* Posts by Flocke Kroes

4316 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Techie labelled 'disgusting filth merchant' by disgusting hypocrite

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Clearly new company policy following a complaint

Someone followed the "Now Show Friends and Workmates" suggestion and his lawyers blame vultures for the consequences.

UK civil servants – hopefully including those spending billions on tech – to skill up in STEM

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Re: An amusing way to waste public money.

I really take issue with that statement. To get useful experimental results half the lab rats must be well treated for comparison.

Stoner Cats NFT project declawed for being an unregistered security

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Tulip mania without the option to void the contract for a small fee

Secondary purchasers theoretically get the right to watch a TV series. Pretend the tech works: purchasers do get to watch and others don't. I pay about £1/episode for a TV series (it can take a while for the price to drop but I am patient and so far behind what is current that there is a steady stream reaching my price). Call six episodes $10 to buy, or watch and resell for $9.75 because of the 2.5% that goes to primary purchasers.

That original price of $800 breaks even after 3161 re-sales with the risk that some collector will decide to keep the series and end royalties before investment is returned. Clearly a business plan worthy of the underpants gnomes.

Plan B: repeatedly auction the NFT to my aliases at ever increasing prices until some fool bids more than $800 plus transaction fees + lawyer's fees + fines.

Amazon's three rocket makers insist Project Kuiper will launch on schedule

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Still a healthy dose of ambition

At its peak, Atlas V flew about once per month. The gap between the last two launches was 11 months so there has been plenty of room in the schedule for Kuiper but no launches. The reason for that is Amazon did not want to waste a powerful Atlas V launching just two experimental satellites. Assume the first Atlas V launch goes this month. There will be some delay while the satellites get tested, with the possibility of some more delay if those tests show a need to re-work the current inventory. Once Amazon have confidence in their satellites the remaining Atlas launches should easily launch in the time available - but there are only 9. ULA stopped building Atlas cores to coincide with the end of their stock of Russian made engines. In theory Amazon could pay to get Vulcan human rated to free up some Atlases reserved for Starliner. Cue complaints from Amazon shareholders and NASA.

Falcon 9 launched twice in its first year (2010), zero times the following year and did not break 10 launches per year until 2017 - coinciding with the first booster two fly twice. Although this was a different era for launch demand, SpaceX was famous for their long waiting list. Most of the delays came from ramping up production and learning how to quickly cycle the ground support equipment. RocketLab currently launch about once per month but that involved considerable time switching from hand made by rocket scientists to mass production by trainees. A part of their rapid growth was launching from New Zealand. Falcon gets to launch so often because they now get a very narrow launch corridor with minimal disruption to congested Florida airspace.

Blue Origin are just starting their transition to engine mass production, with a much more difficult engine than the electrically pumped Rutherford or even Merlin - which benefited from years of research into simplifying manufacture. Vulcan is going to start with a shortage of engines and if that gets fixed will smack into trying to get frequent licenses to launch an experimental rocket into congested airspace.

Ariane 5 maxed out at seven launches per year. Kuiper has 18 Ariane 6 launches booked. Like Atlas and Vulcan, these are expected to bare the brunt of the early launches while New Glenn gets started. Ariane is building up a backlog of other commitments (like Vulcan) so will have to start their cadence at a sprint to meet the deadline.

The plan for New Glenn is to land successfully on the first attempt. By itself that is ambitious. It took SpaceX a year to re-qualify a used Falcon 9, and that was with a rocket that had been flying for six years. New Glenn also has to start at a sprint. The cores are not as easy to build as Falcons so if one gets dented it will hurt the schedule.

Amazon could still meet their deadline with their existing plan but that requires everything else to go smoothly with a new satellite, three new rockets, two new engines and first time re-use.

James Webb spies distant exoplanet that could be wet, wild, and Hycean

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Re: Interesting assertion

The current records on Earth are 130°C for survival and 122°C for reproduction. A hyperthermophile principle would require something able to think one up, which is well beyond the abilities of Earth bacteria. Complex multicellular life on Earth requires moderate temperatures, which can be found close to but not in a hydrothermal vent.

