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posted by martyb on Monday January 01 2018, @12:12PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the is-that-a-question-or-a-challenge? dept.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), an infrared space observatory with an $8.8 billion budget, will be transported to South America to launch atop an Ariane 5 rocket, presumably in Spring 2019. The JWST was not intended to be serviceable at the Earth-Sun L2 point. Will there still be a "Golden Age of astronomy" even if the JWST fails?

[Due] to its steadily escalating cost and continually delayed send-off (which recently slipped from 2018 to 2019), this telescopic time machine is now under increasingly intense congressional scrutiny. To help satisfy any doubts about JWST's status, the project is headed for an independent review as soon as January 2018, advised NASA's science chief Thomas Zurbuchen during an early December congressional hearing. Pressed by legislators about whether JWST will actually launch as presently planned in spring of 2019, he said, "at this moment in time, with the information that I have, I believe it's achievable."

[...] Simply launching JWST is fraught with peril, not to mention unfurling its delicate sunshield and vast, segmented mirror in deep space. Just waving goodbye to JWST atop its booster will be a nail-biter. "The truth is, every single rocket launch off of planet Earth is risky. The good news is that the Ariane 5 has a spectacular record," says former astronaut John Grunsfeld, a repeat "Hubble hugger" who made three space-shuttle visits to low-Earth orbit to renovate that iconic facility. Now scientist emeritus at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, he sees an on-duty JWST as cranking out science "beyond all of our expectations."

"Assuming we make it to the injection trajectory to Earth-Sun L2, of course the next most risky thing is deploying the telescope. And unlike Hubble we can't go out and fix it. Not even a robot can go out and fix it. So we're taking a great risk, but for great reward," Grunsfeld says.

There are, however, modest efforts being made to make JWST "serviceable" like Hubble, according to Scott Willoughby, JWST's program manager at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California. The aerospace firm is NASA's prime contractor to develop and integrate JWST, and has been tasked with provisioning for a "launch vehicle interface ring" on the telescope that could be "grasped by something," whether astronaut or remotely operated robot, Willoughby says. If a spacecraft were sent out to L2 to dock with JWST, it could then attempt repairs—or, if the observatory is well-functioning, simply top off its fuel tank to extend its life. But presently no money is budgeted for such heroics. In the event that JWST suffers what those in spaceflight understatedly call a "bad day," whether due to rocket mishap or deployment glitch or something unforeseen, Grunsfeld says there's presently an ensemble of in-space observatories, including Hubble, and an ever-expanding collection of powerful ground-based telescopes that would offset such misfortune.

Previously: Space science: The telescope that ate astronomy
Telescope That 'Ate Astronomy' Is on Track to Surpass Hubble
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Could be Further Delayed


Original Submission

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Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019 9 comments

The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope has been delayed yet again:

The launch of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been rescheduled to occur sometime between March and June 2019 from French Guiana. The delay follows a schedule assessment of the remaining integration and test activities that need to occur prior to launch. The JWST was previously scheduled to launch in October 2018. "The change in launch timing is not indicative of hardware or technical performance concerns," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington, said in a NASA press release. "Rather, the integration of the various spacecraft elements is taking longer than expected."

The change in launch window request has been coordinated with the European Space Agency (ESA), which is providing the Ariane 5 launch vehicle for the JWST. As part of an agreement with ESA, NASA recently conducted a routine schedule assessment to ensure launch preparedness and determined that a reschedule was necessary.

While testing of the telescope and science instruments at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, continues to go well and remain on schedule, the spacecraft itself, made up of the spacecraft bus and sunshield, has experienced delays during its integration and testing at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California. "Webb's spacecraft and sunshield are larger and more complex than most spacecraft," said Eric Smith, program director for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The combination of some integration activities taking longer than initially planned, such as the installation of more than 100 sunshield membrane release devices, factoring in lessons learned from earlier testing, like longer time spans for vibration testing, has meant the integration and testing process is just taking longer. Considering the investment NASA has made, and the good performance to date, we want to proceed very systematically through these tests to be ready for a Spring 2019 launch."

An upside? A better chance of being prepared to image Planet Nine during the 5-10 year operating life of JWST.

Also at NASA.


Original Submission

Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Could be Further Delayed 33 comments

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is warning of possible further delays to the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST):

A government watchdog is warning that the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the long-awaited successor to the Hubble that's been beset by schedule snafus and cost overruns, might face further delays. NASA announced in September it had pushed back the launch date of the JWST from late 2018 to some time in the spring of 2019 due to testing delays partly blamed on Hurricane Harvey's impact on Texas' Gulf Coast in August.

On Wednesday, lawmakers on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee were told it could take even longer to launch the world's most powerful telescope. "More delays are possible given the risks associated with the work ahead and the level of schedule reserves that are now (below) what's recommended," said Cristina Chaplain, director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management for the Government Accountability Office.

[...] Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science missions, told lawmakers he expects the space agency will be able to meet the spring 2019 schedule. "I believe it's achievable," he said.

Previously: James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019

Related: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
NASA Unlikely to Have Enough Plutonium-238 for Missions by the Mid-2020s
WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs


Original Submission

JWST Launch Christmas Morning 55 comments

James Webb Space Telescope reaches launch pad for Christmas liftoff

The James Webb Space Telescope is due to launch on Saturday (Dec. 25) during a 32-minute window that opens at 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT). The massive observatory will blast off from Kourou, French Guiana, atop an Ariane 5 rocket operated by European launch provider Arianespace. You can watch launch coverage live at Space.com beginning at 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT) courtesy of NASA or you can watch directly at the agency's website.

ESA launch kit (PDF).

Previously:


Original Submission

Screws and Washers Have Fallen Off JWST Amid Testing and Independent Review 32 comments

JWST suffers new problem during spacecraft testing

In a presentation at a meeting of the National Academies' Space Studies Board here May 3, Greg Robinson, the JWST program director at NASA Headquarters, said some "screws and washers" appear to have come off the spacecraft during recent environmental testing at a Northrop Grumman facility in Southern California. Technicians found the items after the spacecraft element of JWST, which includes the bus and sunshield but not its optics and instruments, was moved last weekend from one chamber for acoustics tests to another to prepare for vibration testing.

"Right now we believe that all of this hardware — we're talking screws and washers here — come from the sunshield cover," he said. "We're looking at what this really means and what is the recovery plan." The problem, he said, was only a couple of days old, and he had few additional details about the problem. "It's not terrible news, but it's not good news, either," he said. The incident, Robinson argued, showed the importance of the wide range of tests the spacecraft is put through prior to launch. "That's why we do the testing," he said. "We do it now, we find it now, we fix it and we launch a good spacecraft."

This latest incident comes as an independent review board, chartered by NASA in late March after announcing a one-year delay in JWST's launch because of other technical issues, is in the midst of its analysis of the mission and its launch readiness. That review, led by retired aerospace executive and former NASA Goddard director Tom Young, is scheduled to be completed at the end of the month.

NASA is expected to brief Congress on the status of the James Webb Space Telescope in late June.

Also at Popular Mechanics.

Previously: James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019
JWST: Too Big to Fail?
GAO: James Webb Space Telescope Launch Date Likely Will be Delayed (Again)
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to May 2020, Could Exceed Budget Cap
NASA Announces JWST Independent Review Board Members

Related: Northrop Grumman's Faulty Payload Adapter Reportedly Responsible for "Zuma" Failure


Original Submission

Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed Again, This Time to March 2021, Cost at $9.66 Billion 17 comments

Remember the JWST? Yup:

NASA has again delayed the launch of its next-generation space observatory, known as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the space agency announced today. The telescope now has a new launch date of March 30th, 2021. It's the second delay to the project's timeline this year, and the third in the last nine months.

"We're all disappointed that the culmination of Webb and its launch is taking longer than expected, but we're creating something new here. We're dealing with cutting edge technology to perform an unprecedented mission, and I know that our teams are working hard and will successfully overcome the challenges," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a video statement. "In space we always have to look at the long term, and sometimes the complexities of our missions don't come together as soon as we wish. But we learn, we move ahead, and ultimately we succeed."

NASA pushed the launch of JWST, which is viewed as a more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, from 2019 to 2020 in March of this year. At the same time the space agency also convened an independent review board to assess the future of the project, which is running the risk of blowing by an $8 billion cost cap set by NASA in 2011. Going beyond that cost cap would mean that Congress has to reauthorize the program.

Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to May 2020, Could Exceed Budget Cap 33 comments

The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been delayed yet again, due to damage to the spacecraft's thrusters, sunshield, and tension cables:

The slip is not exactly surprising, even though construction and testing of Webb's primary mirror and scientific instruments—its riskiest, most expensive elements—is already complete. These components were delivered in early February to Webb's prime contractor, the aerospace company Northrop Grumman, for further testing and integration with the rest of the telescope. But later that month a report from the Government Accountability Office warned that the company had fallen behind schedule on the supposedly easier parts of the observatory. Valves on the spacecraft's thrusters had sprung leaks after being improperly cleaned, and replacing them had taken the better part of a year. Webb's tennis-court-sized, five-layered folding "sunshield" had also been torn during a test as it unfurled, requiring time-consuming failure analyses and repairs.

GAO: James Webb Space Telescope Launch Date Likely Will be Delayed (Again) 16 comments

The U.S. Government Acountability [sic] Office (GAO) has warned that the launch of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is likely to be delayed again, which could cause the budget cap set by the U.S. Congress to be exceeded:

The U.S. Government Acountability [sic] Office (GAO), a non-partisan group that investigates federal spending and performance, has issued a report on the James Webb Space Telescope that has astronomers worried. "It's likely the launch date will be delayed again," the report concludes — an ominous statement, given that any further delays could risk project cancellation.

Last year NASA announced a delay in the telescope's launch to sometime between March and June 2019. The 5- to 8-month delay came from problems integrating spacecraft components, especially its complex, five-layered sunshield, which must unfold perfectly when the telescope is deployed. Right after requesting the change in launch readiness date, the mission learned of further delays from its contractor, Northrum Grumman, due to "lessons learned from conducting deployment exercises of the spacecraft element and sunshield."

The mission now has 1.5 months of schedule reserve remaining, the GAO finds. Delays during integration and testing are common, "the phase in development where problems are most likely to be found and schedules tend to slip." The project has a total of five phases of integration and testing, and has made significant progress on phases three and four, with the fifth phase beginning in July.

GAO's 31-page report, February 2018: JWST: Integration and Test Challenges Have Delayed Launch and Threaten to Push Costs Over Cap.

Also at Science Magazine.

Previously: Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Could be Further Delayed

Related: James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed
NASA Considering Flagship Space Telescope Options for the 2030s
WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs
JWST: Too Big to Fail?
Trump Administration Budget Proposal Would Cancel WFIRST


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  • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 01 2018, @01:53PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 01 2018, @01:53PM (#616411)

    i thought it said SJW too big to fail

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Monday January 01 2018, @02:14PM (5 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 01 2018, @02:14PM (#616415) Journal

    [...] Simply launching JWST is fraught with peril, not to mention unfurling its delicate sunshield and vast, segmented mirror in deep space. Just waving goodbye to JWST atop its booster will be a nail-biter. "The truth is, every single rocket launch off of planet Earth is risky. The good news is that the Ariane 5 has a spectacular record," says former astronaut John Grunsfeld, a repeat "Hubble hugger" who made three space-shuttle visits to low-Earth orbit to renovate that iconic facility. Now scientist emeritus at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, he sees an on-duty JWST as cranking out science "beyond all of our expectations."

    "Assuming we make it to the injection trajectory to Earth-Sun L2, of course the next most risky thing is deploying the telescope. And unlike Hubble we can't go out and fix it. Not even a robot can go out and fix it. So we're taking a great risk, but for great reward," Grunsfeld says.

