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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

Teancum Re:Legal Issue (152 comments)

Robert Heinlein pointed this out quite some time ago with his book, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". Space is the ultimate high ground where the Earth is at the bottom of a comparatively deep well.

2 days ago
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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

Teancum Re:Self-expanding factories (152 comments)

There are things called lathes and other machine tools that can reproduce themselves. Without that capability, the Industrial Revolution would have never happened. The real question is how many of these kind of tools together with a good smelter do you need before you can be self-sufficient and keep making your own sets of tools out of raw materials?

This is a big deal because it would be nice to get a set of these kind of tools into the hands of people in 3rd world countries, or for that matter have a few of them cached in a bunch of random places on the off chance that our current technological civilization will collapse completely. It is also something important to know about if you are planning on building a colony on Mars or the Moon, as such a set of tools that make tools can help such colonies grow much easier.

2 days ago
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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

Teancum Re:Legal Issue (152 comments)

Since everybody who has sent astronauts into space and routinely sends spaceships into space has nukes (except for Japan.... and nobody doubts they have the capability of building nukes), the treaties involving the legal status of objects in space has some real enforcement teeth. The question that needs to be asked though is if any country would be willing to start a global thermonuclear war over a sovereign claim made by another country?

2 days ago
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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

Teancum Re:Legal Issue (152 comments)

You forgot a few parts of that treaty:

Article VIII

A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body. Ownership of objects launched into outer space, including objects landed or constructed on a celestial body, and of their component parts, is not affected by their presence in outer space or on a celestial body or by their return to the Earth. Such objects or component parts found beyond the limits of the State Party to the Treaty on whose registry they are carried shall be returned to that State Party, which shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return.

In other words, sovereign claims can still happen for stuff that is mined. You may not claim the whole Moon, but you can claim stuff you pull off of the Moon.

Another very important part of this treaty is this:

Article XVI

Any State Party to the Treaty may give notice of its withdrawal from the Treaty one year after its entry into force by written notification to the Depositary Governments. Such withdrawal shall take effect one year from the date of receipt of this notification.

In other words, it is a paper tiger that is ultimately meaningless against any real sovereign claims. I think this provision will ultimately be invoked by some country when they try to make a substantial move to make a sovereign claim by actually going to the Moon or Mars... whatever country that might be.

2 days ago
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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

Teancum Re:I'll keep warning you, you won't listen (152 comments)

A million dollars as ransom? Why such a paltry and pitiful amount of money? That isn't even worth having an FBI agent bother trying to find you in the first place, where you might as well simply demand a dollar if that is your threat.

2 days ago
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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

Teancum Re:Funny as hell (152 comments)

Slowing down a vehicle constructed in space down to Low Earth Orbit velocities (actually reducing potential energy but it does increase in actual speed) from a higher orbit is much easier than sending it up from the Earth. You also have options of using extremely high ISP engines like ion thrust that may not have very high thurst but can be used for months or even years continuously.

Manufacturing spacecraft from a factory in space would be much easier to accomplish.... assuming that the factory is built in the first place. An O'Neil habitat would be a good way to make that work if you needed a crew, although that is quite a bit of infrastructure you would need to put into place in order to get that factory built in the first place. Once such a factory is built though, it would blow away any Earth-based satellite factories in terms of marginal cost to build more satellites.

2 days ago
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NASA Offering Contracts To Encourage Asteroid Mining

Teancum Re:Funny as hell (152 comments)

Beyond helping the military test ICBM designs, what did NASA do that could help destroy the world? Any NASA mission or for that matter any USAF mission to redirect an asteroid would be detected months before it could cause any damage.

Or are you talking the Office of Planetary Protection? They are far more concerned about containing life here on the Earth than trying to do something that deliberately causes damage.

