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[8]: Wikipedia
by Alfman on Sun 1st Sep 2013 05:49 UTC 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[10]: Wikipedia
by Alfman on Mon 2nd Sep 2013 13:49 in reply to "RE[9]: Wikipedia"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

saso,

Your first link was pretty damning indeed. I'm left to wonder to what extent the higher costs have to do with implementation problems rather than conceptual problems of a reusable spacecraft. Non of the information addresses this.


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

"The final design differs from the original concept, causing, among other things, the shuttle orbiter to be almost 20% over its specified weight"

"Maintenance of the thermal protection tiles is a very labor-intensive and costly process, with some 35,000 tiles needing to be inspected individually and with each tile specifically manufactured for one specific slot on the shuttle."

...


"by 2011, the incremental cost per flight of the Space Shuttle was estimated at $450 million, or $18,000 per kilogram to low Earth orbit (LEO). By comparison, Russian Proton expendable launchers, still largely based on the design that dates back to 1965, are said to cost as little as $110 million, or around $5,000/kg to LEO."

I'm playing devil's advocate here, but these numbers aren't very meaningful without an economic analysis of the cost differentials between the countries. The US is notoriously expensive place to operate from, and US government operations are known to be notoriously inefficient as well. This has to be factored in before comparing the numbers side by side. In other words, it would probably still cost the US many times more to run it's space program even if the US and Russia had used identical space crafts. Would you agree?


We're so far O/T it's funny. You are right it is about pride, but for the record what makes me sad isn't the loss of the "space shuttles" per say, but rather the loss of any manned space vehicles whatsoever.

Edited 2013-09-02 13:52 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

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