DailyDirt: It *IS* Rocket Science, Actually…

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Getting stuff into space is difficult. There are a bunch of different rockets that have been used over the last few decades, but the odds of a launch failure isn’t quite zero yet. A few companies are making cheaper launch systems, but a perfect track record is hard to maintain over more than a handful of launches. Perhaps that’s why sentient robots in the movies never think about leaving the Earth behind.

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Companies: airbus, blue origins, nasa, orbital sciences, spacex, ula

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Comments on “DailyDirt: It *IS* Rocket Science, Actually…”

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Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Space Launchers Should Fail Often.

The brittleness of space launchers is more or less inherent in the physics of the situation, that is the relation between the combustion energy of fuels, and the weight and melting energy of structural materials, versus the energy required to reach orbital velocity.

For unmanned systems, the optimum point is probably about 20-25% mission losses. That strikes a balance between needlessly expensive launches and losing too many payloads. If launcher components are durable enough to stand recycling, then they are probably too heavy. NASA got trapped in the politics of having to pretend that the Space Shuttle was a kind of airliner, when it was actually a kind of expendable munition, and two crews were killed in consequence.

A profitable space business is going to focus on launching information satellites, that is communications satellites, navigation satellites, and mapping/reconnaissance satellites. It is going to strictly avoid re-enacting the plots of 1960 television shows about faster-than-light star-ships.

The kind of research which is carried out in the manned space program generally turns out to be about the physiology and psychology of astronauts in space, which tends to be useful for little except a manned space program. Physics and chemistry are sufficiently well understood in general that experiments can be done by remote control.

Stephen says:

Lemons in Space

Building an unmanned rocket stage that will need to be replaced someday by a stage that is rated for a crew doesn’t seem to be a great use of limited NASA funding, but lacking the full funding to directly build an astronaut-friendly, Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) vehicle forces NASA to create interim test stages.

Which just goes to show that Congress gets what it pays for. If it keeps pinching pennies it will wind up with lemons.

Lurker Keith says:

AI leaving, includes spoilers

The anime movie Expelled from Paradise has a self-aware & fully autonomous AI that does, in fact, get on a colony ship & leaves the Earth.

So, there are movies out there.

Also, AIs being software (granted, most complex enough to cause problems for humans are probably huge files), it could wait to verify the launch was successful before uploading itself. It could also leave behind/ send a copy, if it so chose. Almost noone ever considers that an AI can copy itself & act like a virus (again, I’m pretty sure at least a couple anime deal w/ that scenario).

For those curious about Expelled from Paradise, & are into anime, imagine Spike Spiegel & Haruhi Suzumiya (personalities & English voices) tracking down a hacker in a post-apocalyptic desert together, where cyberization has advanced past that in Ghost in the Shell.

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