2 days ago
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Elon Musk Talks "X-Wing" Fins For Reusable Rockets, Seafaring Spaceport Drones

Teancum Re:Back to barges? (95 comments)

It is likely ITAR restrictions that keep SpaceX from seriously considering any activity in Australia. That is a really stupid law, but somehow trying to keep people in Congo, El Salvador, and Somalia from figuring out rocket technology seems to be a high priority right now. China just gets the stuff gift wrapped and sent to them in official communiques, and American companies are still trying to reverse engineer Russian equipment because it works better (in many cases)... so I really don't know who they are trying to prevent finding out all of this cool technology, but it would be illegal for SpaceX to do any tests outside of the USA.

One company that Australia ought to be seriously trying to court in terms of using a range like that is Firefly Space though. I don't know if Aussies think Kiwi millionaires are somebody to take seriously or not, but at least it is a bit closer to home.

2 days ago
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Elon Musk Talks "X-Wing" Fins For Reusable Rockets, Seafaring Spaceport Drones

Teancum Re:He's not just speculating (95 comments)

The point about private spaceflight isn't who is building the spacecraft but rather who is footing the bills and owns the equipment afterward.

And no, spacecraft are not always operated by the government. In the past, it was companies like Boeing and Grumman who would build the vehicles, but it would be NASA employees who would fly them, fuel them, and take care of everything else once it left the factory. That started to change a little bit in the 1980's when the Reagan administration started to encourage more private contractors to run things at KSC and do other activities formerly done by NASA employees, and that trend has continued to even more depth.

One particular flight that had almost no government money involved, certainly no money from the U.S. government other than paying for the USAF personnel running the weather radars and opening clearance at the spaceport trying to keep others from getting hurt, was the launch last September by SpaceX to launch the AsiaSat satellite. That is commercial spaceflight, something you have apparently never heard of?

Commercial industry is doing stuff in space, and it is a multi-billion dollar per year industry. In fact, the launch part of the business is just a small fraction of that industry too. It is also a rapidly expanding market as well.

2 days ago
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Toyota Names Upcoming Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car

Teancum Re:Not For Me (194 comments)

If battery replacement was so easy, why hasn't Tesla set up a network of battery replacement stations in Silicon Valley (much less anywhere else)? And to note that the Model S was even designed with the idea in mind that it could be replaced at such a station, but the company has pushed away from the concept in favor of high voltage recharging stations instead. I'm suggesting that such replacement stations are not economical even when you have a relatively high density of such vehicles in the area.

about a week ago
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Toyota Names Upcoming Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car

Teancum Re:How do I refill it? (194 comments)

Why do you think Hydrogen is not safe? In terms of a similar quantity of energy stored as gasoline, Hydrogen is even safer than petroleum distillates in terms of a fuel, not to mention that tanks full of Hydrogen are usually better engineered as well.

Don't let the scare tactics of people who cite the Hindenberg zepplin disaster as justification for why Hydrogen is bad. You need to treat it with care, but you need to do that with all high density energy storage technologies of any kind and Hydrogen is pretty reasonable on the whole for that purpose.

about a week ago
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Battlestar Galactica Creator Glen A. Larson Dead At 77

Teancum Re:Sci Fi Really Ages Quickly (186 comments)

But even back then I felt the show started to fizzle out after the Pegasus episodes.

On this I completely agree. The "Terra" episodes really started to push credibility, as did Count Iblis. I liked the series finale as it sort of suggested perhaps they might be going back to their roots again and hinted at some much better episodes in the future... that never came.

about a week ago
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Battlestar Galactica Creator Glen A. Larson Dead At 77

Teancum Re:Sci Fi Really Ages Quickly (186 comments)

I would disagree with you on Space: 1999 and argue strongly that The Prisoner really isn't even science fiction at all nor is really I Dream of Jeannie. Still, a strong attempt with nearly a hundred other shows that it is competing against.

about a week ago
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Battlestar Galactica Creator Glen A. Larson Dead At 77

Teancum Re:Sci Fi Really Ages Quickly (186 comments)

The reason season two was retooled is mainly because the show was cancelled but at the last minute one of the network executives changed their mind. The only actor they could get to come back on a regular contract was Loren Green, but they needed to recast pretty much the rest of the show. That of course gave the disaster which was Galactica 1980, where the only episode worth watching was the one where Dirk Benedict came back as a guest star for one episode.

