Re: CONC^4 Re: "NASA Ends Project Intended to Replace Shuttle"

From: Adrian Tymes (
Date: Sun Mar 04 2001 - 21:04:43 MST

"Michael M. Butler" wrote:
> Adrian Tymes wrote:
> > Devil's advocate: so, how do you keep your legos from exploding and
> > showering junk all over mine? Also, how do you get your system up and
> > running before you have the transmitter/receiver pointed the right way
> > and powered up? (Aside from being there, but it'll probably be less
> > than 10% of humanity, even industrialized humanity, that gets a chance
> > to be up there in the next few decades even if space colonization is
> > wildly successful.)
> I don't understand these objections.
> Perhaps I lack sufficient context. Devil away, but tell me what you are
> envisioning?

> I keep my LEGOs from exploding by not building them in such a way that
> they tend to explode. How many AMSATs have exploded? Initially, at
> least, I am not talking about shipping a bunch of units up to
> self-assemble. I am talking about being able to put a single spacefaring
> device together that is small and made of LEGO-like standard parts.

Ah, ok. That answers the concern I stated...though it does raise
another one. If they can't self-assemble, then you lose a lot of the
advantage of LEGO et al: once something is assembled, you can't easily
alter it (including repairs) on site. There is also the concern of
getting a finished assembly into orbit, with - at the very least -
delay during launch, which substantially quenches the instant
gratification of seeing a LEGO machine work, or put another way,
significantly slows the built-test-debug cycle down. (If this last
sentence is unclear, think of it this way: when writing a computer
program, you can compile and test it immediately, and thus go through a
whole lot of testing for relatively little time and even less money;
when building a machine that can only be tested after a lengthy
shipment to where it will be used, the time and money cost per test
cycle mean you can't do as much testing - for serious projects - or
playing - for non-serious.)

> Tangentially: Have you heard about the Delta upper stage embarrassments
> of a few years ago? They used to leave them parked with propellant dregs
> still in the tanks. After x thousand hot/cold soak cycles, boom. _Not_
> neighborly.

Aye. One might not be able to solve the problem on one's own, but one
can lead the way in not making the problem worse.

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