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NASA Space Science

Stacking of New Space Vehicle Begins At KSC 121

Posted by timothy
from the note-that's-an-artist's-impression dept.
Matt_dk writes "For the first time in more than a quarter-century, a new space vehicle will begin stacking on a mobile launch platform (MLP) at Kennedy Space Center. The Ares I-X aft skirt, which was mated to a solid fuel segment in the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility at KSC, rolled over to the 528-foot-tall Vehicle Assembly Building today, where it will be lifted and placed on the MLP in High Bay 3. On that platform, workers will secure the aft booster and continue adding segments of the first stage rocket, the upper stage simulators, the crew module mockup and the launch abort system simulator, taking the vehicle to a height of 327 feet."
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Stacking of New Space Vehicle Begins At KSC

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  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @03:23PM (#28640831) Journal

    Dudes, the game ends at 2020. There's around 10 years to go, and the trip to alpha centauri takes way more turns. All the modules should had been installed by now and the space vehicle should be on its way already! I mean, I did take my extra time to build the better modules and prioritized production in all cities to do it, but I would had never left it this late in game to actually launch it.

    Aah, Civ2 times.. All the lost weekends, while still learning so much from it.

    • Re:Spaceship modules (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @03:51PM (#28641265) Journal

      All the modules should had been installed by now and the space vehicle should be on its way already!

      Not if you plan on winning by global conquest. People actually launched the ship in that game? I always paid on bloodlust -- or if I wanted a challenge I'd allow spaceships and race to conquer my enemies before theirs reached Alpha Centauri.

      Why pour resources into exploration when you can pour them into global conquest instead? ;)

      • Re:Spaceship modules (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @03:58PM (#28641345) Journal

        I actually found the technological way a lot better. It made it a little boring during early/mid -game, but I always had technological advantage to enemies because I pushed for it. Because of that the optimal winning tactic was launching the spacecraft to alpha centauri. Usually after it went there and I won, I would continue playing and totally crush the opponents who still were so much behind me in tech. I always found it hard to develop your army during game and still keep up with technology and city building.

        • Re:Spaceship modules (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Shakrai (717556) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:14PM (#28641575) Journal

          I could never do it because I always got sucked into a war. Even when I had an entire island/continent to myself, an NPC would invariably land a settler and found a city within the radius of one of my cities and start stealing my developed land. A few dozen turns later and that particular NPC would be lain waste.

          I didn't fall real far behind in technology while fighting wars because the computer players would usually switch to fundamentalism to keep up with your war machine. If they didn't and started to pull away in the tech race there's always the possibility of espionage to keep up. You did fall behind in the city building race though.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Red Flayer (890720)

            Even when I had an entire island/continent to myself, an NPC would invariably land a settler and found a city within the radius of one of my cities and start stealing my developed land.

            That is preventable, at the cost of a bit of food and production time. Simply ring your continent with your own small cities; your ZoC around your cities will prevent them from founding their own cities there. Same thing for spots you aren't currently using in your large cities. Found a small city to use up the excess prod

            • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @06:37PM (#28643575) Journal
              Ah, how far the mighty have fallen.

              Where once that post sailed above the masses in the +3 thermocline, now it languishes at the bottom of score:0 canyon.
              It is no longer its privilege to soar and swoop among the updrafts and downdrafts over the score:2 threshold, now it must crawl, penitently, through the scrubgrass.

              Oh worthy moderators, how had he offended thee?
              Was it his wanton brashness in posts of yore?
              Was it his disagreement with your politics?

              Oh, my keyboard for the knowledge of why, why, why
              his off-topic post gleans deserved moderation, while its off-topic parents receive continued adulation.

              Consistency, please.
            • by RockDoctor (15477)

              As a bonus, when your city is down to size one and you raze it (rush settler production), you get a settler/engineer with zero upkeep cost.

              I'd noticed the cities disappearing when I forgot to "turn off" settler production (usually due to being distracted by planting my jack-booted heel upon the necks of mine enemies), but I hadn't noticed the settlers being "home(city)-less".
              I know what I'm going to be trying when I finish this shift.

