* Posts by cray74

1022 posts • joined 29 Nov 2011


International Space Station actually spun one-and-a-half times by errant Russian module's thrusters


Space habitats are supposed to spin

The ISS was designed strictly as a micro-gravity research laboratory. Out of the countless design variations of Space Station Freedom and the International Space Station, one of the dominating criteria was protection the laboratory modules from acceleration, tidal forces, vibrations, and even crew movement. Quite a few cost-cutting designs were tossed because they didn't protect the lab modules' microgravity conditions. For example, the simple gravity-gradient stabilized Power Tower concept for Freedom was dropped because by using lab modules as ballast at one end of the tower they were subject to some tiny G-forces.

You don't get a microgravity environment by spinning the entire space station. You don't get a clean microgravity environment in a lab if part of the station is spinning, leaving the rest of the station shaking, shivering, and suffering gyroscopic precession as it orbits Earth.

goin up there to lose muscle and bone mass is the most poorly thought out thing that ever came out of the 60's and it's amazing that we haven't figured that out yet.

The ISS's research work is dominated by two fields: biology and materials science. A great many of the biology studies coming out of the ISS, like the Twins Study, are all about that bone and muscle loss. The whole point of 6-month and 1-year tours on the ISS is to find out what spaceflight does to humans because the 1960s left a lot of blanks.

The 1960s and 1970s 3-year Martian roundtrips or 14-month Venus flybys envisaged at the time would've crippled and incapacitated the astronauts and cosmonauts because space agencies of the era were clueless about long-term spaceflight effects.

The ISS's non-spinning environment has answered a lot of important questions over the last two decades of service, questions that would not have been answered with a spinning space station.


Additional bits

Other reports indicate that Nauka wasn't just spinning the station:

"...[Scoville] soon realized that it was not and that Nauka was not only firing its thrusters, but that it was trying to actually pull away from the space station that it had just docked with. And he was soon told that the module could only receive direct commands from a ground station in Russia, which the space station wouldn't pass over for over an hour."

The severity of the situation is summarized by Scoville's later tweet that he had never "been so happy to see all solar arrays + radiators still attached."

Well, here's a toast to the engineers that dealt with the Nauka's excitement with calm and poise.

The human-devoid AI-powered Saildrone Surveyor ship just made it to Hawaii from SF


Re: Urban Legend or Semantics?

I think it's the definition and visibility they're talking about.

And that's fine if that's the author's point. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is mapping the moon to 18-inches resolution such that that foot trails of astronauts are visible. LRO's fantastic work mildly complicates moon landing deniers' conspiracy theories.

But then you get claims like "only 5% of the oceans have been mapped" that are taken for granted, even though every inch (or, well, tens of square kilometers) of the sea floor have been mapped since 1977.

Hence my curiosity about the ambiguity.


Urban Legend or Semantics?

we have mapped the Moon more than our planet's deep oceans.

I've heard variations of this claim frequently on the internet, but the Earth's ocean floors were thoroughly mapped by 1977. There are dozens of oceanographic institutes, militaries, and oil companies mapping and studying the seafloor for purposes ranging from primary science to profits. From the Antarctic ocean seafloor to the the Arctic Ocean seafloor, we've got the seafloors mapped in depth. (sorry)

So, what definition is being used when it's claimed that we've mapped more of the moon's surface than Earth's seafloors?

Taikonauts complete seven-hour spacewalk, the first for China since 2008


Re: Well done!

never realised space had to demonstrate a profit back then.

NASA (and thus US taxpayers) paid for Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the shuttle, but NASA didn't build those spacecraft. Alan Shepard's first flight was in a Mercury capsule built by the McDonnell Aircraft Company, which was lofted by a Redstone rocket built by Chrysler's aerospace division.

Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong went to the moon in a capsule built by North American Aviation, used a lander built by Grumman Aircraft Company, and launched in a rocket with stages built by Boeing (Saturn IC), North American (Saturn II), and Douglas Aircraft Company (Saturn IVB). Their A7L spacesuits were made by ILC Dover and Hamilton Standard. Launch pad services were supplied by Bendix.

NASA didn't have to show a profit (though it tries to show financial benefits for American taxpayers), but all those private space companies weren't going to the moon "for the exposure." Government cheese like NASA contracts was a good source of profits while the Space Race lasted.

Hubble’s cosmic science is mind-blowing, but its soul celebrates something surprising about us


Re: Correcting the Corrector?

Is the replacement spectrometer the same instrument they originally had to sacrifice in order to fit COSTAR?

