Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 29th Aug 2013 14:14 UTC
In the News

Victoria Espinel, who until recently served as the White House's first intellectual property enforcement coordinator, will now head one of the most powerful trade groups in the tech industry. She's been tapped to become the new president and CEO of The Software Alliance (or BSA) starting September 3rd. In her new role, she'll be tasked with pushing the anti-piracy interests of major players like Microsoft, Dell, Apple, Oracle, and Intel. And while the BSA spends a large part of its time lobbying Congress and other governments to push that agenda, Espinel will be barred from engaging in such practices herself - at least initially. According to Politico, an ethics pledge Espinel took to secure her "copyright czar" position under President Obama prevents her from lobbying for at least two years.

No corruption here. Nothing to see. Move along.

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RE[7]: Wikipedia
by saso on Sun 1st Sep 2013 00:38 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Wikipedia"
saso
Member since:
2007-04-18

Well, it's ironic that you'd say this because it seems like the future of space in the US is being privatized by ridiculously wealthy individuals. I cannot say whether this is a good or bad thing, but it (kind of) contradicts the notion that advancing the space frontier actually requires a big government.

What SpaceX and others are doing is great, but it's not advancing a space frontier. We've known how to reliably get to LEO for 40 years now. There's no point in having NASA do it, so it's *right* that they cede that to private enterprise.
But when was the last time you saw private enterprise spend a couple billion on a new space telescope with purely curiosity-driven research goals in mind? I.e. no return on investment within the next couple hundred years. Or sending deep space probes to explore TNOs. *That's* how you advance a space frontier; not by hauling cargo to LEO.

However that said, I still feel sad we've abandoned our space shuttle program and that we're now dependent upon other countries for space travel. We're loosing our position at the top.

It's a good thing NASA got rid of the shuttle - the damn thing just cost way too much and provided little to no benefit over expendable launch vehicles. In the end, the shuttle was just a job security and government subsidy program for a few entrenched companies. Sadly, Congress is trying to force NASA to do it again in the crazy-ass SLS program, because many of these companies have quite a bit of lobbying (read: bribing) power.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[8]: Wikipedia
by Alfman on Sun 1st Sep 2013 05:49 in reply to "RE[7]: Wikipedia"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

"It's a good thing NASA got rid of the shuttle - the damn thing just cost way too much and provided little to no benefit over expendable launch vehicles."

That's another interesting comment. It directly contradicts what I've learned in class about the space shuttles, which was that they were built to reduce costs over expendable vehicles that needed to be rebuilt every time. Can you cite something that says otherwise?

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[9]: Wikipedia
by kwan_e on Sun 1st Sep 2013 11:05 in reply to "RE[8]: Wikipedia"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

That's another interesting comment. It directly contradicts what I've learned in class about the space shuttles, which was that they were built to reduce costs over expendable vehicles that needed to be rebuilt every time. Can you cite something that says otherwise?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_the_Space_Shuttle_program

Simply put, whatever you were taught in class was a myth. The Space Shuttle was as much a propaganda and pride* thing as it was anything else. The Russians don't have the same budget problems with their space program as NASA has.

* Like a peacock's tail on a national level.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[9]: Wikipedia
by saso on Sun 1st Sep 2013 14:45 in reply to "RE[8]: Wikipedia"
saso Member since:
2007-04-18

That's another interesting comment. It directly contradicts what I've learned in class about the space shuttles, which was that they were built to reduce costs over expendable vehicles that needed to be rebuilt every time. Can you cite something that says otherwise?

I was about to post some of the stuff kwan_e noted, but he beat me to it.
Yes, originally a shuttle launch was to cost as little as $10 million - sadly, that never materialized, and I'd argue that it was a pipe dream to begin with. In the end a single shuttle launch cost around $1 - $1.5 billion, making the payload cost way too high (around twice compared to what you'd pay for launching the payload and crew on separate ELVs). Yes, it did do something ELVs couldn't, but these uses were few and far between.
The reasons for why the shuttle was so costly had to do with the incredible design compromises they had to do to get a spaceplane design off the ground. And in some cases this caused horrible outcomes, e.g. Challenger - did you know that the shuttle, unlike the Saturn V and pretty much every crewed launch vehicle in the world, has no launch abort? Once the solids are lit, you have no choice but to ride that bull. Also, due to the attempts to make the SRBs reusable they had to essentially rebuild them after each launch at tremendous expense. Have a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mZzKFkbclI for an interesting take on this (he looks a bit like a crackpot but he actually talks valid physics).

Reply Parent Score: 3