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International Space Station Infected With Malware Carried By Russian Astronauts

willith Re:Anyone has the real facts? (226 comments)

Yes, I contacted JSC PAO and they unequivocally said that there are no "virus epidemics" on the ISS. There is no current outbreak of anything, stuxnet or otherwise. Kaspersky's comments weren't about an ongoing event—rather, they are off-the-cuff unsourced remarks that could refer to any number of past incidents.

about 10 months ago
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My favorite season:

willith Re:Summer (346 comments)

Winter. It's the best three weeks in Texas, and the only time you're able to go outside without becoming sticky with sweat after 15 seconds at any time of the day or night. Plus, you get so sleep with an actual blanket, instead of the thinnest sheet you can find. It's great to actually be able to wear normal clothes outdoors—layers! Suits! Coats!

Summer is my least favorite. Sure, you can go to the beach, but it lasts eight months, from April through November, and every second of it is an experience in humid misery. You spend your time dashing from one air conditioned space to the next, dreading your $400 monthly electricity bill (because of your home's central air), and dreaming of what it feels like to be cold.

If I could move, I would. Unfortunately—perhaps BECAUSE it's so miserable down here—home prices are ludicrously reasonable, so I stay.

about a year ago
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PayPal Freezes MailPile's Account

willith Re:Who do people still use PayPal high value accou (443 comments)

That's insane. If someone steals my credit card number, there's fast and quick legal redress. The most inconvenient part is waiting for the credit card company to overnight me a new card.

Paypal, on the other hand, can lift actual money right out of the checking account they insist on linking to my account and actually defraud me. There is literally no instance where simply using a credit card number is less safe than dealing with paypal.

1 year,13 days
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Confirmed: F-1 Rocket Engine Salvaged By Amazon's Bezos Is From Apollo 11

willith Re:Interesting indeed (100 comments)

Probably too late to pick up any moderation points, but no. The CAD files are considered export-controlled technology and are not publicly available. I asked this specifically when I was talking with the engineers involved in the effort. It's also why the article I wrote (linked up-thread) lacks images of the disassembled F-1 engine and its components. I desperately wanted to photograph the lab and its awesome assortment of rocket parts, but NASA and the US government did not allow pictures of export-controlled technology.

about a year ago
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Confirmed: F-1 Rocket Engine Salvaged By Amazon's Bezos Is From Apollo 11

willith Re:Interesting indeed (100 comments)

The "paperwork" has never been lost—every shred of documentation is intact and on file. In fact, engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center have been spending the past year busily disassembling and working with components from several stored F-1 engines. They've constructed highly detailed CAD models of the engines, and even done hot firing on one of the gas generator segments.

I penned a very detailed piece on this over at Ars Technica earlier this year, including photos and video of one of the gas generator hot-fires. The piece includes multiple interviews with senior propulsion scientists at MSFC, and thoroughly debunks the "but the blueprints are lost!" urban myth.

about a year ago
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Salvaging E.T. In Software, Instead of New Mexico

willith Re:ET's big failure... (146 comments)

I'd very much have to disagree. Atari games were often quite opaque—Yar's Revenge is a good example of a game that didn't make a lick of sense unless you'd read the manual. There wasn't room on the ROM for any handholding. Plus, most games had dozens of different modes of play available through the game select switch (like Combat, or Space Invaders), and figuring out the differences between them absolutely required a manual.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Good Reasons For DRM?

willith Art doesn't need remuneration (684 comments)

"Because, in my eyes, when people stop getting paid for what they do, they'll stop doing it."

The creation of art is not, nor ever has been, dependent on remuneration. People don't exclusively create to be compensated. People have always created things. It's what we do.

