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posted by hubie on Wednesday June 22, @10:06PM   Printer-friendly

A five-minute test only lasted for five seconds:

The International Space Station sometimes has to shift its path to stay in the right orbit or to avoid debris (like it did last week). Usually, the ISS crew calls on Russian equipment to provide the thrust for the adjustments, but NASA tried to use a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft in a "reboost" test on Monday. It didn't go as planned.

Cygnus-17 was supposed to fire its engine for a little over 5 minutes, but the firing aborted after just 5 seconds. In a statement on Monday, NASA said the "the cause for the abort is understood and under review," but didn't elaborate on what happened.

The ISS flies in a low Earth orbit, and the planet's atmosphere is constantly dragging on it. Regular reboosts help the station stay in orbit. "The reboost is designed to provide Cygnus with an enhanced capability for station operations as a standard service for NASA," the space agency said.

[...] SpaceX founder Elon Musk suggested in February that SpaceX's Dragon capsules could also handle reboost duties if needed.


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  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Thursday June 23, @04:05AM (8 children)

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Thursday June 23, @04:05AM (#1255520) Journal

    You dolt, metric is standard!

    Actually, with time it's not. Unlike for all other measures, metric time never caught on, and we still use the old base-60 system, even in the SI (which otherwise is fully metric).

    Maybe it's because unlike other pre-metric measures it is actually a quite regular system, which in addition has the advantage of using the highly divisible number 60 as base. Note that the other non-metric system that remains in international common use is the angle degrees, which are also base 60 (there is a metric version of that, the gradian, which still is used in some speciality fields, but hasn't caught on in general).

    --
    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @04:58AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @04:58AM (#1255529)

    Yep, there are 60 seconds in a minute and 24 hours in a day for the same reason that there are 12 inches in a foot, which is why the metric system is... Uh, better? Apparently?

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Thursday June 23, @09:45AM (2 children)

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Thursday June 23, @09:45AM (#1255548) Journal

      Yep, there are 60 seconds in a minute and 24 hours in a day for the same reason that there are 12 inches in a foot, which is why the metric system is... Uh, better? Apparently?

      Yeah, there are 12 inches in a foot, and 12 feet in a … no wait, there are three feet in a yard. Well, maybe the yard is the odd one out, so 12 feet are actually … well, there is no such unit. OK, maybe they left out one power of 12, so the next unit is 12 times 12 feet, that is, 144 feet … nope. Maybe 12 times 12 times 12 feet, that is 1728 feet? Nope again. So maybe we have to start with the yard instead, and look at 12 yards? Nope. 144 yards? Nope. 1728 yards? Nope. OK, maybe there's no larger unit then? Oh well, there is, it's the mile. It's 5280 feet. Not a power of 12 at all. Or 1760 yards, that's not even divisible by 12.

      Indeed, I couldn't find a single other instance of two imperial measures where one is 12 times the other. There may be another one that I missed, but the point is, imperial is not a system based on multiples of 12. Indeed, I can't see any system at all in it.

      And it is very telling that you skipped the minutes in a hour.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 1) by NPC-131072 on Thursday June 23, @12:15PM

        by NPC-131072 (7144) on Thursday June 23, @12:15PM (#1255570) Journal

        And it is very telling that you skipped the minutes in a hour.

        Now you pointed it out, he'll do a full 360° on it. [wikipedia.org]

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @01:27PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @01:27PM (#1255574)

        And it is very telling that you skipped the minutes in a hour.

        Telling of what? I skipped it because it was redundant, it's the same reason as seconds per minute.

        Imperial measures are meant to be used, metric measures are meant to be theorized about.

        The yard is the odd one out. There is no corresponding metric unit (the yard is closer in length to the meter, but the "unit of length for everyday use" is the foot).

        No one has ever actually made use of the fact that metric units are powers of ten, and you can tell because nobody ever measures anything in megameters or gigameters, and if you ask someone how far it is to the train station they'll say "half a kilometer." Kilometers and miles are the unit of "traveling distance" and meters and feet are the unit of "measuring distance." They are conceptually different so they aren't made to be converted to each other.

        As for where the definition of the kilometer and mile actually come from, the kilometer is 1/10000 the distance from the equator to the poles, which is a distance that totally comes up all the time. Yeah, today it is defined in terms of the speed of light, but the length was determined by that distance. The mile, on the other hand, is 1000 paces. Certainly no one ever has needed to estimate how far they have walked.

        Inches and feet are made for easy conversion because that comes up all the time when making things by hand. Just like the many units of volume are related by powers of 2, because that comes up all the time in cooking and humans are only good at dividing things in half.

  • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Thursday June 23, @11:25AM

    by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 23, @11:25AM (#1255556)

    I wonder if divisibility is much more important for units that are periodic in nature. It is a useful thing to be able to divide my day up into quarters or whatever.

    For non-periodic units, such a requirement is much weaker. For example, most fields are not multiples of 1 km in length, so I have to do some arithmetic in any case to figure out how long is half a field. Such arithmetic is easier in base 10.

  • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Thursday June 23, @11:39AM (2 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Thursday June 23, @11:39AM (#1255559)

    Having spent a bunch of time in the last few weeks experiencing more pain with date-and-time calculations than any sane person should, I can assure you that I sincerely wish I'd had decimal-based time rather than the Sumerian nonsense we're currently stuck with.

    Some of that is inherent to the problem: All the convenient human measurements of time are inconsistent with each other. Days, lunar cycles, and years don't add up, at all, which is why the complex system of extra months in some calendars, leap days and leap seconds exists. But the effect of this is that you can't, for instance, take a time, add 1 second, and be guaranteed that the new seconds value will be old-seconds + 1 mod 60.

    Some of that is of course human-induced as well: Time zones and daylight savings time add a whole other level of pain. Look at the IANA timezone data sometime if you want to see the level of confusion involved there.

    --
    Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @02:32PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @02:32PM (#1255586)

      once we get offthisrock i could see decimal time catching on commuicating and measuring stellar or even solar distance/time need not be linked to any given planets turn or seasons etc.

      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Friday June 24, @04:22PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Friday June 24, @04:22PM (#1255842)

        You think time measurement is bad on Earth? Now throw in relativity, that will make things much simpler!

        One of the more miraculous technologies on Star Trek was the very background concept of "stardate", which somehow wasn't screwed up by either zipping around the galaxy at either near-or-beyond light speed nor losing communications with Earth. The hardware and software needed to make such a thing work would be extremely difficult, time-consuming, and not perfect or consistent, especially with starships and/or their personnel sometimes engaged in time travel.

        --
        Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.