    Losing it all is a typical failure mode when you make only one spacecraft. In addition, one-off is great for contractors since most of the profit in such a spacecraft is in the low risk R&D with one-off having highest R&D costs per item.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 01 2018, @02:55PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 01 2018, @02:55PM (#616422)

      It seems reasonable at this point of the space age, that they come to terms with the benefits of standardizing the size of the screws/bots/nuts etc and then put a remotely controlled robot on the ISS that can launch and return via the use of slow burning ionic thrusters that can be refueled due to there being a space station near by.

      But yeah rocket surgery is hard so I won't say I have the answer. It just seems a lot of these horrendously expensive initiatives are not designed with the idea of even a slim chance of maintenance. What they did for the hubble was at first to overcome profound embarassment due to their mistake with the lenses... but it was within reach of a spacewalking human and they were able to fix it.

      Setting this up for service panel accessibility of some kind for some of its parts (clearly not everything...) like for a future robotic probe that may not exist today, could at least provide the hope of maintenance some day. Just think, they could standardize the parts and plan for the future by including robot service probes to be designed with fittings that work with even older hardware in the off-chance they get the opportunity to diagnose and repair one!

      but i guess we'll get our robot cars that display ads that cannot be disabled before that happens. funny how the future in comics never had that, but space robots were common...

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Monday January 01 2018, @03:02PM (3 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 01 2018, @03:02PM (#616424) Journal

        What they did for the hubble was at first to overcome profound embarassment due to their mistake with the lenses... but it was within reach of a spacewalking human and they were able to fix it.

        For only about half of the cost of a second Hubble Space Telescope (HST). One-off repair missions aren't cheap either.

        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Monday January 01 2018, @03:21PM (2 children)

          by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday January 01 2018, @03:21PM (#616426) Journal

          There's talk of including a space telescope attached or very close [popsci.com] to the new Chinese space station.

          While that isn't so applicable to JWST which must be kept further away from Earth due to infrared sensitivity, it does mean that fixing it could be much easier since you're already blowing money sending humans there. Even if the space telescope is not free to target everything due to being attached to an orbiting space station... it will still have plenty of universe to look out. It may be possible to build the telescope using multiple launches in order to increase its mirror size.

          Zhang Yulin, a Deputy to the National People's Congress and former Chairman of aerospace contractor CASC, noted that the Chinese space telescope would have a 2+meter diameter lens with a field of view 300 times that of the Hubble Space telescope, while maintaining the same level of image resolution. With such a wide field of view, the space telescope could survey 40 percent of the cosmos in ten years. Zhou Jianping, the head of China's manned space program, noted that such a wide field-of-view would create a higher fidelity image to search for dark matter, dark energy, and exoplanets. Even more notable than the capabilities, however, may be the plan for where to locate the telescope.

          Seems very similar in "scope" to WFIRST [wikipedia.org]:

          WFIRST is based on an existing 2.4m wide field-of-view telescope and will carry two scientific instruments. The Wide-Field Instrument is a 288-megapixel multi-band near-infrared camera, providing a sharpness of images comparable to that achieved by the Hubble Space Telescope over a 0.28 square degree field of view, 100 times that of the HST. The Coronagraphic Instrument is a high contrast small field of view camera and spectrometer covering visible and near-infrared wavelengths using novel starlight-suppression technology.

          I say that any new space station that doesn't have some kind of space telescope near it is a wasted opportunity (example: the planned international lunar space station). Ideally, space telescopes work out of the box and don't need servicing, but being serviceable by bots or humans gives some assurance that it will be made to work, allows coolant/propellant to be refilled, allows some future proofing since certain components could be upgraded, etc. With launch costs ($/kg and total cost) declining more in the near future, it should become easier to service something with a robot at least.

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          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Monday January 01 2018, @03:47PM (1 child)

            by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 01 2018, @03:47PM (#616434)

            AMS-02 has been installed since '11. Its not an optical scope but a cosmic ray scope. Kinda an impressive machine... in some ways cooler than a optical scope. It suffers from an interesting problem in that being so huge there really isn't much that CAN be fixed by the astronauts even if they're just inches away. Sorta like if you sent me to Palomar as a repair boy there are very few failure modes where I could fix anything without a UPS delivery, and UPS delivery from NASA is planned years (decades?) in advance so if it breaks its broke for years if I need a part so if the whole mission is built around stuff that falls apart or is used up in a decade then keeping it near an ISS that can't fix it anyway doesn't really save much data. AMS-02 being a special case because it takes a crapton of power and bandwidth so you'd need something 1/4 the size of the ISS for infrastructure. Or 1/10 or whatever. Anyway its frigging huge.

            There's also a small hobbyist optical telescope inside ISS and they look out the window on to the earth with it quite a bit.

            Essentially you're arguing the microsat concept which NASA has been rocking for some years (decades?) now mostly too small to be useful for astronomy (so far) and mostly for RF communications experiments and stuff (think ham radio satellites). I would not be surprised, given the huge success of the multi decade microsat project, for "really freaking huge microsat" or "obese microsat" programs to start up in a decade or two and do a variety of things including exactly what you propose. If they eventually allowed large numbers of "obese microsats" perhaps the size of standard shipping containers, that would be astronomically interesting, especially if you had like 50 in orbit acting as linked interfereometers or something. But NASA takes it slow, so current microsats are all about 10cm on a size.

            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday January 01 2018, @04:10PM

              by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday January 01 2018, @04:10PM (#616439) Journal

              Unless you can make your swarm of CubeSat telescopes work like a big one, then bigger is almost certainly better. There are plenty of roles for microsats/CubeSats, but we need ATLAST [wikipedia.org]/HDST [wikipedia.org]/LUVOIR [wikipedia.org] sized telescopes to observe exoplanets and other faint objects. The bigger the better, and if they could be made relatively cheaply to match falling launch costs, that would be nice too.

              Although Hubble-sized telescopes are no longer state-of-the-art (Herschel [wikipedia.org] and JWST are bigger), having more of them, especially ones covering large fields of view (such as the Chinese one or WFIRST), means that a lot of useful observations will get done. If we had a hundred of them, they would all be 100% utilized with the proper planning.

              Let's get more stuff like TESS [wikipedia.org] up. Total cost seems to be around $160 million.

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  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday January 01 2018, @03:31PM (70 children)

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 01 2018, @03:31PM (#616427)

    In the event that JWST suffers what those in spaceflight understatedly call a "bad day," whether due to rocket mishap or deployment glitch or something unforeseen, Grunsfeld says there's presently an ensemble of in-space observatories, including Hubble, and an ever-expanding collection of powerful ground-based telescopes that would offset such misfortune.

    The irony is none of those supposed offsets will be helped at all, yet the $8.8 billion budget actually does / did help WRT manufacture of astronomical gadgetry and high tech thingies and tech spinoffs.

    • (Score: 0, Troll) by khallow on Monday January 01 2018, @03:38PM (69 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 01 2018, @03:38PM (#616430) Journal

      The irony is none of those supposed offsets will be helped at all, yet the $8.8 billion budget actually does / did help WRT manufacture of astronomical gadgetry and high tech thingies and tech spinoffs.

      Like what? We need to keep in mind the key failing of the spinoff concept: paying very inefficiently for ideas that would happen anyway.

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday January 01 2018, @03:55PM (5 children)

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 01 2018, @03:55PM (#616435)

        I'm too lazy to look up specific examples but aerospace one-offs are famous for huge fixed R+D costs, so if the first one blew up on the pad, one aspect of having blown "most of" $8.8 Billion on R+D means they could probably build a second one for like half a bill.

        An interesting conspiracy theory I read awhile ago was the JWST is a NSA front and they in fact are going to use the R+D to launch a "many" near clones of the platform but with NSA style sensors. Obviously the astronomical instruments on the JWST built by universities would be useless for the NSA, I mean the whole infrastructural aspect of the satellite but with visible optical spy gear instead of deep sky astronomical IR or whatever. The gyros and thrusters and antennas don't care if the camera is looking at deep space nebula or Afghanistan. Thats also why they like a nice heavy tank of coolant, not just to keep the JWST running but the NSA models will ship with that mass and volume packed full of sigint gear or adaptive optics foolishness or something.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday January 01 2018, @04:17PM

          by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday January 01 2018, @04:17PM (#616440) Journal

          JWST doesn't use a "tank of coolant". It uses a passive cooler. The telescope is specifically designed to be facing away from the Sun constantly using a sun shield, and is also not being pointed at the Earth or Moon. So not so applicable to Earth-facing spy sats. The telescope's useful lifetime is limited by the propellant it needs to keep steady at the Sun-Earth L2 point, not any coolant (I found this out the hard way after repeating incorrect info a couple of times).

          Spy agencies already send up "space telescopes". WFIRST is based on a donated National Reconnaissance Office telescope [wikipedia.org]. I don't see what JWST's development has to do with anything. Could the unfolding mirror design help spy sats? Sure, whatever. That design is also being used for other proposals [wikipedia.org] going forward.

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        • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Monday January 01 2018, @06:11PM (1 child)

          by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday January 01 2018, @06:11PM (#616469) Journal

          Among reasons for the huge costs of the Superconducting Super Collider was Congress changing their minds, forcing a great deal of additional expense to idle people and mothball things repeatedly. Do you dismiss the science staff whenever funding is cut or even looks likely to be cut, knowing you'll have a hard time replacing them, or do you keep them all on the payroll in hopes that Congress will find the will to stay the course and pony up the money that was promised, soon? It stood accused of bad and wasteful management, but at least some of that was the fault of Congress.

          James Webb has the same problem. Its high costs put it on Congress' radar, and that's never good. Congressional fickleness makes it very hard to do expensive, ambitious science.

          • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Monday January 01 2018, @06:41PM

            by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday January 01 2018, @06:41PM (#616481) Journal

            I don't think Congress can be blamed for JWST cost overruns.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Webb_Space_Telescope#Cost_and_schedule_issues [wikipedia.org]

            On 6 July 2011, the United States House of Representatives' appropriations committee on Commerce, Justice, and Science moved to cancel the James Webb project by proposing an FY2012 budget that removed $1.9bn from NASA's overall budget, of which roughly one quarter was for JWST. This budget proposal was approved by subcommittee vote the following day; however, in November 2011, Congress reversed plans to cancel the JWST and instead capped additional funding to complete the project at $8 billion.

            Congress's action didn't mothball JWST or cause it to waste more billions. There were many delays that had nothing to do with Congress, the capabilities expanded from the original proposal (but with the mirror diameter cut down from 8 meters) and "significant changes in the integration and test plans" caused delays.

            http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101027/full/4671028a.html [nature.com]

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        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @12:55AM (1 child)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @12:55AM (#616549) Journal
          It's not a bad theory. The Hubble Space Telescope has the same form factor as the Keyhole satellites and apparently some degree of overlapping tech. So it may be with the JWST, though there isn't that much in common with spy satellites these days.

          One aspect though is that any spy satellite actually has more need for a heavy tank of coolant and/or propellant than the JWST. The latter, being well past the far side of the Moon, would only have to deal with heating from the Sun. A spy satellite would have to deal with heating from both the Sun and the Earth (Earth would be a much larger source of heat being far closer for the spy satellite). You couldn't get away with the same modest passive cooling system, because you couldn't merely point your radiators away from the Sun. You also would need to have those radiators pointed away from Earth. So either scrap the cooling system and go with the heavy tank of coolant or expend more propellant in station-keeping.
          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Thursday January 04 2018, @02:46PM

            by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 04 2018, @02:46PM (#617686)

            I'm familiar with the HST / Keyhole situation and yeah this is just the next generation.

            heavy tank of coolant

            The JWST is an Infrared long wavelength program needing cooling, which probably isn't useful for spies (although not being one I donno, maybe an orbiting IR cam would be awesome for monitoring "stealth orbiting satellites" or something). So slap in visible optics, and use the volume/mass/watts the cooling system used for crypto gear or sigint gear or whatever weirdness spies like.

