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Everything posted by KSK

  1. It pains me to admit that I don’t remember ‘Launch Clamps Aweigh’ Not to worry. It’s two hours to lights out, I have 25% charge on my phone, a KSP forum to search, it’s dark, and I’m wearing sunglasses have a cat on my lap. Hit it.
  2. Don’t stop believing… Kerbfleet launching… *shredddd!* Still remember that strip - probably because of the music.
  3. Unless a state actor decides to get involved with this, I would have thought that the selling part almost goes without saying? I can't see SpaceX for example (not ragging on them specifically for this, but they seem like the only outfit that will be capable of shipping people to Mars in the near future) letting people book flights on their spacecraft free of charge out of the goodness of their hearts. Not outside of marketing stunts anyway. I agree with your expert pioneers comment and for sure they'll need to be smart and skilled. However, I don't think we can assume that they'll necessarily be smart and skilled at aerospace engineering, since it'll presumably take a lot of specialists in different fields to get an off-world colony going. I'm also still reminded of the Apollo astronauts. Very smart, very skilled - in most cases at aeropsace engineering - and they were still only trained to be experts on particular parts of their spacecraft, rather than the whole vehicle. TL: DR, I honestly don't know how much information one would need to do a decent assessment on a spacecraft design, and whether that would be possible even for a smart, skilled, expert pioneer, even assuming that the company building and/or operating the spacecraft was inclined to give them that information. But I'm spinning my wheels here. I'll sign off by hoping that private spaceflight will be the domain of companies that do it right. That's not saying that I expect them to be omnipotent and magically account for all possible risks before putting people on their spacecraft, but that I hope that if and when accidents happen (which they almost certainly will), they'll only be because of the "unknown unknowns" in the situation, to paraphrase Secretary Rumsfeld. Unfortunately, I think that OceanGate is the more likely model. With lots of hiding behind waivers. Humans gonna human, and humans have been screwing each other over for a profit since... well probably since the notion of 'profit' was conceived. Even - in fact especially - in a field like medicine, where one would kinda hope that anyone with half a scruple of scruples or humanity, would not sell their fellow humans any old crap (sometimes, quite literally, I'm sure) to ingest, for the sake of making a quick monetary unit or two. Sadly, I don't see why space travel should be, or will be, an exception.
  4. Some clarity required here, I think, because I’m not sure how well (or even if) I explained myself. When I say’rushing’, I mean having the procedures in place to do something safely but having a workplace culture where the procedures aren’t followed because getting the job done now is more important than getting it done correctly. In Pharma terms, it’s being unsure whether a batch was manufactured properly but letting it slide because it’ll probably be OK, and ditching this batch and starting again isn’t an option because you’ll be fired. Or it’s falsifying QC measurements either because the measurements weren’t done at all or because they were done but gave the unacceptable answer. Corner cutting in other words. Also, I’m quoting this because it gets to the heart of what I’m trying to get across. If the passengers getting onto that submarine knew about all the crappy things at once then - well, I think that calling them morons is harsh, but yes, they knew what they were getting into. It’s the situation where they don’t know what they’re getting into that I’m concerned about. They don’t know about the crappy management and oversight (because how could they?). They don’t know enough about submarines to be able to judge whether it’s a crappy design - and if they ask about it because they’ve seen stories in the media - then they’re told all about this wonderful safety system that monitors the hull and sounds the alert if it becomes unsafe. Or they’re fed a lot of impressive sounding but meaningless information about the window thickness. Both of which are which are also a load of crap - but how is the passenger supposed to know that? Edit. Re the above, and more importantly, expecting the customer to know whether the design was bad shouldn’t absolve the company concerned from putting customers on a bad design. Because if the customer is supposed to be able to tell whether the design is bad (to make a judgement call as to the risk involved in getting on board), then for damn sure the company should be able to tell too.