Lawyer's Microsoft email snafu goes from $1.75M lawsuit to Ctrl+Alt+Settle

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Re: Typical lawyering

For all we know, he got the whole $1.75M + court costs + legal fees and possibly a working email address.

If there had been some real chance of Microsoft being legally required to provide quality customer support then congressmen and senators would have well funded re-election campaign funds until the judge was replaced and the law was fixed.

MOXIE microwaved Mars air into oxygen, but now it's time for a breather

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Re: What happens to lots of carbon monoxide


The wikipedia page for oxocarbons gives a hint at how imaginative chemists can be even when restricted to two elements. Most of the ways of re-arranging carbon monoxide are not going to happen. The closest was reforming to carbon dioxide and carbon suboxide. There are trace amounts of oxygen and water in the Martian atmosphere so the most obvious fate of carbon monoxide is to burn to carbon dioxide or CO+H2O->CO2+H2. Formic acid is also a possibility.

The main thing that happens to Mars' atmosphere is it gets blown away by the solar wind. The Earth's magnetic field protects our atmosphere. Magnetising Mars would be an enormous proposition, but not necessary: a huge (but not planet sized) magnet at Mars-Sun L1 would to the trick. With one of those in place, the atmosphere would thicken up from volcanic outgassing. The pressure would get high enough for liquid water at the temperatures available with the green house effect from all the CO2. Add some cyanobacteria to make an ozone layer then some plants to convert CO2 to oxygen and more complex carbon compounds. You could get a breathable atmosphere in a few billion years and might even be able to enjoy it for a billion years or two before the sun goes red giant.

NASA rockets draining its pockets as officials whisper: 'We can't afford this'

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GAO predicts SLS cost overruns (yet again)

Congress cheers loudly (yet again)

The only surprise so far is that Artemis I launched. It would have been more expensive to abort launches up to the system's limit, scrap it and use Artemis II hardware for Artemis I aborts.

Linux on the Arm-based Thinkpad X13S: It's getting there

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Pepperidge farm remembers

Remember when x86 laptops came peripherals that required vendor supplied binaries to run Linux?

Remember being called a long haired beatnik for insisting on hardware supported by open source Linux drivers?

Remember vendors not updating their binary drivers so hardware was stuck on a geriatric kernel version?

I took one look at 'snapdragon' and all those memories came flooding back from my days as a PFY. Qualcom will have to get a massive reputational makeover before I even consider checking one their products for proper drivers that will not consign hardware to the junk heap in two years.

Musk's mighty missile is ready for launch once FAA says OK

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Oh no!

Clearly you have spotted a fatal flaw missed by everyone at NASA. If only there was a video showing you are completely wrong. Oh - here it is. A video showing take off and landing at 6 times Lunar gravity without the oversized landing legs expected for HLS.

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Re: Gotta keep the hype train running

Not sure how many investors care about Mars. They do care a bit about launch contracts - which are earning money. They care a lot about Starlink - which is making some money but would make more if the satellites launched on something bigger and even cheaper than Falcon 9. The principle behind Starlink is sufficiently sound that a competent businessmen like Jeff Bezos (hhchh - tttuh) is trying to enter the market without cheep launch.

Remember you are not talking about the courageous retail investors in Tesla who are not expecting the next rug pull or even the Twitter bankers who thought they could sell debt to bigger fools. SpaceX is a private company which limits the number investors and restricts share ownership to people with some understanding of how investments work (retail investors interested in SpaceX can get defrauded with a long list of schemes like fake SpaceXcoin). These are people who can see through a bit of Musk theatre. I would like to think the only people Musk is fooling is himself but Tesla's share price shows I am completely wrong there.

SpaceX is going to Mars. The Boca Chica manufacturing site built on pristine wild life reserve (formerly Sanchez Oil and Gas) is oversized even for proposed expansions of Starlink. The size only makes sense for starting a Mars colony... eventually.