Nope. The original sacrificed for COSTAR was considered the least important of the main Hubble instruments. It was a photometer, not a spectrometer, meant to assess the brightness and polarity of celestial objects. This is useful if, say, you wanted to determine the distance of celestial object, spot transiting exoplanets, or estimate the rotational periods of stars. The replacement instrument COS was a spectrometer meant to figure out the "mass, distribution, motions, temperatures, and compositions of matter in the Universe."


Correcting the Corrector?

"Every picture you’ve seen that took your breath away is courtesy of COSTAR..."

After 16 years of producing incredible pictures, COSTAR was removed from Hubble in 2009 during the STS-125 servicing mission. You can now see COSTAR in the National Air and Space Museum. Since 2009, all instruments in Hubble have their own, built-in corrective optics. COSTAR's bay is now occupied by the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph.

USA's efforts to stop relying on Russian-built rocket engines derailed by issues with Blue Origin's BE-4


Re: Capitlaism

It most certainly does (or at least its chums at ULA do) ... ULA even blocked sea launch on the basis that sailing 12 miles offshore to launch was an "export"

Good points: a commercial rival with less competitive products undermined opponents. ULA's parents, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin, certainly don't mind wielding lobbyists when their products fall short.

It was amusing to see SpaceX lawyer their way into national defense launches. ULA thought they had that locked up.

the whole design and 10 year delay of JWST was to avoid an Ariane launch,

As of 2008, NASA was planning to use an Ariane 5. 2008 was before most of the instruments had been built or mirrors finished. There were certainly many delays after that point like testing problems in the 2010s but they weren't related to avoiding the Ariane 5.

Were there also delays in the 1996-2007 period based on avoiding Ariane 5 use?


Re: Capitlaism

They use the Russian engines because they're cheaper

More significantly, the Russian kerosene-oxygen rocket engines have exceptional performance. While the US mostly ignored kerosene after the 1960s to focus on hydrogen-oxygen rockets (and solids, for military use), the USSR kept plugging away at kerosene-oxygen engines. Until SpaceX's Merlin series of engines the US had nothing like the thrust-to-weight performance of the RD-170 family. The fall of the Iron Curtain and revelation of Russian rocket engines caused some eye-boggling in the US.

Then the US started buying those engines because, y'know, capitalism trumped patriotism. In the 1990s the Russian engines were good, cheap engines that could substantially improve US rocket performance. When the engines became expensive in the 2000s the performance was still worthwhile.

Why not just have the Russians launch your payload?

Tricky question. A few follow-up questions:

1. If Boeing uses Rolls-Royce jet engines on its airliners, why not build the planes in the UK?

2. If Chrysler and Dodge used Japanese engines in its cars, why not build the cars in Japan?

3. What about all of NASA's flights to the ISS in Soyuz capsules?

US commercial satellite operators have gone outside US borders for their launches. The Ariane family was a workhorse for the world's launches until recently. A US communication satellite was on the Long March 3B that killed at least 6 if not several hundred people. When saving money matters to a US satellite operator they're certainly willing to chase a cheaper launch.

But in this restricted case, the Atlas rockets using Russian engines primarily have US government payloads. While NASA doesn't mind launching on foreign rockets if they get the job done (e.g., James Webb is going up on an Ariane V), the National Reconnaissance Office and Department of Defense will laugh themselves into hiccups and hernias at the idea of putting one of their satellites on a "Rooskie" rocket.

As the original capitalist economist Adam Smith noted, "There seem, however, to be two cases in which it will generally be advantageous to lay some burden upon foreign, for the encouragement of domestic industry. The first is, when some particular sort of industry is necessary for the defence of the country. ..."

The usual defense-related payloads of Atlas rockets are definitely cases where the customer will not chase the cheapest launch to foreign spaceports but will rather use a launch that suits the customer's idea of national security. Taking a modern NRO payload to Russia is basically inviting Russians into Lockheed-Martin's factories for a detailed inspection of US spy satellites.

Windows 11: Meet the new OS, same as the old OS (or close enough)


Re: Here here

Sadly, there are far too many device manufacturers who drop a whole Windows PC into their product. Then fail to update it.


I stay gainfully employed with materials engineering problems at an aerospace factory, which is less a matter of software than trying to figure out why an epoxy had bubbles in it or paint didn't cure. But my mechanical, electrical, and optical colleagues have been complaining about the recent forced upgrades from Windows XP to Windows 7 on their CNC and test hardware.

Since the device manufacturers don't issue refits (at least not upgrades that make company security happy), we've been painstakingly figuring out how to convert software and drivers to Win7 by ourselves, or mating new computers to the factory gear.

Soon, soon we'll catch up with the world of 2009.

