Codraroll

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About Codraroll

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    Spacecraft Engineer
  1. Thanks for the replies, everybody (very interesting story, @DerekL1963!). I guess that the takeaway is that the future is here, and we have a precense in space and do interesting things there, but space is still so dangerous that even with the best technology and the smartest people available, it is still necessary to take half a day to open a hatch. Opening hatches is an inherently dangerous activity in space. Thinking about that fact is a bit of an ice bucket in the face of the optimistic sci-fi enthusiast in me, but I guess I should be really excited about the fact that we have found a way to open hatches in space at all, given how much can go wrong with it. Here's hoping that plenty of hatches will be opened safely in the future too!
  2. There are times when I wonder how complex certain tasks in space really can be, and if the (probably perfectly valid!) reasons why they are so complex can ever be trivialized. When something as conceptually simple as opening a hatch becomes an operation that has to be scheduled and set aside for later, things either seem too complex or too daring to shake my faith in the whole "space future" thing. EDIT: Initially misread as "the hatch will be opened tomorrow". Point still stands, though. I'm either wondering why they can't just reach a hand out and open the damn thing already, or if the reasons they have to wait are so challenging and dangerous that space travel can never be made practical or convenient.
  3. That depends on the level of precision. With sufficient technology, you could make the enemy's weapons useless in their hands, or flash-weld the moving parts of a vehicle-mounted gun together. Just hope they have the precense of mind to drop the weapon before it becomes too hot to touch...
  4. Even if the Mobile Launch Pad turns out to just be another part to stick on a vessel, I'm intrigued by the "adapting to terrain" bit. Because it has implications for making planetary bases, which currently is a rather tedious and unrewarding piece of gameplay. It's nearly hopeless to asssemble anything on a surface, which is made even worse with uneven terrain. It's doable to construct something rudimentary on the flat plains of Minmus, but on more rocky bodies you'd have to be an expert player to assemble anything half-decent (not that there's much to gain from it anyway - you have to physically dock to a stationary base to extract resources from it, which is extremely difficult to do with a vessel built for spaceflight). Best-case scenario is that this feature allows the construction of launchpads on other bodies. I want to be able to build a "stepping stone" base on Duna and construct and launch my Dres mission from there. If I want to jet ski across the seas of Laythe, and have a well-staffed and -supplied base there already, I shouldn't necessarily have to haul the craft all the way from Kerbin. Opening up for permanent off-world bases would make interplanetary gameplay a lot more rewarding. Besides, it would allow you to create some fun late-game challenge scenarios, such as transporting goods from Ike to Eeloo, or Dres to Duna, or Eve to Tylo The Mun to Kerbin.
  5. I guess asteroid mining or a really large and for some reason well-funded lunar colony might do it. For asteroid mining, one would need both excavators, separators and refineries. No need to bring tons of ore back to Earth if you're only going to get a few kilograms of refined metal out of it. Not after the first few rounds, at least, where the scientific and novelty value of even "useless" asteroid slag has diminished. An industrial asterioid mining vehicle or station would be a really big and heavy thing, requiring lots of material to be placed in orbit. Might as well do it in as few launches as possible, and/or do as much assembly as possible on Earth and sending it to space in large, prebuilt chunks. And lunar colonies... I guess if somebody found some incredibly lucrative reason to go to the moon, a large amount of equipment would have to be hauled there in a relatively short time frame. That would probably be mining-related as well, once again needing large and heavy-lift capable rockets.
  6. Alternate interpretation: Prograde burn - burning to accelerate in the direction you're heading. Retrograde burn - burning to accelerate in the opposite direction of where you're heading. Tardigrade burn - sterilizing your spacecraft.
  7. I think this discussion has sprung up off-topic in several threads, but not had a thread of its own that I know of (I'm comparatively new here, but I'm fairly sure we haven't had anything in the recent couple of months, at least). So I figured... why not create a thread for it? So, we're all quite aware of SpaceX's development of the Falcon Heavy, touting the capacity to send just short of 64 metric tons to low Earth orbit, and a little less than half that to GTO. NASA's questionably-fated Space Launch System promises to (well, intends to, at the very least) send 70 tons or more to the same place, on a mounting plate 8.4 meters in diameter. Blue Origin has a slightly smaller bird than those two in development with the New Glenn, and the Russian Energia corporation has also spoken about building a super heavy-lift launch vehicle (I' using Wikipedia's term here, I hope it's the correct one). Now, big rockets are fun and all (that very fact is presumably part of the reason why most of us are right here right now), but common criticism against these projects goes along the lines of "they have no payload". This might be true for the SLS in particular, since it's very big and very capable, but not built to the specifications of any mission. The Falcon Heavy has also been mentioned to have problems integrating the heavy payload - lifting it to space is not an issue, but lifting the rocket from a horizontal to a vertical position might be. Let's just assume that the rockets work as intended without significant payload integration problems for the purpose of this thread. In this thread I'd like to discuss what all this super-heavy launch capacity could be used for. What could you possibly (or feasibly, or economically) bolt to the tip of such large rockets and send into orbit with a meaningful purpose? I suppose "recreating the Apollo missions" could be an answer, but let's try to be more creative than that. Besides, the Saturn V was even larger than the SLS, so presumably the latter wouldn't even be suitable for that purpose. I presume an obvious payload candidate would be whatever will success the ISS. Some perhaps-not-directly-applicable-to-real-life KSP experiences suggest that you can get away with fewer launches to build a space station if you assemble more of it on the ground and launch it in fewer, heavier parts, but volume might be an issue. Also, with limits of 8.4 meters and 70 tons to play with, you could probably launch a very big and capable space telescope. Or perhaps another rocket stage with a smaller payload destined for some far-off location - but where, and how? What do you think?