It may be valid to worry that unrestricted copying of things—be those things paintings, songs, sculptures, stories, programs, or whatever—could potentially lead to a reduction in people who earn a living exclusively from creating those things, but it takes a powerfully broken worldview to even begin to think that people only do create stuff so that they'll get paid.

about a year ago
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Behind the Scenes At NASA's Mission Control Center

willith Re:Anybody know off the top of their heads.. (38 comments)

MOCR 2 was used for every manned Gemini flight except for Gemini 3, and every manned Apollo flight except Apollo 7. MOCR 1 was used for ASTP and all Skylab flights.

about 2 years ago
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What's Keeping You On Windows?

willith Because work makes me (1880 comments)

I use Windows at work, because work says I have to. I have a Windows 7 laptop loaded down with management agents and security agents and update agents and all kinds of other agents, which makes IT security comfortable. If I wiped it and loaded Linux, or God forbid if I brought my MacBook from home in to work, my network port would be disabled within seconds and I'd get a fun walk-up visit from security a minute later.

My job requires me to shuffle around MS Office documents, do e-mail, and use web-based tools. There's nothing there that can't be done on another platform, but Windows lets my work keep tight, locked-down tabs on my laptop. The need for that control is at least in part driven by the vendors selling those lock-down solutions. There is a fear- and risk-management-based culture in IT security these days, and Windows is the platform that has the tools that companies have been told they have to deploy to keep things safe.

more than 2 years ago
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Promotion Or Job Change: Which Is the Best Way To Advance In IT?

willith Change jobs (247 comments)

I'm 33, and I've worked for a single large aerospace company since getting my undergrad degree 11 years ago. I started off as a desktop support guy making $42k, and then was bumped to $43k after a year, then to $45k after another year, then to $46k after another year. In late 2004 I was promoted to junior sysadmin and was bumped to $50k, and through yearly raises got that up to $55k by 2006, when I transferred formally from sysadmin to the enterprise architect side of the house. That got me a bump to $68k, which brought me up to the minimum salary level for that position, and then between 2006 and mid-2010 the pay rose to $74k through those yearly incremental raises.

In 2010 I was a senior architect, making decisions that directly affected the technology direction of a Fortune 50 company with $65B in revenue, making $74k a year. It was nice, of course, and the job was fun, but the compensation just hadn't scaled to the job. There were other benefits--outstanding and near-zero-cost insurance, stock, a functioning pension program, and as near a thing to stability as it's possible to get in an American job--but I wanted more money, so I left. Now I work as a presales engineer (that's "engineer," not real engineer) at one of the same vendors that used to sell to me, making $120k. I would have had to stay at the first job for another 20 years to hit the same level of salary. More, I left on excellent terms, and I wouldn't mind going back there some day.

This experience echoes that of my much-older peers at the aerospace job, where I was one of the only folks in the group less than 50 years old. All of them, without exception, had left at some point for between 1-5 years and then come back, bringing with them a large salary bump. Even in a company that gives you near-guaranteed 2-5% incremental raises, the only way to get a massive salary increase is by leaving.

more than 3 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Worst Computer Scene In TV or Movies?

willith The Net (1200 comments)

I have to nominate the Sandra Bullock abortion The Net--the entire film. Compared to that movie, Goldblum's antics are totally plausible.

more than 3 years ago
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Lawyers Using Facebook Research For Jury Selection

willith Good or bad not to be on FB? (283 comments)

I don't have a Facebook account--nor do I have a Myspace page, LinkedIn profile, or any other social networking connection. I don't even show up in the Google results for my real name until somewhere around the 20th page of results. This is yet another occasion where I'm glad I don't have those potential huge liabilities hanging around my neck, but I have to wonder: would an attorney consider this kind of non-presence a desirable characteristic, or a non-desirable one?

more than 3 years ago
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AOL, Yahoo Mulling Merger

willith The death of irrelevance (136 comments)

Awesome! Now two brands that have become totally irrelevant to my online experience can curl up together and die! Good riddance! Don't let the door hit your collective ass on the way out!

more than 3 years ago
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James Cameron Commissions Submarine To Visit Challenger Deep

willith Re:Sad, actually (285 comments)

If we wanted to build a Saturn V rocket today it could not be done. The original design is gone.