Deluded medics fail to show Ohio lawmakers that COVID vaccines magnetise patients


Re: Struck off?

exposed for being the charlatans they are and be barred from practice?

Dr. Tenpenny has been a vocal anti-vaxxer for years. For example, in 2015 she was barred from entering Australia where she had been invited to speak to anti-vaccine groups. Despite spreading harmful information on a grand scale, she has retained her osteopathic license because it's an "alternative medicine" license. Facebook might've banned her, but the Ohio Board of Medicine has been steadily renewing her license every 2 years.


Governor DeWine has an unimpressive political career filled with the usual 1990s-2010s Republican positions, but he has a few respectable points in his resume. He greatly accelerated criminal DNA testing, shut down "pill mill" dispensaries, and most recently showed a little common sense about medicine:

On Thursday, DeWine said he opposes House Bill 248 and asked Ohioans to think of the impact vaccines have had on society. "Before modern medicine, diseases such as mumps, polio, whooping cough were common and caused great, great, great suffering and death to thousands of people every single year."

Space junk damages International Space Station's robot arm


What about making decomissionning of satellites internationally mandatory by sending them back to Earth for destruction in the atmosphere?

The major sources of artificial debris in space are less satellites and more upper stages. Low orbit satellites (those under 800km altitude) tend to clean themselves up with atmospheric drag within a few decades, if not a few months (under 400km) after running out of station keeping fuel. High orbit satellites (e.g., geosynchronous satellites) are moving much more slowly and generate less debris in collisions.

That leaves upper stages, particularly those that lobbed satellites into highly elliptical geosynchronous transfer orbits. These orbits do spend a fraction of their orbit screaming through crowded low altitude bands but not for long enough to experience much drag. Their residual fuel and aging batteries tend to explode after several decades in orbit.

Based on those points, most responsible satellite operators are finally taking steps to clean up space. The techniques utilized include:

1. Reserving some fuel for end of life de-orbiting of low altitude satellites. (Starlink had to demonstrate that 95%+ of its satellites would de-orbit under control at their end of life. If not, they're in low orbits that'll decay shortly.)

2. Now reserving some fuel for end of life boosts to graveyard orbits for high altitude satellites. (It takes a ridiculous amount of fuel to get from geosynchronous orbit to Earth's atmosphere, more than to go from geosynchronous to the moon. Most geosynchronous satellites are cash cows that try to use every available drop of fuel to hold station, so operators don't like saving lots of fuel for big maneuvers. Compromise: kick upward to a graveyard orbit, which requires little fuel.)

3. Reserving some upper stage fuel for a de-orbit burn, or at least arranging a perigee at an altitude that will decay quickly. SpaceX usually utilizes de-orbit burns on its second stages, though sometimes the burn fails.

4. Hiring a third party to extend satellite life with more fuel including a reserve to retire into a graveyard orbit.

The recent media panic about China's out of control upper stage de-orbiting was amusing considering just weeks earlier the panic had been about space debris. That behemoth would've been a large debris generator if left in orbit but, being a lightweight rocket stage, it burned up thoroughly on reentry and only weeks after being launched.

Just what is the poop capacity of an unladen sparrow? We ask because one got into the office and left quite a mess


Re: Invest in mosquito screens.

Thank you. I was here to say the same thing. Screens and screen doors are vital in Florida to let in winter and spring breezes without the clouds of mosquitos that can carry away small children.

Screens also keep out birds, even large sandhill cranes who defecate in quantities rivaling the bodyweight of a swallow anywhere they're allowed to access. Great fertilizer for the yard but not something I want on my back porch.

Unihertz Titan Pocket: Like asking Mum for a BlackBerry and she tells you 'but we've got a BlackBerry at home'


Re: physical keyboard

"Slidey chocobar phones were peak design."

I went from an LG enV Touch to the Droid 1 slider. While the jump in performance from a feature phone to a smart phone was impressive and the jump from 3G to 4G was great, I was not impressed with the slider and keyboard combination. The enV rotated the screen out of the way of my thumbs while the Droid kept it there like a speed bump designed interfere with the top row of keys.

Your mileage obviously varies, but I miss the flip-phone keyboard of my enV. I've had high hopes for the Gemini and Cosmo but they seem to need a little more refinement.

Fridges... in... Spaaaaaaace: Engineers book ride on the Vomit Comet to test astro-refrigerator


NASA has a lot of experience using the Peltier-Seebeck effect, I am surprised they haven't found a way to utilise it on the space station. No liquids and no moving parts, it has been used since the sixties on both satellites and rovers.

