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Everything posted by Codraroll

  1. At least the one on the south pole isn't Scott crater. For a while after the race to the pole, it seems to have been a common British narrative that Scott was its moral victor, having done everything the proper and gentlemanly way; that mere flukes were the reason why that honourless barbarian Amundsen arrived first; and that the death of Scott and his entire party on the return journey were merely insignificant details in the glorious triumph. It seems that somebody thought Shackleton was a more fitting hero to be memorialized through the polar crater on the Moon, since he at least returned from the Antarctic. Still, it feels kinda cheap that the honour didn't go to Amundsen, who actually went to the South Pole. Oh, and fun fact: Amundsen was also the first person to properly document a visit to the North Pole. The two other claimants to the title did a rather poor job of proving they had actually been there. Amundsen arrived there by airship, though, after a single day's breezy flight from Svalbard, so his achievement in that regard was a bit overshadowed by previous expeditions who went there the hard way.
  2. If the whole thing caught fire and burned down at the launchpad, it would simultaneously be the saddest and funniest thing in spaceflight history.
  3. Heh, another army story about the moon. Not from my year of service, but apparently a couple years before: During an exercise, all the platoons in our company where tasked to secure the perimeter around the battalion HQ. Each platoon had its own little guard post, responsible for part of the perimeter. Each guard post was tasked to monitor the field of view between there and there, usually marked with different objects visible from the post. Stones, trees, ditches, etc. This would create overlapping fields of view and zones of responsibility around the entire HQ. ... if not for the fact that one of the guard posts was told to use the moon as its right-side limit. As the night went on and the moon moved across the sky, their field of view (and zone of responsibility) grew and grew, and the hapless soldiers eventually noticed movement in their zone. Cue the alarm being raised and a huge ruckus erupting. There was a lot of shouting and firing for a while until it was realized that the sleep-deprived soldiers had attacked their neighbouring guard post. The battalion was docked quite a few points in that exercise.
  4. Have we still not succeeded in explaining to you what a horribad idea pusher plates are in atmosphere? One word: shockwaves. You really don't want to go about with explosive propulsion in a medium that can transfer the explosive force to the entirety of your craft. But I digress. The problem here is that "the air thins" is an event that will happen quite early in flight, as the rocket goes up first and then starts going fast sideways, because you don't want to go fast in an atmosphere for drag-related reasons. So a spacecraft's ascent profile tends to seek thin air before it starts building up the speed required to stay in orbit. In other words, the air-breathing engines will not be of use for more than the first short leg of the flight, but require their own wiring and plumbing and take up weight on the craft all the same. That's a particularly bad drawback on an SSTO. They're helpful for the first minute or so after take-off, and from there on they are dead weight. And you still need a different set of engines to actually take you to orbit. You might be able to use the air-breathing engines as a first stage of a rocket, though. I think the first stage of Saturn V only flew in the lower parts of the atmosphere. But that means disconnecting that entire stage from the spacecraft after they have expended their usefulness.
  5. I think a key point here is whether Starship could hold crew and cargo at the same time, like the Shuttle could. You'd need EVA-capability on the crewed part, cargo doors big enough to fit Hubble (sans solar panels), a Canadarm to grapple the telescope into the cargo bay, and astronauts to do the final strapping-down. If the Starship comes in either crew or cargo configuration, but not both at the same time, things get a lot more complicated. Having to rendezvous three craft so close to each other that astronauts could travel between them, KSP-style, would presumably be a bit of a safety nightmare.
  6. Come to think of it, what would be considered the exact point of completion of SpaceX's mission obligations? Is the recovery process after splashdown part of NASA's mission, so SpaceX is off the hook once the capsule lies steady in the water (KSP style)? Or does SpaceX have to fish it out of the drink and put it on a ship before they can call it a job well done? And who would be responsible for taking the capsule back to shore? For unmanned missions, I guess it's not a very important distinction, but somebody would probably be fined for littering if the capsule wasn't recovered. Whose responsibility would that be?
  7. It's human-rated in one domain, but went a bit beyond that for the particular journey in question. Similar to how the Apollo 10 capsule probably wasn't rated for taking crew to solar orbit for six decades.
