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SpaceX Resupply Mission To Launch March 30

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the ready-to-go dept.

Space 48

An anonymous reader writes "Originally scheduled to launch on March 16, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will now launch March 30. From the article: 'Officials delayed launch from March 16 after engineers raised concerns that petroleum stains discovered on thermal blankets could contaminate sensitive components on a high-definition imaging camera and an optical communications experiment mounted inside the Dragon spacecraft's trunk. "After careful review and analysis, engineering teams representing both the ISS and SpaceX have determined Dragon is ready to fly 'as-is.' All parties agree that the particular constituents observed in Dragon's trunk are in line with the previously defined environments levels and do not impose additional risk to the payloads," SpaceX said in a statement.'"

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Faster please (5, Interesting)

sixoh1 (996418) | about 6 months ago | (#46564859)

Also per Rand Simberg and others, it appears that Space X is going to launch their 54-ton capable heavy launch vehicle THIS year - thats something like 6 years ahead of NASA's porkbarrel SLS.

Lets cross our fingers and hope that Elon's engine of creative destruction will blow up the market for government directed launch vehicle technology, and start using the Billions allocated for 1960s rocket technology for something like permanent cis-Lunar habitation, asteroid visits, and/or experimenting with off-planet manufacturing so we can start learning how to build and stay beyond LEO.

Re:Faster please (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 6 months ago | (#46565219)

Also per Rand Simberg and others, it appears that Space X is going to launch their 54-ton capable heavy launch vehicle THIS year

That's what they said last year. Rand, and other space bloggers, are very unreliable sources as their predictions are generally based on what they hope will happen and less on any form of concrete analysis. They live inside a fishbowl inside an echo chamber inside a reality distortion field.

Re:Faster please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46565247)

Space Nutter, then.

Re:Faster please (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 6 months ago | (#46568221)

Gwynne Shotwell already announced [thespaceshow.com] it won't launch until 1st quarter of next year at the earliest. I would take her word over Rand Simberg any day.

One of the big things that needs to happen with the Falcon Heavy is to complete the engine test stand in McGregor that will fire all 27 engines for a full mission burn simulation. There appears to be some construction going on that may get that to happen this summer, so I don't think this is something you can shrug off and suggest will never happen, but there certainly are some steps that must happen first before that launch goes off. The current hang-up doesn't appear to be getting engines built for other launches as the Hawthorn plant (from the same interview) is now producing about one full 9 engine rocket core each month, three of which are going to be used for the Falcon Heavy.

The lease on pad 39A at Cape Canaveral is also going to be used for the Falcon Heavy launch, but the upcoming flight is going to launch at Vandenberg instead for the initial test flight. Pad work on the Vandenberg launch site has been ongonig for a couple of years now in preparation for the Falcon Heavy. One of the problems with LC-40 is that the strongback lifter system is positioned in the wrong location to work with the Falcon Heavy in terms of having the flame trench positioned for all 27 engines properly and needs to be rotated 90 degrees, hence why the move for 39A. That is one of the things being worked on in Vandenberg.

I won't even touch the rest of the disparaging remarks you made here about SpaceX, but I will say that sometimes fans do get the best of themselves and are overly optimistic. I hope that is some actual analysis that shows some reasoning for some actual launch dates, and I'll even admit the launch could be pushed back another six months to another year even beyond next year. On the other hand, critical issues like getting the engines developed are already done and the other sub-systems are not really seen as significant critical path issues. The largest hang-up is the cross-feed system between the cores that may or may not even be fully implemented on the maiden flight.

Re:Faster please (4, Insightful)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 6 months ago | (#46565299)

Hear, hear! And if their test with landing legs [universetoday.com] succeeds, we might even be able to skip a few steps toward that goal. It's about time we stopped letting senators design rockets and hired actual rocket scientists to do that instead.