About 10 years ago, I worked on a project to replace a Peltier cooler from a rack of outdoor, all-weather satellite communications gear. Besides problems specific to this kit** and irrelevant to spacecraft, Peltier coolers have terrible efficiency. Even a small, rack-mounted vapor-compression refrigerator that compromised efficiency to fit into 2U was literally an order of magnitude more efficient in terms of watts of heat moved per watt of electricity. We went from about 400W peak draw on the Peltier for 400W of cooling to 120W draw for 350W of cooling. Spacecraft tend to have constrained power budgets so alternatives to Peltiers are probably welcome.

On the flip side, I did stumble over a problem that these Purdue students are tackling. Being a materials engineer rather than a mechanical or refrigeration engineer, I never thought about the circulating fluid in the refrigerator. When we were putting the vapor-compression chiller through its paces in environmental chambers for MIL-STD-810 "falling dust" and "blowing rain" tests, we'd flip our test box on all different sides to threaten the air intakes and exhausts. Well, there's a reason new refrigerators come with warning to let them sit upright for 24 hours: the liquid refrigerant depends on gravity and supplies lubrication to the moving parts.

The refrigerator's manufacturer was impressed that their little chiller worked at all angles but did have to replace an expensive custom-built compressor. They were rather nice about the whole thing, really.

Anyway, if these kids get this chiller working in zero-G then congratulations to them.


**The Peltier cooler and resistive heaters formed a 20-kilogram brick that was mounted on and through the top of the keg-sized electronics rack. The enclosure for the rack was thin aluminum that bent under the cooler, forming concavities that compromised the weather seal and funneled water into $50,000 of electronics. My vapor-compression cooler mounted in the rack with only a weather-resistant louver penetrating the front of the rack.


Re: No student's at Perdue ?

The obvious way to keep stuff cold is to hang it outside the ISS's window in a plastic bag.

Wouldn't that risk overheating the material in the unfiltered sunlight, or am I being too literal and missing the joke?

After years of dragging its feet, FCC finally starts tackling America's robocall scourge


Re: dozens a day

My parents' cell phones in the US get hit with several spam calls per day. I've managed to avoid that - one VOIP call center in the Tampa Bay area hits me about once a week. Verizon allows me to block them for free.

Sierra Nevada Corporation resurrects plans for crewed Dream Chaser spaceplane


It's been a long road, getting from there to here...

From the Soviet BOR-4 that caught NASA's eye in 1983 to the HL-20 mini-shuttle and the bigger HL-42 , this vehicle concept has had a long, twisting road to space. It almost flew on the on the International Space Station as the Crew Return Vehicle but was cut because of budgetary reasons. Sierra Nevada is running with the idea as the Dream Chaser with some cargo contracts to the ISS and now, maybe, finally, it'll get some people into orbit. Maybe it's time is finally here.

Cheers to Sierra Nevada for keeping this elegant space plane concept alive.

China celebrates third year of operations on the far side of the moon


Re: below -170°C for a fortnight at a time

I wonder how they're managing that?

Same way as the US's solar-powered rovers: ATOMIC ENERGY! Well, a few watts from decaying radioisotopes, plus lots of insulation.

Yutu-2 also apparently learned from whatever "mechanical control" failure paralyzed Yutu on the nearside, and better addressed the extreme cold failures that damaged Yutu's solar panel closure motors. (The solar panels were supposed to close up at night and supply insulation to the body. More convenient than finding a tauntaun every night.)

H2? Oh! New water-splitting technique pushes progress of green hydrogen


Re: > blasting microwave radiation at a watery chemical soup

If you have such a power source, why not just use it to drive the wheels instead?

It is challenging but not impossible to directly power automobiles with wind, solar, or nuclear sources. Generally, wind, solar, and nuclear are better arranged as stationary power plants that deliver electricity to trains and trolleys, to battery-powered vehicles, or to chemical reactors that produce hydrogen for cars.

Did Arthur C. Clarke call it right? Water spotted in Moon's sunlit Clavius crater by NASA telescope


Re: Drill baby drill

The surface rock of the moon is twenty degrees below freezing, so whatever water is still inside the moon brechia will not escape.

Good start, but that's not how vapor pressure works. The frost line of a solar system is considerably colder than -20C because in a vacuum some evaporation will occur even to rather low temperatures. Generally, water ice is taken to be stable in a vacuum at -130 to -170C.

