Nikolai

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About Nikolai

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    Sr. Spacecraft Engineer

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  1. Nikolai

    Recovering Snoopy

    I think so, but I also think that it's possible that it will create more difficulties than it solves; neither Snoopy nor the retrieval craft can be considered a fixed platform. I'd love to see a real in-depth analysis of what it would take to make this work, though.
  2. I'm eager to make "hoppers" for low-gravity moons. And some spiderbots to clamber and scramble over all sorts of terrain.
  3. Nikolai

    What Is Your Naming Theme For Your Spacecraft?

    For a long time, I named my spacecraft after famous sidekicks: Watson, Chewbacca, Donkey, Spock, Weasley, Inigo, Robin, Gromit, Garth, Barf, Olsen, Smee, Sallah, Piglet, Igor, Barney, Squiggy, Falstaff, Garfunkel, Goose, Willow, Smithers, Sancho, Dwight, Norton, Wazowski, Pinky, Arthur, Gabrielle, Tink, 99, Tonto, Kato, Tails, Harley, Dory, Rizzo, Rosco, Passepartout, Pedro, Boo Boo, Baldrick, whatever.
  4. Nikolai

    Are humans smart?

    It seems to me that if we can discover what sorts of problems tend to make humans stupid in the aggregate (mob mentality) and what sorts of problems tend to make them really clever in the aggregate (if you ask a crowd the height of a random object in front of them, the average answer will actually be quite accurate), we can leverage that to propel things forward in much the same way that we use government as an arm of the people to make sure that known market failures don't destroy our economic system.
  5. Nikolai

    Anyone else play Oolite?

    Ya gotta give people more than a few hours to respond, man. I haven't touched Oolite in years. It looks much improved. I might be able to get back to it once my kids get past their benchmark testing.
  6. Nikolai

    'Io' movie (2019) - with extra epic wrong science

    Didn't that Sean Connery movie Outlaw also take place on Io?
  7. Nikolai

    DART: Double Asteroid Redirection Test

    Of course; especially when scientific studies are rare, difficult, and costly, they don't often focus on just one result. I didn't mean to imply that Deep Impact's studies were done primarily to study the diversion created by the impact itself. And I'm still in favor of this test. My statement was about existence, not variety. But if we're going to get into the nitty-gritty of comparison... Deep Impact's impactor and DART are of the same order of magnitude (372 kg vs. ~500 kg). Deep Impact's impactor hit with a lot more velocity (10.2 km/s vs. ~6 km/s), and thus imparted more momentum to its target (though that, too, is of the same order of magnitude). Depending on which estimates you go with, though, Tempel-1 is somewhere around 10,000 to 100,000 times as massive as "Didymoon", and 100 billion to 1 trillion times as much as the impactor (whereas "Didymoon" masses "only" somewhere around 10 million times as much as the impactor). A more apt comparison would be, perhaps, chucking a tennis ball at an An-255 during takeoff versus chucking that ball at the Great Pyramid of Giza. But these are trifles. I'm eager to see the results.
  8. Nikolai

    DART: Double Asteroid Redirection Test

    Well, it's not the first time we've done it. Not that we've done it a whole lot -- we're still a long way away from assessing kinetic deflection in general, and I'm in favor of this test. But it's not our first time. https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=3910
  9. Nikolai

    Top 10 Saddest Anime Deaths

    This is really hard to do without spoilers, since death is typically such an important plot point, but I'll give it a shot.
  10. Nikolai