Re:Faster please (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 6 months ago | (#46565473)

To paraphrase.. "No bucks, no Buck Rodgers." Congress et. al. will never allow that to happen, it's too much fun playing with budgets and screwing things up in general.
   

Re:Faster please (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 6 months ago | (#46568359)

To paraphrase.. "No bucks, no Buck Rodgers." Congress et. al. will never allow that to happen, it's too much fun playing with budgets and screwing things up in general.

This is unusual even for Congress though. The excellent engineering firm known as the upper house of the American legislature went so far as to specify faring sizes, metallurgy requirements, engine thrust ISP numbers, and concrete mixes being used in the construction the manufacturing plants to make these parts. They really outdid themselves even for typical pork barrel projects to absolutely ensure that there was no possibility that any other contractor could have possibly met the RFP requirements. By the time the legislation was written, there wasn't anything left for the engineers to actually do other than supervision of the rocket construction itself.

It is almost as if the rocket was already designed even before the initial hearings on the proposal began. That wouldn't happen in America, would it?

Re:Faster please (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 6 months ago | (#46571207)

Nothing new. When the ASRM project was scoped by Congress over NASA's objections there were quite a few congressmen and senators who
thought they new what rocket science was. They even stipulated that the new ASRM motors had to be delivered by a barge to KSC to cut Thiokol out of
the bidding process altogether. It's how congress works and if they want to fuck with something or someone they'll figure out a way to do it.

Re:Faster please (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 6 months ago | (#46574283)

This is what you get when the contractors themselves write the RFP before the bid itself goes out. It is a form of corruption that IMHO should be illegal.

Sadly I've been involved with similar kinds of government contract manipulations... both being in the government agency handing out the money as well as being an engineer in the company trying to win the contract and "helping" to write the RFP before it is made public. I always needed to take a long shower after getting involved in one of these projects and hated every minute I was pushed into doing this kind of stuff, even if it may have benefited me and my family personally.

This is something that ordinary taxpayers should be made aware of though, and it is a failure of "the fourth estate", namely investigative journalism, that even permits this kind of crap happening in the first place. Then again so many people are caught up into the idea that you can have corruption that benefits you if you let me have corruption that benefits me that nobody wants to get rid of this corruption in the first place.

Re:Faster please (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 6 months ago | (#46575043)

Well you forget that while journalists and bloggers nowadays will generate outrage over a subject, if the retards in congress are doing well by their constituents' standards then they get re-elected, over 70% of the time. That why you have loons running the show either denying things like Harry Reid or playing fucking video poker games during important hearings like McCane. These idiots keep getting re-elected and because of the seniority reward system they get more authority to completely fuck things up. Honestly if you released a bunch of monkeys from the national zoo in congress, they'd do a much better job.

Re:Faster please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46565523)

Senators are too busy designing pork barrels to design rockets.

Re:Faster please (-1, Troll)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about 6 months ago | (#46565765)

Senators are too busy designing pork barrels to design rockets.

And NASA is too busy with "Muslim Outreach [space.com] " to bother with actual space missions.

Re:Faster please (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 6 months ago | (#46567733)

With their current budget that the closest to contact with alien life they are going to get.

Re:Faster please (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 6 months ago | (#46568717)

And NASA is too busy with "Muslim Outreach [space.com] " to bother with actual space missions.

That is so old of a comment that it isn't relevant anyway. Can you name any current "Muslim outreach" efforts?

Other than some space tourism stuff from Dubai trying to buy American launch services and perhaps some countries in the Middle East trying to put up some communications satellites, I can't think of anything that might even remotely qualify for what you are talking about here. I certainly don't see any specific policy initiatives or anything with a congressional line item that targets Muslim countries.

Re:Faster please (1)

Megane (129182) | about 6 months ago | (#46565355)

If they don't launch a FH by the end of this year, my understanding from what I've heard is it will simply be because they're already doing so much other stuff this year that they literally won't have time to get around to it.

