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NASA ISS Science

SpaceX Dragon Launch To ISS Set For April 30th 127

Spy Handler writes "NASA announced today a tentative April 30th date for SpaceX launch to the International Space Station on an unmanned cargo mission. 'Everything looks good as we head toward the April 30 launch date,' said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. If successful, SpaceX will become the first private company to launch a space vehicle and dock with the ISS."
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SpaceX Dragon Launch To ISS Set For April 30th

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  • The deeper problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zippo01 ( 688802 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @05:58AM (#39708485)
    The failure of NASA, speaks to a much deeper issue growing in US culture. People only care that it works, not how or why it works, and make no effort to understand. This is also why the US is falling behind as the world leader in tech. This is the same thing that causes us to buy cheap products from china, that break, and instead of fixing them, we just buy more. It makes me sad.
  • by lxs ( 131946 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @06:19AM (#39708525)

    Bad idea.
    Two words: Space junk.

    The Invisible Hand has a bad record for picking up after itself.

  • Re:Arianespace (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @06:20AM (#39708527) Homepage

    No, see, it's not proper rocketry unless you read about it in a NASA press release.

    Which is the problem here: why are we hearing about this from NASA? Screw those lumbering dinosaurs and their thousand-dollar hammers, I'd love to see SpaceX, Virgin or any other player just go ahead and send a surprise cheap dumb booster up to the ISS for so little outlay that they can say "Oh hai, say, do you guys you want these supplies or not? Doesn't bother us much either way, we'll just leave them in orbit here in case you change your mind."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @06:37AM (#39708565)

    Actually what makes westerners, you and me included, to buy new items instead of fixing them is the just cost of repair. Let's say a reasonably well-performing nondescript toaster from your local hypermarket costs $50 or $100 for a "high end" one. Let's also suppose that you get $20 an hour. You basically have three choices:

    1. Find out what is broken, get a replacement part, and replace it yourself.

    Sounds easy, but if it's anything except the heating element, you need more than a multimeter to figure out which individual component is broken. Suppose you're so lucky that you actually find it in the local repair shop. Now, just do that math between cost of replacement part + cost of labor versus cost of new toaster. Even if you get the part for free, and you are such an amazing tech that a fixed toaster is as good as new, anything over 3 hours is a waste as that's about how long it takes, after taxes, to get the money for a new toaster

    2. Take it to the repair shop.

    Still easier, but you cannot be guaranteed that cost of troubleshooting + cost of repair + cost of parts + cost of trip to take the toaster + cost of trip to pick it up will be less than cost of a new toaster. Anyhow, since the cost of labor in this case has to be paid with after-tax money, this is guaranteed to be more expensive than DIY (Assuming you are every bit as competent as the repair guy)

    3. Just buy a new one

    Sadly, this is the cheapest choice. I say sadly, because I for one would rather buy sturdy appliances that last for ages, especially when the underlying user requirement stays unchanged. Would go a long way in saving the planet

    Of course, if people were willing to pay more for repairability and ecological soundness then maybe such solutions would emerge, but behavioral economics tells us otherwise...

  • Re:Arianespace (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @06:58AM (#39708605) Homepage Journal

    Which is the problem here: why are we hearing about this from NASA? Screw those lumbering dinosaurs and their thousand-dollar hammers,

    If they had bought five thousand dollar hand tools instead, tested for space operations, instead of listening to those short-sighted people who want to pinch pennies whenever they see them, we might not have hand tools floating in space [wikipedia.org].

  • Reality check (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:18AM (#39709997)

    A little perspective is needed here.

    SpaceX is doing something that the US managed during the Gemini program, the USSR perfected in the 1970's with the Salyut stations, and the Chinese have just done. The first two of those national programs did so without any help or prior knowledge to draw on, and the Chinese had less help from the Russians than is commonly acknowledged.

    SpaceX has had their hand held every step of the way by NASA, and have benefitted greatly from NASAs expertise, experience and technology - as have all commercial space launch companies in the US. The people running these companies freely admit this, but the libertarian fanboys simply refuse to, and demand NASA "get out of the way". This is like a teenage, entirely dependent on his parents income to live, demanding they "get out of the way" of his life.

    Secondly, the "commercial" label is quite a stretch. These companies are offering a service that is almost exclusively used by a government agency (the very one that fanboys want to die right now quickly please) - they are not catering to a market. The artificial generation of demand that they are exploiting is pure Keynesian. No wonder the space libertarian crowd don't want to talk about this aspect of it.

    It is nice that the US is working towards a Shuttle replacement, regardless of how it achieves this - but it is wrong to take this as a sign of the Ultimate Capitalist Triumph In Space, or as a cue to tear apart NASA in the name of ideology.

    The reality at present is this; you can support the Libertarian Party, Ron Paul, and any other markets-above-all nuts - OR you can support the continued presence of the US in space. You cannot do both, at least not honestly.

  • Re:Arianespace (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Necron69 ( 35644 ) <.jscott.farrow. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @10:38AM (#39710273)

    Are you people really that stupid to think that both SpaceX and NASA haven't spent tens of thousands of man hours planning, testing, retesting, and triple testing this docking procedure? Are you aware that the only reason it takes two people to do the docking is that NASA won't _allow_ SpaceX to do the docking automatically like the Russian Soyuz? Instead, they have to pull up close to the station, and then get grabbed by the robot arm, for SAFETY.

    Do you have any idea how many ex-NASA and space shuttle contractors have been hired by SpaceX? Do you know how many former astronauts work there?

    God, it is like some people think Elon Musk hired a bunch of high school rocket club kids and is being allowed to dock with the space station based on plans drawn on the back of a napkin.

    Get a freaking clue, people.

    - Necron69

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @11:24AM (#39710781)

    So, you love your job so much that your time off is worth *less* to you than the time you spend at work? Glad to hear it, not everyone is so lucky.

    Your "basic economic resource" isn't money, it's time. Money is only one thing you can exchange that time for, and unless you're under-employed you're already selling about as much of it as you care to at the wage you're receiving. Ergo your remaining time is worth *more* in dollar terms than the time you spend at work.

  • by Covalent ( 1001277 ) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:05PM (#39711403)

    That's because you're talking with a Space Nutter. There's nothing rational about what they propose. They just think space is some kind of giant Wal Mart filled with resources waiting to be plundered, instead of the deadly, hostile, huge vacuum it really is. Any sci-fi they read is the equivalent of fully thought-out realistic engineering.

    I'll make an exception.

    I'm a physicist, so I'm willing to bet I know more than you do about this topic. I'm familiar with the idea that space is, in fact, a deadly, hostile vacuum. But I'm also familiar with the fact that lack of gravity is, at least currently, horribly detrimental to human health. If we are going to exist in space long term, we need gravity.

    The beauty of a rotating station is that the hub has zero centripetal acceleration. I'll simplify that for you: THE MIDDLE DOESN'T SPIN. That means that you can do all kinds of great zero-g research in the middle and also do your fuel transfers and other "easier in zero g" things there. And on the rim you can do all of the other valuable things I mentioned previously.

    Now go back to your Jersey Shore and your Lite Beer and leave this conversation to people who know of what they speak.

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler