Space X, Hubble, Coffee: The Cost Of Doing Business In Space - InformationWeek

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Space X, Hubble, Coffee: The Cost Of Doing Business In Space
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impactnow
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impactnow,
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4/22/2015 | 12:25:46 PM
Re: Space X, Hubble, Coffee: The Cost Of Doing Business In Space

While I understand the push to get private industry to support space exploration the focus would undoubtedly shift from exploration to monetary gain. We should still want to explore and learn about our solar system to learn about our own planet and how to address issues we have now and in the future. I agree focus is key based on the costs but I don't think we should just abandon the learning process.

David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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4/21/2015 | 2:18:40 PM
Re: Space X, Hubble, Coffee: The Cost Of Doing Business In Space
@Gary_El- I think the focus is slowly switching to putting a person on Mars. I think NASA realized it couldn't get there without a cheap and reliable rocket. I think that's where we are. I could be wrong, but i think the next step is actually building rockets in space. I think we're going to build a rocket that can get a new and better space station together and then we're going to be launching from there to save fuel. Gravity is the real killer.

But regardless of what the nexxt focus is, making it cheap and reliable is the first hurdle. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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4/21/2015 | 2:06:47 PM
Re: Space X, Hubble, Coffee: The Cost Of Doing Business In Space
@zerox203- I suspect the tangible benefits of big ticket science is always an issue. The cost of the Large Hadron Collider was $13 billion and it costs $1 billion a year to operate. We found the Higgs Boson, but what will that mean for anyone anytime soon?

Personally, I think understanding the universe for the sake of it is worth the price. But I do get annoyed when someone says, "It will cost $1 billion to do this" and they come back a year later and say it will cost $5 billion and then a year later and it is $10 billion.

I feel the same way about the overbudget replacement to the Oakland Bay Bridge.

Obviously, we have the same problem in IT with projects going overbudget. So this isn't just a government thing, but I'd like to think we can do better and still learn the workings of the universe.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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4/21/2015 | 1:56:36 PM
Re: Space X, Hubble, Coffee: The Cost Of Doing Business In Space
@Gary_el- Well, i think it might be a little too easy to blame the end of the Cold War on this. The Space Shuttle was flying years before the Berlin Wall fell and had already sort of been derailed from its mission. In fact, my feeling is that what the Space Shuttle really suffered from was a lack of focus. It was space for space's sake. And we've been there for decades now. 

I'm sue the folks at NASA at the time who ever more insight than me would disagree with the idea of a lack of focus. I'm sure they knew exactly what they wanted to achieve with each mission. But we lacked a national direction that NASA could grab onto and run with.

So here we are. We're trying to lower the cost of space and that's what the private sector is good at. So that's OK. And then NASA can put its pure research onto commercial vehicles that have been proven cheap and reliable and we all win.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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4/21/2015 | 1:44:14 PM
Re: Space X, Hubble, Coffee: The Cost Of Doing Business In Space
@Mak63- The inflation argument is interesting. By the rate of inflation, you are correct that SpaceX is approaching it. But, of course, we'd have to check inflation on specific payloads. Clearly, when it comes to space telescopes, they seem to be getting more expensive faster than the inflation rate.

You'd also expect that the price of technology would drop. If you went, for exampple by the price of computer technology, the cost of space should have only gone done from 1972, not up.Even the cost of airline travel by percentage of a person's salary has gone done significantly. So I'm not sure inflation is the right way to look at it. But it is very interesting.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
4/21/2015 | 1:25:58 PM
Re: Morning Coffee in Space
@pklittle- Well, all the better for the atronauts I guess that Lavazza knows coffee better than the Americans. That said, the issues are exactly the same, microgravity makes things behave differently in space. So learning how to move water, steam or anything else so that it mimics what happens on Earth is a big deal. 

The real fun, I suppose is if we start creating space cuisine that only can be made in microgravity and then we try to copy that cuisine on Earth.
Ariella
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Ariella,
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4/17/2015 | 4:55:40 PM
Re: Morning Coffee in Space
@David it does take time and a certain amount of trial-and-error to get a process perfected. That's why Edison said, ""I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."  And supposedly, it took a couple of thousand attempts just to find the filament that would work for the light bulb. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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4/17/2015 | 4:30:44 PM
Re: Morning Coffee in Space
@Tom- I don't know about an arm which seems just as likely to accidentally damage it. But I'm surprised they can't deploy a net or inflatable bags or something. But I think they will learn to compensate for the lateral forces soon.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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4/17/2015 | 4:29:13 PM
Re: Morning Coffee in Space
@Ariella- Yes, I've looked high and low to find a reason why they don't do this on a bigger, not moving target like a desert. I planned on asking them for a future story. It seems like one of the advantages of a wider target is that you don't need as many last second compensations. But clearly, they have a reason. They didn't just decide to make it harder for the heck of it.

I think they'll pull this off. The first time they tried, they ran out of hydaulic fluid before touchdown. The reasons for the second time aren't known yet, but they'll learn from it.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
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4/17/2015 | 3:51:59 PM
Re: Morning Coffee in Space
If SpaceX can't compensate for the lateral velocity, I expect the company will be able to rig a landing pad with some kind of support arm system that swings into place to prevent the rocket from tipping over after touchdown.
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