              • by Shakrai (717556)

                I know what I'm going to be trying when I finish this shift.

                Why wait till you finish? It's one small step from reading /. at work to playing Civ2 ;) And it's small enough that you can install it on a thumbdrive, not that I've ever done anything like that.....

                • by RockDoctor (15477)

                  Why wait till you finish?

                  Because my laptop, with a kosher copy of CIV from a "3-for-£5" bin at a games store about 5 years ago, is in the cabin on the far side of a snoring Serb. Believe me, you do not want to go in there without full PPE and permanent deafness. He'll get us moved to the cabin above the engine room if he doesn't shut up.

                  It's one small step from reading /. at work to playing Civ2 ;) And it's small enough that you can install it on a thumbdrive, not that I've ever done anything like th

          • I could never do it because I always got sucked into a war. Even when I had an entire island/continent to myself, an NPC would invariably land a settler and found a city within the radius of one of my cities and start stealing my developed land.

            That's why my FIRST major goal is always to develop Flight. Keeps a nice radius clear from any city.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Maybe you spent too much time, moving your units "around" the north and south pole.

      Or your 500 sq. mile "cities" were too big, and you could not build enough onto that small map?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Drone69 (1517261)
      If you played Sid's follow-up classic Alpha Centauri/Alien Crossfire then you would have been there already!
  • ...built just in time to intercept the oncoming Meteor of Doom?
  • Too bad they don't have a webcam or something like that aimed at it...would be interesting to watch.
  • by theelectron (973857) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @03:39PM (#28641055)
    327 feet? I was hoping it could fly higher than that...
  • Does this mean I can soon buy a retired space shuttle? (I'm sure the shuttles will go to museums or stay with NASA, but I can still hope... I just need that winning lottery ticket still.)
  • I know a lot of other people might be down on NASA. They say its too much of this, or too much of that, should be privatized, etc.. but...last time I checked:

    NASA was the only organization to put a man on the moon, land a couple of rovers on Mars, fly by Jupiter, Saturn, and the outer planets, build and operate a space plane and a space station.

    Everyone says NASA is expensive, but, I think the value is just tremendous.

    I cannot reiterate my support for NASA, enough.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, actually, the russian equivalent is built and operate the ISS didn't they? We did put up skylab, so we can say we did one, but not the only one.

      CAPTCHA: thwart

      • by tjstork (137384)

        Well, actually, the russian equivalent is built and operate the ISS didn't they?

        Yeah, I guess I got carried away and forgot about that whole Mir thing, didn't I?

        Woops!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The construction of the ISS was pretty evenly split between the U.S. and Russia. You're probably thinking of Mir (the first space station designed for long term occupation) or Salyut 1 (the first space station, beating Skylab by two years).
    • by FleaPlus (6935) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:26PM (#28641725) Journal

      I know a lot of other people might be down on NASA. They say its too much of this, or too much of that, should be privatized, etc.. but...last time I checked:

      NASA was the only organization to put a man on the moon, land a couple of rovers on Mars, fly by Jupiter, Saturn, and the outer planets, build and operate a space plane and a space station.

      NASA's done a lot of great things, but the Ares I-X isn't one of them. It's just a suborbital rocket model being put together mostly for political reasons, and has almost nothing in common with the Ares I rocket it's supposed to be a test for. It's been designed to specifically avoid all the big problems and question-marks which are threatening to doom the Ares I, making it almost useless as a test. I feel really bad for all the skilled NASA engineers whose time has been wasted on this make-work project instead of something more fruitful.

      Like another commenter, I'm quite a bit more impressed by the SpaceX Falcon 9 [spacex.com] rocket which is already at Cape Canaveral, even if it isn't using the MLP. That's going to be quite a bit more important to the future of spaceflight than the Ares I-X.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by R3d M3rcury (871886)

        Agreed. Why NASA bothered with the Saturn I [wikipedia.org] or the Saturn IB [wikipedia.org] when they could have just waited until the Saturn V was built and then done everything after that shows what a waste of tax dollars NASA is.