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Re: environmentalist wackos throwing a sueball

They are not environmental wackos. The Center for Biological Diversity are a bunch of Washington lawyers. Go to their website (do not confuse them with the Centre for Biological Diversity who are environmentalists based in Scotland). Ignore the donations pages and look at who they say they are: lawyers. Look at what they say they do: start litigation. Look at what they want: donations. Look at their complaint (it is on their website but I will not enhance their search engine ranking by linking to it):

The first page says who they are. The last page says what they want (unrealistic). The middle is supposed to be the evidence to support the plea (it doesn't). For a bunch of lawyers it looks completely amateur. That is because it is not written to be taken seriously by a judge. The purpose of the litigation is to get publicity for fund raising.

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Re: Premature Stackulation?

Musk xcreted that photo resembling steel workers building the Empire State building then months passed before the FAA completed the Programmatic Environmental assessment. Even more months passed before Starship actually launched because SpaceX was not ready. Much to my embarrassment many rocket enthusiasts forget that.

This time, SpaceX only handed in their final report on orbital flight test one to the FAA two weeks before Musk pulled this similar stunt. If the FAA license does not appear this month I will blame SpaceX for taking this long to complete the report - and be glad that they did not slow development by handing in a low quality rushed report. If the FAA grant the license this month I will blame SpaceX employees for discussing mitigations with the FAA over the last few months and testing them with SpaceX's abundance of prototype Starships - some of which show signs of damage from flight termination system tests. That hard work has done far more to progress the launch license than some silly publicity stunt.

Musk is a hype man who has demonstrated the ability to raise Tesla stock price far in excess of the amount justified by the company's performance. I thank him for the start up money he gave SpaceX and wish he would just shut up and not cause further embarrassment by trying to blame delays on the FAA.

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Re: Reuse landing on the Moon

You are referencing Superheavy (the big booster that takes a fully fuelled Starship half way to orbit) taking off from Earth. Starships have taken off from Earth and landed several times. They took off from much closer to the ground than the Superheavy launch table and landed on stubby little legs in six times Luna gravity without damaging the landing area.

If you want the real scandal: The NASA requirements for the uncrewed HLS demonstration mission do not include taking off from the Moon. This is because only one provider (SpaceX) could do it. The others required astronauts to spend valuable time on the Moon unbolting bits of their vehicle to make it light enough for the return journey. A difficult task made impossible by the lack of any crew on the demo mission.

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Re: Government subsidies

If you were talking about Tesla: hell yes.

Starlink: more nuanced - Starlink was in line for a significant payday for rural broadband as were other ISPs. The other ISPs were furious because Starlink was delivering, making them look bad and reducing the chance of another round of funding for pretending to provide rural broadband. The entire scheme was cancelled - because it was flawed by design - and a replacement is being considered. Gwynne Shotwell got most of the way through getting DoD funding for operating Starlink in Ukraine. Musk said he donated terminals which may be true but he added in numbers donated and paid for by others. Musk tried charging extra for high data rates that Ukraine did not need or want. Gwynne's work was undermined when Musk thwarted a Ukrainian submarine drone attack on Russian ships. The DoD payment was later paid but with conditions limiting Musk's ability to support Putin.

For launches, US tax payers have benefited mightily from SpaceX. Adding in all the payments SpaceX received and subtracting what government Falcon launches would have cost from ULA gives tax payers a generous profit. The Fool even has an article moaning about lost dividends to old space shareholders because nasty SpaceX was taking away potential cost plus contracts.

I suppose there is an extra billion per year you can charge to SpaceX: adding up the list prices of competitors launches misses out the billion per year paid to ULA to maintain ground support equipment that was essentially idle because SpaceX took their commercial launch market.

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Re: unsettling

Already happened.

Delta IV has one more launch before retirement. There is a stock of Atlas Vs waiting for payloads but no new ones will be built. They were killed off by Falcon 9/Heavy.

Vulcan has very few takers: There are a few customers like Amazon opting for anything but SpaceX - even at the expense of shareholder litigation. The US government want assured access to space via diverse launch vehicles. For the next batch that will be Falcon + Vulcan. ULA can charge what they need for Vulcan because there isn't a third choice yet.

The batch after that becomes interesting because there will be several choices: a few startups aiming to compete with Falcon 9, Falcon 9 itself (with Starship providing the diversity) and Gradatim Mañana might have New Glenn flying by that time.