GOD DAMN IT. I really, really wish people would quit perpetuating this wildly incorrect urban legend. The original design details, down to the very last nut and bolt, are on file at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Absolutely nothing at all is "gone". Source.

The experts that had been working with rocket engines since the late 1940s worked on the Saturn V. Today there is nobody that knows anywhere near as much about rocket engines left. While the main engines for the Shuttle are somewhat of a marvel, I doubt they could be reproduced today either. The people resources simply aren't there - it would take 10 years of experimentation and learning about rockets.

Also ridiculously incorrect. You truly don't believe that the Space Shuttle Main Engines could be "reproduced" today? You're completely unaware of the fact that they've been continually "reproduced" since the beginning of the program, right? That they're rebuilt between missions, and that the design has improved and evolved over the life of the program? That as of right now there are in fact nine fully-built spare ones in storage at KSC? The engineers didn't just build a bunch of them in 1980 and then zap themselves with the Men In Black flashy-thing--SSMEs have been constantly built for the past almost thirty years. If my tone is coming across as a little coarse, it's because I'm having a hard time understanding how you could have a highly-moderated post to Slashdot when thirty seconds of research would refute almost everything you just said.

The reason why building a Saturn V today from the old plans is impossible has nothing to do with "cheaper labor" or "people that didn't mind getting their hands dirty" or whatever stupidness you wrote. Rather, you can't build a Saturn V today because a Saturn V isn't just a bunch of tanks with engines strapped to it--it's half of a complex launch system, with the other half being the Apollo CSM that sits on top of it. A Saturn V is an end-to-end system designed around the IBM-produced instrumentation unit, two tons of analog and basic digital computers and instrumentation. It's not that you can't build it--it's that building it wouldn't make any sense. You'd need to completely de-Apollo the rocket for it to work right, and guess what? That's exactly what NASA has been doing, although the political will to make it happen is sorely lacking.

Please educate yourself before you spout off such a mixture of urban legend and outright incorrect craziness.

about 4 years ago
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When I no longer use a hard drive, I typically keep it for..

willith Missing option (308 comments)

I immediately disassemble it for its sweet, sweet magnets!

about 4 years ago
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Why Are Indian Kids So Good At Spelling?

willith Seems obvious to me (534 comments)

Why is it so surprising that kids from a culture that produces names like "Sivasubramaniam Raveendranath" and "Elamkulam Manakkal Sankaran Namboodiripad" are good at spelling?

more than 4 years ago
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Armstrong, Cernan Testify Against Obama Space Plan

willith Re:One lone protester (411 comments)

You're being disingenuous, whether you mean to or not. I drive past that same corner every day on the way to and from work at one of the major subs, and while the turnout today might be low, I've at times seen dozens of folks with signs standing on that same spot. Couple that with the signs that are pasted up in the windows of business up and down NASA rd 1 and Bay Area Blvd, along with the words of coworkers in my group and in other groups, and the impression I get is that the Obama plan is wildly unpopular among the people doing the wrench-turning.

I actually read the Augustine report, cover to cover, and it most emphatically did not say that the current plan is broken and unworkable--it said that the current plan is $3B/yr underfunded, and that given the correct amount of funding, would be perfectly viable. Given that you can pretty much trip on $3B while walking down the hallway on the way to the bathroom at the Capital building, it's shameful that those monies can't be allocated to NASA. Further, the direction being pushed by the administration is a half-assed take on one of the Augustine "Flexible Path" options, and the implementation details and goals are disgustingly vague. It makes me wonder if the folks responsible for drafting the plan bothered to read more than Augustine's executive summary.