        (Yes, this is sarcasm)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by FleaPlus (6935)

          Why NASA bothered with the Saturn I [wikipedia.org] or the Saturn IB [wikipedia.org] when they could have just waited until the Saturn V was built and then done everything after that shows what a waste of tax dollars NASA is.

          Do you seriously think the Saturn I or IB are at all comparable to the Ares I-X? I mean, I'm certainly not against flight tests in general -- I think the Ares I-Y [blogspot.com] is useful, as it will test the 5-segment booster, one of the biggest question-marks about the Ares I. The Ares I-X is almost entirely PR, though. Ironically, it's looking like the Ares I-X schedule slips may result in the Ares I-Y being postponed/canceled.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            Maybe you should ahve read this part:

            "(Yes, this is sarcasm)"

            Of course if he ended the sentecne with a ~, you wouldn't have needed to state it was sarcasm. Just sayin.

            • by FleaPlus (6935)

              Yes, I did read that part. I'm assuming that because of the sarcasm, he's implying that he believes the Ares I-X has a role similar to the Saturn I, which it patently does not.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by khallow (566160)
          Not at all the same. The Saturn 1B could have been used in place of the Shuttle for cargo flights. The Ares-1X has no purpose outside of some testing.
      • by flitty (981864)
        Ares I-X is being made just to answer those "question marks" you infer, not build around them. Most of the Boosters will be very similar to the ones used For Ares I. Most of the test is to test separation and instruments to gather data on how the flight performs. The parachute, RSRM motors, Launch abort Motor, and other instruments have already been tested independantly, this is just to test all the systems together.
        I know it's a site built by the Ares group, but here's more info. Linky [safesimplesoon.com]

        The purpose of Ar

        • by FleaPlus (6935)

          Ares I-X is being made just to answer those "question marks" you infer, not build around them. Most of the Boosters will be very similar to the ones used For Ares I.

          Besides the fact that it'll use a solid rocket, what similarities are there? The Ares I-X will have the well-understood four-segment SRB which has already flown on the Shuttle hundreds of times, instead of the brand-new and unproven five-segment SRB. The Ares I-X will also have the Shuttle SRB's grain design, nozzle, fuel type, and internal pressure, all of which are drastically different with the Ares I. It'll also have a non-functional (e.g. no fuel sloshing around and entirely stiff) upper stage, which r

        • by khallow (566160)
          It won't test most of the Ares I: the first stage, the second stage, and the thrust oscillation mitigation strategies. We also don't yet know if the Ares I will be able to perform the duties that it has been designed for.
    • by peragrin (659227) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:48PM (#28642001)

      while I agree. i also don't want them to completely mothball the shuttles either. There is a handful of missions that only a shuttle can accomplish that would be worth every penny in keeping one on hand.

      My personal favorite goal. When the Hubbel is finally dying And beyond repair, Send up a 2-3 man crew retrieve it and return it to earth safely. That is what the shuttle were meant to do with old satellites. retrieve them for proper disposal on earth. It is one mission not yet attempted. Besides how cool would it be to have the Hubbel space telescope setting in the Smithsonian? heck the majority of the shuttle launch could be financed by donors. It would be risky, but for that honor, i bet you get lots of volunteers.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        That's a total waste of money, considering the shuttles require something like a quarter-billion dollars to launch, aren't exactly the safest spacecraft invented (two have blown up already, and the remaining ones aren't getting any younger), and require lots of money for maintenance.

        Here's a better strategy if you want to spend a little money to put old spacecraft/satellites into museums: just leave them in orbit, or maybe make some small/cheap/unmanned craft (launched on other missions) to push them into m

        • by Cheeko (165493)

          Or you could try killing 2 birds with one stone. Why bother with sending it up empty. I'm sure they have some Satellite that they will need to put up, or some other project, maybe an ISS mission.

          They can send it up to do whatever the prescribed job is, and then grab the hubble and bring it back.

          The only issue might be the orbits. Would take significant fuel to change orbits if they are far apart.