There are vast quantities of water and methane on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune,

There are indeed vast quantities of volatiles on those gas giants, but their escape velocities are vastly higher than the moon's. For example, at Earth's surface temperature water molecules move around the atmosphere at about 300m/s. Earth's escape velocity is 11,030m/s, so any water molecule popping up to the upper edge of the atmosphere will be inclined to fall back to Earth. Per Jean's Escape Mechanism a tiny fraction of those water molecules - or more likely UV-dissociated hydrogen molecules - will escape because they're moving fast enough to do so. As escape velocities climb, it gets harder for gases to escape. Hence large worlds tend to be ice giants or gas giants.

Pluto and Titan are cold enough that the average molecular velocity of any evaporated gases are well below escape velocity and, being big blocks of volatiles, they've got enormous reserves to stay icy for billions of years.

But Luna is in a bad position: low escape velocity, relatively high temperatures. Water can easily evaporate and escape from the moon.

No need for more asteroid-blasting attempts, NASA's OSIRIS-REx has more than enough space dirt


I hope this regolith will be put in isolation for a while in case it comes back with some nasty, alien virus.

Viruses work by using RNA or DNA to hijack living cells. Viruses thus necessarily must have evolved closely with their target cells or their DNA/RNA packet will be so much nonsense to the cell, assuming they can even lock on to the cell's exterior.

Worrying about space viruses infecting Earth is like expecting a virus meant for the Burroughs MCP to work on Windows 10 machine.

Let’s check in with that 30,000-job $10bn Trump-Foxconn Wisconsin plant. Wow, way worse than we'd imagined


Re: El Reg becoming political now ?

The Hunter Biden macbook story would have been far more interesting, there was at least a modicum of IT involved.

Yes, Foxconn only went to Wisconsin to expand its widely known cheese division, not for anything IT related.

Regarding the Hunter Biden MacBook (probably with some Foxconn chips), there were some interesting aspects:

1. Hunter Biden lives in California.

2. The computer repair shop was in Delaware - admittedly, where members of the Biden family are.

3. The computer repair shop owner couldn't positively ID Hunter Biden as the MacBook's owner.

4. The leaked emails contain names and dates that don't match up with Hunter's itineraries

ISS? More like HISS, am I right? Space station air leakage narrowed down to Russia's Zvezda module


Differing definitions of "fail"

It has been a bad few weeks for US-based rocket fanciers as SpaceX, United Launch Alliance (ULA), and Northrop Grumman took turns at failing to get their respective rockets off the ground.

Generally, a rocket failure is not takeoff so much as a rapid unscheduled disassembly, which known to affect even senior aerospace companies. Failure to reach orbit is another common failure in the launch industry.

Launch scrubs and delayed takeoffs, on the other hand, are sensible precautions. Launch services aren't airlines trying to appease hundreds of angry, restive passengers with timely takeoffs. Instead, they have customers expecting that their billion-dollar hardware gets delivered correctly, intact, and operational.

TikTok seeks injunction to halt Trump ban, claims it would break America's own First and Fifth Amendments


Re: Sue

The only thing the GOP understands is MONEY.

I'm not sure that's true given that long-term GOP politicians are addicted to voodoo economics: cut taxes, raise spending, wait for an economic miracle to avoid debt increase, and blame the Democrats for the debt when the miracle doesn't arrive. Rinse and repeat for the last 40 years.

The GOP's slur toward Democrats that they "tax and spend, tax and spend" sounds sensible in comparison.

Have no idea WTF is going on with the Oracle-Walmart TikTok deal? Don’t sweat it, here’s our latest rundown


What checks and balances exist on executive orders? What limits?

In an ideal world where the US government is working correctly, US executive orders are limited by the Constitutional powers of the Presidency. That is, the President doesn't write laws, doesn't set taxes, and doesn't set budgets because those are powers reserved for Congress. Accordingly, executive orders cannot create new laws and taxes, and can't change budgets issued by Congress (with caveats - a vague budget for a federal department gives a President a lot of leeway).

Further, executive orders are subject to judicial review just like Congressional laws. The Supreme Court can invalidate an executive order just like it can declare a new law to be unconstitutional.

The US President is basically a chief executive for the US federal government's bureaucracy. Presidents' job is to execute the laws and budgets set by Congress. Executive orders are thus directives from the boss to employees in the federal bureaucracies and must fit within existing laws and budgets.

To put it another way, executive orders should try to clarify or help implement laws, not make laws.

Some example executive orders:

George Washington cut the first executive order and it was a 1789 directive to heads of bureaucratic departments to (in so many words) "Tell me what's happening in your department." With that order, executive departments got a new rule to start keeping their boss informed of events. It seems like a fairly obvious order but apparently the new federal government was a bit haphazard and didn't have any prior written requirements for the new departments to tell their boss what they were doing.