  5. Disagree. The people at the sharp end of this endeavour are the people flying the spacecraft who, increasingly, will have to take it on trust that the people building the spacecraft have done a thorough job. Even Apollo style astronauts, who knew every relay, valve, pipe, and switch of their particular part of the spacecraft, didn’t have that in-depth knowledge of the rest of the spacecraft, let alone the booster. The people on the sharp end won’t have any choice in the matter of cutting corners or not. Hell, the first time they’ll find out about it is when something goes wrong mid-flight. And corners will be cut because that’s what private industry does. It cuts, and it cuts, in the name of doing things more efficiently, which usually means doing things cheaply. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn’t, but at least the people involved weren’t being criminally reckless or negligent. Sometimes the people involved just plain don’t care that they’re endangering people (see the various FDA inspection horror stories from the pharmaceutical genetics industry). Sometimes the people involved are fixated on disruption and established industry practices are nothing to do with safety and all about ‘incumbents protecting their market’ (see a certain recent submersible tragedy). The folks flying out to any off-world colonies are going to be shouldering enough risk as it is. It would be nice to think that they weren’t taking on any extra risk because the spacecraft they’re flying was built by a company helmed by a ‘disruptor’ CEO with their head up their backside, or a Go Fever CEO fixated on pointless deadlines over safety. Or, more briefly: I am OK with people choosing to risk gasping their last on a godforsaken ball of rock if that’s what they want to do. I am not OK with that happening because their spacesuit is a collection of single points of failure in a beta-cloth shell because building a proper one wasn’t profitable enough for the company involved, or would have taken too long. And in the vast majority of cases, the person wearing the suit won’t be able to tell either way until it’s too late.
  6. I’m sorry but I really don’t agree with this. OK, I might agree (with heavy reservations) with that last part, but not the part in which off world colonies have to happen or we die. The only scenario in which an off-world colony is absolutely essential to our survival as a species, is one which makes the Earth utterly uninhabitable to human beings, whilst somehow leaving the off-world colony intact. I can think of vanishingly few naturally occurring ways for that to happen. Even if we got clobbered by a second Dinosaur Killer sized rock, I believe we would survive. It wouldn’t be pleasant, there would be a lot less of us afterwards, but I don’t believe we would go extinct. I can think of various more or less apocalyptic ways in which we could try and wipe ourselves out but even then actually doing it is a tall order. But assuming that we can find a scenario that does wipe out humanity on Earth, I believe the more rational response to risk mitigation is to find a way to stop the scenario from happening rather than relying on an off-world colony as a lifeboat. An off-world colony might (heavy emphasis on the ‘might’ for at least the reason that @mikegarrison gave) provide some additional mitigation, but I don’t believe they provide sufficient extra mitigation to make them inevitable in that ‘if we don’t do this we die’ sense. Besides, outside of terraforming, an off-world colony is an inherently less stable situation than any settlement on Earth, simply because it would be an entirely artificial habitat that requires constant, active maintenance and, more importantly requires that its inhabitants not go out of their way to break it, start wars in it, or whatever. And, historically, indefinite periods of mutual cooperation have not been humanity’s strong suit. In practice, if humanity-on-Earth gets wiped out, I would give off-world humanity about a century at most. The fact that the colony is then in a precarious situation might provide a temporary brake on a war breaking out, but the very precariousness of the situation would make the impact of a war far more severe.
  7. Couldn't ask the dinosaurs but I did ask a little birdie - is that close enough? They thought that getting off this rock and going anywhere else in the solar system sounded like a terrible idea compared to staying put in this nice warm environment with breathable air and food for the taking. They did reckon that detecting and deflecting any space rocks that threatened to mess things up, would be a good plan, and conceded that a big rocket could probably help with that. Maybe I just spoke to a particularly short-sighted birdie but I'm inclined to agree.
  8. Tell that first part to the employees of that private enterprise. Even, taking that article with a large pinch of salt, it's still pretty damning. And I suspect that passing the mantle to other companies isn't a long term solution to the problem. I'm not going to rehash what I've already said on the 'A City on Mars' thread on these forums, and this is probably skirting too close to politics anyway but my answer to @SunlitZelkova's question is: Musk is insane because he's charging headlong towards a goal of dubious value without caring who gets chewed up and spat out in the process. And now, I'll shut up in the interests of keeping this thread open.