I think one of the startups will survive as a launch provider (some of the others may continue by switching to satellites / 3D printing / space components or whatever their secondary business is). When New Glenn flies, Bezos will ramp the price of BE-4 engines until ULA cannot offer a competitive bid. Bezos is patient and not afraid to spend a huge amount of money to control a market (eg paying everything over $3B for the Blue Moon Human Landing system). New Glenn will fly and get government contracts. If Bezos lives long enough New Armstrong (just a name today) will have a similar cost to Starship.

I would love to see one of the startups get established because I would love someone other than Musk+Bezos owning space.

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Re: "A lack of a sound suppression system"

Drops of water absorb and scatter sound so the bidet will suppress some of it. The rocket may not need sound suppression as the plume is travelling far faster than the speed of sound but there may be some benefit to the ground support equipment and the neighbours.

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Re: Cost

Not just money. SLS+Orion takes a bunch of ride share cubesats to a distant orbit. Small solar panels and a small antenna far away require a big antenna on Earth. NASA's Deep Space Network is already oversubscribed, under funded and long overdue for maintenance and upgrades. A bunch of cheap cubesats added to make SLS look useful take DSN time away from more productive spacecraft like JWST.

PEBCAK problem transformed young techie into grizzled cynical sysadmin

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Saw that one coming

There is a bridge website that hosts individual games for free but charges for entry in competitions. Some bridge players were getting a very poor exchange rate. The solution is to put the correct URL into bookmarks, show users how to get to their bridge site from a bookmark and explain that if they ever use a search engine to find a similar looking site they will pay for their mistake.

The Anti Defamation League is Musk's latest excuse for Twitter's tanking ad revenue

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Re: PT-73?

Needed a replacement for Ahmad Abouammo.

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Re: always Musk's plan?

Early this year it became obvious that Musk had been taking actions that were very damaging to Twitter for months. Musk fans were saying that as that was what Musk was doing it must be because that is what he wanted to achieve. Everyone else assumed it was just monumental incompetence. It is now very clear the Musk wants a re-run at x.com (Attempt one merged with confinity and the name was changed to PayPal after Musk was kicked out for impressive levels of failure). Now that Musk fans cannot say he is deliberately destroying x.com (again) some other scapegoat must be found. The obvious choice is Jewish space lasers because the only people daft enough to invest their life savings in x.com are raving loony conspiracy theorists who lap up that cool aid.

Musk had Twitter borrow more than enough money to buy Twitter. So far he has used the excess to pay the interest on that loan. It is about time courts started forcing Twitter to pay its bills and that will empty the pot fast. It should get interesting when Musk has to find new money for Twitter's interest payments.

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Re: Can't argue with Sums

Spiro can. He can repeat: Twitter is a home to invective and hyperbole. No reasonable person would consider it a source of factual information.

That way the Xcretion can apply to ADL litigation but be ignored for CCDH. What is the point of being a two faced blame shifter if you cannot tell contradictory lies for different purposes?

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Re: Musk's Master Plan

Musk vs ADL will get promptly trashed by anti-SLAPP laws.

Musk vs CCDH will probably get as far as the hint that Musk will be required to provide answers for discovery then he will fold just like he did at the Delaware Court of Chancery.

The only thing launched for Amazon's Project Kuiper is a lawsuit

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Conflict of interest

Bezos is executive chairman of Amazon. He has been selling Amazon stock for years to fund Blue Origin and is down to 12.3%. He also retains voting rights to the large chunk of shares he had to give to his ex wife.

Blue Origin is a private company so ownership is not so easy to quantify. There was some startup capital from NASA and US DoD. Blue's purchase of Honeybee Robotics may have involved swapping stock but those investments are tiny compared billion per year Bezos has put into Blue since 2014. The Blue Moon human landing system only got into congress's price range ($3.4B) because Bezos will subsidize at least as much.

Having Amazon pay Blue a large amount of money means Jeff gets almost all of it instead of 12.3% and he does not give an additional 4% to MacKenzie.