Not all shows go through this, but it does happen when networks get sort of schizophrenic about what they want and push their agenda on the series producers. The rural purge is an extreme example of what can happen in that situation to trash the entire schedule including otherwise successful and popular shows. Sometimes merely the threat that the series will be next is enough to force this retooling you are talking about.

about a week ago
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Battlestar Galactica Creator Glen A. Larson Dead At 77

Teancum Re:Sci Fi Really Ages Quickly (186 comments)

Worst Sci Fi series ever? I can name several candidates for that, including "Logan's Run" (the TV series) or some of the really awful stuff pushed onto Saturday morning kids programming (is Scooby Doo considered SF?) Ever hear of "Land of the Lost"? Heck, what about Doctor Who from the 1970's?

At the time it was made, there was little you could point to as episodic series that were any better. If you can name more than five shows that were of superior quality.... far superior quality that almost anybody would agree with you... please feel free to name them. They must have been made before 1980 though. I don't think you can. After 1980 there have been many shows that were better, but you are looking at it from the wrong perspective if you make that comparison.

about two weeks ago
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Battlestar Galactica Creator Glen A. Larson Dead At 77

Teancum Re:Sci Fi Really Ages Quickly (186 comments)

I have to admit, it did suck pretty badly, even considering the state of s.f. television back then.

I don't think you remember the state of sci fi television in the late 1970's. It was mainly Star Trek reruns and really horrible stuff like Lost in Space, I Dream of Jeanie (fitting a very loose description of science fiction) or real classics like "It came from Outer Space" or "The Attack of the 50' Woman" and even "The Absent Minded Professor" on late-night television. This is when the Herbie movies were being made. Other TV series contemporary with this include "Electro Woman and DynaGirl" and "Jason of Star Command".

Compared to most of the other stuff, Battlestar Galactica was in comparison pretty hardcore SF. It was done in a style rather similar to Star Wars, but with its own mythos. If you are saying this was cheesy and comical, so was Star Wars by nearly every one of the same metrics. They took some liberties due to the episodic nature of the series, but it wasn't nearly as bad as you or your friends thought.... or your memories are fading quite a bit from what other stuff during that era was like. It certainly is unfair to compare this to Firefly or Farscape.

about two weeks ago
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Real Steampunk Computer Brought Back To Life

Teancum Re:"Computer" (81 comments)

While partially true, there were a great many mechanical analog computers which did a great many things and were widespread in the early 20th Century... including when this particular machine was made.

A good video that shows how some of those mechanical computers were made can be found in this U.S. Navy training film:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1i-dnAH9Y4

Computers like this were used as early as the Spanish-American War and the Crimean War. A much older computer was found in the form of the Antikythera mechanism.

Yes, there were also people who were called computers as a job title as well, but the mechanical variety existed as well before ENIAC, and were commonly used as well.

about two weeks ago
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Real Steampunk Computer Brought Back To Life

Teancum Re:100 Year old (81 comments)

Far more relevant in the 1880s is the United States Census for 1880 that took over 12 years to compile. The U.S. Census Bureau realized they would continue to fall behind unless they made some substantive changes to how they compiled the statistics which Congress insisted upon, not to mention plotting out the data needed for making district maps for Congress as required by the Constitution.

That is how you got Herman Hollerith who made the punch card through a system that census workers would input data about each person in America in a digital format that could be mechanically tabulated. He also started up a tiny little company that became known as IBM. The 1890 census was far more successful, and each census since then has been done more efficiently.

about two weeks ago
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SatNOGS Wins the 2014 Hackaday Prize For Satellite Networked Open Ground Station

Teancum Re:Lamest One (21 comments)

Ever hear of nanosats? Mere mortals can buy them even and put them into orbit (certainly a modest kickstarter campaign can get one built).

There is also the OSCAR series of amateur radio satellites that are generally available if you have qualifications as a ham radio operator.

Or for that matter, perhaps you want to watch the X-37B that the U.S. Air Force has sent up to try and figure out what they are doing?