Re:Faster please (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 6 months ago | (#46566743)

While I agree with the sentiment, I'd point out that NASA's will, in theory, be able to lift 70 or 130 tons [nasa.gov] . So it is a bit better.

Re:Faster please (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 6 months ago | (#46569881)

While I agree with the sentiment, I'd point out that NASA's will, in theory, be able to lift 70 or 130 tons [nasa.gov] . So it is a bit better.

By which time SpaceX will have the MCT close to completion. This is a rocket so large that pad 39 at the Cape can't be used because the flame trench is too small. I don't know what 100 tons of payload to the surface of Mars translates in terms of tonnage to LEO, but it is safe to say a little bit more than 130 metric tons.

Besides, the 130 ton version of the SLS will still be a couple of years away even after the first launch happens for the 70 ton version, assuming it flies at all.

Re:Faster please (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 6 months ago | (#46569957)

It won't launch in 2014, but I believe it will launch in 2015. SpaceX has been pretty busy, and they must prioritize fulfilling the current high volume Falcon 9v1.1 launches rather than getting the new rocket ready. This is what happens when you don't have the one billion dollar per year subsidy that ULA enjoys just to upkeep its infrastructure or the billions that SLS suppliers make to rehash old space shuttle rocket technology for the Ares rocket.
We need to remember that SpaceX has advanced the space industry in it's less than a decade of life more than all combined advancement in the industry in the 20 years prior. And they done that with very limited funding, compared to ULA or SLS contractors.

Huh? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46564987)

Why don't they have one 3D printer and use asteroid dust to make everything they need from free solar power in space?

Re:Huh? (1)

sixoh1 (996418) | about 6 months ago | (#46571273)

The amount of practical metallurgy knowledge we have under microgravity conditions falls in the "Not A Number" section of a floating-point unit calculation result.

Assuming you have some "dust' - you have to purify it, and then convert the refined ore into a chemically neutral granular material that is compatible with electron-beam or infared laser spot heating/sintering. On earth, buy the refined metal from Grainger in whatever format its available (screws, bar stock, etc.) - reformulate it as a powder (preferably something very chemically stable, uniform, and with particle sizes compatible with the resolution of the final use). None of these have been performed on-orbit that I am aware of.

Second, its a leaky system, volatile chemicals (water and Nitrogen come to mind) are needed for many of these stages for buffering and chemical conversion (reduction/oxidation), transport, lubrication, mixing, heat-treating and quenching, etc. etc.

Also, we don't yet know the true relative abundance of the important ores vs. locations for collection, Lunar surface? Lunar drilling? Trojan "asteroids"? NEO objects? Or do we have to go beyond Mars to get any decent quantities of these raw materials.

One more item - if you do have a perfect NEO rock with a nice mix of Iron, Aluminum, Titanium, Cobolt, Copper, and Silicon, first you will need to break this up into manageable chunks. A hand pick and a canvas bag won't work. Jackhammer and auger drills will also fail if they cannot be anchored to something in order to generate force on an ore vein. Once its in small chunks, how do you refine it? Chemical refining, gas/vapor distillation, electric arc furnaces, and other standard tools for metallurgy are used in the presence of 1 standard G. Will the use of a centrifuge to approximate 1G conditions work - think tidal forces, shear forces, and other non-linear effects that will pop up to create inconsistencies in the local environment around the refining process.

All of the above can and should be solved, but won't unless we are _there_ and there to stay.

Reusable booster rocket (3, Informative)

frank249 (100528) | about 6 months ago | (#46565117)

SpaceX,will also achieve a spaceflight first. [technologyreview.com]

After delivering cargo to the International Space Station, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket used for the flight will fire its engines for the second time. The burn will allow the rocket to reenter the atmosphere in controlled flight, without breaking up and disintegrating on the way down as most booster rockets do.