  8. Oh, it was definitely human-rated. One can't just put together any contraption of seats and wheels and take it into traffic. Try riding the Voyager 1 down a highway, you would be pulled over for lacking some quite essential features (most notably, and probably quite puzzling to the cop who pulled you over, wheels). That Tesla design went through a rigorous approval process to ensure it fulfilled a variety of different criteria to be legally usable in traffic. That's human-rating even by a very strict definition of the term.
  9. If I recall the story about that video correctly, all the five men were volunteers. The camera man, however, was not. He was not happy to be there.
  10. By the way, since this thread has now existed for more than three years, might it be time to remove the "[New]" tag from its title?
  11. Human memory is a fickle and fallible thing, especially concerning things that happened gradually in the background of your life decades ago. At least back it up with some weather statistics. Umm ... no. Because transitioning to a different production is more expensive and a higher risk than simply sowing doubt among policymakers to protect the very profitable status quo. It's amazing what actual evidence can do. Do you have any? This again. Another unsubstantiated claim. Consider, then, how much money fossil fuel companies would pay for actual hard evidence that fossil fuels weren't accelerating climate change. They'd build statues of the guy who proved it. They'd definitely help spread the definitive arguments. Instead, what are we seeing? Heaps and heaps of the same bad science that was refuted in the 1980's. Repeating the same tired old lies, misrepresenting datasets, and spreading conspiracy theories about the research instead of presenting research of their own. The best arguments they've got against anthropocentric climate change is to spew non-arguments. If they had been able to substantiate their claims, they would have done so to great effect. The fact that they aren't suggests they don't have any evidence. Hence the consensus among researchers who actually look into the subject. That's also one of the key arguments brought forth by a merited meteorologist I've spoken to about the issue. There simply aren't any good alternative explanations being put forward. The denialist "science" is hopelessly lacking in quality and they have no data to back it up. If you have any data or good theories that explain the observed increase in temperature without involving the increase of atmospheric radiative forcing caused by human CO2 emissions, then please present them. Keep in mind that it would also involve overturning pretty much everything we know about the thermal properties of CO2 (since we know how much of it has been released to the atmosphere), and that's stuff we can measure pretty easily, and a whole host of industrial processes depend on the gas behaving exactly like we think it does. You might as well try to overturn glaciology by claiming water freezes at 282 Kelvin. This meaningless word salad shows one thing, and that is that your grasp of the elementary mechanisms at play is very weak at best. I suggest you read up on some literature on the subject before taking such a rigid stance in what you believe about it.
  12. I like XKCD's visualization, which uses a linear scale to show the temperature variation over the last 22,000 years. Gives you an impression of how slowly it used to change, and how fast it's currently going.
  13. Personal anecdotes aren't scientific arguments. Pick a series of actual measurements instead. Such as these: Care to find any national or international scientific bodies or institutions of any reasonable merit that actively argues against the anthropogenic theory of climate change? Fossil fuel companies are funding denialism to protect the status quo for another few years of immense profits. And again, why would those who mine and refine be better qualified to answer whether carbon dioxide is warming the atmosphere, than the people who actively monitor the atmosphere? The former are just using the atmosphere as a dumping ground, not a field of study. But at any rate, the fossil fuel companies caught on to the idea quite early. Here's a memo from Exxon from 1982, outlining a depressingly accurate assessment of the rate of warming in the coming (which is to say, as of November this year, the past) 40 years: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2805576-1982-Exxon-Memo-to-Management-About-CO2 Again, this is so wrong I don't even know how to begin to refute it, and it speaks volumes that you aren't substantiating it despite already being told that it's inaccurate. At least, please do consider how many people go into rather poorly paid jobs in the sciences with a dream of finding something that would upend the status quo rather than maintain it. It's about the long and short carbon cycles (also called the slow and fast carbon cycles). In very basic terms: At any given time, there's X amount of carbon in the Earth's atmosphere and biosphere. Plants suck up carbon from the air as they grow, and release it back to the air as they burn or otherwise decay (sometimes going a detour via animal life). The value of X changes extremely slowly, as carbon is only removed from this cycle when dead plants (and animals) are buried in geological strata instead of releasing their decay carbon back to the atmosphere. This is a tremendously slow process. However, there's also a large amount of carbon (let's call it Y) trapped in geological strata due to aeons of buried plants and animals. The tremendously slow process mentioned above, accumulated over time. This long-cycle carbon is the fossil fuels we keep digging back up and releasing into the atmosphere. We're causing X to grow at an alarmingly fast rate by unleashing carbon from Y. What took millions of years to bury, we're putting back in the span of decades. So coal is long-cycle carbon which otherwise would not have interacted with the atmosphere at all. Plants use short-cycle carbon, taken from the atmosphere and destined to be released back there without changing the value of X at all. Most of this tremendous increase of the amount of carbon in the short/fast carbon cycle makes it directly to the atmosphere, as there is only so much biomass to store carbon in after all. Increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere also increases its thermal capacity, hence global warming. Wikipedia has a good article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle
  14. This is blatantly wrong on so many levels I don't even know where to begin.
  15. Eight hundred launches to rid the Earth of all radioactive waste products produced so far? In a scenario where one Starship can be prepared for launch every day, it'd take less than three years to clear the storage? That's great news if true. Or less than three decades if you launch one-tenth the amount at a time, to shield it in containment units in case of RUD-ing. Heck, you could divide by ten again, and possibly once more, and it'd still not be too shabby considering the alternative is to maintain storage sites for many millennia. Then again, as @Terwin says, the radioactive energy left in the waste could potentially be put to use rather than throwing it all away. Parking it in high orbit for future prospection would probably be more useful than throwing it into the sun.
  16. Yeah, I was suspecting there could be similar issues surrounding Baikonur, but with so few people around, the same doctrine of indiscriminately discarding rocket stages would result in more acceptably low risks of somebody getting hit. The problem, as such, is not so much "people in the way" as "enough people in the way that discarded rocket stages will land near them quite often".
  17. Great if true. If not for the hullaballoo, it might have been a real kick in the pants. But now some challenges have been taken on that might cost more than a bit extra funding to fix. It is the Russian Launch and Mission Thread, after all. It is on-topic to discuss the state of the Russian space program in here, don't you think?
  18. Throwaway lines tend to work well in sci-fi: "It fulfills three of the five conditions on Édouard's list of exceptions to the Amended Roche Theory, and can thus stay in a stable orbit" or something like that. Similar wording can even justify workarounds to the laws of thermodynamics. Just hint towards the discovery of exceptions, without going in greater detail of what those exceptions are all about. I wrote something similar once, about a ship that hovered in place above the far side of the Moon, at a distance way too close for any orbital mechanics to make sense. The exchange between two characters went something like this: "What is the deal with our orbit?" Jonas asked. "I didn't think a ship could stay up here without going sideways really fast, but we're not moving relative to the surface." Seth frowned, trying to remember the explanation he was given when he asked about the same once. "Imagine the gravitational field of the Moon is like a river, streaming towards the surface. The ship like a stone in the river. The stream splits before it, goes along it and reforms on the other side, but does not drag it along. In other words, we are not affected by gravity." Jonas looked puzzled. "But what keeps the stone, er, ship, fixed in place to the riverbed?" "That's where the analogy breaks down, and things get a little complicated. I won't even pretend to understand it."
  19. There's a simple way to find out, namely by asking: "Are they?" After all, a fair few countries are launching spacecraft over land. What happens downrange of those places? My knowledge is limited in that area, but I can't remember many reports of stuff falling down on people. Granted, those inland launch sites tend to be surrounded by vast amounts of pretty much nothing and similar amounts of secrecy, so it could be that similarly indiscriminate rocket dropping has occurred elsewhere, but with fewer houses in the way nobody has been hit (or been able to tell the world about it).
  20. I do not think "but what about the US" is a good argument when discussing the state of the Russian space program. Let us stick to what happens in Russia instead of going back and forth over what NASA or SpaceX or anybody else are or aren't doing. That is one way to see it, true. But the program was launched with higher ambitions than taking ten years to build a mockup. The fact that it's still on the mockup stage isn't really compensated by the relatively small sums of money spent in the process, from a project management perspective. If the objective was to not waste money, the whole project could have been shelved instead without much difference on the hardware side of things. That much is a success, at least. But still, there have only been five launches across a period of eight years. Angara has yet to become a "workhorse" despite a very long development period; it still remains on the testing stage and it will take a long time before it will carry people. It remains to be seen if it can be produced in sufficient numbers, at sufficiently low costs, to get out of the testing stage. Given how complex and problem-riddled of an activity spaceflight is in general, that money is a quite necessary ingredient if one wants to get anywhere, however. Ambitions are fine, but achieving them tends to be expensive, and that discrepancy between ambitions and funding is the whole crux of the problem. The know-how is obviously there, but it's not supported by the boatloads of currency required to make the nice plans reality. That is probably what will happen, indeed. A shift of focus towards missiles while the crewed space program is put on the back burner. Given the recent hullaballoo and the aforementioned lack of boatloads of currency, I have my doubts that a space station can be realized in the same time frame as an exit from the ISS. Without any other destinations for crewed activities, it's reasonable to wonder whether they will keep flying.
  21. No need for Orel itself, that much is true. But the pace at which it is developed is indicative of a few "hiccups" in the organization, as it were. If that project hasn't even gone beyond the not-to-scale-mockup stage well over a decade into its development, I'd say it's unreasonably optimistic to assume a space station would be ready in just a few years. The situations are different. The US had a destination, but lacked a reliable shuttlecraft. Having a project partner with an available shuttlecraft, it was decided to shelf the unreliable STS and hitch a ride with the partner's shuttlecraft instead, until a domestic alternative could be developed. Russia without the ISS would have a shuttlecraft, but no destination for it to go, and thus nothing practical to use it for - and then nothing practical for the astronauts to do, since the Soyuz is too small to serve as anything but a shuttlecraft. Again, different situations. Starship and Orion have hardware on the launch pad undergoing active test programs. Orel has, what, a plastic mockup at two-thirds scale they sometimes drag out for PR purposes, most of the design details still far up in the air, a project management team shifting people faster than the revolving door of the average hotel lobby, three name changes and counting, still no launch vehicle, and a budget that has mostly gone towards buying dachas in faraway sunny regions. LOP-G is a terribad idea, though. But that's quite far removed from the current discussion. Politician: "... and we'll be out by 2024, to make our own space station! With card games, and seamstresses!" Engineer: *whispers something in politician's ear* Politician: *threatens the engineer with a reassignment to Siberia and an accidental fall out of a seventh-story window* Engineer: *keeps whispering* Politician: "Uhh, make that 2028! For now!"
  22. Well, here's to the end of the Russian crewed space program, I guess. Given how Orel has fared over the past decade, and the general state of things, there's no way in heck they can have space station hardware flying by 2024. Without access to the ISS, there's literally nowhere to go. The Chinese space station flies at a too low inclination, and the Soyuz is too cramped for any meaningful orbital crew activities to be conducted in it. The remaining option is to hitch a ride with the Chinese, I guess, but that would require launching on Chinese vessels from China, possibly a rideshare with a Chinese mission, where the mission language, to put it like this, probably won't be Russian.
  23. That is the frustrating part, I think. Everyone else seems prepared to pay this price. A deorbiting mechanism weighs a bit, but it's a small margin on the large weight of a rocket stage anyway. That little bit of sacrificed payload capacity is generally considered to be worth it for a "guaranteed" safe deorbit of the rocket stage, judging by how common they are. But whoever designed this rocket stage apparently didn't concern themselves with such trivial things as the safety of other people. There might be some merit to the idea that the world is big and mostly empty, and that the overwhelming odds are in favour of it not landing anywhere near people. But unlike everyone else, they did not bother to do that little extra effort to make sure. That makes them come across as quite reckless and not very emphatic.
  24. This comment on Ars Technica's article on the story is too good not to quote:
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