New Glenn is intended to be a big Falcon 9: reusable fist stage, new second stage required for each launch. It may launch years from now. The first stage may get recovered years later (it is expensive and Blue think they will land it first time). About a year later a first stage may get re-used and a few years later experience from re-use may get fed back into the design to make re-use cost effective. Bezos is patient and expects a regular income from Amazon as it replenishes its Kuiper fleet. That far in the future, fully re-usable Starship will be flying at a much lower cost than New Glenn. A re-usable upper stage for New Glenn is more than a rumour but will struggle commercially because New Glenn is a bit small for full re-use to retain a positive payload mass. Blue has mentioned a bigger rocket but I have not found evidence of more than a bullet point on a power point slide.

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Re: Random braking

SpaceX launches OneWeb just fine. Try setting your brain to 14 year old idiot mode and imagine the inevitable Xcretion when Blue Origin cannot get Amazon satellites up but SpaceX has. Some people just cannot keep their fingers off the keyboard even when everyone else knows the consequences are expensive lawyers at dawn.

Perhaps you were thinking of Tesla?

India set to launch Sun-spotting satellite on Saturday

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Search engines?

ISRO has some diagrams of Aditya. The Indian Express has some pictures taken by Chandrayaan.

Uncle Sam accuses SpaceX of not considering asylees and refugees for employment

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Re: Cult of Elon

Cult of every US rocket company.

We have heard about this complaint against SpaceX. We do not know is SpaceX has been singled out for doing what other rocket companies are doing or if those others are/will be dragged in front of a judge too. Some aerospace companies can have separate work areas for people excluded by ITAR. For some it is impractical and the law is written to accept that.

Courts take time to collect evidence and review the law. It would be so much easier to just decide someone is guilty and lock them up.

US Republican party's spam filter lawsuit against Google dimissed

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Pure speculation?

Not convinced. I am sure there is a significant proportion of fabrication.

We'll show you our patents if you show us yours, say Huawei and Ericsson

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"this agreement creates a stronger patent environment"

In other words: "This agreement keeps third parties from making a profit in our cordoned off market."

Generative AI won't steal your job, just change it, says UN

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LLMs will create jobs

Companies need extra staff to correct the mistakes made by LLMs.

Space junk targeted for cleanup mission was hit by different space junk, making more space junk

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The other way around

I would prefer Twitler in jail for securities fraud - the good news is he is ignoring some consent decrees that kept him out of court so might actually face proper consequences.

Starlink satellites are launched to a low orbit so any failures quickly drop and burn up. Working satellites raise their orbit for the operational life time and lower it again before they run out of propellant. Their operational orbit is low enough to come down without help before there is time to build up significant risk of Kessler syndrome. For the best chance of a Kessler cascade the orbit must be high enough to last but low enough to keep the orbital period fast and the volume of space relatively small. Oneweb satellites are in the sweet spot so have redundant de-orbiting systems. It is almost as if these constellations were designed by rocket scientists and not the fools that post ignorant comments on social media.

Musk's latest X-periments: No more headlines, old posts vanish, block gets banned

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Re: Blocking to keep your thread cleanish

Some high profile RWNJs convinced Musk to fling their xcretions far and wide. They got blocked by vast numbers of users, to the point that the blocks limited their reach. They complained to Musk and Block->Mute is the immediate result. The longer term result is users will see more gab/truth flavoured xcretions. That should be enough to convince some of them to contact John Mastodon.

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Re: "We may fail"

Thiel's (spit) Confinity merged with Musk's x.com. The result was run by Musk but before he could do lasting damage he was fired by Thiel. Thiel changed the name to PayPal, made the business valuable and sold it to eBay. Musk still owned a large proportion of the merged company so he got a huge payday from Theil's work and got to keep the x.com domain name. I am not sure I would call it luck. I would go with acting. He acted like x.com was worth merging with. He acted like he could run a company. The acting was good enough for a while but not good enough to fool Thiel for too long. Musk's acting might have improved but more likely the audience at Tesla was less discerning than at xfinitypal.

The banks that loaned TwitterV2 money to buy TwitterV1 thought that Musk's acting was good enough and they could sell the debt on to greater fools. The timing was bad because the greater fools ran out of money leaving the banks with a problem. The previous solution was to sell Florida Man's debt to Deutsche Bank who got caught selling it to Alfa. I am not sure Alfa can afford to buy Musk even if they wanted to - or if anyone would risk trading with them now.

NASA still serious about astronauts living it up on Moon space station in 2028

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Re: "the Artemis V crew"

The Luna Gateway was actually quite irrelevant.

The Constellation plan was a small human rated launch vehicle (Ares I) to get Orion to Low Earth Orbit and a really big cargo rocket (Ares V) to send vehicles for the rest of the journey direct to the Moon. That would keep the high cost of human rating Ares I from being multiplied by the large size of Ares V. Constellation went massively over budget, thoroughly delayed and then cancelled reconfigured so the usual suspects would get a replacement cost plus mega contract.

Ares I + V got averaged into SLS one rocket cheaper than two allowing the human rating cost to be multiplied by the cargo launcher size. The second stage was to be done in two blocks: block one (ICPS) would be wimpy, empensive and very late. Block 2 (EUS) would not be as wimpy, more expensive and will be much later. SLS is too small for sending Orion to Low Luna Orbit and overkill for going to LEO/ISS. Gateway in Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit was proposed as a possible destination for SLS+Orion. At the time, a complete Human Landing System capable of starting at NRHO would have been very limited. Sending the HLS in pieces and having some assembly required made a viable lander at the expense of requiring somewhere for astronauts to stay while they got the job done. Three pork projects each supporting each other. Add in some international partnerships for Gateway and the three would be impossible to cancel even it became clear that SLS was more expensive and slower than Constellation.

Given the existence of this monster, Bridenstine and Pence came up with a plan to take advantage of it. To get a presidential signature they needed to promise to get people back on the Moon by 2024. There was no chance of Gateway (or New Glenn) being ready in time. Taking out those two severely limited Blue Moon version 1 and made Dynetics' ALPACA non-viable.

Starship is so huge that it can do NRHO to the Moon and back without orbital assembly (or Luna disassembly). It comes with two huge disadvantages: it does not require an expensive space station in NRHO and it is not manufactured in 50 different states. Clearly something had to be done. Congress came up with the money for a second 'competitive' HLS without the 2024 deadline but requiring Gateway. Blue Origin formed a national team to overcome Starship HLS's drawbacks.

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SLS components have a limited lifespan. The first SLS got so close to its sell-by date that it was a choice of launch or scrap. That is what got Artemis I launched.

The segments for the SRBs for Artemis II have already been poured. The count-down has started, but this time there will be people on board... Launch or scrap?

Artemis III (Boots on the Moon) is more difficult to guess. The SLS will be late. The contract for the space suits was awarded very late so they could be the pacing item. There is a lot of work ahead for Starship HLS making it a three way race for who delays Artemis III the most. SLS is cost plus so delays benefit Boeing. The other two are firm fixed price - they only get paid after achieving milestone so those two will progress as fast as possible (not as fast as scheduled). Boeing will have to keep up or it will be Europa Clipper all over again.

Artemis IV gets a new upper stage on SLS so it needs a new mobile launch platform. Those are giant cost plus contracts. The desire to keep those active creates a huge incentive for Artemis III to actually work - eventually.

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Re: Mass Matters

I think you may have to adjust your expectations a little. Think capsule hotel, but a bit smaller. You are travelling in a group of four but the hotel only has one capsule.

NASA renders always show Orion attached - to be fair, when there are people at the station there will be an Orion. To bulk up the size a bit more, they add a human landing system, but it is always the government reference concept system, not a giant Starship HLS.

The Gateway Logistics Services contract requires the cargo spacecraft to be able to leave and never come back. NASA asked about the possibility of it hanging around so there would be significantly more pressurised volume for the astronauts. I am not sure if that is still a plan. The pressurised volume of Starship HLS dwarfs the rest of Gateway.

California DMV hits brakes on Cruise's SF driverless fleet after series of fender benders

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"it might take longer than anticipated to get driverless cars on our roads."

I hoped driverless cars would not be allowed on the roads before they could routinely do something safe in unusual circumstances. I anticipated them being let loose early. Clearly AI is being aimed at the wrong jobs. How about an LLM to replace a CEO? Anyone anticipate that happening this century?