After recovering the rocket from the water on Sunday, SpaceX engineers and technicians will study it to determine what it would take to refurbish such a rocket for reuse. SpaceX also has plans to recover and reuse the second stage rocket, but for now, it will recover only the first stage and its nine Merlin engines, which make up the bulk of the cost of the rocket.

awww great... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 6 months ago | (#46565357)

Now, not only do our brave astronauts go to space in a vehicle on top of 10,000 tons of highly explosive chemicals, built by the lowest bidder, now they also get refurbished components, too!

I keed...

Re:awww great... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46567271)

Its that or every flight of the rocket is a test flight.

Re:awww great... (1)

phayes (202222) | about 6 months ago | (#46567817)

Now, not only do our brave astronauts go to space in a vehicle on top of 10,000 tons of highly explosive chemicals, built by the lowest bidder, now they also get refurbished components, too!

So many things wrong in only a single sentence...
Space-X's Dragon is not currently ready to be used to launch astronauts, so no astronauts.
Space-X builds over 80% of the Falcon launcher in-house so no bidder & lowest cost is not the determining factor. Mission success is.
Re-use is not stupid if it brings costs down. Have you never taken a plane? Do you think that the engines are new for every flight? Do you replace your car engine before every trip? Do you throw your keyboard away after each use?

Re:Reusable booster rocket (2)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 6 months ago | (#46565377)

In case anyone hasn't seen it yet, here's their video animation [youtube.com] of the flight profile for a completely "reusable" mission.

They made sure their optics were clean! (0)

Megane (129182) | about 6 months ago | (#46565387)

Kent: My condolences on your meltdown, Knight.
Chris Knight: What meltdown, Kent?
Kent: I'm not saying you had one, because how would I know? But just in case you do.
Chris Knight: You slime!
Kent: It's your own fault, Knight. Didn't anyone ever tell you to make sure your optics are clean?

Re:They made sure their optics were clean! (1)

Sez Zero (586611) | about 6 months ago | (#46565639)

We need these little setbacks to take a giant leap forward, right Kent?

Jesus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46565713)

Yeah, but Jesus told him to stop playing with himself.

Junk in the Trunk (0)

Sez Zero (586611) | about 6 months ago | (#46565625)

Paraphrasing: Dragon has junk in the trunk; we're all still ready to launch.

Proof that everyone loves a little junk in the trunk.

Re:Junk in the Trunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46570043)

Not just that. Elon saying he'll give you a bigger trunk if you ask means he's straight space pimpin'...

Re:Junk in the Trunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46570075)

So that means it's Ice-T approved?

(captcha pounding...)

Iff the Republicans allow it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46565841)

They've been fighting hard against science and technology for decades. They've been almost successful in destroying NASA. Now they have the private space industry in their sights. Expect someone to go to prison for attempting to advance science.

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (0)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46566099)

They've been fighting hard against science and technology for decades. They've been almost successful in destroying NASA. Now they have the private space industry in their sights. Expect someone to go to prison for attempting to advance science.

AC, you are either an idiot or very sarcastic..

Republicans are decidedly NOT anti science and technology, just for reasonable spending levels. The Democrats are all about spending on social programs and just about anything else that they can construct some emotional case for. Who cares about how much it costs or what real science is being done, we are just printing the cash anyway.

Next you are going to tell me that the Republicans want to push grandma off the cliff, take food from starving children, and ruin the environment... Shesh..

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 6 months ago | (#46566487)

Next you are going to tell me that the Republicans want to push grandma off the cliff, take food from starving children, and ruin the environment.

Yes... What's your point?

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46566501)

Republicans are decidedly NOT anti science and technology, just for reasonable spending levels.

Right, and what's reasonable to them is whatever doesn't conflict with creationism, which most of them believe in. Science is right out.

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (0)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46567343)

Republicans are decidedly NOT anti science and technology, just for reasonable spending levels.

Right, and what's reasonable to them is whatever doesn't conflict with creationism, which most of them believe in. Science is right out.