  8. Okay, it's presumed that the self-sufficient moon colony has a manufacturing base, and that all necessary electronics and machinery can be repaired and/or even manufactured from scratch with materials from the colony. Luckily, the colony would only need to stay by itself for a few decades. With no complex life to infect, and an individual lifespan of minutes to hours, any plague bacteria would die out rather quickly. Intense radiation would be a longer-term problem, but luckily high intensity also means the material "burns out" more quickly. Intense radiation corresponds to a short half-life, after all. Of course, some concentrations of radioactive waste would be lethal for centuries or millennia, but you wouldn't manage to spread dead-within-hours-of-exposure levels of radiation all over the planet. The Earth is simply too big for that. So I guess the first thing the colony would do, would be sending probes with dosimeters down the well. Trying to map the areas of higher radiation, and surveying for useful materials. A city would still contain vast amounts of scavenge-able materials, just scattered about a little. There could very well be some mining robots coming next (assuming they figure out a way for them to survive landing - luckily, areobraking with parachutes or even glide-landing on intact airports is an option). The lunar colonists would eventually have to master remote-controlled robot operations. They would have to have a robot operation going on on Earth for decades, gathering materials enough to manufacture lunar rockets to return scavenge to the moon, or hardened radiation shelters (has to be a known technology to the moon, as a lunar colony is dependent on them anyway) so colonists can come down to Earth again. Living underground on Earth without a biosphere wouldn't be much different from living underground on the Moon, except that the human body is much better adjusted to the gravity. From there on, everything would have to revolve around bringing in more resources, filtering out and scrubbing away radioactive isotopes, and using them to continue human survival in underground shelters, or radiation-proofed suits/vehicles on the surface. Life would go on both on Earth and the Moon, eventually.
  9. I'm not sure if the grainy cameras are silly and outdated, or a testament to an impressive policy of making do with what you've got and not squander money upgrading things that still work perfectly. That footage from the control room looks like it was shot by cameras produced in the seventies, and they may very well roll for several more years because they still do the job they were designed to do.
  10. On a weighted scale, a promise of less than six months is a great improvement, though. As a rule of thumb: Anything announced to happen more than two years into the future is just as likely to never happen at all. Announcements between two years and six months in the future may eventually be realised, but they can be postponed for one year at a time indefinitely. For anything announced to happen in less than six months, add 50 % to the time span between now and the scheduled event (min. value 1 day). For anything announced to happen today, the chance of it being postponed may always be approximated to 50 %. So if they say "it will happen in four months", it may happen in six months, rather than being postponed for longer periods of time again.
  11. They should just pack up and start constructing a launch pad in Mogadishu already. Seriously, while Somalia has a few too many problems and then some today, if/when the dust settles they've got the perfect location for a spaceport. Not much room for launches inclined to the north, but they've got almost the entire south-east quadrant completely free of places that would mind a booster falling down on it. Apama, Brazil, has its north-east quadrant free, so with some cooperation, the two locations could handle all kinds of launches along the equator plane.
  12. Short term, technologically realistic and without huge R&D prerequisites? I'd say that we could get an ISS successor up and running, at least. And we could make it fancy. Artificial gravity-fancy. A mighty ferris wheel in orbit, with laboratories working on long-term life support. Floating greenhouses for zero-G or low-G agronomy. I'd say we could build an orbital colony of sorts, like an ISS on steroids. Probably employing dozens or even a couple hundred people full-time, on multi-week shifts with regular rotation not unlike terrestrial oil platforms. The stuff learnt from the station(s) would propel us to the stars in the longer term, or at least to the Moon and eventually Mars. Also, we could address space debris quite simply and effectively. Infinite money, remember? Just send up a separate mission to retrieve or redirect every known and tracked piece of debris. It would probably be a good idea to perfect, or at least significantly improve, first- and second-stage recovery and reuse, though, since you'd need a lot of launches. Building a few extra spaceports wouldn't hurt either, so you have somewhere to launch the darn things from. At any rate, it might be a good idea to spend some time in low Earth orbit figuring out things like radiation shielding, crop growing, procedures for long-term flight and life support before we go anywhere far. Maintaining a vessel and its crew in space for long periods of time needs to become a routine thing before we go somewhere we can't quickly return from. It also wouldn't hurt to spend some time building and testing new propulsion technology with the infinite money we've got, before we order a zillion old-fashioned chemical rockets and make a habit of doing stuff inefficiently because money doesn't matter (otherwise, eventually resources would - on a world with only eight kilograms of unobtainium on it, no amount of money could buy you ten kilograms).
  13. Even if a "sphere-within-a-hollow-sphere" thing was achieved somehow, I doubt that the core and the shell could rotate at different rates. At least not for long. Wouldn't the atmosphere between them create quite a lot of friction between the two, eventually slowing the shell or accelerating the core until their speeds were somewhat matching?
  14. I don't think this would work very well for combat. As stated previously, a rifle would appear as a white-hot dot after a single shot. But for spotters for artillery, or recon units, I could see it being useful. Those guys whose mission is considered a failure if they ever have to fire their rifles. They lay around in the bushes with binoculars and radios, hoping to never draw the attention of the enemy (such as by shooting at them). Then somebody else, far away, takes care of the shooting part.
  15. I'm going to take the thread question back to its simplest form and say "It went kablooey".