earth, so for now our few-month-long missions to the ISS are all we have. I do rather wish NASA would send up a permanent resident of some kind, maybe a guinea pig or other common lab animal with a well-studied biology (rats are probably too dangerous to let loose in a place with so much conduit). I think the PR flacks are too worried about what the PETA fanatics will say.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | about a year ago | (#45260947)

I think, as a taxpayer, I'd rather "waste" $100B+ over nearly 20 years than fritter away $1,484,318,908,882+ blowing people up in wars that started seven years later.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#45263573)

Of course, you're only talking about monetary returns. In terms of scientific value, the ISS experiments and observations have been some of the most productive projects in recent years.

Indeed, much of the scientific work will eventually be folded into commercial products that will in fact result in "monetary returns".

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (4, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#45257443)

With a crappy economy, record debts to China, and collapsing income, why is the US wasting its time with these boondoggles?

Because there is going to be a future to America, and at some time if you want to have a stronger economy you need to invest into technology development.

BTW, the Dream Chaser vehicle is a private venture. That some NASA funds (hence U.S. taxpayers footing the bill) may be used for its development, that isn't the only source of investment capital or even the largest source for that matter. The idea is that the Sierra Nevada Corporation is going to be using this spacecraft for both government contracts as well as private commercial spaceflight... presumably space tourism as well as launching "microsatellites" and other commercial enterprises in space. If the NASA funds were cut entirely, this vehicle development would continue.

There certainly is no reason to complain about private individuals wanting to dump money on spacecraft when many times this amount is being spent on lipstick and reality television programs. Seriously, this kind of complaining is sort of pointless and demonstrates incredible ignorance of what is even happening here.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257447)

"no returns" - I assume that means you don't buy the 'research into what it takes to do construction in space' idea as 'a return'. Given that, I'm guessing you are looking for ISS to turn a dollar profit... like all the other government programs that turn a profit? Lets see: IRS turns a profit (by "revenuing" money from your wallet), maybe the Patent Office (by taking in more in fees than it pays in salary)... what else?

And since your metric seems to be 'turn a dollar profit', you really mean that space exploration should be a private charity (i.e. hopeless but well meaning causes that nobody can figure out how to monetize) - because private businesses are in it to... yes, you guessed it... make a dollar profit.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (2)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about a year ago | (#45261977)

NASA can turn a profit too. All they need to do is start an impact avoidance program where they charge everyone a set fee to take steps to avoid crashing any space vehicles into their building on de-orbiting. Likewise the NSA can sell your info for profit on the black market, the military can rob banks in occupied countries, the forest service can chop down all their trees for lumber, and so on -- government becomes profitable, taxes disappear, everyone is happy.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (-1, Flamebait)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about a year ago | (#45257467)

I would rather the country paid for test spacecraft which will not provide an immediate return but may provide a return in thirty years; then pay for obamaphones so that "baby mamas" can call the future "baby dads".

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257553)

Oh please, don't be fucking absurd. There's no way in hell they know who the dads are.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257653)

Mod this up please.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#45258157)

'then'?

You're awesome.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45259767)

'then'?

Your awesome.

FTFY.

Re:What a waste of taxpayer dollars... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about a year ago | (#45257991)

I'm curious as to what your normal reading matter is, that "Cruz" jumped to your fingertips before "cruise".

Walked away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257481)

1- Open Window
2- Jump out of it
3- put glasses and walk away as the aircraft tumbles into a huge explosion in the background
4-???
5-Holywood

Re:Walked away (4, Funny)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#45257517)

Jebediah Kerman does this on a daily basis.

Shitty Blog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257513)

"Citizens in Space"? What a shitty blog. The bottom half of the article is all self-important bullshit. The centennial challenge pot isn't empty. In fact, it was specifically appropriated in a way that doesn't follow the standard "fiscal year" money so that it doesn't expire. None of the centennial challenges have been awarded to a pre-determined winner, much less a politically chosen one, and NASA doesn't want to do it because they don't get to "tax" the pot, so it's merely a cost to NASA; the personnel have to be paid for out of hide, instead of taking a portion off the project like most allocated funds. What a crock of bullshit.

NASA has several Centennial Challenges [nasa.gov] , including their UAS Challenge [nasa.gov] , so see if you really are smarter than Northrop; you probably are.

Dream Chaser?!?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257559)

Gayest spacecraft name ever.