            As example 1 of several which I can't remember in detail, mirrors stop working when they're more than a tenth wavelength out of whack (handwaving approximation). The OTE actuators are published to be spec'd to 5 nm resolution. So the infrastructure of this "IR" telescope would work as an absolute kick ass spy scope at 500 nm which is blue green light. If they were really building infrastructure for a far IR scope they could save some coin by spec'ing actuators only good to, eh, 300 or so nm. That would be "good enough" for the claimed purpose of 3um astronomy, or OK fine we'll splurge and install 50 nm actuators. But no they blow budget on something just good enough for a visible range spy sat... huh. What a coincidence.

            There was another coincidence about the commo power budget being higher than scientifically necessary but sure would be convenient for rapid tactical spy stuff. This is handwavy and I can't find the docs online to prove it so I'm suspicious about this one. But I would not be shocked to discover the thing has the power budget in commo to downlink real time visual wavelength resolution scans, which seems kinda silly for something ostensibly a scientific low res IR camera.

            Yeah engineers always like to ship something better than "just barely works" but the coincidence is all the feather bedding is suspiciously just what a visual spy sat would need, not a random bell curve that you usually get.

            Aside from engineering coincidences, obviously the power bus, commo, gyros, all that stuff doesn't know or care if its commanded from mission control in FL or being controlled from Ft Meade, it'll work perfectly for either.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 01 2018, @08:04PM (62 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 01 2018, @08:04PM (#616493)

        the key failing of the spinoff concept: paying very inefficiently for ideas that would happen anyway.

        Whose boons? Your boons? Utterly deceptive twaddlespeak, says I.

        Every single cent of investment and waste put into the space program since its inception has been a bargain at any price. Start with cementing MAD, removing the concept of front lines or defensive fortifications. Even taking all of that out of the equation - where do you think automatic computing would be without the need calculate orbital trajectories and re-entry points? Sweatshops full of accountants grinding away with mechanical adding machines had served for 100 years prior, and "free market business" are universally loathe to foot the bill to develop anything better, unless it's a clear competitive advantage that they will not be sharing with others.

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        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 01 2018, @09:27PM (49 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 01 2018, @09:27PM (#616510) Journal

          Every single cent of investment and waste put into the space program since its inception has been a bargain at any price.

          Compared to what? Consider in particular the phrase "a bargain at any price". That's a strong indication you aren't thinking about this in the least. Something which is worth "any price" tends to become dearly expensive.

          Start with cementing MAD, removing the concept of front lines or defensive fortifications.

          Nope. Both the US and the USSR had separate, far better funded nuclear weapons and delivery systems programs.

          where do you think automatic computing would be without the need calculate orbital trajectories and re-entry points?

          As far along as it is at present. There are way too many uses and demand for computing technology to blame its success on a niche market.

          and "free market business" are universally loathe to foot the bill to develop anything better

          We, of course, have about three centuries' worth of counterexamples where automation has been developed to remove humans from jobs where humans perform poorly. This includes computation. For example, IBM has several decades of computation business prior to the invention of digital computation (and prior to anything space-related). Most of its customers in those days were in the private sector.

          The key observation that destroys the claim that these space programs are delivering any sort of value for the money is simply that if that were a consideration, we could do far better activities of the same sort with the money we gave to those programs. There are various economies of scale, risk ignorance, bidding systems, goals, and other approaches that would greatly reduce the cost while increasing the value of said space activities. For example, as I noted at the beginning, we have endless construction of one-off projects. The JWST even if it succeeds, can only do so much. They could have built and launched several more such telescopes. Clearly, it is of some value to have a space telescope, but little additional value to have two or more such telescopes. Wonder why that is?

          NASA has a peculiarly skewed vision when it comes to risk. Anyone interacting with NASA equipment has to demonstrate considerable safety features. When a Shuttle blows up, they took years to study and fix the problems that created it. They endlessly model launch vehicles and spacecraft to find failure modes. But they have yet to build a backup for the Vehicle Assembly Building (the VAB is one of the largest buildings in the world, meant for integrating large rockets, including the Saturn V, and their payloads prior to launch) even though it has been a single point of failure for any NASA launch vehicle of the past half century (there are two known credible ways to destroy the building, a large hurricane and accidental firing of a solid rocket booster or motor inside the VAB). They still are building a launch system that not only relies on the VAB, but also the hideously expensive ex-Space Shuttle supply chain.

          They still routinely use cost plus bidding and hugely inflated costing estimates. For example, the rocket development that SpaceX did through to the first Falcon 9 launch, cost about $400 million. NASA would have paid out for a contract ten times that [transterrestrial.com] (and probably paid a substantial multiplier more due to cost overruns as is usual for NASA contracts).

          For the Falcon 9 analysis, NASA used NAFCOM to predict the development cost for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle using two methodologies:

          1) Cost to develop Falcon 9 using traditional NASA approach, and

          2) Cost using a more commercial development approach.

          Under methodology #1, the cost model predicted that the Falcon 9 would cost $4.0 billion based on a traditional approach. Under methodology #2, NAFCOM predicted $1.7 billion when the inputs were adjusted to a more commercial development approach. Thus, the predicted the cost to develop the Falcon 9 if done by NASA would have been between $1.7 billion and $4.0 billion.

          SpaceX has publicly indicated that the development cost for Falcon 9 launch vehicle was approximately $300 million. Additionally, approximately $90 million was spent developing the Falcon 1 launch vehicle which did contribute to some extent to the Falcon 9, for a total of $390 million. NASA has verified these costs.

          As to goals, what happened to NASA's interest in the Moon? They spent well over $100 billion in 1994 dollars to go to the Moon. Then after the last Saturn V mission it was two decades before the next lunar-focused mission (Clementine in 1994, though there were flybys before that. particularly Galileo in 1990 and 1992). There is this remarkable disinterest in lunar activities from everyone, including the scientists. Most of the post-Apollo US lunar missions have happened in the last decade (8 missions since the end of Apollo, only 2 which happened before 2007). A goal suddenly became a non-goal for 40 years.

          It's also worth noting that it's only been in recent years that anyone has bothered to study the effects of low gravity on organisms. It's quite painfully clear that long term human habitation is not a goal of NASA just as lower cost access to space is not a goal of NASA (prior to the last two decades, we have numerous examples of NASA interfering with the commercial launch market such as the Shuttle monopoly from roughly 1975-1985 and the subsequent cartel from then to about 2000.

          The reason I mention that all is because you claimed that this spending has been an enormous "bargain". If so, then why not take basic steps to make that "bargain" far more of an enormous bargain?

          I think there's a simple explanation here for why these basic steps were never taken or even considered by the vast majority of the people involved either in the program or in supporting it. The US space program is two things - first, a funding vehicle for a variety of political merchants, and second, a bit of status signalling. Either way, the expense of the program (and to whom the money goes!) is far more important than what it actually does. That indicates to me that no, the space program is not a bargain at "any price", much less at what the US actually paid for it.

          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @12:23AM (43 children)

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @12:23AM (#616537)

            Thank you, Tricky Dick (Nixon) could not have put it more eloquently, and he did not.

            As for:

            Start with cementing MAD, removing the concept of front lines or defensive fortifications.

            Nope. Both the US and the USSR had separate, far better funded nuclear weapons and delivery systems programs.

            A great many factors go into wars, not the least of which is public sentiment. The public (should be, and usually) is aware, awestruck, and terrified of nukes. But... they were also terrified of rifles, handgrenades, and tear gas. Before Sputnik, missiles had limited range, were not terribly reliable, and there was still the fig-leaf of air defenses, legions of fighter jets intercepting bombers, radar fences [google.com] and other nonsense that could have made the concept of a "winnable war" politically possible.

            NASA has a peculiarly skewed vision when it comes to risk.

            That they do, going 8.9/9 in the highest profile, highest risk endeavor of the last 1000 years will do that to you.

            9/9 missions putting 3 men in Lunar orbit and bringing them back to a target on Earth, changed the perception that a nuclear war could be survived - not among those who knew the facts, we are still demonstrating clearly today that politics is not governed by facts, truth, or even reality - but among the majority of the people who saw three freakin' cars get sent to the moon with the astronauts. Without that kind of demonstration of heavy capacity ICBM reliability and accuracy, it probably would have taken a shooting war to get majority opinion swung against the General Rippers of the public, on all sides.

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            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @01:26AM (40 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @01:26AM (#616562) Journal

              A great many factors go into wars, not the least of which is public sentiment. The public (should be, and usually) is aware, awestruck, and terrified of nukes. But... they were also terrified of rifles, handgrenades, and tear gas. Before Sputnik, missiles had limited range, were not terribly reliable, and there was still the fig-leaf of air defenses, legions of fighter jets intercepting bombers, radar fences [google.com] and other nonsense that could have made the concept of a "winnable war" politically possible.

              I suppose that explains why the Kremlin decided to start massive expansion [wikipedia.org] of their nuclear weapons stockpile around 1967. The problem with your assertion here is that the key people you need to convince aren't the public, but the enemy. Those guys arrived at different conclusions. in 1965, the USSR had 6k nuclear weapons to 31k of the US's nuclear weapons. But by 1985, the situation had changed to where the USSR had 39k nuclear weapons to 21k. If the USSR could have kept that up for another decade, who knows where the count would end up before nuclear war started.

              Note also most of the build up of nuclear weapons happened well after Sputnik. The real crisis was in the 1970s and 1980s. For example, in the Cuban missile crisis, sure, it would have hurt a lot for the US, but the USSR would have been obliterated with a vastly smaller nuclear force. And sorry, landing people on the Moon doesn't persuade the public as well as films like "On the Beach" or "Dr. Strangelove". The public in the Western world was never keen on nuclear war. The threat [wikipedia.org] of it was enough for Lyndon Johnson to beat Barry Goldwater in 1964 (five years before anyone landed on the Moon).

              That they do, going 8.9/9 in the highest profile, highest risk endeavor of the last 1000 years will do that to you.

              I disagree on the level of risk. It's more a different sort of risk. People do riskier things for themselves in "Hold mah beer" moments. And I would point to Nazi Germany's early war strategy or Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor as higher risk endeavors.

              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @03:48AM (39 children)

                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @03:48AM (#616599)

                "Hold mah beer"

                -1 disagree. No redneck, ever, came close to the utter ballsy faith in everything gonna work out and this is gonna be EPIC demonstrated by the Mercury and Gemini astronauts. Not even Mr. lawnchair outfitted with a beer cooler, BB gun and weather balloons. Elon launching a Tesla is weak tea by comparison.

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                • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday January 02 2018, @03:53AM (32 children)

                  by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Tuesday January 02 2018, @03:53AM (#616604) Journal

                  Does Mr. Lawnchair have equations and risk breakdowns giving his venture a % chance of success or failure?

                  Elon says that the Falcon Heavy w/ Tesla launch has a 50% chance of failure. Maybe he made that number up.

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                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:04AM (31 children)

                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:04AM (#616607)

                    Elon is working with 50 years of data and experience to make his numbers up from. Mercury and Gemini was best guess of the best people at the time based on essentially nothing, the same inexperience that fried Apollo 1 during a ground exercise, the same massive pile of variables that led to two shuttle disasters.

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                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @06:07AM (30 children)

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @06:07AM (#616639) Journal
                      And you are cutting down SpaceX's accomplishments, why again? I'll note that in the early-2000s, things looked really grim. In the wake of the dotcom collapse, space launches went way down [wikipedia.org] (including suborbital flights which cross the 100 km altitude mark). Everyone had some kind of set back. In the US, it was that no one wanted to use US launchers for anything serious (they were much more expensive than the other launchers in the world). The US launch business was solely supported by government (NASA and military launches). In 2001, there were 58 launches world-wide. It got worse with a low of 50 launches in 2004. China had lost most of its commercial customers due to a launch disaster [wikipedia.org] in 1996 which wiped out a good portion of a nearby town. Russia was going through budget troubles which threatened to end the program. SpaceX was founded right in the middle of that mess in 2002.

                      Fifteen years later in 2017, SpaceX was responsible for 18 launches out of 84 launches (assuming the graph is up to date). From that low point in 2004, more than half the additional launches this year came from SpaceX. SpaceX has single-handedly changed the game from the stagnant one that had existed pretty much since the end of Apollo to one where several new competitors are coming out and people are actually seriously thinking about commercial stuff beyond unmanned satellites in space (like hotels and tourist trips, for example).