In other words, there are plenty of applications for this kind of technology, especially if it was cheap enough to build that small "hacker" teams could pool resources and make it happen.

about two weeks ago
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Google's Lease of NASA Airfield Criticized By Consumer Group

Teancum Re:Don't Understand the Complaint (138 comments)

So your complaint is about NASA allowing Google to base their air fleet at Moffett in the first place? That is a valid complaint. Your complaint about the jet fuel is groundless though. Yes, the fuel trucks could drive across the bay instead (on the toll bridges, etc. for multiple additional charges) but this isn't otherwise hindering private enterprise.

What you are suggesting is that these pilots are going to be casually flying around for the hell of it where flying to another airport in the Bay Area first before taking their clients (aka the Google executive staff) to their final destination. I'm not freaking clueless about these things, just pointing out that Moffett Field has minimal services oriented towards servicing government flights instead of commercial ones, hence the reason why Google was using the same system when at that air field.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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'World of Warcraft' candidate for Maine State Senate wins election

Teancum Teancum writes  |  about 2 years ago

Teancum writes "Colleen Lachowicz, candidate for the State Senate District 25 of Maine, won the election yesterday against her opponent Thomas Martin. This race was notable in part because her World of Warcraft character that was mentioned earlier on Slashdot, where the Maine Republican Party turned her game playing into a significant issue. It is also notable that she was able to raise a total of $6,300 in campaign contributions from gamers who came to her defense in her successful campaign. The Maine GOP even tried to block these contributions where Lachowicz was cleared of any wrong doing and the investigation was dropped."
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Italian Wikipedia Shuts Down for the Day

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Teancum writes "After a lengthy discussion within the Italian language edition of Wikipedia, the volunteers decided to shut down the Italian language edition of Wikipedia for a day with a protest message addressing a new law passed in Italy which the editors of Wikipedia perceive as being harmful to their participation in the collaborative on-line project. The Wikimedia Foundation (the organization who runs the server farms supporting Wikipedia) issued a statement in support of this action."
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RKK Energia confirms private trip to the Moon

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Teancum writes "RKK Energia, the prime contractor for the Russian space program and the company who builds the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, recently confirmed negotiations are underway with space tourism company Space Adventures for a privately financed crewed flight around the Moon. While the offer and purchase of at least one seat has been discussed earlier, this is the first time Energia has confirmed the negotiations and has gone into at least some details in terms of what they are expecting to have happen with this flight and the approximate timeframe for when this flight would take place... sometime in 2016 or 2017."
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Congress dumps James Webb Space Telescope

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Teancum writes "On the list of items on the upcoming federal budget for 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives has announced they are going to cancel the continued development of the James Webb Space Telescope. While this debate is certainly still very much a preliminary draft, the road ahead for this project is now very much uncertain. In this time of budget cuts, it seems unlikely that this project is going to survive at this time. It certainly will be an uphill battle for fans of this telescope if they want to keep it alive."
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ARCA's Helen 2 rocket launch successful

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Teancum writes "ARCA (Asociaia Român pentru Cosmonautic i Aeronautic or the Romanian Cosmonautics and Aeronautics Association) announced today the successful launch of their Helen 2 rocket on Sunday, October 3rd, 2010. In the official press release they detail how the rocket was launched on a balloon that went to 14 km and then after being fired from that altitude achieved an altitude of 40 km. The parachute system failed to deploy on the payload capsule and instead dropped into the Black Sea where search efforts to find the capsule were abandoned. Payload recovery was not a primary objective of this test. It is also notable that this is the first flight test for a vehicle being made by a Google Lunar X-Prize team and this vehicle series is eventually intended to deliver a payload to the surface of the Moon for that prize competition."
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Haliburton Patents Patent Trolling

Teancum Teancum writes  |  about 6 years ago

Teancum writes "In an interesting twist on the patent process, Halliburton (yes, the company famous for the contracts in Iraq) has attempted to patent the process of patent trolling. With a flow chart that seems to read like some of the long standing gags here on slashdot about how to a profit from various technology schemes, this apparently is an attempt to try and get the patent system to turn on itself."
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NOAA Requires License for Photos of the Earth