          Might be a cool mission to test some robotic recovery systems. Fire a capsule up and use a robot to place it

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            With the space elevator, they'd probably never send it up empty. There's lots of stuff that people want to send to space, and not so much they want to bring back (at least until they snag some mineral-rich asteroids or something). And with the space elevator, all the energy is used sending cars up, not down. Bringing cars down is free (gravity), and actually generates energy which can be reused for sending cars back up. So if you can bring an old telescope or other satellite to the in-orbit way station,

        • considering the shuttles require something like a quarter-billion dollars to launch, aren't exactly the safest spacecraft invented (two have blown up already, and the remaining ones aren't getting any younger),

          Note that the only other spacecraft that has flown anywhere near as many times as Shuttle (Soyuz) has lost two crews also. And then there's the one that blew up without killing the crew. So, what is this "safest spacecraft" of which you speak?

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            Soyuz has flown many more times than the Shuttle, IIRC, so two losses is statistically much better for the Soyuz.

            Plus, the Soyuz costs about 1/10 as much as the Shuttle to fly, and it's disposable (i.e., they don't waste hundreds of millions repairing it after every trip, they just build a new one).

            The Shuttle was nothing but a big military boondoggle. The Pentagon wanted a way to transport military satellites to orbit and bring them back without spies seeing them. There was never a good reason to make so

            • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @06:54PM (#28643805)

              Soyuz has flown many more times than the Shuttle, IIRC, so two losses is statistically much better for the Soyuz.

              Umm, no. Soyuz 102 manned flights. Shuttle has done 126. So its two losses are statistically worse for Soyuz (1.96% Soyuz, 1.58% Shuttle).

              I know there are people who have been indoctrinated into believing that the Shuttle is the worst vehicle to ever fly into space, and the Soyuz is the best. But, fact is, the numbers support the reverse position.

              Shuttle has had 126 missions. 124 of them reached orbit and returned.

              Soyuz has had 102 missions. 98 of them reached orbit and returned.

              Of the 124 Shuttle missions that reached orbit and returned, 122 completed their intended missions, two had to abort due to non-lethal technical difficulties.

              Of the 98 Soyuz missions that reached orbit and returned, 91 completed their intended missions, seven had to abort due to non-lethal technical difficulties. Note that one of the 91 "successful" missions included accidentally ramming Mir.

              • by dbIII (701233)

                Note that one of the 91 "successful" missions included accidentally ramming Mir.

                And thus led to improvements in the docking system used on ISS now, plus that wasn't the only purpose of that paticular mission. It's cool or whatever to be patriotic in front of your countrymen but think of what it sounds like to others that really care more about space exploration than who does it.
                If I hadn't already read about the incident the above "ramming" comment would have led me to ask which of the two vehicles was des

                • And thus led to improvements in the docking system used on ISS now, plus that wasn't the only purpose of that paticular mission.

                  Which, of course, is why I counted that mission as a success. Note that if Shuttle had damaged ISS in a docking, there are many people who would have insisted that this demonstrated the complete inadequacy of Shuttle as a manned spacecraft.

                  It's cool or whatever to be patriotic in front of your countrymen but think of what it sounds like to others that really care more about space

                  • by dbIII (701233)

                    Alas, you seem to be one of those in love with Soyuz

                    You are merely seeing your reflection with your love for the shuttle and mistaking me for an opponent. As an engineer (not an aerospace one although I had the advantage of a few lecturers that were in that field) I see the launch vehicle as a truly bizzare compromise strapped on the side but I cannot argue with results. I think the problem that most people have with the shuttle is it doesn't always get used for missions where the huge launch bay is an ad

                    • You are merely seeing your reflection with your love for the shuttle and mistaking me for an opponent.

                      No. Shuttle has issues. The biggest one being that the original conception was never followed up on - it was not used in any way terribly differently than an Apollo or Gemini had been used. No space station to support until recently, no deep space missions to support, so really nothing for it to do that couldn't have been done just as well with an Apollo on a Saturn I.