Re:Dream Chaser?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257861)

No, I think you'll find that the gayest spacecraft name ever belongs to Homoprobe 1, which was thrust deep into the bowels of the ass end of space.

Frost Pist.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257703)

departure5 0f [goat.cx]

We have the technology... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45257881)

This is progress. Back in the 70's, it would have cost SIX MILLION DOLLARS for the pilot to walk away from an accident like this.

Quote? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45259917)

Go through the links and you come to the COMMENT on http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n1310/26dreamchaser

Scott Southwell University of Utah
The pilot would have walked away.

Where oh where oh where does it say that the person is a "Sierra Nevada engineer?

Everytime I see the Dream Chaser I think of this (1)

glucoseboy (686200) | about a year ago | (#45260121)

more appropriate considering the crash. http://youtu.be/i5zn-mF2-_8 [youtu.be]

Re:Everytime I see the Dream Chaser I think of thi (1)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about a year ago | (#45260315)

"Flight Com, I can't hold her, she's breaking up, she's breaking u..."

"Would have walked away" (1)

Mitchblahman (3022943) | about a year ago | (#45260389)

"the pilot would have walked away" is worded terribly and unnervingly the actual article states "a 'pilot would have walked away'" which is written better, but still in an extremely confusing manner What they meant to say is that there was no pilot on the flight (as it was unmanned), but had there been, he or she would have walked away from the crash-landing.

Peter Pan. I'm captian of the Dream Chaser (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about a year ago | (#45260871)

~ Peter Pan. I'm captain of the Dream Chaser. Grumpy Bear here tells me you're lookin' for passage to the Narnia system.
~ Yes indeed, if it's a fast ship.
~ Fast ship? You've never heard of the Dream Chaser?
~ Should I have?
~ It's the ship that made the Emerald City Run in less than twelve cowznofskis. I've outrun Middle Kingdom dragons. Not the local luckdragons mind you, I'm talking about the big Morgoth-bred firedrakes now. She's fast enough for you old wizard.

.

Space is easy (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year ago | (#45261685)

Earth is rough.

But NASA doesn't like the approach that worked... (2)

dublin (31215) | about a year ago | (#45262003)

One of many innovative aspects of Burt Rutan's Spaceship One design was the design of the landing gear. Rutan's designs have a Bauhaus-like spareness to them - especially when pushing the envelope as in Spaceship One, his practice was to eliminate cost and weight by eliminating the complexity that drove them.

SSOne's landing gear is a perfect example - ordinary landing gear (such as used on the Shuttle) is heavy and complex, with lots of hydraulics to be able to deploy and retract, and even more large, heavy oleo strut stuff to absorb the impact of landing.

Rutan's insight here was typically brilliant: In flight, the landing gear never needed to retract, only deploy, and even that only once, reliably. The model became that of a switchblade knife: A powerful spring reliably forces the landing gear down to engage a locking catch. The comparatively spindly landing gear struts themselves are designed to be springy enough to absorb the expected landing impacts.

Of course, NASA can't bring itself to admire or declare acceptable what a "private cowboy" like Rutan has done, so they need to spend more money to figure out some other way, rather than adopt what's been shown to work quite well (at least for space vehicles that aren't obese, which is admittedly a foreign concept to NASA - the Shuttle was 20% overweight (!!), making it too heavy to launch Air Force satellites into polar orbit, one of the things that justified it in the first place!)

Re:But NASA doesn't like the approach that worked. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#45262469)

FYI:New Objectivity is not Bauhaus.

Re:But NASA doesn't like the approach that worked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45262833)

SSOne's landing gear is a perfect example - ordinary landing gear (such as used on the Shuttle) is heavy and complex, with lots of hydraulics to be able to deploy and retract, and even more large, heavy oleo strut stuff to absorb the impact of landing.

Could it be that Burt Rutan gained his insight from NASA who on the Space Shuttle Program back in the 1970s, realized that they didn't need to design a complex, heavy gear with lots of hydraulics for a gear that would only deploy once, and even that once, reliably?

The Space Shuttle gear can only be retracted during ground ops, with the addition of ground powered hydraulics. Deployed in flight below 500' AGL through a combination of gravity, springs, wind dynamic pressure, and residual hydraulic power
Space Shuttle Guide [spaceshuttleguide.com]

Re:But NASA doesn't like the approach that worked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45264635)

How about slowing descent some other way:

http://www.parachutehistory.com/space/iss.html

the pilot would ahve walked away.. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#45262427)

on brand new Bionic Legs!

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