Hold the Moon – NASA's buildings are crumbling amid 200-year upgrade cycles

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Re: What did Bridenstine do

Bridenstine was surprisingly competent considering who appointed him. He successfully defended much of the commercial crew program budget and avoided down selection to a single supplier (Boeing). I am not sure how to split the credit for Artemis between Bridenstine and Pence. Both of them together formed a bipartisan coalition to fund a return to the Moon - instead of the previous flip/flop between the Moon and Mars that generated profitable cost plus change requests. That focus on a single goal created progress that survived a change in government.

Bridenstine had Shelby on the defensive, by proposing massively cheaper alternative providers for SLS missions. SLS was slated to be a re-run of Constellation: a pork project that did nothing but waste money until cancellation and replacement by pretty much the same thing made by the same people with a new name and a new cost plus budget. Instead SLS is a pork project desperate to soak up as much funding as possible before it becomes so blatantly obsolete that it cannot be replaced by a variation of the same thing.

If a NASA administrator wants to do something other than defend pork barrel politics then he is limited by what politicians will allow him to do. For politicians, blame the voters. Space exploration is a very low priority among the vast majority of voters. Few care enough to understand how their tax dollars are spent so the lion's share of the budget goes on vote winning fake jobs programs.

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Re: There ARE alternatives

SpaceX is concentrated in a small number of states. To get funding, pork has to be spread among most states. Congress went absolutely berk when the human lunar landing system went exclusively to SpaceX. The Sustaining Lunar Development contract was created for the national team and had funding approved without hitch. Compare that to the stink that had to be created to get funding for space suits that can work on the Moon: Sorry congress, no flags or footprints because the astronauts cannot leave the lander. Budger flags and footprints - Blue Moon cannot take off until after astronauts go outside and remove bits that make it too heavy for the return journey.

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Re: NASA responsible for its budgets

NASA asks for an amount of money to achieve congress mandated goals. Congress always allocates a smaller amount. That smaller amount comes with legal requirements on how it is spent like, for example (one of many to choose from) space shuttle solid rocket boosters:

NASA wanted locally sourced short fat boosters. Congress required they buy from a specific manufacturer half way across the country. The preferred diameter was too big to fit under bridges so NASA had to switch to long thin boosters. The new boosters were too long to be transported around corners so NASA had to buy boosters in segments and join them together. Those joins increased costs and caused deaths.

If you want a single person to blame, I would go with (retired) senator Richard Shelby who was chair of the senate appropriations committee but the situation was more complicated. Shelby was a master of negotiation and brought in votes from senators of both parties by sharing the pork. His state (Alabama) got a generous share of that pork. SLS was his project and he defended it vigorously against competing concepts. Long before SpaceX existed Shelby threatened to defund NASA if anyone from NASA said "depot". (Orbital refueling gets the same performance as a single large rocket using multiple medium sized rockets. This adds economies of scale to the medium size rocket to pay off its R&D that a single purpose large rocket like SLS can never achieve.)

NASA does deserve a share of the blame. Many of the staff recommend projects because are likely to get funded rather than because they are part of a sustainable plan to explore space. In part, NASA needs such people because of the funding they bring. Hiring and promotion/sidelining is decided by the NASA administrator who is always a political appointee. It is currently Bill Nelson, former senator for Boeing Florida.

'AI-written history' of Maui wildfire becomes Amazon bestseller, fuels conspiracies

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Re: The Register has asked Amazon for comment.

At press@twitter.com "💩" has been replaced by "We'll get back to you soon." I assume they will switch back to 💩 when they can afford to buy more toilet roll.

Western Digital sued over claims of data-trashing SanDisk, My Passport SSDs

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Re: Cue the litany of complaints

Blackblaze now operate enough SSDs to generate some statistically significant results on a few models. Only 3 WD Blues, which started operation in early December last year so no significant results for them in last year's annual report. They buy mostly M2s and presumably are able to source genuine hardware, not the crap that gets foisted onto retail customers.

I check with them before buying spinning disks. Perhaps in a few years it will be worth making the same effort with flash.

Musk's X caught throttling outbound links to websites he doesn't like

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Re: Is anyone really surprised?