                      Oh, and the fact that we built just

              • by sponga (739683)

                don't forget about them almost burning down the space station, when they didn't test some not so flammable material which shot out a 4 foot flame and almost burnt through the outer wall.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Actually, they are some of the safest spaceships ever built. I suggest you read up on the history of rockets.

          We will ever ahve a space elevator. Even with all the technology in place, the political, practical, and danger issues are far to onerous.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            There are no "danger" issues with a space elevator. Try reading about it sometime.

            There's no practical issues either; the materials technology for the ribbons is very close at hand. The practicality of building it is more more outlandish than the practicality of landing men on the moon. Obviously, it wouldn't be easy, but it's certainly doable.

            The only thing that could conceivably hold us back are political issues, just as those hold us as a species back in many other ways besides space exploration.

        • by Painted (1343347)
          Actually, the original plan was to recover the Hubble at the end of it's life and give it to the Smithsonian. In the end, they did decide that the risk was to great, so the idea was scrapped. Another shuttle plan that didn't quite work out either was to boost Skylab into a higher orbit and use it as a primary destination for the shuttle. Unfortunately, schedule slippage delayed the first flights of the shuttle, and Skylab's orbit decayed faster than expected...
      • by gad_zuki! (70830)

        >heck the majority of the shuttle launch could be financed by donors.

        Donors? We're looking at 600 million or so dollars. Yeah, good luck finding someone willing to donate that much. A mock-up works just as well in the museum. I'd rather see that kind of money used for food security, healthcare, or education. Or at least a new space mission that isnt for museum bragging rights.

        • by peragrin (659227)

          There is $350 million people in the USA alone. That's $2 a piece. Figure $20 since half are kids, and not everyone will do so. Plus the money can be gathered now slowly for the 2015 ending of the Hubbel. also i was figuring $2 billion. Prices always goes up.

          Instead of worrying about the exact dollar figures try to put it into perspective. It is something that is sorely needed as the people of the USA have no clue on how much is spent/earned, and moved around this country every day let alone every year.

          • by gad_zuki! (70830)

            >There is $350 million people in the USA alone. That's $2 a piece. Figure $20 since half are kids, and not everyone will do so.

            So? I dont need a tax increase. If every politician who thought "Hey its only 20 dollars each" stopped thinking like this then I would be paying much less in taxes. A $20 tax adds up over the long term. I just looked at my cellphone bill and Im paying $18 in taxes for one line. Yep, almost 1/3rd of my bill is taxes. So how about we start looking at programs to cut and things t

      • by Martin Blank (154261) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @07:29PM (#28644169) Journal

        There was at least one mission that returned satellites to Earth. STS-51A returned two satellites that had malfunctioned; these were later repaired and successfully relaunched. I thought there were one or two others that did the same (and perhaps they were military missions), but I can't immediately find them.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        "It is one mission not yet attempted"
        Becasue generally it's lame.
        The exception would be the Hubble because of it's historical value.

      • by khallow (566160)

        My personal favorite goal. When the Hubbel is finally dying And beyond repair, Send up a 2-3 man crew retrieve it and return it to earth safely. That is what the shuttle were meant to do with old satellites. retrieve them for proper disposal on earth. It is one mission not yet attempted. Besides how cool would it be to have the Hubbel space telescope setting in the Smithsonian? heck the majority of the shuttle launch could be financed by donors. It would be risky, but for that honor, i bet you get lots of volunteers.

        You need at least a billion dollars to fund the mission (somewhere between 250 and 450 million in marginal costs for the flight and up to a billion to employ the Shuttle workforce for up to six months). Better get to work. My view is nothing, including a retrieval of the Hubble justifies that cost.

      • Using the shuttle to retrieve the Hubble is a moot point anyway. The only shuttle capable of retrieving it was the Columbia -- all the other shuttle bays were reconfigured with equipment to enable them to dock with the ISS. The telescope won't fit with into the reconfigured bay.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cetialphav (246516)

      Everyone says NASA is expensive, but, I think the value is just tremendous.