President Lincoln's "Executive Order Establishing a Provisional Court in Louisiana" (1862) would normally have been completely outside a President's powers since the judicial branch handles the courts. However, Louisiana was in rebellion, had been captured by federal troops, and was under martial law. Presidents being the head of the US military, it was within Lincoln's wartime powers to set up courts to restore order in Louisiana. These courts ended when Louisiana returned to civil administration.

One of the most famous executive orders came from Lincoln and was again applied to rebellious states only: the Emancipation Proclamation. The constitutionality of freeing slaves elsewhere might've prompted a serious court fight over an executive order or even a Congressional law, hence the US eventually had to amend the Constitution to eliminate slavery.

On the other hand, Harry Truman's Executive Order 10340 attempted to federalize all US steel mills ahead of a disastrous strike and was slapped down by the Supreme Court. The reason for the decision was that this executive order attempted to make law, which is a power reserved to Congress, rather than to "clarify or further a law put forth by Congress."

Since that 1952 defeat, executive orders have been written to carefully cite laws or fundamental Presidential powers in the Constitution that allow the orders to work.

Clear as mud? :)

I'm not sure what existing laws give the President authority to shutdown specific websites, so I can't comment on the TikTok matter.

Let's go space truckin': 1970s probe Voyager 1 is now 14 billion miles from home


"Sad that in the decades since NASA has likely launched more paper across desks than useful payload"

While the Voyagers are epic probes for their endurance, they were flyby probes that only briefly visited their destinations. Since then, NASA has favored orbiters and landers like:

* Cassini and Huygens (with the ESA) at Saturn

*Galileo and and its atmospheric probe at Jupiter

*Juno, also at Jupiter

*Dawn, orbiting multiple main belt asteroids

*MESSENGER, orbiting Mercury

*OSIRIS-ReX, orbiting asteroid Bennu

*Magellan, orbiting Venus

*Numerous Mars orbiters, rovers, and landers

*Parker Solar Probe, diving through the Sun's corona repeatedly

And that's just a sampling of NASA's post-Voyager projects.

Russia admits, yup, the Americans are right: One of our rocket's tanks just disintegrated in Earth's orbit


Re: Hopefully time limited

The main "could be worse" factor is that the perigee is quite low, so the orbit should decay reasonably fast.

Not as fast as a 400km circular orbit, unfortunately. With only brief dips to 400km, that second stage and its debris field could last decades. Recent Western practices for second stages are to get their perigees a bit lower or actively deorbit them (SpaceX) after payload release.

A nice database of debris entries and initial launch dates can be found here. Too many of those upper stages last decades in GTOs.

World's smallest violin to be played for opportunistic sellers banned from eBay and Amazon for price gouging


Re: Price Gouging: the free market libertarian perspective

when faced with a crisis the response is universally - for lack of a better word - socialist.

Indeed. On that note, there have been some excellent arguments for national healthcare and mandatory paid leave in the US based on the COVID-19 response. It's a lot easier to stay at home when you're not losing your job, and it's easier to get treated if you won't go bankrupt visiting the emergency room.


Price Gouging: the free market libertarian perspective

I saw an interesting argument to allow price gouging. To me, this argument sounds like a good way to encourage robbery and shopflight, but I'd love to hear more nuanced takes on this theory:

"Anytime you have a sudden huge increase in demand, like for toilet paper or hand sanitizer recently, the price must rise to reflect that. If it doesn’t, there will be shortages and empty shelves. We can whine on social media all we want, but this will ALWAYS happen if prices aren’t allowed to rise. Which they aren’t allowed to, because we have “price gouging” laws and social media scolds which will severely punish retailers who raise prices above some arbitrary metric.

"The reason for the inevitability of hoarding and empty shelves is because the market value of the toilet paper or hand gel is suddenly far higher than what it’s being sold for. Thus, there’s no penalty for hoarding and over supplying, because even if the hoarding isn’t ultimately needed, no one has overpaid for the product, and can just use the toilet paper in the future. So you have a prisoner’s dilemma-type situation. Everyone can scoff at each other for hoarding and say it’s unethical, but the first person who hoards benefits tremendously by buying goods at way under market value. ...

"What “price gouging” does is to raise the cost of the good to the market clearing price, which is critical because it lets everyone know what the actual value of the good is, and sends the proper price signal to consumers and producers. With higher prices, if you hoard you are paying a huge penalty for doing so and taking a huge risk, because if prices drop in the future you’ll be a giant loser. Few will stock up on gallons of hand sanitizer or pallets of TP if it costs them a fortune. Additionally, it sends a signal to conserve those valuable resources and shift behavior if possible.