ISP's restricting/charging for specific traffic is a different issue, and has mostly been squashed. ISPs' plan was to run their own versions of the most profitable services and drive competitors out of the business with selective fees to "reduce throttling". One of the obvious laws to apply is using a monopoly in on field to create a monopoly in another.

Twitter is not a monopoly. It is a private business. If Musk wants to enshittify the service to a particular group that is his choice. Affected users can go elsewhere or complain to advertisers. Those steps are clearly effective given how quickly Musk back-tracks.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Re: Mr unlimited free speech strikes again

I agree that Twitter.2 limiting referrals to businesses Musk does not like is just as legal as Twitter.1 suspending accounts of republicans. The difference is the consequences. When people were angered by what Twitter.1 allowed on their site they complained to the businesses buying adverts who threatened to stop buying adverts. Twitter.1 capitulated. That had consequences too: obnoxious people were limited to unpopular social media sites where they could talk to each other without bothering the rest of us.

Twitter.2's recent actions had sufficient consequences the Musk promptly backed down yet again, although this time with less pissing and whining first.

Boffins reckon Mars colony could survive with fewer than two dozen people

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Canvas mine

Canvas used to be made from hemp or cotton. Old tech used all sorts of materials that grow on trees - such as latex that you would need to make canvas air tight. Canvas can be made from PVC. Trying to use old methods on Mars would require advanced farming. Going the PVC route with modern Earth tech requires fossil fuels, which might exist on Mars if there was life there. It is possible to start with CO2 and ice, make methane and work you way up from there. That would be some impressive modern chemistry to get working on Mars.

Effective Mars technology will probably be a mixture of old and new. Getting a suitable habitat for trees on Mars is difficult but if you solve that problem then your precursor materials source is self replicating - a big advantage over a complex chemical factory.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

Re: How long the colony would last

One accident with an airlock or space suit and the problem would be solved. Either that or use Tesla's range prediction software and customer support on one of the rovers.

Flocke Kroes Silver badge

The next two on my list

2.5m diameter hole in the habitation module sealed with a sheet of plastic reinforced with duct tape and held in place with ratchet straps: To get a feel for what air pressure would do to that imagine turning it sideways on Earth and expecting it to support a large dump truck full of gravel.

Catalytic combustion of hydrazine in the habitat to make ~400kg of water: I need to listen to a chemist on this one, but in real life chemical reactions rarely go 100%. With improvised equipment there will be left over hydrazine. The NFPA 704 diamond for hydrazine has a blue 4: very short exposure could cause death or major residual injury. (Mark doesn't say where he is getting his oxygen - I assume it is dinitrogen tetroxide from the MAV.)

I enjoyed the film but it is a clear case of reality making life difficult for story telling.

Bad software destroyed my doctor's memory

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Re: Sometimes the inverse works

Quiet, you might put a stop to hundreds of millions going to 'digitise the NHS' pork projects that get cancelled and restarted every five years or so.

Florida Man and associates indicted for conspiracy to steal data, software

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Re: This is the most problematic indictment for him, by far

I hope so, but I would prefer a few more problems. Convicted criminals are still eligible to run for president (Eugene Debs) and could be president while in prison - until he works out how to use presidential authority to get out. If the hearings do not complete before becoming president he could appoint an attorney general to dismiss them.

To get barred from office using article I, section 3, clause 7, Florida Man would have to get impeached by congress (already done twice), convicted by the senate (they didn't) then barred from office by another senate vote and finally there would be some sort of court room battle to decide if barred from office includes the presidency.

To be disqualified by section 3 of the fourteenth amendment, he must swear an oath to support the constitution (already done) then rebel against the United States (indicted is a step towards conviction, but chickens have not yet hatched). After that, more litigation to decide if this rule applies to presidents.

Using the twenty-second amendment (limit of two terms in office) would require insane troll logic. Two years of acting president count as a term. He claims to have won 2020 but has not been in office. It is a matter of opinion where he ever acted like a president - depends on which president you choose as a model.

Tesla is looking for people to build '1st of its kind Data Centers'

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"adhering to Tesla's core principles"

What would those principles be exactly?