  9. And respectfully, I think you're overplaying the volunteer thing. Sure, space colonisation will be risky and dangerous. No way around that, and I agree that people should be able to choose the level of risk they're OK with. But the way I see it, is there's a big difference between accepting the risk that things will go wrong despite the best efforts of everyone involved, and accepting the risk that something's going to go wrong because somebody decided that the 'best part for this is no part', or used the wrong grade wiring tape, or wedged in an accelerometer upside down, or decided that they didn't need a flame trench for this launch. The kind of thing that's given Go Fever a deservedly bad name - and as far as I see it, the one company seriously pushing for space colonisation at the moment, has Go Fever writ large. Maybe not in individual launches but very much in the 'pushing this as fast as possible otherwise its not going to happen' mindset. Relying on volunteers shouldn't be an acceptance that any level of risk is OK. Deciding what level of risk is OK - well that's a whole other can of worms. I don't have an answer to that one, but I'll freely admit that I'm biased against private industry deciding it unilaterally - because given the choice, private industry will invariably go for the faster and cheaper option. I suspect we may disagree on that point. Edit: Actually I have a sort of answer, which is that any volunteers should be volunteering on the basis of informed consent, but that's going to be damn difficult in practice. I kind of agree with your second point in general (although I'd lump societal dogma in with state coercion and violence) but I suspect we'd disagree over the specifics. Sticking to a single path can be beneficial for getting things done though, provided that other paths have been fairly considered, and folks have had a chance to make their case for alternatives. Sadly, what worked for the Apollo Program is considerably harder to implement at a societal level. Anyhow, thanks for an interesting debate - and thanks for keeping it civil. Happy to read your answer to this post, but shall we then agree to disagree, and let other folks get a word in edgeways on this thread?
  10. OK, that makes more sense. In which case, I would say that humans are the only species on the planet capable of trying to fulfill that push. To use your own words, the push is inevitable, success is not. I also disagree that off-world colonies are the only obvious job we have. As the book which kicked off this thread apparently concluded: "this will be really hard to do and possibly should even never be done, but definitely should not be rushed into." For what it's worth, that pretty much sums up my opinion. Is somebody going to try building off-world colonies? Probably yes. Are off-world colonies important enough that they're worth rushing, cutting unnecessary corners for, and killing or injuring people for entirely avoidable reasons in the here and now? Certainly not.
  11. The point I was trying to make is that your second paragraph was treating off-world colonisation as inevitable, something that was part of the flow of life as we know it, a fundamental aspect of existence that you couldn't see any point in opposing. Whereas, in your first paragraph you were fretting that off-world colonisation would never happen, because of human nature. They're both reasonable viewpoints, they're just opposed to each other.
  12. So which is it? Something that isn't going to happen at all without urgency because human nature, or a fundamental aspect of existence? Those two paragraphs look contradictory to me. Surely if it's a fundamental aspect of existence, then human nature isn't going to stop it? Conversely, if human nature is strong enough to stop it, then doesn't that imply that it's not actually fundamental?
  13. Not going to bother rehashing the 'settling the Americas isn't remotely like settling Mars' arguments yet again. No part of human civilization is technically or economically ready for settling other planets. We have a couple of billionaires talking about it, but one has failed to make much progress at all so far, and the other is focused on one part of the endeavour, namely building the rockets to get there, and mostly ignoring (as per the original post here), the vast swathes of other technical, economic, sociological, political, etc. parts. As per my previous post, justifying a Mars city as a backup plan for an extinction level event is a flimsy argument at best, and I would argue that the economic case is even less substantial than that. I say city, because optimistically, I could imagine a small, internationally funded, scientific outpost on Mars, or a small mining outpost /control centre for monitoring the robots that are doing the actual mining. That's making the bold assumption that offworld mining becomes economically viable of course. At this point in time, a city on Mars is basically one big Elon Musk vanity project which he's driving hell-for-leather with a 'move fast, break things, and damn the health and safety' company culture. If there was a good, waste-anything-you-like-except-time, reason for building a Mars city, that attitude might be justifiable, but I don't believe there is. As for the fact that every putative Mars settler is volunteering with no illusions? Even assuming that's correct (I certainly wouldn't trust Musk to be impartial about the potential risks), having a bunch of eyes wide open volunteers lined up is no excuse for slapdash corporate corner cutting. If anything, it makes that carelessness even more reprehensible. I'm dumping on Musk here but if we end up with more companies competing to go to Mars, I doubt they'd be any better than SpaceX. Edit. To answer your thought experiment - almost certainly but possibly not in the way you had in mind. We've already seen Bezos' legal shenanigans over the Artemis lander bid. I fully expect any private actors in this space to deploy their full panoply of lawsuits, FUD, and lobbying tactics against each other, in the name of competition. TL: DR. Take with a grain of salt the purported intentions of those calling for putting on the brakes is fair advice, but I'd take the purported intentions of those who resist any calls to put on the brakes with two grains.
  14. Depends who's funding it and whether anyone ever hears about the failures. Cis-Mars space is a very large rug to sweep things under. Assume that this article has been discussed elsewhere. I'm taking it with the requisite grain of salt, but if even half of it is true, it doesn't speak well for privately funded Mars city efforts. Which I imagine they'll mostly be, since I can't seen any government being too keen to sink funds into that size of Mars-doggle. A short life awaits you in the off-world colonies.