      When you look at the scientific value of the various unmanned programs, you are right. As a percentage of the nation's GDP, it is quite small and we can make tremendous discoveries.

      The manned programs are a different story. They are hugely expensive, dangerous and provide little scientific value. Apollo, the Space Shuttle, ISS are not much more than engineering exercises that answer the question of "Can we build this?" Even the goal of putting a man on Mars is an engineering exercise. How many remote p

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Wrong. You're not going to learn how to put humans out in space, without actually putting humans out in space. Launching a bunch of unmanned probes is great for learning about other celestial bodies (slowly) without risking lives and costing too much, but when your ultimate goal is to get humans out into space doing things (such as constructing solar power stations on the moon, constructing large moon-based telescopes, mining asteroids, or whatever), these probes aren't helping much.

        Plus, if you actually

      • by tjstork (137384)

        This is where I think NASA is fairly criticized. They want manned missions because they are cool and sexy...science to justify the outrageous costs involved

        The science is actually the art of keeping people alive in space. But, I agree that proponents of manned space flight, such as myself, need to do come up with a better story than just sending people out into space.

        One of the stories that I plan on writing for my site is going to be a call for a doubling of NASA's budget, and map out political and human

        • But, I agree that proponents of manned space flight, such as myself, need to do come up with a better story than just sending people out into space.

          I'm not sure that you need a better story. Simply figuring out how to travel and survive in space is a worthy goal. We don't need practical justifications for the Hubble or interplanetary probes or atomic colliders. We have scientific questions to answer and these tools are the only way to answer them so we do them.

          The problem for manned exploration is that most policy makers have trouble spending billions upon billions just for that story. The total cost of Spirit and Opportunity (for the first 90 days

    • by khallow (566160)
      There's a two word rebuttal: "opportunity cost". Imagine if you will, if that trillion plus dollars spent on NASA over its lifetime were instead spent on space exploration and development. That's a lot of money. We could have space colonies, massive surveys of asteroids and the surface of all major bodies in the Solar System, a huge economy in space, etc. Instead, we got "put a man on the moon, land a couple of rovers on Mars, fly by Jupiter, Saturn, and the outer planets, build and operate a space plane an
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by demachina (71715)

      "NASA was the only organization to put a man on the moon"

      That was 40 years ago, completely different organization now. They for the most part don't even remember how they did it since all nearly all the Apollo veterans have retired.

      "and a couple of rovers on Mars, fly by Jupiter, Saturn, and the outer planets"

      These are more JPL than NASA. JPL manages to operate in a little cocoon that has prevented it from being infected by the pointless bureaucracy in the rest of NASA

      "build and operate a space plane and

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 09, 2009 @03:45PM (#28641177)

    "For the first time in more than a quarter-century [...] on a mobile launch platform (MLP)"

    Good thing they had that little disclaimer. SpaceX's Falcon 9 showed up there earlier this year. From the pictures, the Falcon's launch platform doesn't look like it's going anywhere.

    http://spacex.com/updates.php

  • by Max_W (812974) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @04:29PM (#28641759)
    Again, cool shape, just for the sake to make it look cool and non-Russian. But there are certain things in physics, which are fundamental and cannot be made different.

    NASA should make a rocket with the right architecture. It means it shall look like Soyuz vehicle. No other way exists.

    It is like with Sylvester Stallone's Rocky. He did boxing with hands down in movies. Many boxers in real sport got traumas and spoiled their careers because they wanted to look as cool as Rocky on the ring.

    And while I am on it, no vehicles should be built at all until the scientific metric system of measurement is introduced and imperial medieval system is banned. It should be forbidden, I do not know, by the Geneva convention. Due to pseudo-patriotism the complicated systems are built with archaic feet, elbows, inches, etc. All would be fine, but alive people are to fly it.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Yeah, I'm just holding my breath until England stops using the pint.~

      • by lennier (44736)

        I dunno about the Mother Country but here in Her Majesty's Antipodean Dominions the 'pint' has officially been precisely 600 millilitres since around the 1960s.

        Metric beer: the drink of the future, today!

        • by dargaud (518470)
          What's a pint ? Here we order in terms of 'glass', 'big glass' and 'bucket'. Good enough.
    • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @05:00PM (#28642161)

      Aerodynamics, last I checked, is not a completely solved problem (granted, it's in better shape than the more general fluid dynamics, but still not solved), nor are a large number of other design decisions involved with producing spacecraft. I somehow doubt that aesthetics are trumping science in the look; rather, they're probably guiding the selection among a number of similarly efficient designs.

      As for imperial vs. metric, I think the big hurdle isn't patriotism, it's inertia. People were born and raised on imperial, and it's hard to reprogram them later in life. And teachers start with imperial because you encounter it more often. It's Catch-22; you can't switch until people are comfortable with it, and you can't get comfortable with it until you switch. The U.S. is slowly starting to switch the teaching to metric, so I suspect we'll try the transition again in the next decade or two, once the majority of the population can deal with it. Otherwise, you get smartasses/idiots driving 100 MPH on every highway.

      • by khallow (566160)
        As far as engineering goes, the real problem with the Ares I is the solid motor first stage. In addition to it being responsible for the odd shape and poor aerodynamic characteristics of the Ares I, it also limits the capabilities of the vehicle (the first stage is already as large as it can be), introduces thrust oscillation, a vibration problem that takes mass and performance margin to fix, has poor acceleration and safety characteristics (you can't throttle a SRM, it has lower ISP, it has high max Q or m
      • by CharlieG (34950)

        It's not even that. ARES is reusing a LOT of parts from the STS, including jigs, fixtures, drawings etc. Guess what units they used when designed back in the 1970s? Hint, it wasn't metric

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      And while I am on it, no vehicles should be built at all until the scientific metric system of measurement is introduced and imperial medieval system is banned. It should be forbidden, I do not know, by the Geneva convention. Due to pseudo-patriotism the complicated systems are built with archaic feet, elbows, inches, etc. All would be fine, but alive people are to fly it.

      Don't be retarded. The English system is better for many things, like pints for beer and Fahrenheit for telling people what the weather

      • The English system is better for many things, like pints for beer and Fahrenheit for telling people what the weather is like today.

        Huh? Celcius makes way more sense. 0=melting point of ice. Anything less is freezing. 100=boiling point of water. Anything in the lower teens is cool enough to warrant a jacket, anything in the 20s is warm, 30 and above and it's uncomfortable heat. How's Fahrenheit better?

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          Because temperatures are frequently below the freezing point of water in many parts of the world. 0C isn't all that cold. With Fahrenheit, if it's below 0, then it's really really cold. And if it's above 100, then it's really hot.

          When is it ever going to be anywhere near 100 on the Celcius scale? Never, unless you travel to Venus.

          Lastly, Celcius doesn't have enough resolution. Your thermostat has to allow for half-degrees for Celcius, which is pretty stupid. With Fahrenheit, your thermostat only needs

          • Uh-huh...

            Stop being so stubborn. I was raised on Celsius temps, so I know weather and cooking temps in Celsius.

            I know Celsius temps in the 20s are hot weather (at least for England), and in the 200s is typical cooking temps. I have no clue where hot begins in a Fahrenheit scale. I know freezing point is somewhere around (exactly?) 32F, but no idea what human temp is (~37C), boiling point is (100C) and so on in Fahrenheit.

            If someone tells me how hot it is somewhere in Fahrenheit, I won't understand. 78F, is

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by geekoid (135745)

              So your argument boils* down to "It's better because it's what I'm used to"? Nice.

              *Yes I did.

            • by 4181 (551316)

              no idea what human temp is (~37C)

              It's rather funny that people raised with Fahrenheit will know that body temperature is supposed to be 98.6 F but not realize that is that same as 37 C exactly. (Of course, body temperature actually varies considerably. [wikipedia.org])

          • by smoker2 (750216)
            Celcius and Kelvin have the same resolution. The rest of your post is rubbish too. When Fahrenheit was first devised, zero was at the hot end of the scale, ie. boiling point of water. That makes sense :p
        • Your example explains very clearly on how neither is better, it's just training.