                      Most of the big contractors in aerospace as well as NASA have been sitting around for decades. They too had those 50 years of data and experience.
                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:39PM (29 children)

                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:39PM (#616759)

                        Not cutting down, but it's comparing apples and raisins - Elon is exploring like Myles Standish (captain of the ship that founded Plymouth colony) - the space race astronauts were more on the order of Columbus. Both important, but there's a difference between leading and following.

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                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @07:14PM (28 children)

                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @07:14PM (#616832) Journal

                          Not cutting down, but it's comparing apples and raisins

                          Let us recall that you compared "apples and raisins" [soylentnews.org] on at least two occasions.

                          No redneck, ever, came close to the utter ballsy faith in everything gonna work out and this is gonna be EPIC demonstrated by the Mercury and Gemini astronauts. Not even Mr. lawnchair outfitted with a beer cooler, BB gun and weather balloons. Elon launching a Tesla is weak tea by comparison.

                          That also is a cut down of SpaceX's work since first, "Elon" (several other posters have since used that name, but you were the first). Second, the bravery of the earliest astronauts was neither in question or relevant. Yet you felt the need to compare "Elon" to astronauts on a scale that astronauts would win at. We can however change that scale. What from-scratch orbital launch businesses have those astronauts started again? None. Elon wins that one.

                          Both important, but there's a difference between leading and following.

                          Oh, another comparison where certain astronauts are leaders and certain billionaires are followers. There is indeed a difference. But I wouldn't call SpaceX following. More on that later.

                          Let us keep in mind your various cutdowns here. "Elon" wasn't as brave as astronauts. SpaceX is "following". And of course, the mysterious need to mention "50 years of data and experience".

                          So what did other parties do with that 50 years of data and experience? NASA launched a few white elephants; created a monopoly [soylentnews.org] and then when that was overturned, a cartel; and otherwise just plodded along for 40 years. Those rival aerospace firms, the ones who actually put things in orbit, they comfortably seated themselves in that cartel. There were many players with the ability and resources to do what SpaceX did in the last fifteen years at any time after the end of Apollo. None of them even tried. That is your "bargain" [soylentnews.org]. I can't make you think about the absurdity of throwing money away for many decades as a "bargain", but I can sure point it out for other readers.

                          This unique action when others failed for 40 years is what makes SpaceX a leader.

                          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @07:18PM (27 children)

                            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @07:18PM (#616835)

                            Both important, but there's a difference.

                            Defend your hero as you will, I'm not calling him bad, or a failure, just different.

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                            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:41PM (26 children)

                              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:41PM (#616879) Journal

                              Defend your hero as you will, I'm not calling him bad, or a failure, just different.

                              Whatever. SpaceX is not a hero, but thousands of them. Nor are all the other businesses that now exist to change space as we know. The real problem here is that you don't get my point. The diversion of this thread into the red herring about who was the braver/ballsier hero is your doing.

                              My point has always been that the US via NASA blew over a trillion dollars on space exploration and development. In turn, it got a small amount of crap for it - a token few missions and white elephants. The JWST is just another white elephant in the herd - lots of money burned in a moderately sexy way, but it'll never pay for itself. The rationalizations for this have been complete nonsense, spin offs and displays of bold "faith". Well, you can get both of those for a lot smaller price tag! It's not a bargain "at any price", but a great squandering of opportunity.

                              Learn some economics and how it applies to the real world: opportunity cost, economies of scale, Other Peoples' Money, orders of magnitude, etc. I'm tired of the people who don't have a clue what a cost or benefit, wiggling their fingers mysteriously and uttering a buzzword like "spin off". When SpaceX can do something for an order of magnitude less than NASA can price it for, that's an enormous failing. Learn why it exists rather than assume it must be a bargain.

                              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @09:41PM (25 children)

                                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @09:41PM (#616905)

                                My point wasn't supposed to be about bravery, it was supposed to be about exploration - novelty - pushing the boundaries.

                                JWST is a big fat white elephant that WILL push those boundaries, open new frontiers of knowledge, and the outcome of that is completely unknowable. Maybe a waste of time, maybe esoteric BS that nobody cares about - but I think without the frontiers that have been crossed in the last 50 years, we'd be even more screwed as a species of 7 billion than we presently are.

                                Will the JWST bring us cold fusion on a platter? Or something unexpected and equally dramatic? Likely not, but without continued expansion of the frontiers, big dramatic improvements like that won't be happening.

                                Oh, but the big businesses are pursuing all the important things anyway because the free market knows all? The free market knows f-all about exploration, it knows how to drive costs and quality to the lowest possible levels, it knows how to open the maximum number of consumer wallets in the minimum time, but if you want to parade the white elephants, let's look at the output of Hollyweird, the great American SUV transporting an average of 1.1 people at a time, the tobacco industry, fast fashion, and Starbucks. That's what letting the people decide gets you: 500% inflated coffee prices, plush leather seating, and dazzling special effects.

                                There are exceptions everywhere, but I don't think that the free market, in general, is doing all that great a job of science, exploration, or advancing the general state of the human race.

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                                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @10:53PM (24 children)

                                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @10:53PM (#616948) Journal

                                  Will the JWST bring us cold fusion on a platter? Or something unexpected and equally dramatic? Likely not, but without continued expansion of the frontiers, big dramatic improvements like that won't be happening.

                                  What makes you think you're expanding a frontier?

                                  Oh, but the big businesses are pursuing all the important things anyway because the free market knows all? The free market knows f-all about exploration, it knows how to drive costs and quality to the lowest possible levels, it knows how to open the maximum number of consumer wallets in the minimum time, but if you want to parade the white elephants, let's look at the output of Hollyweird, the great American SUV transporting an average of 1.1 people at a time, the tobacco industry, fast fashion, and Starbucks. That's what letting the people decide gets you: 500% inflated coffee prices, plush leather seating, and dazzling special effects.

                                  As I said early, you really need to learn some economic basics. I'll note right now that the market made the JWST. It's all made by private contractors [northropgrumman.com] like Northrop Grumman, Orbital ATK, and Ball Aerospace. Just because NASA vastly overpays for this doesn't mean the market isn't involved.

                                  Second, why would we expect the tobacco industry, fast fashion, and Starbucks to be making space telescopes? Market participants specialize just like their government counterparts do. We don't expect the US's ultraweak old age insurance or the various health care programs to build rockets. So we shouldn't expect Big Tobacco or hipster coffee businesses to do so either. This isn't a market thing, it's a standard division of labor thing.

                                  Once we get to NASA and its coterie, we quickly see that free markets have nothing to do with the mess that's been created. None of them, including NASA have a serious interest in exploration. It's just something they have to do to keep pulling those awesome checks. As long as they occasionally send something up, they get big money. I find it interesting that you complain about overpriced coffee, but not about overpriced space telescopes. The latter is more important to you, right? Maybe you ought to start caring about the things you care about?

                                  And that brings us to an important distinction. The market that gives us shitty, overpriced products like the JWST isn't free. It's this weird, highly restricted market with one customer, NASA, a cartel of suppliers (the few, large contractors who can qualify as prime contractors), and massive conflicts of interest all over the place. Once again, the free market gets blamed for crap that happens when you totally break a free market.

                                  Here's my take. The free market can easily meet your extremely low expectations. But you can't buy space telescopes with feelz. You'll need to put up some dough if you want a shiny telescope.

                                  But let's suppose you want to continue to steal public funds for your frontier fantasies, how can you improve the situation?

                                  1. Never use a cost plus contract ever. Your contractors are builders not lawyers. Pay them via the appropriate contracts.
                                  2. Exploit economies of scale. Never make one of anything. Encourage reuse of designs. Don't spaz out if a contractor wants to use off the shelf stuff - just test and verify it works.
                                  3. Don't do everything in one mission. Extremely limited missions with a little new tech are vastly cheaper than missions that do a lot of new things.
                                  4. Don't do anything that the market already does better. Scrap the Space Launch System, for example.
                                  5. Don't change your mind.
                                  6. Every project should be a stepping stone on a road to future projects and private world stuff.
                                  7. Never settle for merely spending money on something. If you're building something only for the status or feelz, then scrap it.

                                  Note that a number of these simple approaches, it is politically infeasible for NASA to do at present. You'll need to change that.

                                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 03 2018, @12:27AM (23 children)

                                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 03 2018, @12:27AM (#616989)

                                    I'm presently working with phase space representations of quasi-periodic series as a little side-hobby. The reason I mention this is because: a quasi-periodic series is a one dimensional sequence of numbers that repeats within a given range - almost periodically, but not quite, and yet not quite chaotically either. Adjust the coefficients of the oscillator just a little and it can collapse to a point, explode to infinity, or within small ranges it can increase or decrease its complexity in and out of chaotic states.

                                    Anyway - a one dimensional string of numbers, chaotic or not, is pretty boring to look at, but if you plot one number against the next (in the method of Poincaire), that two dimensional plot of a one dimensional series of numbers can appear, quite convincingly, to represent 3 and possibly higher dimensional objects - depending on how you perceive the representation.

                                    Now, whether you plot one number against the next, or skip 2, 3 or even 100 steps in the sequence to get the Y coordinate to go with the X, also affects the shape presented - while all phase-space plots of a given oscillator are somewhat "of a family" with recognizable features, they can also be quite different depending on the spacing at which you plot them, varying from dull blobs to swirling circular donut like shapes.

                                    It's a lot like parsing your logic, sometimes it seems to represent a coherent picture, sometimes it's just circular:

                                    I'll note right now that the market made the JWST. It's all made by private contractors

                                    White elephant, ordered up by big government with a hefty side of pork. But this pig will be able to see things that no pig before it ever has, answering questions that are at present unanswerable. It's the perfect argument for a one-off. We don't need more Junior High 60x moon scopes, produced en-masse at a cheaper price with higher quality, we have plenty of those already. Neither would we benefit more from six more Hubbles launched instead of one JWST... the extra Hubbles might be nice to increase the bandwidth and reliability of the existing one, but they won't answer any fundamentally new questions, JWST will.

                                    Once we get to NASA and its coterie, we quickly see that free markets have nothing to do with the mess that's been created.

                                    But, wait - are you drawing a distinction between JPL and NASA? Houston is just as full of private contractors as any other branch of NASA/JPL. They bid, after their fashion, for the work.

                                    All seems kind of hung on circular semantics/reasoning... is NASA to blame, or the politicians who hand down their mandates? Certainly neither of those work in the manner of the free market, and yet - they continue to do things that the free market has not, do them first - perhaps not best, but before others.

                                    If it is the politicians to blame, why aren't they doing a better job of representing their constituents' interests? Oh, but they are, Political Econ 101: voters love pork. So,

                                    let's suppose you want to continue to steal public funds for your frontier fantasies, how can you improve the situation?

                                    let's roll back to basics: you're going to have to implement any changes via political mandates, good luck training your politicians to do anything other than try to win the next election.

                                    Meanwhile, I'm satisfied that the JWST is money well, if not efficiently, spent, and I won't be changing that view until the Elon Musks of the world shift their focus off of commercialization of existing science and start to investigate new phenomena, in the open - shared with the world, on their own nickel. Not holding my breath for that one.

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                                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 03 2018, @11:05PM (22 children)

                                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 03 2018, @11:05PM (#617404) Journal

                                      It's a lot like parsing your logic, sometimes it seems to represent a coherent picture, sometimes it's just circular:

                                      Perhaps less shaggy dog stories would help your criticism? Because, if we took your story at face value, it just means that you are looking at patterns rather than the logic generating those patterns.

                                      White elephant, ordered up by big government with a hefty side of pork. But this pig will be able to see things that no pig before it ever has, answering questions that are at present unanswerable. It's the perfect argument for a one-off. We don't need more Junior High 60x moon scopes, produced en-masse at a cheaper price with higher quality, we have plenty of those already. Neither would we benefit more from six more Hubbles launched instead of one JWST... the extra Hubbles might be nice to increase the bandwidth and reliability of the existing one, but they won't answer any fundamentally new questions, JWST will.

                                      Ok, so abandoning the free market complaints, I see. Probably a good move.

                                      One JWST is going to answer more unanswerable questions than six Hubbles? Not buying it. I think it would help if you understood the technological capabilities of these telescopes. Hubble answers the unanswered in visual and near UV, JWST does it in visual and IR at a modest improvement in resolution and sensitivity (at the frequencies where it overlaps with Hubble). And while we can adapt one or more Hubbles to IR frequencies before launch, we don't have a second JWST that we can adapt to any holes in our astronomical coverage. We can also do interferometry with multiple telescopes, which can result resolution far better than a single scope can achieve. One is not strictly better than the other, performance-wise. But you can do a lot more with seven slightly worse space telescopes than two (assuming Hubble doesn't get decommissioned, which is probably a good bet to make).

                                      Here, you're missing is that there are a limited number of instruments with which to answer anything. That means that even century old Earth-side telescopes are still seeing use. More telescopes means more questions answered now rather than well after the researcher dies of old age. Speaking of time, JWST won't launch before 2019. We could have had those Hubbles in space early last decade. Ten or fifteen years of observation before the JWST even sees light.

                                      Even if space exploration really is the only thing in the world important to you (which is what "at any price" means), how much space exploration are you willing to sacrifice for a token bit of space exploration? Things like JWST sacrifice a lot of other opportunities. Even if the JWST were the only thing that mattered ever, you could buy several JWST for what NASA spent on one.

                                      Once we get to NASA and its coterie, we quickly see that free markets have nothing to do with the mess that's been created.

                                      But, wait - are you drawing a distinction between JPL and NASA? Houston is just as full of private contractors as any other branch of NASA/JPL. They bid, after their fashion, for the work.

                                      Nope.

                                      All seems kind of hung on circular semantics/reasoning... is NASA to blame, or the politicians who hand down their mandates?

                                      NASA. They are the ones paid to carry out US space exploration. Not the congresscritters. This blame deflection has gone on forever. It's NASA's job to justify their budget and education whoever needs to be educated about the importance of the activity - not Congress. That leads to the next problem which is that the vast majority of the electorate doesn't have a stake in yet another space telescope and thus, elects congresspeople who don't have those priorities either.

                                      Crowing about how the JWST is the bestest telescope ever when it is not, isn't persuading those people.

                                      Certainly neither of those work in the manner of the free market, and yet - they continue to do things that the free market has not, do them first - perhaps not best, but before others.

                                      And we come to the true circular reasoning. You have yet to establish that something which the market doesn't do, was worth doing. The market doesn't fund $8 billion telescopes like JWST, sure. But that doesn't mean that the telescope is worth funding. All you've been able to express is vague mumbling about "unanswered questions" and such. It's not a market failing that it doesn't fund white elephants.

                                      Science is not just another religion. If you wish to do science, then you need to accept its conclusions. Here, one of those conclusions is simply that things have gone very wrong with the approach exemplified by the JWST. It shouldn't cost $8 billion and it doesn't do enough to justify that price tag. I think it's telling that you can't coherently explain why JWST is supposed to be worth $8 billion with concrete logic and reasoning. Instead, it's Starbucks is selling overpriced coffee and vague unanswered questions. We live in a world with limited resources. Everything, including our space telescopes should use those resources well.

                                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:44AM (4 children)

                                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:44AM (#617445)

                                        JWST does it in visual and IR at a modest improvement in resolution and sensitivity

                                        IR that, we hope, will show us deeper into the center of the Milky Way - with improved resolution that might enable comparison of our "local" galactic observations with the centers of Andromeda and more distant galaxies.

                                        If you want to argue that six new Hubbles could have 3 equipped with IR capabilites rivaling JWST, you're going to have to eat the reduced resolution from the smaller scope, not to mention that you'll be launching tech that was designed to fit in a now defunct launch vehicle - not so great for efficiency in that respect.

                                        Don't get me wrong, I preferred the days of Voyager, Pioneer and Viking, if you're going to do one, you should at least do two to CYA and get better return on the design effort - but the long history of successful twin missions seems to have doomed the funding to only consider one these days.

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                                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 04 2018, @06:04AM (3 children)

                                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 04 2018, @06:04AM (#617545) Journal
                                          So what? This is just another example of the dishonest games that are played with these projects. Sure, JWST is in an absolute sense better with moderately higher resolution and light gathering power. I already said that earlier. But it costs money. You don't seem to get that. A bunch of Hubbles, some working in the IR range, can do a lot as well, and they would be operating for over a decade by now.
                                          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 04 2018, @01:57PM (2 children)

                                            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 04 2018, @01:57PM (#617665)

                                            and they would be operating for over a decade by now.

                                            Only if they got funded, and apparently our funding system is more likely to open the purse for novel science than production line repetition.

                                            What is needed is an NRAO / VLA type application for Hubble-like telescopes - where a constellation of 30 of them can work together to do something that none could alone, and... by the way... the 30 can also be individually tasked for increased coverage of, oh, say, NEO tracking and other existential threats to the human race.

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                                            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 04 2018, @05:03PM (1 child)

                                              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 04 2018, @05:03PM (#617792) Journal

                                              Only if they got funded, and apparently our funding system is more likely to open the purse for novel science than production line repetition.

                                              Remind me again how "our funding system" was supposed to be better than the "free market business" thing? You're hiding behind Congress. They are much less interested in space development and exploration than you are.

                                              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 04 2018, @05:15PM

                                                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 04 2018, @05:15PM (#617802)

                                                Remind me again how "our funding system" was supposed to be better than the "free market business" thing?

                                                Just this: we also have a free market for space projects, for decades now, the one that launches projects like Iridium.

                                                Q.E.D.

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                                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:51AM

                                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:51AM (#617447)

                                        We could have had those Hubbles in space early last decade.

                                        Could we? I'll grant you: for the cost of invading a country with no actual WMD, we could have replicated the entire HST program with all its inefficiencies 80 times. But, do we have the political will to do such a thing? Apparently not.

                                        I'm much more pissed off about $30B spent on fuel for air conditioning for the troops for one summer than I am about $9B spent on JWST. Not that our troops didn't deserve AC, not that the AC didn't make them more effective in carrying out their mission, just that the mission itself was 1000x more bone-headed than any judgement call made by NASA or JPL, ever.

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                                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:57AM

                                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:57AM (#617448)

                                        It's NASA's job to justify their budget and education whoever needs to be educated about the importance of the activity

                                        The only argument that will ever get NASA a respectable level of funding is that they are defending "us" against something or someone who is "dangerous." Since Apollo, they have failed to manufacture another adversary to justify why their funding is more important than aircraft carriers to intimidate the rest of the world with.

                                        If you want to look at it this way: NASA made MAD stick, and they made it stick so well that they put ICBMs out of the "practical defense" game. Sure, we still have 'em. Sure, carrot-top's button is bigger than anyone elses. But unless you're an unhinged lunatic, you can't really use them to deliver nukes to real targets, so they've lost their practical value. Too expensive to deliver conventional weapons, and too politically unpalatable to use for anything other than armageddon.

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                                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 04 2018, @01:06AM (14 children)

                                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 04 2018, @01:06AM (#617451)

                                        JWST is the bestest telescope ever

                                        Far from it, but it is the only telescope with certain (planned) capabilities ever.

                                        JWST is supposed to be worth $8 billion with concrete logic and reasoning. Instead, it's Starbucks is selling overpriced coffee and vague unanswered questions. We live in a world with limited resources. Everything, including our space telescopes should use those resources well.

                                        So, what I am unwilling to accept is the condemnation of exploratory research and development programs because they don't live up to the standards of assembly line engineering efficiency. Is JWST a poor performer? Nobody can answer that yet, and if the program is cancelled then it will be a long time indeed before we know.

                                        Can future programs like JWST be managed better, produce more for less, etc.? Undoubtably, but there's more to the program than science and engineering, program management, political representation, public relations, all are important pieces of the puzzle, and none of them are performing at 100% within NASA, or any other exploratory agency on the planet. Is the JWST so horrible that we need to cancel the program, take NASA out behind the woodshed and give them a whuppin' for being so bone headed? I think that would be counter-productive, and even more inefficient than the present course.

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                                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 04 2018, @06:07AM (13 children)

                                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 04 2018, @06:07AM (#617546) Journal

                                          Is JWST a poor performer?

                                          So what massive amount of science has JWST done to this point to match what we would have gotten from the Hubbles? It's already a poor performer. We're just attempting to make good on a massive sunk cost.

                                          Is the JWST so horrible that we need to cancel the program, take NASA out behind the woodshed and give them a whuppin' for being so bone headed? I think that would be counter-productive, and even more inefficient than the present course.

                                          JWST should have never existed in the first place. Grownups need to be put in charge.

                                          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 04 2018, @01:53PM (12 children)

                                            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 04 2018, @01:53PM (#617664)

                                            JWST should have never existed in the first place. Grownups need to be put in charge.

                                            Hindsight... both for the telescope program and the management staffing decisions. Life is a massive sunk cost, if you spend all of it abandoning endeavors that appear to be sub-optimal, you accomplish exactly nothing.

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                                            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 04 2018, @05:09PM (11 children)

                                              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 04 2018, @05:09PM (#617797) Journal

                                              Hindsight... both for the telescope program and the management staffing decisions.

                                              Because NASA has an amazing record with this JWST being an outlier? Perhaps it would be educational to consider other projects? JWST may be a little worse than normal, but over budget and behind schedule is SOP.

                                              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 04 2018, @05:19PM (10 children)

                                                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 04 2018, @05:19PM (#617807)

                                                over budget and behind schedule is SOP

                                                I don't know what industries you work in, but in Medical and Military, the larger the organization, the more over-budget and behind-schedule projects are, on average. Not that they shouldn't strive to be better and be exposed to competition, but NASA is quite large, this is indeed SOP and expected.

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                                                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 05 2018, @05:27PM (9 children)

                                                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 05 2018, @05:27PM (#618399) Journal

                                                  but in Medical and Military, the larger the organization, the more over-budget and behind-schedule projects are, on average.

                                                  Yet another good argument for humongous NASA there. The larger the organization the harder it fails.

                                                  Welp, looks like time to summarize my arguments here. The endless fire hose of public funding demonstrates once again its ability to corrupt. You've ignored something like a half dozen different glaring signs that US space activities are a long term failure merely because it occasionally delivers something you want. It's too bad that economics doesn't matter to you. This attitude multiplied over 340 million people is why the US is so remarkably bad at spending money. If it were your personal money, you'd at least be interested in spending that was better or more effective and make priorities over what you want that money spent on. But when it comes to public funding, even a token chance at "unanswered questions" is sufficient to insure your complicity.

                                                  My view on these things is different. This is money taken from everyone of us, even those who don't directly pay taxes. We all should strive to spend those resources well rather than settle for poor outcomes.

                                                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 05 2018, @05:50PM (8 children)

                                                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 05 2018, @05:50PM (#618415)

                                                    The endless fire hose of public funding demonstrates once again its ability to corrupt.

                                                    Good point, and I'll take a wild extrapolation to the USSR and its primary downfall: size.

                                                    Still, there are economies of scale that make the big, corrupt, inefficient, even embarrassing large organizations competitively superior to their smaller more nimble counterparts.

                                                    it occasionally delivers something you want.

                                                    As opposed to the free market space industry which has funded/delivered exactly ZERO science projects bigger than a box in the Space Shuttle cargo bay.

                                                    This attitude multiplied over 340 million people is why the US is so remarkably bad at spending money.

                                                    In the military, in the bureaucratic administration of bizarrely complicated social programs, in healthcare - absolutely. By the time you get down into NASA, it's a tiny pimple on the butt of a tremendous elephant of bad spending.