"The other benefit to price gouging is to give producers a huge incentive to produce more. Ramping up hand sanitizer gel production is now much more lucrative than producing hair gel, for instance. Allowing prices to function allows the market to allocate resources to their most productive use, which is what we want, particularly in dire situations. We want producers to up the supply and drive the price back down. If no price signal is given, there’s little incentive to do so.

"Whining about and prohibiting price gouging does two things; it guarantees shortages and hoarding, and lessens the incentive for producers and retailers to bring more product to the market."

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Billionaire Bezos unveils plans to land humans on Moon, with a little help from some old friends


While everyone else is futzing about and getting nothing done, Space X is eating their lunch and actually launching rockets and all the other amazing stuff they do.

SpaceX does have fantastic public relations to go with their amazing hardware.

While SpaceX has been futzing around with its Starship to the point one of its customer had to yell at it to pay attention to its Dragon 2 contract, other companies...

1. Have won NASA's CATALYST contract for commercial cargo deliveries to the moon (Astrobotics, Intuitive Machines, and Orbit Beyond - not SpaceX)

2. Are developing and testing commercial lunar landers without NASA funding (Moon Express & Rocket Lab, the latter of which flies the proven Electron rocket)

3. Have been launching Atlas V rockets, testing the Orion capsule (in the atmosphere), and bringing in 4-5x SpaceX's revenue in the space industry

4. Have been launching Delta IV rockets, maintaining the ISS, developing the SLS, testing the CST-100 Starliner, and bringing in 6-7x SpaceX's revenue in the space industry

5. Have been launching Antares rockets and delivering cargo to the ISS with the Cygnus

6. Have been developing a new spaceplane for reusable orbital cargo delivery, the Dream Chaser

SpaceX is impressive, but it's a small company that represents a small part of the current aerospace market. Don't overlook the leviathans and upstarts around it, there's some fascinating stuff happening in aerospace right now and it's not all about SpaceX.


Re: The Future’s Bright

I suppose the silver lining is they are doing it under contract with NASA, not going the entirely lone way of Musk or Branson.

Musk has been raking in a fortune from NASA. When SpaceX was staggering after the near-failure of the Falcon 1 and was trying to develop the Falcon 9, NASA offered SpaceX the COTS contract for cargo delivery to the ISS. NASA flew the DragonEye docking system on the shuttle to test it out for SpaceX (missions STS-127, STS-129, and STS-133). The Crew Dragon / Dragon 2 is also dependent on NASA funding.

SpaceX is just following a long line of private companies in lining up for NASA's contracts. NASA doesn't have a rocket factory, so whether it was flying a Mercury-Redstone (Mercury capsule: McDonnell Aircraft Company, Redstone rocket: Chrysler Aerospace) or landing an Apollo LM (Grumman) on the moon, NASA has depended on private contractors.

Two astronauts conduct a successful spacewalk, world+dog lose minds


Re: Sorry Richard, you blew it

One of them decided WHEN IN SPACE ALREADY that she preferred the fit of a different size suit than the one she had chosen on the ground.

It is normal for astronauts to gain about 3% in height after some days in zero-G. An astronaut on the borderline between suit sizes might well gain a size when they're in orbit. That's not "a decision," it's a physiological change involving a stretching spine.

The small number of suit pieces on the ISS does represent a "parlous state" if NASA isn't accommodating that known effect on humans.

Oh chute. Doubts cast on ExoMars lander's 2020 red planet jaunt after another failed test



The Curiosity Rover also ran into parachute testing problems.

"And the parachute blew apart basically. So the [wind] tunnel is fine, but the parachute, uh, it's a loss." --Doug Adams (the other one).

The Curiosity team - which also assembled a team of Martian parachute experts - eventually decided that they were incapable of simulating Martian conditions in the wind tunnel. The air was just too dense and the parachute would work fine on Mars, but not terrestrial wind tunnels.


Re: Propulsive landing for the win

It beats me why NASA love parachutes so much. ESA's problems here highlight how unreliable they are.

NASA's track record highlights how reliable parachutes are. Parachutes worked successfully at Mars on Viking, Pathfinder, MER, Curiosity, Phoenix, and Insight.

As I recall, NASA's never had a failed mission because of the parachutes themselves unless you count Genesis, which was a sensor failure (acceleration sensor installed during test). They've certainly had failures during testing - Orion and Dragon both have had recent parachute test problems, as did Curiosity - but beyond Genesis I can't think of a NASA mission scuppered by its parachutes.