Seriously? Ignorance knows no bounds.

Besides, we where talking about the false narrative that says the Republicans wanted to destroy NASA. I don't think that is true.

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46567721)

Right, and what's reasonable to them is whatever doesn't conflict with creationism, which most of them believe in. Science is right out.

Seriously? Ignorance knows no bounds.

Yes, seriously. The majority of republicans are some form of creationist.

Besides, we where talking about the false narrative that says the Republicans wanted to destroy NASA. I don't think that is true.

That's because you're ignoring the voting record. I guess ignorance really does know no bounds.

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (0)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46568435)

Hmmmm... So.. Time to put up some facts on that.

Go to Thomas.gov and find the votes you think best reflect the republicans trying to gut NASA and let me know what they are because I don't recall any republican at the federal level making any issue out of funding NASA in general much less based on their creationist stance and a quick search of bills with NASA in them seems to indicate a general support of NASA from the Republican introduced bills I've saw.

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46568977)

Go to Thomas.gov

If you even knew how to use google you'd find more references than you can use. But you fail the internets. I'm not doing your homework for you.

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46569509)

Ahh.. So you cannot find it then.. OK, you loose this round.

Thomas.gov is the official Library of Congress site that provides public access to congressional records. On the internet it is the primary and authoritative location for official congressional records.

I'll take it that because you don't know where or how to find your supporting information on the primary authoritative source, it likely doesn't exist.

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46569753)

OK, you loose this round.

Why do you say this round not tight? What is that supposed to mean? You Republicans are illiterate morons. Could you please stop trying to ruin tech sites? We want to discuss open source here, not your hatred of intelligence.

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46569813)

Ahh.. So you cannot find it then.. OK, you loose this round.

No, no I don't. I don't even lose. I refuse to let you make me your slave, so I win. See how that works? Now, learn how to use google, or fuck off of the internet immediately. Are you new here? Wait, yes, yes you are.

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46570125)

One more time I'll try a bit of logic on you before I write you off as a troll..

1. I claimed that the Republicans generally *support* NASA and science... You claimed they don't..

2. I asked you why you think that... You said because they vote that way...

3. I said that I don't see that in the official record, so prove me wrong by showing me what votes you think support your claim that republicans don't support science, (specifically because they believe in creationism).

4. Now you are saying that you are right because I'm too dumb or lazy to find the evidence that proves me wrong? I looked, I didn't find any evidence of republicans voting down funding for NASA specifically, even without bringing the creationist issue into play.

You are asking me to prove a negative. Which is generally trollish behavior... So, which is it? Are you a troll or do you really have evidence for your claims?

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46569407)

Besides, we where talking about the false narrative that says the Republicans wanted to destroy NASA. I don't think that is true.

FALSE NARRATIVE? Good look at the budget for NASA over the last 4 years. Why do you think that we send to to Russia than to private space? Obama and the dems oppose it. The tea* CLAIMS that they oppose this, but vote right along with you fucking neo-cons.

ppl like Coffman, Shelby, wolf, Rogers, Hatch, etc have gutted private space for the last 4 years in an attempt to keep the SLS going with money to their districit. These assholes would much rather send DOUBLE the money to Russia, then to spend 1/2 of that on private space. Totally twisted.

Here are some:
Here. [nationaljournal.com]
This is even more to the point on house neo-cons with pointing fingers (though also playing their excuses) [usatoday.com]
Here is more. [reason.com]


I have worked for NASA decades ago. I have been following this mess that the neo-cons have made with it. All they are interested in is wasting money on THEMSELVES. The neo-cons/tea* are destroying America. Total Fucks.

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46571987)

Just tell them the muslims plan to build a mosque on the moon and they'll throw money at SpaceX or whatever to get the USA back there first to build a Church.