                                                    This is money taken from everyone of us, even those who don't directly pay taxes. We all should strive to spend those resources well rather than settle for poor outcomes.

                                                    Like Gulf War II? Social Security and Healthcare? A 1% improvement in either of those areas would be more significant that a dramatic overhaul of all of NASA.

                                                    All of public spending does produce public benefits, some more immediately tangible than others, some more efficiently than others (none very efficient when compared to small scrappy businesses.)

                                                    So, are you running for office, or how exactly are you going to turn this great economic-justice wit into action?

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                                                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 05 2018, @08:43PM (7 children)

                                                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 05 2018, @08:43PM (#618503) Journal

                                                      As opposed to the free market space industry which has funded/delivered exactly ZERO science projects bigger than a box in the Space Shuttle cargo bay.

                                                      And why is that a problem? Earth-side is a pretty good location for a telescope. For example, there's the privately funded Keck observatory in Hawaii. That's bigger than a bread box.

                                                      By the time you get down into NASA, it's a tiny pimple on the butt of a tremendous elephant of bad spending.

                                                      It's a part that buy votes for the rest of the elephant.

                                                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 05 2018, @09:34PM (6 children)

                                                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 05 2018, @09:34PM (#618526)

                                                        So your answer is: shutdown NASA because it isn't as efficient or effective at spending money as I imagine I would be?

                                                        Let's review: JWST - $9B program started in 2011, probably running through at least 2025. If you take the "average American's" share of this $9B project, that's OMG! $26.47, $0.013 or less per day of in-space operation. And you're pissed at NASA because that's not good value for "your" $26.47? Seems to me that you've gotten at least a couple of bucks' entertainment value ranting about it just these past few days, and you seem the type that could continue to harp on a subject for years, so I'm sure you'll eventually manage to derive $26.47 worth of entertainment just espousing your views on what a turkey the JWST and all of NASA is. Private business would manage it better, your government is stealing tax money from you and wasting it on junk science.

                                                        Meanwhile, private business (Comcast) just upped my internet access rates by $7 per month, for no reasons other than: they want to, they can, so they will. Service remains the same: deeply sub-standard when compared against the world market.

                                                        Who do you think I'm more pissed at? JWST for $105.88 (family of 4) spread across 20 years, or Comcast for jacking my rates $84 for the coming year?

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                                                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 05 2018, @11:23PM (5 children)

                                                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 05 2018, @11:23PM (#618554) Journal

                                                          So your answer is: shutdown NASA because it isn't as efficient or effective at spending money as I imagine I would be?

                                                          Yes. Though I would accept moving that money to a space agency (or rather several space agencies) that actually does the job of developing space.

                                                          Let's review: JWST - $9B program started in 2011, probably running through at least 2025. If you take the "average American's" share of this $9B project, that's OMG! $26.47, $0.0?Let's review: JWST - $9B program started in 2011, probably running through at least 2025. If you take the "average American's" share of this $9B project, that's OMG! $26.47, $0.013 or less per day of in-space operation. And you're pissed at NASA because that's not good value for "your" $26.47?

                                                          Yes. That's $26.47 taken from how many people again?

                                                          Meanwhile, private business (Comcast) just upped my internet access rates by $7 per month, for no reasons other than: they want to, they can, so they will. Service remains the same: deeply sub-standard when compared against the world market.

                                                          NASA helped buy your vote for that Comcast monopoly.

                                                          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 05 2018, @11:44PM (4 children)

                                                            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 05 2018, @11:44PM (#618558)

                                                            NASA helped buy your vote for that Comcast monopoly.

                                                            Sorry, not following - when, and how did I, or any citizen, ever have the opportunity to cast a vote against a Comcast monopoly?

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                                                            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday January 06 2018, @02:17AM (3 children)

                                                              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 06 2018, @02:17AM (#618583) Journal
                                                              When you elect your representatives.
                                                              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday January 06 2018, @02:52AM (2 children)

                                                                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday January 06 2018, @02:52AM (#618601)

                                                                Explain, then, what representative was available on the ballot to strike down a Comcast monopoly, and how they bear any connection to NASA?

                                                                My thinking is mine, your thinking is yours - I'm just curious what connection you might make.

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                                                                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday January 06 2018, @04:44PM (1 child)

                                                                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 06 2018, @04:44PM (#618818) Journal
                                                                  Every one of them is. I don't care about Comcast, and you care more about bargains in space.
                                                                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday January 06 2018, @06:15PM

                                                                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday January 06 2018, @06:15PM (#618837)

                                                                    Every one of them is.

                                                                    Not sure what this degenerated into, but if every representative on the ballot is willing to do my bidding, that would be a wonderful world indeed.

                                                                    But, NASA bought my vote so the representatives won't do what I want?

                                                                    This does reflect poorly on the opinions you previously put forth regarding the value of a deep space research telescope...

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                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:30AM (5 children)

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:30AM (#616617) Journal

                  No redneck, ever, came close to the utter ballsy faith in everything gonna work out and this is gonna be EPIC demonstrated by the Mercury and Gemini astronauts.

                  I count three from Texas and one from Oklahoma. Some of the others might be as well, depending on whether you think rednecks live in places like the Midwest.

                  And risk taking is not faith. If you think getting on a 10 or 30 story rocket with the explosive power of a small atomic is riskier than getting drunk and doing stupid stuff that almost gets you killed, then you don't understand risk. The stakes are higher, the astronauts are ballsier, the risks aren't. Nobody would do stuff like that, if they thought there was a large chance that someone would die as a result. But the drunk redneck not only doesn't know how to evaluate risk, they have deliberately impaired their own judgment, doubling down on what was already a weak hand.

                  Elon launching a Tesla is weak tea by comparison.

                  So what? Virtually everything we do pales in comparison. But putting your favorite car in orbit around Mars is still pretty metal.

                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:06PM (4 children)

                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:06PM (#616861)

                    Risking money, whether yours or investors' or the tax payers', is not the same thing as risking your life.

                    Launching the car, instead of some cement ballast, is a brilliant twist - but also demonstrates the disjointed scales of money we're talking about - a $100K car is in the rounding error for a Mars launch budget.

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                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:44PM (3 children)

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:44PM (#616880) Journal

                      Risking money, whether yours or investors' or the tax payers', is not the same thing as risking your life.

                      That is irrelevant. The drunk redneck and the astronaut are both risking their lives. Learn what risk is.

                      Launching the car, instead of some cement ballast, is a brilliant twist - but also demonstrates the disjointed scales of money we're talking about - a $100K car is in the rounding error for a Mars launch budget.

                      Welcome to risk 101. SpaceX is willing to risk a $100k car on a high risk mission not tens of millions of dollars of some client's payload.

                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @09:44PM (2 children)

                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @09:44PM (#616907)

                        So, the adversarial process is making me out to be an Elon hater, which I am not (though I don't love him as much as some do...)

                        I will say, though, no matter how you slice it: that car is not at risk, that car is expended as a publicity stunt. In the event of successful deployment, it is also step one of a future publicity stunt recovering it and putting it in a museum.

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                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 03 2018, @11:35PM (1 child)

                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 03 2018, @11:35PM (#617412) Journal

                          I will say, though, no matter how you slice it: that car is not at risk, that car is expended as a publicity stunt. In the event of successful deployment, it is also step one of a future publicity stunt recovering it and putting it in a museum.

                          So what? SpaceX has managed the risks well as a result. NASA usually does the same with its astronauts - and quite a few astronaut missions have been in part publicity stunts as well.

                          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:07AM

                            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:07AM (#617433)

                            quite a few astronaut missions have been in part publicity stunts as well.

                            From some perspectives, the entire Mercury, Gemini, Apollo program series was a publicity stunt for U.S. missile technology.

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            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday January 02 2018, @02:25AM (1 child)

              by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Tuesday January 02 2018, @02:25AM (#616580) Journal

              9/9 missions putting 3 men in Lunar orbit and bringing them back to a target on Earth, changed the perception that a nuclear war could be survived - not among those who knew the facts, we are still demonstrating clearly today that politics is not governed by facts, truth, or even reality - but among the majority of the people who saw three freakin' cars get sent to the moon with the astronauts. Without that kind of demonstration of heavy capacity ICBM reliability and accuracy, it probably would have taken a shooting war to get majority opinion swung against the General Rippers of the public, on all sides.

              That's an interesting hypothesis, but do you have anything to back it? I had the impression that the public already feared nuclear war and mutually assured destruction years before the moon landings. Dr. Strangelove is a 1964 film, for instance. See also the end of the film Kiss Me Deadly (1955) which was heavy on nuclear hysteria.

              Also, what do you mean when you say "a nuclear war could be survived"? I don't think anyone who knows the facts believes that wide-scale nuclear war would destroy all of humanity. Nuclear testing itself became a tourist attraction [citylab.com] rather than destroying absolutely everything or igniting the atmosphere. There's indications that big nuclear weapons blasts don't necessarily mean much greater destruction [nextbigfuture.com] due to the physics of how the blasts work and other factors. The bombing of Tokyo [wikipedia.org] caused more deaths than the Nagasaki atomic bomb and maybe Hiroshima, and a big factor in all cases were structures made of incendiary materials.

              Here's another thing that probably changed public perception more: The Day After [wikipedia.org] (1983):

              President Ronald Reagan watched the film several days before its screening, on November 5, 1983. He wrote in his diary that the film was "very effective and left me greatly depressed," and that it changed his mind on the prevailing policy on a "nuclear war". The film was also screened for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A government advisor who attended the screening, a friend of Meyer's, told him "If you wanted to draw blood, you did it. Those guys sat there like they were turned to stone." Four years later, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed and in Reagan's memoirs he drew a direct line from the film to the signing.

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              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:01AM

                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:01AM (#616605)

                General Ripper's entire premise was that we could "get in early, catch 'em with their pants down" and the movie included a side plot element that a "high alert status" could intercept and destroy most bombers.

                The early space program launches were a clear demonstration of what our rockets could, and could not, do in the 1960s. Getting around the planet in 90 minutes, delivering 14 MIRVs to targets across a 600 mile diameter? Maybe. Intercept missiles in route ala Missile Command? Maybe^2. Part of that Soviet buildup of massive numbers of warheads was a hedge against failed missile deliveries, even if we believed 95% of their missiles would be intercepted or fail on their own, having enough to ensure near total destruction with the remaining 5%. I think it was START in the 1970s - driving missile launchers around the desert on trains just to keep the analysts in a tizzy, ensuring that some percentage of the warheads would get to target. MAD was nothing about nuclear disarmament, quite the opposite - what MAD did was keep the US and USSR out of a shooting war, through the buildup of huge stockpiles of weapons that each side believed the other had the capability to deliver. Part of the US' rationale for a lower number of warheads was that our missile delivery systems were more reliable. Price the cost of the space program against the then and future costs of a larger nuclear weapons arsenal.

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          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @12:58AM (4 children)

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @12:58AM (#616551)

            where do you think automatic computing would be without the need calculate orbital trajectories and re-entry points?

            As far along as it is at present. There are way too many uses and demand for computing technology to blame its success on a niche market.

            Without the massive infusion from NASA's (and military) employment of successive approximation numerical methods to solve orbital transition problems and the like, "business as usual" would have driven the development of International Business Machines. Without the need for compact, lightweight components to guide missiles, discrete transistors and even tubes would have soldiered on much longer before photolithographic techniques ramped up. Guessing where we would be today without NASA is irrelevant - too dependent on what you mean by "without NASA" - would we be living Mad Max? more likely than with NASA, but skip that - then: would the military have "classified" components with "limited civilian applications" like they tried to do with high precision GPS? Probably more than they have, and if you want to see an example of less efficient spinoff from publicly funded projects than NASA, just look at the real military. The applications we have demonstrated today came about from the public demonstration of the technology's capability - investment backing is even harder to get for "pie in the sky" ideas, compared to something that has been openly demonstrated on somebody else's nickel. When new things are not done with taxpayer money, in an open agency like NASA, it gets sequestered in trade secrets, "classified" as a matter of security, locked up in IP, and otherwise bogged down by 10-20 years.