The most disheartening thing happening right now, though, is that everyone at the subs--from the major players of Lockheed & Boeing all the way down to the tiny shops--is still doing what they were doing in December, prior to the new budget announcement, because nothing's actually been passed yet. So all the folks working Ares I are still working Ares I, all the folks working full-mission Orion are still working full-mission Orion, and so on, and everyone pretty damn depressed about it. It's one thing to be told that the project on which you've killed yourself for three or four years is now dead; it's quite another thing to be told that the project on which you've killed yourself for three or four years is almost certainly about to be dead, but for now just keep slaving away at it full-tilt because nothing's actually happened yet.

more than 4 years ago
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Dirty Duty On the Front Lines of IT

willith Re:I fix code written by offshore Indian developer (166 comments)

Imagine the hilarity when they realize they paid twice for the project, and one of the costs is already in the house...

Judging by how most workplaces function, his employer would immediately source the in-house cost. Then they'd end up with one offshore code house fixing another offshore code house's mistake. They'd still pay twice for the work, but now it would be "aligned to strategy."

more than 4 years ago
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Facebook Awarded $711 Million In Anti-Spam Case

willith Good ol' Spamford (179 comments)

Sweet merciful crap, is Spamford Wallace still around? We were stabbing voodoo dolls with his picture on them more than ten years ago. His C.V. reads like list of things that are wrong with the Internet. If there were ever someone that the world would be a better place without, it's this guy.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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Confirmed: F-1 rocket engine salvaged by Amazon's Bezos is from Apollo 11

willith willith writes  |  about a year ago

willith (218835) writes "The folks at Bezos Expeditions have confirmed that faintly visible serial numbers on one of the large engine components they lifted from three miles below the ocean's surface match the serial number of F-1 engine F-6044, which flew in the center position on Saturn V number SA-506—Apollo 11. With the 44th anniversary of the first lunar landing coming up tomorrow, the confirmation comes at an auspicious time. The F-1 engine remains to this day the largest single-chamber liquid fueled engine ever produced—although NASA is considering using a newer uprated design designated as the F-1B to help boost future heavy-lift rockets into orbit."
Link to Original Source
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How NASA steers the Int'l Space Station around asteroids & other debris

willith willith writes  |  about a year ago

willith (218835) writes "I got to sit down with ISS TOPO Flight Controller Josh Parris at the Houston Mission Control Center and talk about how NASA steers all 400 tons of the International Space Station around potential collisions, or "conjunctions," in NASA-parlance. The TOPO controller, with assistance from USSTRATCOM's big radars, keeps track of every object that will pass within a "pizza-box"-shaped 50km x 50km x 4km perimeter around the ISS. Actually moving the station is done with a combination of large control moment gyros and thrusters on both the Zvezda module and visiting vehicles. It's a surprisingly complex operation!"
Link to Original Source
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The modern rebirth of the Saturn V's incredible F-1 engine

willith willith writes  |  about a year and a half ago

willith (218835) writes "Through a remarkable confluence of backyard engineering and external requirements, NASA has been "hot firing" 40-year old parts of F-1 rocket engines, pulled from storage and museums. The process of resurrecting the old engines has been complex, including a total 3D scan inside and out of the rockets to produce modern CAD files. NASA is considering using a brand new, redesigned version of the F-1, called the F-1B, as booster rockets for its upcoming SLS launch vehicle. I was on-hand for one round of F-1 gas generator test firings and I've written up the story of how a group of young engineers drove the engineering effort to bring the giant back to life.

The F-1 is the most powerful single-chamber liquid rocket engine to ever have existed; putting out 1.5M lbs of thrust, five of these engines powered one Saturn V moon rocket, each gulping 3 tons of fuel per second. The new F-1B would modify the F-1's uprated F-1A variant (extensively tested but never flown) to make it simpler and easier to manufacture, and at the same time even more powerful: 1.8M lbs of thrust per second."