    Your Finest Hour in KSP

    I made a "lawn chair lander" for Jeb around Minmus. The thing was docked to, and sat on top of, the capsule, and was very little more than a rover body with a command seat and monopropellant tanks. I got Jeb out of the capsule to EVA to the "lander", undocked, and gently pushed away from the capsule to put the thing through its paces. Everything looked good. I was even pretty sure I could handle the weird perspective on the navball. Time to take this thing down. Aim retrograde and fire thrusters! I forgot that the capsule was behind me. It took me a few moments after the initial chaos to figure out what had happened. The collision had knocked Jeb clean out of his seat, sending him and the "lander" spinning off in different directions. I restored focus to Jeb, but he was unconscious. I spammed buttons like crazy, trying to get him to wake up before I lost sight of the "lander". (This was before astronauts on EVA got their own navball; I wasn't sure I could find my way back if I didn't wake up in time.) Thankfully, I did -- the lander's marker remained in sight even after the capsule's marker went dark. I fired up the jetpack, flew back to the spinning contraption, and climbed back into the command seat. The batteries had gone dead. And the solar panels were damaged to the point where they weren't recharging anything. Thankfully, the struggle back to the lander got me back to within marker range of the capsule, so I got out of the seat and flew back there -- then piloted the capsule back to Kerbin. My heart had started pounding when the capsule smacked into the lander. It didn't really calm down until the capsule successfully splashed down. I was so proud that I hadn't killed anyone that I left that useless lander in orbit around Minmus for months. I've had arguably closer scrapes since then, but that was the first time I felt like I'd done something impossible.
  11. Nikolai

    What happened to awesome space movies?

    I have to wonder if some part of the apparent paucity of awesome space movies is because of the difficulty of finding an audience. Make a movie that adheres to physical reality that takes place in space, and you have to be very careful and precise with your special effects. Most people will never notice, and will not be drawn to your movie for that reason. Of the remainder, there are those who will get lost in the subject matter, and refrain from seeing movies like yours because they're hard to understand. The only ones who are left are the people who will potentially appreciate your efforts -- but for them, you'd better get every detail right and display it in precisely the right way, or they'll focus only on the things you missed (or the things they think you missed). Witness the number of people who dislike Gravity because Neil deGrasse Tyson couldn't figure out why Clooney's character would "fly away" after releasing the tether, even though superimposing multiple exposures makes it perfectly clear that he was at the end of a rotating system (as does paying attention to the stars in the background when the camera shows close-ups of the characters). Or who dislike Gravity because they paid close attention to local physics, but they totally screwed up orbital mechanics. (There are those who avoided Gravity simply because they didn't care for the movie generally. I imagine, unfortunately, that they tend to get lost in the noise.) I imagine that once you eliminate the producers who stay away from realistic space movies because they don't like them or because the subject matter is intimidating, the ones who are left -- who would have to be kind of intelligent, honestly, if they want to make a realistic space movie in the first place -- might be left asking themselves why they should bother.
  12. It was more somber than I expected. First Man appears to be trying to argue that a family tragedy that occurs early in the film is what provides his motivation to take on one of the hardest jobs ever offered. And obviously, I can't rule that out completely, but that idea that he's driven enough to tackle being an astronaut seems to be at odds with how it portrays Neil Armstrong -- almost robotically going through the motions at times (especially when he's at work), angrily isolating himself from family and friends. While Neil was a quiet person, this anger and self-imposed, somber solitude seems to be at serious odds with the footage and pictures we have of the man, where he doesn't seem at all reluctant to offer a genuine smile from time to time. I think the filmmakers wanted to highlight the isolation of astronauts generally -- to the point of . And there's value in that -- you certainly get a feel for what it might have been like to fly machines that were basically a powerful engine with as little else as possible. But on the whole, I think it leads to a certain emotional imbalance in the film. It's well worth watching, and some of the shots and attention to detail are striking, but I don't think you get the dramatic emotional highs and lows that keep me coming back to movies like Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff.
  13. Not sure what you mean. If an asteroid or its parts is stopped in the atmosphere, all of the kinetic energy of the asteroid will turn into heat. That's a given. That's how this works. If there's enough heat, it can disrupt climate patterns. How much heat? Enough to do the job. What kind of "scientific proof" are you looking for?
  14. The "Launch" button in the upper right of the screen when you're in the VAB or the SPH should spawn a menu. That menu contains the new "Dessert" launch site and airfield. If you're not seeing that, make sure you have the updated expansion.