            Put 10-20 years of retard on just a couple of key technologies, and the whole current state of things can be set back by a similar amount.

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            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @01:44AM (3 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @01:44AM (#616570) Journal

              Without the massive infusion from NASA's (and military)

              You already broke your post. US military has always been vastly larger than NASA spending. It also started much earlier than NASA spending did. These numerical methods were already well developed long before NASA existed in 1957, as were digital computers, missiles, and the like.

              "business as usual" would have driven the development of International Business Machines.

              Why in the world do you not get that "business as usual" is very aggressive technology development? The funding input from the US military were handy, but US industry ran hard with these technologies.

              When new things are not done with taxpayer money, in an open agency like NASA, it gets sequestered in trade secrets, "classified" as a matter of security, locked up in IP, and otherwise bogged down by 10-20 years.

              Like what?

              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:11AM (2 children)

                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:11AM (#616609)

                Why in the world do you not get that "business as usual" is very aggressive technology development?

                Because "business as usual" is about profits: income - expenses. A LARGE portion of the business world is extremely conservative with regard to research and development.

                Bogged down in IP: it's late, but the first one that comes to my mind is hydraulically assisted power steering - developed, patented, demonstrated, and denied to the public by the major manufacturers until the patent expired. Introduced by every major manufacturer on their new models the year it came off patent.

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                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @05:32AM (1 child)

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @05:32AM (#616628) Journal

                  A LARGE portion of the business world is extremely conservative with regard to research and development.

                  That says nothing about the LARGE portions which are not extremely conservative.

                  but the first one that comes to my mind is hydraulically assisted power steering - developed, patented, demonstrated, and denied to the public by the major manufacturers until the patent expired.

                  The "major manufacturers" was General Motors which didn't figure out [wikipedia.org] how to commercialize the product.

                  Francis W. Davis, an engineer of the truck division of Pierce-Arrow, began exploring how steering could be made easier, and in 1926 invented and demonstrated the first practical power steering system. Davis moved to General Motors and refined the hydraulic-assisted power steering system, but the automaker calculated it would be too expensive to produce. Davis then signed up with Bendix, a parts manufacturer for automakers. Military needs during World War II for easier steering on heavy vehicles boosted the need for power assistance on armored cars and tank-recovery vehicles for the British and American armies.

                  Chrysler Corporation introduced the first commercially available passenger car power steering system on the 1951 Chrysler Imperial under the name "Hydraguide". The Chrysler system was based on some of Davis' expired patents. General Motors introduced the 1952 Cadillac with a power steering system using the work Davis had done for the company almost twenty years earlier.

                  Charles F. Hammond from Detroit filed several patents for improvements of power steering with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office in 1958.

                  It wasn't the whole industry holding back power steering. It wasn't actually anyone doing that. GM just couldn't figure out how to make it work and Chrysler did it using GM's expired patents for info. We don't actually have a demonstration that the auto industry was bogged down in IP. Would Chrysler have developed their own variation of power steering without the clues from the expired GM patents? Signs are pointing to "no" since they based their work on GM's older work.

                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:03PM

                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:03PM (#616857)

                    Thanks for fact-checking me, history is highly dependent on where you learn it, and that power steering tidbit came to me by way of the son of Charles Bancroft. In 1991, I sketched out an alternative rotary engine design - and then I went to the downtown Miami library and did a patent search on the microfilm archives. Of course, by 1991 a wide array of rotary engine designs were already patented, but those most similar to mine were patented by Mr. Bancroft [google.com] Being the early 1990s, instead of looking for his website or e-mailing him, I used directory assistance and came to a phone number in the town listed on the patents - when I called, Mr. Bancroft Sr. was already dead, but his son spoke with me for a time about his fathers' engine design, efforts to get it developed, and he told me the power steering story.

                    Now, it would seem, Wikipedia has an alternate history compared to the one related to me by Mr. (can't remember his first name anymore) Bancroft, and all in all, I probably trust Wikipedia more than the son of a failed engine designer. But, it would be very interesting indeed if we could come up with the patents mentioned by Mr. Bancroft Jr., I don't know the current state of searchability of the patent archives from the 1900s-1910s.

                    The story as related via telephone from a potentially unreliable source was that: a farmer from the midwest took delivery of his new model T in or around 1909, and shortly thereafter not only got the idea for hydraulically assisted power steering, but also built a functioning prototype on his model T, registered himself a patent on the idea, and drove himself to Detroit with his prototype to show it around and try to license the patent. Nobody was interested at all, just like when Mr. Bancroft pitched his engine ideas decades later.

                    The interesting thing, to me, is: whether true or false, the timeline of the story is plausible. If his patent was being ignored by the major players it's not surprising they don't mention it as prior art.

                    Another interesting tidbit came to me from my Grandfather, while he was working in heavy construction in Iraq in the 1950s, they used rotary vane air compressors very similar to Mr. Bancroft's engine designs that were patented some years later...

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        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 01 2018, @10:20PM (11 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 01 2018, @10:20PM (#616518)

          You don't need multibillion dollar boondoggle budgets to develop cutting edge technology. For example, Rust was developed by a couple of millennials in their mothers' basements for free and now it runs over 80% of the Internet's infrastructure.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 01 2018, @10:36PM (10 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 01 2018, @10:36PM (#616524) Journal
            It depends on the cutting edge technology. I'll note this, spin off technologies tend to fall into several categories: 1) stuff for which the space program had little or nothing to do with it (Tang, computer development), 2) stuff for which NASA expenditures were significant, but only served to replace funding from some other source (medical treatments such as artificial skin and protein crystallization, certain sorts of computer modeling and numerical simulation), 3) stuff for which the primary value of NASA was as an early consumer (solar cells), and 4) stuff which is directly space-related and hence, a genuine spin off (space communication, satellite station-keeping, technology demonstrations such as landing people on the Moon or putting space probes into interstellar space).

            A key problem is that a lot of the alleged spin offs actually reduce scientific research rather than enable it. For example, spending $100 billion on the ISS to publish a few hundred papers a year (as metric). That $100 billion could have been spent directly to fund vastly more Earth-side science (which is vastly cheaper to fund), and in the process generate much higher metrics.
            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @01:06AM (9 children)

              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @01:06AM (#616556)

              in the process generate much higher metrics.

              Oh, well, if you're all about metrics, then please: proceed to your local elementary school and measure the progress of the local third graders against a national standardized test.

              The point about science done in the ISS, or other space settings, isn't that it fills more pages in the journals per dollar spent, it is quite simply that it is describing things that are unique, previously unknown, and otherwise not observable. Being there, doing that, however costly, informs us all of what being there and doing that really is. Until people actually go and do, we're just passing around science fiction stories about what somebody imagines, extrapolates from the facts we do have, or more often just spins a story that the public at large wants to hear.

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              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @01:34AM (8 children)

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @01:34AM (#616566) Journal

                it is quite simply that it is describing things that are unique, previously unknown, and otherwise not observable.

                Not really. Most of what is done in space, could be done on Earth cheaper. That has been an ongoing problem. For example, protein crystallization on a large scale was for a time though to be impossible on Earth, but found to be quite possible in the zero gee environment of Earth orbit. Then someone figured a way to do it on Earth for much less. Then someone figured a way to make the problem near irrelevant by figuring out how to use much smaller crystals instead (the primary use of the process was for X-ray crystallography).

                And of the stuff that can be done only in space? Not much point to doing it, if you don't use it. What's the point of studying the effects of zero gravity, if there's only a handful of people who will be affected by it over the course of the next generation (most whom are involved circularly in the research in the first place)? What's the point of studying sophisticated zero gee manufacturing techniques, if you can't afford to use the technique for anything useful? And if your answer is, "well in fifty years, we'll need this", the rebuttal is "well in fifty years we can do the research".

                • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:24AM (7 children)

                  by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @04:24AM (#616614)

                  For example, protein crystallization on a large scale was for a time though to be impossible on Earth, but found to be quite possible in the zero gee environment of Earth orbit. Then someone figured a way to do it on Earth for much less.

                  Awesome, now: without demonstration of its practice and value in orbit, would enough intellectual and monetary investment have been put into doing it on Earth as quickly as it was, if ever?

                  What's the point of studying the effects of zero gravity, if there's only a handful of people...

                  You're lacking in Sagan brainwashing: say it with me "Billions of Billions of ssstarsss." Zero G describes 99.999999+% of the environment of the universe, and even if we don't intend to live there full-time, we will either transit it for long periods of time getting to somewhere else, or flame out on this insignificant speck of dust. As a species, we've been around ~50,000 years, as a civilization building species maybe 5-10,000 years, as a barely space-capable species, only 50 years, but in those same 50 years we have started to press up against the glass of the tank we are living in, encountering resource limitations that can only be addressed long-term by getting off the rock and making homes on others.

                  If your "care horizon" is only 25 years or so, sure: to hell with zero G,

                  I don't know what's gonna happen, man, but I wanna have
                  My kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames
                  Alright!

                  If your "care horizon" even extends as little as 250 years, space is every bit as important as conquering the ocean was 250 years ago.

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                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @05:45AM (6 children)

                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @05:45AM (#616633) Journal

                    would enough intellectual and monetary investment have been put into doing it on Earth as quickly as it was, if ever?

                    Yes.Because there was already a lot of science [cell.com] done on the matter.

                    You're lacking in Sagan brainwashing: say it with me "Billions of Billions of ssstarsss." Zero G describes 99.999999+% of the environment of the universe, and even if we don't intend to live there full-time, we will either transit it for long periods of time getting to somewhere else, or flame out on this insignificant speck of dust.

                    Yes, poor me. Not sufficiently brainwashed. Once again, why do that research now when it doesn't matter for many decades? Time value of everything.

                    If your "care horizon" is only 25 years or so, sure: to hell with zero G,

                    Why should it be longer when you can deal with the issue far better in 25 years? There is this conceit that if we don't do things now, then they won't get done later. My point is that by putting off the things that don't matter right now, we can get where we want to go a lot faster.

                    If your "care horizon" even extends as little as 250 years, space is every bit as important as conquering the ocean was 250 years ago.

                    Why do you think you're conquering anything?

                    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @07:27PM (5 children)

                      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @07:27PM (#616839)

                      space is every bit as important as conquering the ocean was 250 years ago.

                      Why do you think you're conquering anything?

                      As opposed to conquering a people, conquering a frontier involves going there, being in it, meeting the challenges and surviving. The "conquer" aspect comes in because the frontier does fight back, and some who go there die when they meet the known and unknown challenges.

                      And I feel another Elon jab coming on... putting together a business plan for space is building on the backs of those who conquered the frontier. Elon is, in his own right, doing "newish" things, taking on more than the usual share of risk, but he's not crossing any new thresholds yet. Sending a manned mission beyond lunar orbit, or keeping a lunar outpost manned for more than a few days - those are some new challenges. The soft-land reusable rocket stages, that's flashy - but it's also a logical extension of recent control systems advancements, just like quadcopters and MEMS gyros.

                      When you venture into "unknown unknowns" - that is exploring a frontier. Turning the unknowns into manageable known quantities is conquering it.

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                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:48PM (4 children)

                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:48PM (#616882) Journal

                        but he's not crossing any new thresholds yet

                        He's sending payloads into space for comparable rates to the Russians and Chinese with much lower rates on the horizon. That's a huge economic threshold he's crossing right now and more important at present than how far you send people.

                        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 02 2018, @09:49PM (3 children)

                          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 02 2018, @09:49PM (#616911)

                          sending payloads into space for comparable rates to the Russians and Chinese with much lower rates on the horizon.

                          Sounds like derivative work to me, and future promises not yet delivered.

                          Again, don't get me wrong, it's exciting derivative work - and I'm not sure whether to credit O or W more for nurturing the private space sector, but they're making good progress to be "on par" with countries who have been doing this for a couple of decades longer. Driving the cost of space down by significant amounts will increase its utility and ultimately help to push the frontiers. Just like building better, more capable and cost effective ships did for the 16th century.