Link to Original Source
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Doing shots at the range with a $17,000 Linux-powered rifle

willith willith writes  |  about a year and a half ago

willith writes "Back at CES I wrote up a story about Austin-based TrackingPoint and their "Precision Guided Firearms," a set of high-powered hunting rifles with computer-controlled scopes and "guided" triggers. Last week, I had the opportunity to take the three TrackingPoint rifles out to the range and test their accuracy. How much did they improve my marksmanship? My photographer, who'd never before even picked up a rifle, scored a 1000-yard shot on his very first attempt.""
Link to Original Source
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Swimming with spacemen in NASA's giant NBL pool

willith willith writes  |  about a year and a half ago

willith writes "I spent two days at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, watching astronauts dive and getting a thorough tour of the facility. The largest indoor pool in the world contains 6.2M gallons of water and is filled with life-size replicas of International Space Station modules (though at 202'x101' and 40' deep, it isn't nearly enough to hold the entire station). Every spacewalk requires a huge amount of rehearsal, and that rehearsal is done right here in this pool. I talk at length with divers, astronauts, test coordinators, and test directors about how the facility works and what it takes to train folks to work in spacesuits. I also get to talk about the NBL's commercial future, and what's next for the big pool. Plus, lots and lots of pictures!"
Link to Original Source
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Behind the scenes at NASA's Mission Control Center

willith willith writes  |  about 2 years ago

willith writes "I was recently given the opportunity to spend several hours on the floor of Historic Mission Operations Control Room #2, at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. MOCR2 was used to control almost manned Gemini and Apollo mission, including Apollo 11 & 13. More, my tour guide was none other than famous Apollo mission controller Sy Liebergot, one of the fellows behind the solution that saved Apollo 13. I go in-depth on the role of the flight controller during Apollo, and focus on how and why Mission Control functioned, and I spend a lot of time talking about the consoles and how they worked. The feature includes a ton of anecdotes and stories from Mr. Liebergot about mission control in general, and about what he did during Apollo 12 & 13 specifically. I also put together a supplemental report that goes through each and every station and describes their Apollo-era layout. I wrote this story to be the kind of thing I'd always wanted to read, but could never find online. There are also lots and lots of pictures of MOCR2!"
Link to Original Source
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The Drobo FS in depth

willith willith writes  |  more than 3 years ago

willith (218835) writes "Part one of a two-part in-depth review of the Drobo FS, a near-zero-configuration-required soho NAS box produced by Data Robotics, has been published on Ars Technica. This article appears to be the first deep examination of the Drobo's proprietary "BeyondRAID" data redundancy scheme to appear on the web, and discusses how BeyondRAID works as a mix of block- and file-level techniques. Disclosure: I'm the article's author!"
Link to Original Source
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NASA names space station treadmill after Colbert

willith willith writes  |  more than 5 years ago

willith writes "Looks like the SF Chronicle is jumping the gun by an hour or so, but they've got an AP article up detailing the results of the International Space Station Node 3 naming contest (previously on Slashdot). Comedian and fake-pundit Stephen Colbert conducted a bombastic write-in campaign and repeatedly urged his show's fan base (the "Colbert Nation") to stuff the ballot box with his name, which resulted in "Colbert" coming in first in the write-in contest with almost a quarter-million votes. Although the Node 3 component will not be named "Colbert"--NASA has instead chosen to call it "Tranquility"--one of the Node 3 components will bear the honor: the second ISS treadmill, which will be installed in Node 3, will be named the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill. The formal announcement will be made on air tonight at 22:30 EDT on the Colbert Report on Comedy Central by astronaut Sunita Williams."
Link to Original Source
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Robert Jordan dies

willith willith writes  |  about 7 years ago

willith writes "James Oliver Rigney Jr, author of the long-running fantasy series The Wheel of Time and better known to millions of fans by the pen name Robert Jordan, died on 16 Sept 2007 from cardiac amyloidosis. Jordan announced he had been diagnosed with the disease in March 2006 and vowed to beat the odds, but determination and gumption sometimes just aren't enough in the face of a disease with a median survival time of just over two years. Jordan was in the process of writing the twelfth and final book in the Wheel of Time series, A Memory of Light, but the book was not slated for release until 2009 and is still incomplete. While there is hope that the book will still be finished from Jordan's notes, this is devastating news to all of us who have been reading the series since 1990."
Link to Original Source
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willith willith writes  |  more than 7 years ago