Rival rocketeers SpaceX and ULA make oblations to weather gods ahead of double-launch action


Atlas V Launch

Nice dawn launch. I saw it from about 100km due west of the Space Center. Perfect viewing conditions - I couldn't see the ISS flyover last night because of clouds, but the sky was completely clear this morning. In those conditions, you can see the exhaust plume really expand in vacuum as the rocket starts dropping toward the horizon. The boosters were visible as sparkling red dots as separation.

I wasn't able to get a clear shot, but I have snagged a few from teh interwebs:

Launch Shot Before the Space Whale Arrived

The Space Whale is Born

("Space whale" isn't my first choice of description, but I'm not sure how The Register would react to me comparing it to while, tadpole-like male germ cells.)

Bad news. Asteroid 1999 KW4 flew by, did not hit Earth killing us all. Good news: Another one, Didymos, is on the way


Have these people never played Asteroids? You always die in the end!

Only when I got bored of flipping the score over and over.

It's 50 years to the day since Apollo 10 blasted off: America's lunar landing 'dress rehearsal'


Challenger was not a failure of Congress

The root cause goes back to Congress on several levels. For example, during the 1970s four bids were submitted on the shuttle booster, with Morton-Thiokol's bid winning. NASA ranked Utah-based Morton-Thiokol's fatal booster design as fourth out of the four bids on technical merits and cost. Other designs, like Aerojet's monolithic boosters, entirely avoided risks present in the Thiokol booster.

However, Senator Frank Moss (Utah) was Chairman of the Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, and controlled NASA's purse strings. Morton-Thiokol won the bid.

Three planets and two stars adds up to one research team made very happy by Kepler's unique discovery


Goldilocks screwed up a good deal, too


Just because a planet shows up in a "Goldilocks" zone doesn't mean it's automatically habitable. Venus and Mars are in (or near) Sol's habitable zone but screwed up their chances to be infested with humans due to poor choices.

Astroboffins spot hefty pair swinging together. What? Um, we're talking about record-breaking massive binary stars...


It did require some digging. Even the article with distance information buried it.


NASA pops titanium tea cosy over Martian InSight probe instrument


Re: Tea cosy hat

> They don't drink tea in France (or America)

My US employer's on-site mini-convenience store has a dozen different types of tea bags available, and the cafeteria serves 8 different flavors of sweet and unsweet teas. Since any size cup of tea is $1.00 I often avail myself of the 32oz/1-liter cups. That's enough calorie-free caffeine to get me started in the morning.

Boffins debunk study claiming certain languages (cough, C, PHP, JS...) lead to more buggy code than others


Re: poor tools can't be blamed?....sure, sure, suurrrrre

Going off on a materials science tangent...

> But that'd be like complaining that a vice designed to be sold cheap to mugginses-in-a-shed to generate business-profit, fell apart in the hands of people trying to do professional high-pressure high-temperature work

If the prior poster's claim that the vise had an ultimate tensile strength of 3,000psi is correct then the vise would fail in common, everyday use, not "high pressure, high temperature work."

3,000psi is the realm of unreinforced plastics. The softest aluminum alloys barely drop below 10,000psi (10ksi); 30-45ksi is typical and over 75ksi possible. Cheap, mild steels and cast irons you'll encounter daily in cars, steel cans, and fence posts should be 35ksi - 60ksi, while alloy steels like 4340 can nose past 200ksi and ubersteels like Aermet 340 perform above 300ksi. Not that titanium (Hollywood's darling) would show up in a vise, but common titanium alloys are in the 140-160ksi range, with some 21st century exotics broaching 200ksi.

Point being: 3ksi from a vise's steel ain't right. Some foundry screwed up in an extra special way to make that metal.

Japanese astronomers find tiniest Kuiper Belt object yet – using cheap 'scopes and off-the-shelf CMOS cameras


Epic find, but...

...for their next feat of perception can they find the sock that went missing in my last load of laundry?

Killer superbugs in space... are something astronauts on orbiting science lab don't have to worry about right now



Not a mention of Mir's slime-mold-bacteria problems, or did I skim too fast? Mir had mold growing across its windows until they were unusable and blackening insulation. It was a seriously unhealthy space station in its last years.

New Horizons snaps finish buffering: Ultima Thule actually two dust bunnies that got snuggly 4.5 billion years ago


There was a time about 50 years ago when a modem with that speed was considered almost impossibly fast.

Heck, I irritated friends by bragging about a 2400-baud modem in the late 1980s. It gave me a serious advantage over their 1200- and 300-baud modems when playing the text-based Galactic Empires on BBSs.

A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace

Paris Hilton

Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

The Mercians have been bombing Afghan weddings from the comfort of the American midwest.

I thought the Danes took care of the Mercians a bit before drones became a common element in warfare or lodging stern objections to weddings.



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