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                          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 03 2018, @11:21PM (2 children)

                            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 03 2018, @11:21PM (#617409) Journal

                            Sounds like derivative work to me

                            Once again, why are you disrespecting SpaceX's work? And when are you going to hold NASA and the rest of the industry to the same standards as you hold SpaceX? After all, by those same standards, everything NASA does is derivative work as well. The math, technology, and ideas were already well-developed by the time NASA got their hands on them. Sure, landing a person on the Moon has never been done before, but so is landing first stages from a in-production rocket on a barge or building a rocket that can fly cheaper than anything else in the world. NASA and its contractors never did that and hence, those accomplishments of SpaceX are just as non-derivative as landing people on the Moon.

                            Let us keep in mind the core problem with the accusation that SpaceX is doing derivative work, is that if someone had done the original work, they would dominate the launch industry by now. SpaceX is not just building another rocket, but a huge system that operates at far lower cost than anything else in history. My view is that SpaceX will likely be the most important thing to have happened to space development and exploration since Apollo. It's because economics of space launch is the most important problem in space today, and SpaceX is nailing that.

                            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:15AM (1 child)

                              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:15AM (#617438)

                              Derivative work is important work... more important as exploration. The double standard you don't seem to grasp is that one off exploration with indefensible budgets and unkept timelines is important work of a different kind, without it there would be no derivative work.

                              As for the "most important problem in space today" - I'd say that's the lack of derivative work based on the last 50 years of exploration - but, as you so clearly point out, asking a HUGE risk AVERSE publicly scrutinized organization like NASA to attempt to do derivative (are you annoyed yet?) high efficiency work is pointless, the organization is structurally incapable.

                              Just as the private business sector is structurally incapable of doing what it takes to launch a JWST, or any other mission of exploration with uncertain returns, such as CERN... and apparently, ironically, the U.S. has lost the political will to support high energy physics exploration. At least JPL is still sputtering along.

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                              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 04 2018, @05:59AM

                                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 04 2018, @05:59AM (#617544) Journal

                                Derivative work is important work...

                                The passive-aggressive put downs continue. NASA's work is similarly derivative - it just costs a lot more. Why do you respect doing less for more?

                                The double standard you don't seem to grasp is that one off exploration with indefensible budgets and unkept timelines is important work of a different kind, without it there would be no derivative work.

                                And here we go again. SpaceX has NASA cooties because NASA spent money a few decades earlier. It's too bad that I can't budge your religious views on NASA. NASA didn't gift SpaceX with a perfectly working business model. It just did a few basics - stuff which SpaceX could have duplicated. Because if it were so easy for SpaceX to derive its sophisticated technology from NASA's research, then why in forty years are they the first to do so?

                                And why do one-off exploration with indefensible budgets when we could have done massively productive things instead? For example, at the money spent on JWST, the US could have launched more than a thousand tons of material into Earth orbit at present day prices with the Falcon 9, six Hubble telescopes that would have started operating more than a decade ago, or 2-3 Mir-class space stations (which would have roughly the scientific capabilities of the ISS between them). The reason I am angry here is because NASA betrayed us. Maybe we couldn't have the full blown future that Wernher von Braun invisioned [bbc.com] by now. But we have had many decades of things that haven't furthered our climb into space. There has been this massive failure, a squandering of our future for half a century. Why am I supposed to be comforted that SpaceX's job was made slightly easier by a trillion dollars and 50 years of data and experience? Why am I supposed to ignore the vast opportunity that trickled through our fingers?

                                Earlier, you spoke of a 250 year dream to enter space as Europeans colonized the New World. Well, we're 50 years in and we only have six people living in space on a regular basis. 200 more years of that isn't going to get us anywhere.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02 2018, @03:17AM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02 2018, @03:17AM (#616588)

    What would be interesting is a compilation of the JWST victims over the last 15 years. That program has sucked the life out of a bunch of programs because of all those budget and schedule overruns.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:02AM (4 children)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Tuesday January 02 2018, @08:02AM (#616656) Journal

      It's less than 1/2 of one year of NASA funding, and will enable great infrared observations not achievable with any other telescopes. Some of the technology developed for JWST could be reused, such as in the proposed HDST [wikipedia.org].

      The SLS [wikipedia.org] has already cost more than JWST without a single launch. One projection has the program costing $41 billion by 2025 with the first four 70 ton launches (SLS Block 1). SpaceX Falcon Heavy should be able to lift 63.8 tons to LEO at $90 million per launch. The maiden Falcon Heavy launch should be this month, with the maiden SLS launch no earlier than Dec. 19, 2019. SLS Block 2 (130 tons to LEO, always expendable) would be ready by 2030, plenty of time for it to be beaten by SpaceX BFR [wikipedia.org] (150 tons to LEO reusable, 250 tons expendable).

      During the joint Senate-NASA presentation in September 2011, it was stated that the SLS program had a projected development cost of $18 billion through 2017, with $10 billion for the SLS rocket, $6 billion for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and $2 billion for upgrades to the launch pad and other facilities at Kennedy Space Center. These costs and schedule were considered optimistic in an independent 2011 cost assessment report by Booz Allen Hamilton for NASA. An unofficial 2011 NASA document estimated the cost of the program through 2025 to total at least $41bn for four 70 t launches (1 unmanned, 3 manned), with the 130 t version ready no earlier than 2030.

      The actual 2011-2017 SLS expenditure appears to be $11,877.1 million, more than the $10 billion estimate.

      I wouldn't be shocked if SpaceX BFR gets a launch before SLS Block 1B (an intermediate 105 ton to LEO launcher currently scheduled to fly twice in 2022).

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02 2018, @07:31PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02 2018, @07:31PM (#616840)

        I'm not disputing the science it is supposed to produce, nor am I complaining about its cost. I'm just saying that many programs (at the time existing and proposed) have been gutted over the years because JWST was too big to fail. A lot of NASA resources, at the direction of Headquarters, went into that program at the expense of many others, and there are some internal hard feelings about that, because money was taken not just from other astrophysics programs, but across disciplines (JWST was gutting the astrophysics division so bad that NASA moved it out of the division and made it its own division). Not to mention the fact that because of the schedule delays, if it didn't take money from some programs, it added to their cost because they couldn't use the resources that JWST had taken (things like TVAC chamber time [spacenews.com]). It's great to be all "rah rah IR astronomy, but its a killer for you as the non-JWST scientist if the money that was going to be your new $10M program goes away to "feed the beast".

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday January 02 2018, @07:38PM (2 children)

          by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Tuesday January 02 2018, @07:38PM (#616843) Journal

          These may have been killed by JWST [wikipedia.org]:

          In contrast to other proposed observatories, most of which have already been canceled or put on hold, including Terrestrial Planet Finder [wikipedia.org] (2011), Space Interferometry Mission [wikipedia.org] (2010), Laser Interferometer Space Antenna [wikipedia.org] (2011), and the International X-ray Observatory [wikipedia.org] (2011), MAXIM (Microarcsecond X-ray Imaging Mission), SAFIR [wikipedia.org] (Single Aperture Far-Infrared Observatory), SUVO (Space Ultraviolet-Visible Observatory), SPECS (Submillimeter Probe of the Evolution of Cosmic Structure), the JWST is the last big NASA astrophysics mission of its generation to be built.

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          • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02 2018, @11:15PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 02 2018, @11:15PM (#616965)

            I was in that large mirror business back in those days (late 90's/early 2000's) when all of those missions were concepts (including JWST). I'll go off of my faulty memory instead of following your links, but in terms of technology, a lot of those missions were related. The grand goal (50+ years out) was to create a virtual large mirror by using a bunch of smaller mirrors, like the radio astronomers do. To do it right, you need to know and control your position to small fractions of a wavelength, which is "easy" for the radio astronomers who deal with wavelengths of tens of meters; for light, you're talking nanometers. You can do that stuff on the optical bench, but it becomes a whole lot more fun to do it on a floppy structure in space, or even better, on widely-separated spacecraft (I was in the "how do you measure the optical pathlength and its changes to a gnat's ass" part of the business).

            As I recall, TPF started out as two or more spacecraft separated by hundreds, if not thousands of meters. Then it got scaled down to telescopes arrayed on a very long boom, then it got scaled down to a coronograph, then it disappeared. I remember SIM was something similar with mirrors held apart on very long structures, and I think LISA was supposed to be crazy-big. One variant of the X-ray telescope was since you need to reflect x-rays using very shallow grazing angles, the optics were going to be on a spacecraft that was at least a kilometer out in front of the imaging detector. I only vaguely remember SAFIR, but I think it had multiple large, lightweight and flexible mirrors, or maybe just one, I don't really remember. The NASA solar physics group also had a concept of a formation of spacecraft with spherical mirrors, but I don't remember its name anymore.

            JWST was the least ambitious of all of those in terms of mirror design. Designing it for the IR because that is a lesser-studied region is one of the science arguments to have it built, but another reason is that the IR wavelengths are longer than the visible wavelengths, and thus it makes it easier on your measurement and positioning budget. JWST is like the Keck Observatory in that all its mirrors are abutted together. You don't get the benefit of a guide star to phase up your mirrors, but I believe they are (or this was the plan 10+ years ago) using Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensors and/or using image algorithms such as Phase Diversity.

            Ah, but I ramble. Those were fun days, but now I'm much more of a PowerPoint Wrangler now.

            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday January 03 2018, @12:39AM

              by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday January 03 2018, @12:39AM (#617000) Journal

              IR wavelengths are better for observing some of the most desirable targets in astronomy right now: exoplanets. Also "nearby" solar system objects such as Kuiper belt objects, other dwarf planets and their moons, and Planet Nine if it exists. Red dwarf stars are extremely common and are most luminous in the infrared. Same with brown dwarfs. Luhman 16, a binary brown dwarf system, is only 6.5 light years away but was discovered in 2013 by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.

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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:35AM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 04 2018, @12:35AM (#617443)

    you are looking at patterns rather than the logic generating those patterns.

    Have a look at the logic of this:

    x[t] =
    -1.0 *x[t-11]*x[t-21]
    +1.8 *x[t-11]*x[t-16]*x[t-17]
    +2.0 *x[t-7]*x[t-12]*x[t-13]*x[t-15]
    -0.711 *x[t-16]*x[t-23]*x[t-23]*x[t-40]
    +0.4542

    You can start with a wide variety of initial conditions that lead to stable oscillation, this is one set that has been tested and demonstrated stable:

    0.33065009117126465,
    -0.08658509701490402,
    0.4754844605922699,
    0.20757003128528595,
    0.27341338992118835,
    0.4594074487686157,
    0.2980296313762665,
    0.5430675745010376,
    0.6467785239219666,
    0.6531996726989746,
    0.7736587524414062,
    0.34623920917510986,
    0.909669041633606,
    0.07400085031986237,
    0.5168972611427307,
    0.2422269731760025,
    -0.007682115770876408,
    0.39140164852142334,
    0.01456385012716055,
    0.4683710038661957,
    0.3433217406272888,
    0.40541213750839233,
    0.48424115777015686,
    0.5522291660308838,
    0.703718900680542,
    0.701340913772583,
    0.5100396275520325,
    0.7728148698806763,
    0.12264373898506165,
    0.5426679253578186,
    0.024122368544340134,
    0.28321242332458496,
    0.2430756688117981,
    -0.059884823858737946,
    0.5255928635597229,
    0.16605131328105927,
    0.484992653131485,
    0.4972614049911499,
    0.5368344187736511,
    0.6862032413482666

    I find these kind of number series to be interesting to observe, precisely because our current logic lacks explanations for why they behave as they do. The study of chaos has a few rough descriptions of bifurcations, orders of complexity, etc. but they utterly fail to explain why one series has a particular appearance, and another seemingly similar series has an altogether different appearance. There are simpler polynomials that behave similarly, many with as few as three terms and delays under 5, but the shapes of the more complex polynomials are often, and predictably, more interesting.

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