Bill Phil

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About Bill Phil

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  • Location The Planet Gunsmoke
  1. I don't use mods often. I installed Mechjeb once, and it made the game boring for me. I have used the Project Orion mod. That was fun... beyond that I can't recall what I've used. But right now I'm fully stock.
  2. As long as the commander of the team wisecracks all the time and is hiding his intelligence, we have a book smart guy who ascends to a higher plane, an alien with a weird worm parasite thing incubating inside him, and a tech savvy highly skilled woman, we'll be fine. I mean, how many times do you have to save the world to get a promotion? Or blow up stars? Huh. My avatar is the logo of a space wing. Specifically the 21st.
  3. The problem with the "total programmatic risk" approach to assessing multiple types of missions is that it fails to take into account parasite launch vehicles. Which can easily add tens of billions to total project cost. Not to mention the nightmares of having just a launch per year, if not less. There's a reason I said "could", and that's because it "can't", at least not in the 551 version. The 552 version might be able to put more up there. Heck, the Atlas V has had a pretty significant cost reduction in recent years, not to mention its high reliability. I'd rather rely on a launcher with very few failures than one with no launches. Basically, if a parasite launch vehicle shows up, expect an increase in program cost by many billions of dollars. Yes, there are more chances for something to go wrong. But you're trading an increase in the occurrence of failures for an increase in redundancy for those failures. More things will go wrong, but the system as a whole is more capable of handling those events than a heavy lift architecture. The arguments you make are true, yes, but there's a reason I didn't take that into account. Because the small increase in cost from those concerns is still less than the cost of developing and then launching six SLS rockets. Far, far less. And considering that most of the engineering and cost will be for the final assembled spacecraft, launch costs are unimportant. A few billion is less than NASA's annual budget, what's going to be the vast majority is developing the spacecraft and the cost of the spacecraft itself. In any case, it should be similar in cost to the ISS, except that it can actually go to Mars. And it may cost even less, considering that most of the mass is propellant, and that no Shuttle flights would be involved. We wouldn't really know until we do a detailed analysis. The point I'm making here is that the effort spent to develop SLS would've been far better suited to developing a spacecraft using many smaller launchers. But instead we had to wait for a heavy lifter when it's totally unnecessary. Sure, you may get reduced costs with an already existing heavy launcher, but we don't have one. Heck, we technically had one for 30 years, but it had to waste 80% of its payload capacity. While there are plenty of added complications to EOR, they are possible to overcome. Heavy lift is not necessary for Mars. Even the Moon. What is necessary is money. A lot of it. But if you don't already have a heavy lift system, then developing a new one just increases the cost.
  4. Another problem is that they're developing three different variants which are quite different, essentially three different aircraft. The YF-12 had three air to air missiles. Although it's more an interceptor than a fighter, but then again, the P-80 was so called as a "pursuit" plane...
  5. Uh, no. We launch already existing rockets. If you need a few hundred tonnes of stuff in orbit, say, 300 tonnes, you shouldn't develop a whole new launcher for it. Akin's 39th Law of Spacecraft Design: An Atlas V 551 could launch 20 tonnes into a 28 degree Low Earth Orbit (according to Astronautix) at 153 million dollars. That's only 2.3 billion dollars to orbit 300 tonnes. There are cheaper launchers, probably. But still, that's doable. Most of that mass is propellant, so if we could somehow get some for cheap using some other method (space guns like Project HARP, from an asteroid, from the Moon, whatever) then we'd be golden. Heck, that orbital launch cost is still less than the cost per lunar mission for Apollo (over ten billion per mission). Most of our cost will be R&D and construction for the final space hardware. If we don't waste anything developing new launchers, we can keep the cost down. But it's probably too late for that... Point is that we can get away with EOR, which would still be necessary for a Mars Mission anyways, even with a heavy lifter.
  6. But a heavy lifter isn't necessary for a Mars mission...
  7. Well you just need about 1g over a few meters.
  8. The F-35 is going through so many problems because it's a fighter that has to be used by different branches of the military and they want it to last a very long time. Meaning it has to be bleeding edge technology. Which means that the development will be riddled with problems. But if I had to pick one, I'd say... huh. Most are kind of weird. I'm fond of the old ones. My grandfather flew Scorpions, I think...