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Teancum writes "In an interesting show of the level of regulations private spacecraft designers have to go through, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has demanded that American participants of the Google Lunar X Prize obtain a license if their spacecraft are "capable of actively or passively sensing the Earth's surface, including bodies of water, from space by making use of the properties of the electromagnetic waves emitted, reflected, or diffracted by the sensed objects". What prompted NOAA to ask for this license came from a visit by the XPrize staff to the NOAA offices in Maryland. What is going to happen when "space tourists" bring their private cameras along for the ride?"
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RFP for NASA-based MMORPG

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Teancum writes "I'm sure that a large number of Slashdot regulars are familiar with the U.S. Army's MMORPG America's Army. It turns out that NASA has submitted a Request for Proposals for what would be a NASA-themed MMORPG of its own. So would you ever want to write your own video game and get paid for it? The deadline for the RfP is February 15th, so get your word processors busy with a proposal of your own. The specific objective of this request is as follows:

"A NASA-based MMO built on a game engine that includes powerful physics capabilities could support accurate in-game experimentation and research. It should simulate real NASA engineering and science missions in a medium that is comfortable and familiar to the majority of students in the United States today. A NASA-based MMO could provide opportunities for students to investigate STEM career paths while participating in engaging game-play. Through a NASA-based MMO, students will gain insight into a wide range of exciting career opportunities and be encouraged to make educational choices that lead them into STEM fields of study and eventually the STEM careers needed to fulfill NASA's Vision for Space Exploration. Learning Technologies is seeking input on how to accomplish those goals."
If there is anybody suited for developing a game like this, I can't imagine a better group than the slashdot crowd to try and come up with some outstanding proposals, and have the technical expertise to pull this off. This certainly doesn't deserve to get thrown onto the traditional dust heap of educational proposals for a half-baked game that nobody will actually play."

Link to Original Source
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Expanded Role of Iridium Satellite Constellation

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Teancum writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting about an expanded role for the next generation of satellites in the telecommunication satellite constellation: Earth observation and weather data. The Group on Earth Observation is offering to partner in this endeavor, some of whose members will be paying for this new "service" of the Iridium network. There will be as many as "70 separate sensors on Iridium satellites, designed to measure everything from temperature changes in the atmosphere to changes in radiation and ozone levels to wave heights and ocean levels." This is a far cry from when there was some concerns about whether there would even be an Iridium constellation and the bankruptcy of the former company that operated this group of satellites. This appears to be a way to add an additional revenue stream to an already profitable company operating with most of its assets in space."
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Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Teancum writes "SpaceX Corporation and Elon Musk have succesfully launched the Falcon I rocket from Kwajalein Atoll today at about 6:00 PM PDT. While there were a few glitches including a launch abort at T+ 0:10 and a few other issues typical to all launches, the rocket was successful in launching and succesfully fired the second stage as well. This is in follow up to yesterday's abort that was due to a glitch moving from ground telemetry link switching over to radio links."

Journals

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Whatever Happened to the Linux DVD-Video Effort?

Teancum Teancum writes  |  more than 10 years ago This is a rejected article submisson, and I'll throw it here simply because I think this is a valid question. There were some very substantial efforts in the past to try and put DVD-Video onto Linux and other Open Source operating systems. While there were clearly some legal issues that the groups needed to deal with, it seems as though these groups have disappeared not with a bang, but with a whimper, and quitely disappeared. While this is true of several post dot-com websites, it seems as though this source of several major stories is not even mirrored, except on The Internet Wayback Machine. Another related website, The Open DVD Group also appears to be off-line. Even more bizzare is that the Open DVD discussion list has turned into all but a spam list. Some of the effort has been redirected with groups like Ogg Theora, that can't explain the total absense from any of the at times very heated discussions on numerous mailing lists and websites that sprang up, particularly during the whole deCSS fiasco. Is this a result of lawyers being successful at driving efforts like this underground or is this simply a case of a topic that ran its course and a general abandonment of this concept by the open source community in general?

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