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46569177)

If you fucking neo-cons/tea* cared ONE BIT about the GD budget, and spending, then they would kill the SLS which costs us 3-4 B/year. In addition, it will costs 1-3B to launch.
Likewise, those fucks would allow the DOD to stop producing the M1A2 tank, which costs us 10's of billions. The DOD is desperate to stop it for about 3 years and redesign it so that it has protections from IED, as well as modifiy to accept automated railguns and lasers down the road. IOW, the DOD cares about the coming future wars, such as with Russia.
BUT, YOU FUCKING NEO-CONS and TEA* WILL NOT ALLOW IT. Spending in your fucking district is far more important than the men (and women) lives.

And none of that talks about AGW or the cuts to NIH, NASA, etc.
Sadly, you neo-cons and tea* have taken over the republican party and what is left is a bunch of chickenhawks that continue to destroy America.

Windbourne (moderating and disgusted by neo-con/tea* fucks that are destroying America; and wondering when any of you fucking neo-cons/tea* will serve and learn what it means to put our nation ahead of your GD wallet ).

Re:Iff the Republicans allow it (1)

sixoh1 (996418) | about 6 months ago | (#46571381)

Ockham's razor applied here might do you a bit of good.

It appears that nearly every single member of Congress, both House and Senate, have been effectively co-opted by personal interest in porkbarrel. While we no longer have William Proxmire posting the outlandish and downright shameful pork projects, a fairly casual search on Bing/Yahoo/Google brings up quite a few articles about various "Waste" programs. There a programs like the NEA and NPR/CPB championed by "progressives" and F35/M1A1 and the perennial favorite "Bridge to Nowhere" of Sen. Stevens fame. Neither the DNC nor RNC can claim innocence, nor do any of the NGO/SuperPac/504 groups get a clean bill of health based on their own lobbying for everything from money to build the Mexico border wall, to petitions for the HHS Secretary to start allowing the sale of human organs (Kidneys). Every single one of these people has at least one axe to grind, maybe more.

Dont confuse the actual "Taxed Enough Already" fiscal refuseniks for your assumed evil "other" Koch funded secret cabal that is running the world at the behest of the jews. Most who marched in 2011, and remain allied with the formal TEA organizations such as PACs/504s and ThinkTanks are hostile to quite a broad variety of Federal spending, INCLUDING aerospace/NASA spending, but also sweeping up the Department of Education, Agriculture Department, and the Federal Reserve. If there is unequal pain to be endured from a uniform cut of the Federal piggy bank, then perhaps that only highlights the extent to which our collective polity has distorted ordinary arithmetic and common sense.

Assuming that Rand Paul and/or crazy uncle Ron Paul is an official spokesman for anything other than themselves is a convenient way for you to simply ignore the fact that NASA's current total expenditures are less than one second's activity by the US Treasury in any given fiscal year September-to-September. Want to make sure Congress doesn't get out their knives for the ISS, Webb Space Telescope and other worthy projects, then tell us what other department should be cut? Milk subsidies for hipster Vermont "gentlemen farmers"? Bullet and MRAP purchases for the US Department of Education? Salary for IRS agents that have already retired, and lied to their superiors for 10 years about being in the CIA? There are plenty of bad expenditures in a government with 4.3 MILLION employees.

Blind anger and blame will not restore comity amongst the citizens of the US, but its just slightly possible that an army of concerned citizens taking sensible, cautious, and incremental action to peek and poke our way around the budget looking for waste and standing up to it (even when that waste is in your hometown!) might chip away at the bloated machine enough to keep leviathan running through our lifetimes. Or we could just take Venezuela's lead and blame whomever is today's convenient scapegoat for every failed attempt to violate physics, causality, and microeconomics.

Good change (2)

Ecuador (740021) | about 6 months ago | (#46566555)

It is a good change to hear "hey we will delay the launch because our camera might be affected", from the old "- ehh, we should delay launch after that freezing weather, the O-rings might fail - shut up, we are already late, from what I see in this powerpoint it should be ok"
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