willith writes "Apple has placed three iPhone commercials on their web site today, and each of them end with a tag: "Coming June 29". This puts to rest the question of when the thing will hit the streets, but there are still worries about allocation — some sites are reporting that the allocation of iPhones to Cingular/AT&T stores will be relatively tight. The adverts do however shed light on another previously-unanswered question — the iPhone will only be available with a new two-year contract."
Link to Original Source
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willith willith writes  |  more than 7 years ago

willith writes "Guitar Hero 2 has already begun arriving in some stores, and though it won't be on sale until November 7, an enterprising Wal-Mart employee has taken home a copy and posted screenshots on the official Guitar Hero forum showing the track names and descriptions of all twenty-four bonus tracks. Returning Guitar Hero alumni are the Acro-Brats, Freezepop, the Breaking Wheel (formerly Artillery), and Honest Bob & the Factory to Dealer Incentives. The songs look to be pretty shredding, and include stuff from Voivod, DETHLOK, and, quite unexpectedly, the Brothers Chaps — one of the unlockables is THE TROGDOR SONG!"
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willith willith writes  |  more than 7 years ago

willith writes "IGN has posted the official list, straight from RedOctane, of the 40 licensed tracks in Guitar Hero 2. There's a great mix of songs, running the list from "stuff my parents like" (Allman Brothers) to "music to kill people by" (Megadeth). You can get an early start with the GH2 playable demo in this month's Official Playstation Magazine, which contains four songs (Strutter, You Really Got Me, YYZ, and Shout at the Devil). For those about to rock, we salute you!"
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willith willith writes  |  about 8 years ago

willith writes "Space buffs (and people like me whose continued employment depends on it) should keep their eyes pointed at NASA TV today at 15:00 CDT, as NASA announces the prime contractor to design, develop, and build Orion, nee CEV, NASA's next human spacecraft.

The competing teams are Grumman/Boeing and Lockheed-Martin. Orion itself has been described as "Apollo on steroids" — it will be a four- or six-person capsule spacecraft which in its Block 1 incarnation will serve the ISS as the primary crew transfer vehicle and also the docked escape vehicle, taking over the role of the STS and Soyuz. The Block 2 version, when paired with the J2X-powered Earth Departure Stage, will transport four people (and a new lunar surface access module named Artemis) to the moon and back, and, when coupled with the other components of Project Constellation, to Mars and back.

The other two key pieces of the puzzle are the Ares-class rockets. Ares I will loft the Orion spacecraft and her human occupants to orbit, and will be have a first stage composed of a 5-segment solid rocket booster (STS technology) and a second stage composed of a liquid-fueled J2X engine (heavily modified from its original role as the stage 2 & 3 engines on the Saturn V) and a modified STS-style external tank to complete the boost to orbit. Cargo and EDS/LSAM launches will be done with the Ares V, which has a first stage powered by two external solid rocket boosters (STS technology) and five RS-68 engines (heavy lift motors currently used in the Delta IV rocket) behind a large STS-style external tank. Second stage will use J2X engines and push the cargo into orbit. Ares V will be the same approximate size as a Saturn V, and ought to look mighty impressive on the pad.

(As an aside, the Wikipedia article on Launch Complex 39 has some interesting info on how pads 39A and 39B will be used in the CEV era.)

For moon missions, the two launches will occur a few days apart, cargo first, and the mission will have an EOR phase where the two spacecraft dock, an the missions will follow an Apollo-style profile — TLI, LOI, spacecraft separation and landing, LOR, TEI, and then atmospheric re-entry, and then a parachute-assisted soft touchdown, either on land or in the ocean.

Mars missions will follow a similar profile, but there will be more modules in the stack — instead of just Orion & Artemis, there will be several habitat and lab modules to support the crew during the multi-month transit to Mars.

Anyway, the announcement on who gets to build it happens this afternoon. Cross your fingers for my continued employment and my job site's continued existence!"

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