SpaceX developed and launched its Falcon 9 rocket in less time and FAR less money than it took NASA to develop - unsuccessfully - Ares I.
SpaceX's Mars rocket, Falcon Heavy, has been in development for several years and is expected to have its first launch in November. It's essentially three Falcon 9 first stages strapped together with a Falcon 9 second stage on top, so most of the hardware has already flown.
Propellant crossfeed between the first stages and the extra staging events are a new wrinkle.
> Why 2018 anyway? 2020 would seem a more realistic date.
2018 sounds like the absolutely most optimistic date. If there are any bugs to work out with those new wrinkles in Falcon Heavy, it could push back the mission by a couple years.
And while the Dragon capsule is now making regular visits to ISS, it hasn't done a propulsive landing from altitude yet. It has however done a short hover test, verifying that the propulsion system can be used to do so.
Keep in mind that the 2018 goal is for an unmanned lander. Colonization is much further in the future.
Well sure. Consider American lawyer and veteran Brandon Mayfield. After the 2004 Madrid train bombings a *partial* fingerprint found on a bag *somewhat* matched his own from veteran's records. Despite Spanish officials telling the FBI that it wasn't a match, the FBI didn't just arrest him; they "disappeared" him. (Lied to the judge about the case against him, and later lied about where he was being held.)
He was arrested as a "material witness", so he could be held as long as they wanted without charging him. And of course they raided his home and carted off his and his family's belongings.
Still, as an X-vehicle for testing new technologies and tweaking them until they matured (like multiple generations of SRBs and main tanks), the Shuttle was an enormous success. But it should have been replaced by a more mature design from lessons learned 15 or so years earlier.
> One lesson we ought to have learned by now: bringing wings and wheels into space makes no sense. No, bringing wings and wheels into space still makes sense if the point of the spacecraft is to, you know, shuttle back and forth to low earth orbit.
The shuttle could and often did bring back large payloads. Far larger can capsules could.
And setting aside the political and design fiascos of the Shuttle, spacecraft are easier to recover from a runway than the ocean. And there's a lot to be said for not dunking the entire spacecraft in salt water on every flight.
But a good, viable reusable winged shuttle will be a lot more expensive to develop, and will require a high launch rate to amortize the costs. The market for that hasn't existed yet.
> I've noted in the past that the EU tends to view antitrust through a fairly different lens than the US does, and perhaps that's the issue here. This is a broad generalization, but for the most part, the US focuses on whether or not practices harm consumers. The EU tends to focus on whether or not a company is really big.
I saw an argument on Slashdot that nicely summed up the European position:
In Europe we already tried allowing a winner-takes-it-all strategy where a very good leader keeps the monopoly over a (market/region/population), it was called an absolute monarchy.
It looks good for as long as the original manager (who reached the position as the best in a meritocracy) stays in place. It lasts for a generation, when the competent leader legates the role to their heirs, who may or may not be prepared to maintain the same level of quality service.
By that time, it is too late to displace the incompetent newcomers - all the network effects that entrenched the original leader as a monopoly are still in place and are too strong to overcome even when there are better alternatives, except by a disruptive process that redefines the rules of the game in full. I heard you Americans didn't like absolute monarchies? You should then understand the EU's position.
You might block bulk-importing of phones, but stopping visiting tourists and business people from bringing their phones with them probably won't fly. One could also smuggle dozens of iPhones across the border, say, in a bale of marijuana.
Going after the American division of a company for information held by their overseas divisions is problematic. Techdirt has covered the case where US magistrate judge ruled that Microsoft had to comply with a warrant asking for data held on servers in Dublin. (The Irish government has since disagreed, saying that the emails should be disclosed only on request to the Irish government.) It's not settled yet, but imagine the uproar after a Microsoft loss, when foreign governments cite the case to demand information about Americans on US servers.
What happens when Apple US (with a government back door on US phones) is ordered to unlock an Irish phone, and is unable to do so because the Irish phones don't have the back door?