  15. I'm genuinely curious about the extinction level disasters that people have in mind that will selectively affect the Earth and not any putative off-world colonies. A dinosaur killer sized asteroid is about the only one that springs to mind. I would have thought that a gamma ray burst or other cosmic catastrophe, would be a solar system scale event that 'making life multiplanetary' isn't going to do a whole lot to mitigate. In which case, spending more on asteroid detection and deflection would seem to be a higher priority than some cockamamie Mars colony. I guess if the space billionaire crowd want to take a shot at building a city on Mars, there's probably not much we can do about it, but excusing it as a backup plan for an 'extinction level event' seems like... well it comes out of the north end of a southbound cow, in my opinion. Then again, I'm kinda soured on the whole manifest destiny thing. Can't imagine heading off to live in a radiation blasted toxic desert with essentially no air, for the greater enrichment of some billionaire and their shareholders, as being anything other than an act of pure desperation for most people.
  16. Looks interesting - thanks for the shout-out, I have a suspicion that Santa may well be dropping this down the chimney on Christmas Eve, so I'll hold off on buying it for now. Looks like a definite 'to buy' though if I don't get it as a Christmas present. Edit: after following the link, I see that Mary Roach gave it a recommendation. If you'll forgive a slight threadjack, I found her Packing for Mars, to be a good read about the problems of having canned monkeys living in zero-g for extended lengths of time. Think lavatories rather than launch vehicles.
  17. Apologies if this has already been mentioned and I missed it. I’m thinking that a failed Apollo 8 mission could be a jumping off point for a Soviet first lunar landing alt history, possibly followed by a successful Zond free return flight. I think it would take something like that to set the Apollo programme back far enough that the Soviets could catch up and, more importantly, make them believe there was still a chance of catching up. Apollo 8 and the whole Earthrise thing was a much needed political boost for Apollo as well as a technical milestone. The successive N1 flights did get… well less unsuccessful as they went on, if I recall correctly. It doesn’t seem completely impossible that they could have brute forced enough of the bugs out to get one symbolic lunar mission out of it.
  18. Sings. "Gluons and gelatine. Dynamite with a laser beam. Guaranteed to fail on you. In interesting ways."
  19. Nah, mirror polished finishes aren't good enough and as soon as they start to degrade a bit (which they will if hit by a suitably powerful laser), they get into a downward spiral of absorbing more laser energy, which then degrades them further etc. Even then, blackening metals using a high powered (i.e. low total energy but delivered in picoseconds or less) pulse laser is a thing. I can imagine using one of those as a ranging shot to blacken the target point for the actual damage causing laser. The optics would be tricky but I think that's an engineering problem rather than a physically impossible problem.
  20. Now I'm waiting for the YouTube video, "How not to Rechamber a Returnable Round." Also, my first thought on seeing DEW was Distant Early Warning, rather than Directed Energy Weapon.
  21. May their deity of choice have mercy on their souls.
  22. Yeah, this is all kicking off again, now that Project Kuiper is actually launching stuff. Some of the issues have been mitigated but SpaceX scrapped one mitigation which would have interfered with their optical communication system. More generally, Starlink satellites are fairly dark but not quite as dark as astronomers would like. They're pitching for satellites to have a brightness of no more than apparent magnitude 7, and Starlink satellites are typically 2.5 to 6 times brighter than that still. According to Wikipedia, the typical human eye can see objects down to an apparent magnitude of 6.5-7.0, so it looks like astronomers are aiming for satellite megaconstellations to be invisible to the naked eye. Which seems like a reasonable compromise if achievable.
  23. Perfectly acceptable. Be careful of the anti-pasto though.
  24. Well it's thematically appropriate anyway; having an organisation that hasn't managed to get much up, be led by a CEO called Limp. This would be the same Dave Limp that was fired retired from Amazon after his pet projects bombed? Must be nice to be in the golden parachute class.
  25. Because I’m feeling pessimistic today (in related news, bears defecate in woods), I’m going to say that whoever owns the AI software pulls a Unity and screws everyone over. Edit. I’m right with you on societal risk vs theoretical X risk. As far as I can tell, the X-riskers are mostly Singularity whackjobs who should go back to doing something useful like arguing about how many basilisks can dance on the head of a pin.
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