  9. This isn't that great of an idea... theoretically you could make a shell world if you have a black hole and can control it, but that takes too much mass. It'd be more efficient to build Bishop rings or Mckendree Cylinders. You would need about 1.47e19 kilograms for a shell world with a ten kilometer radius. You'd only get about 1200 square kilometers. You could just put two O'Neill cylinder pairs near each and get about the same area. That'd only be about 1.6e13 kilograms. Much easier to deal with. And no black holes involved. Although tiny planets are still cool. The reason I mention black holes here is because that's the only known way of getting enough mass into a small enough size. Maybe neutron star density matter could work, but that's arguably more difficult. Of course, black holes have their own issues.
  10. What's funny is that the last one is demonstrably wrong. Number 10, specifically. Architects do take into account the curvature of the Earth. The Golden Gate Bridge is so long that the towers aren't as close to parallel as smaller bridges are. This can be measured. This is probably one of the few things that can actually be refuted with hard evidence that they might believe...
  11. Rocket launches cost more than entire container ships... *silent scream
  12. To be fair a rocket like this hasn't flown in a long time. Not to mention that it's a far cry from the shuttle in many respects. Almost complete redesign of the SRBs as well as the core.
  13. One of the things I've noticed is that there are a decent number of episodes in TNG that have very similar plots... but I'm not sure if that's a bad thing. My only real issue with TNG is that there's no mirror universe episode. The closest we got was "Yesterday's Enterprise", but that's not the mirror universe. I guess DS:9 kind of fixed that. The same way we do, I presume. A lot of people forget that we speak in memes, too. A good portion of modern English vernacular has origins in old stories. "Break the ice" for example, is from Shakespeare's plays. So it's not much of a stretch that communication could be done by referencing stories. So long as the meaning is universally understood, then it works. Sometimes we make comparisons between our lives and the characters in various stories.
  14. Short answer: Yes, it's possible to terraform Mars. Long answer: Yes, it's possible to terraform Mars. But you shouldn't. Assuming you want equal pressure as Earth sea level, you'd need about ten tonnes force of pressure per square meter. Problem is, that isn't ten tonnes on Mars. It's about 26. How much mass is that? Well, Mars has a surface area of 144,798,500 (sorry for my Americanisms) square kilometers. Multiply by 1 million to get square meters, and you get 1.448 * 10^14 square meters. Multiply that by about 26 for the terraformed Mars' atmosphere. That's about 3.765*10^15 tonnes. What's the problem, you ask? Well, firstly, that is a LOT of mass. Secondly, you'd have to move that mass. Thirdly, you can move far less mass and get the same area with a little something called orbital colonies. Why? Well, orbital colonies only need about ten tonnes per square meter for shielding, and that shielding basically dominates the mass. Sometimes by over 95%, sometimes even 99%. So it's safe to say that a colony's mass is essentially its shielding mass. For an O'neill Cylinder about 6.4 kilometers in diameter and 32 km in length, with half of its area being windows (not wholly necessary, but it's part of the design) we get an area of 321.7 square kilometers. That's 321.7 million square meters. So, the mass would be about 3.2 billion tonnes per cylinder (3.2*10^9). A counter rotating cylinder pair would mass around 6.4 billion tonnes, but I'd round up to 7 billion or maybe 8 because of the extra structures. Why don't we have to shield the windows? Well, the air between the land opposite the window will shield that land, and the radiation going in from the window at an angle will be quite small, and partially shielded thanks to the atmosphere. So, what's the total mass for 144,798,500 square kilometers of O'Neill cylinders? Assuming the 8 billion tonne figure, and 643.4 square kilometers per cylinder pair, we get about 1.8*10^15. About half the total mass. And that's ignoring the oceans we may want on Mars, which will reduce the total useable land area and increase the mass we have to move. But there's another advantage to the orbital colonies. A few, to be more exact. Time. One colony could, in theory, be built in a matter of years after all the R&D and infrastructure is in place. And then you get a complete colony that can house hundreds of thousands, potentially millions. In a thousand years, assuming production output grows enough, we could easily build the 200k+ colonies needed to get the equivalent land area. Potentially even faster. And since each colony isn't a part of a larger planet, it can be occupied while the project is ongoing. Another advantage is distance. These colonies can be just days away from Earth, not to mention much closer in terms of Delta-V. Another advantage is that mass production may enable the whole project, when all is said and done, to be cheaper than terraforming Mars, after that process finishes (if it ever does).
  15. A lot of planes have variants across many levels.