          It is also flawed becasue it doesn't take pressure into account, so those are just two arbitrary points that are only correct a sea level.

          I mean, we should go metric, but the only reasons is that in a global enviroment, we should have a standard measuring system.

          Fahrenheit is also has a finer degree of accuracy.
          You tell somone it's going to be 75, and it's off a few degrees, it's not a big deal.

          • by smoker2 (750216)

            Fahrenheit is also has a finer degree of accuracy.
            You tell somone it's going to be 75, and it's off a few degrees, it's not a big deal.

            So that's accuracy is it ?

      • by lennier (44736)

        "But what scientists use for their daily work has nothing to do with what common people use in their daily lives."

        Except for us here in the rest of the world, who've been using Centigrade temperatures since before I was born.

        Mid 20s is nice and warm. 30 is hot. 0 is precisely freezing. Right now it's a chilly 4 degrees at Christchurch Airport.

        Works just fine for us.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          Fahrenheit works just fine for us. Why should we change? Just because others think we should? No thanks.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            we should change so we have a global measuring system.

            Both sides of this discussion are about what someone is used to.

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              Why exactly do we need a global measuring system? What's wrong with people using units they prefer?

              Do you advocate having a single global government too?

              • by sirsnork (530512)

                Because international projects get royally screwed when someone using the metric system gives someone using the imperial system a measrement of any kind without specifying the unit, and even then having to convert from one unit to another is just one more step where mistakes can be made. I recall something exactly like this happening at NASA not too long ago

                • by Grishnakh (216268)

                  Yes, that's why scientific work should be (and usually is, except when dealing with USA military contractors as happened in that incident you refer to) done in metric units. But don't try to tell Suzy Homemaker or Bob the Plumber that they need to switch to metric units for telling the outdoor temperature or driving their car or using their bathroom scale because of scientific or engineering work and unit conversions, which are not something that normal people do in life, ever. Non-scientists/engineers do

                  • But don't try to tell Suzy Homemaker or Bob the Plumber that they need to switch to metric units for telling the outdoor temperature or driving their car or using their bathroom scale because of scientific or engineering work and unit conversions, which are not something that normal people do in life, ever.

                    Easy sell for Suzy. Tell her that instead of weighing 250 lbs, she'll only weigh about 114 if she switches to kilograms. The chubbies will eat it up.

      • ...and Fahrenheit for telling people what the weather is like today.

        I guess that depends on who you're talking to [wikipedia.org]. In the case of Belize I would guess that "too damn hot" would suffice most of the time anyway, eliminating the problem. The rest of the world is not perfect either, I frequently hear people make the common off-by-273.15 error :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRocketMan (191650)

      And while I am on it, no vehicles should be built at all until the scientific metric system of measurement is introduced and imperial medieval system is banned. It should be forbidden, I do not know, by the Geneva convention. Due to pseudo-patriotism the complicated systems are built with archaic feet, elbows, inches, etc. All would be fine, but alive people are to fly it.

      It's not patriotism as much as infrastructure for fabrication and test. I'm thinking of propulsion here, but this is true of other areas as well. Raw materials required/needed are only available in the USA in English units (5/8in tubing for prop lines, etc), for that to become metric would require all the suppliers to support metric as well: it's not just NASA. Also, machining and test equipment in many facilities (again, not just NASA) are non-metric: again this infrastructure could be converted but wou

  • I heard a story once (no idea of the truth) that the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) used to be called the Vertical Assembly Building. But they got tired of dumb tourists asking "What's a vertical?".

  • When I first read the title I thought it read "Stacking of new space vehicle begins at KFC", and I'm thinking to myself "KFC is making sandwiches outta rockets now?"

    Then I read it more carefully. It's weird because I eat at KFC maybe once a year, so why is "KFC Stacker" embedded in my brain?

    • by macraig (621737)

      I mean, "Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility" definitely sounds like something KFC would be doing to chicken, right?

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