Re: This funny Rosswel bussiness

Mark Grant (
Thu, 17 Jul 1997 11:09:01 +0100 (BST)

Michael Lorrey wrote:
> As an indication of a plane truly mature for its flight regieme, take
> any of the cessna singles for their maintenance requirements.

Much of which (according to articles I've read by pilots) is imposed by
the government and not really neccesary for safe operation. Even then,
from reading some of Richard Bach's books, the amount of maintenance
required to keep his biplane operational was far higher than that required
for his jets, *and* it crashed more often.

> Sorry, the hard radiation of impacts and dopplershift would embrittle
> the materials to a large extent.

Isn't that what you have a shield there for? I mean, do you really believe
that any alien race is going to travel from system to system in a
spacecraft that will be considerably damaged by the mere act of travel?

> How do you stop? SOrry, you've got to turn that mutha around and brake
> for as long as you've been accelerating. That puts your ass end open to
> reentry through an alien solar systems Oort cloud.

Uh, yes. Just like reentry with the shuttle, only worse. This is why I
think your figure of 0.98c is much higher than they're really use (and
way off the scale for the kind of early mission they talked about).

> For starters, the shuttle orbits at a mere 17,000 mph, and it still
> breaks down half the time, causing the mission to be cut in half.

Firstly, note I said 'qualitatively', not 'quantitatively'. We all know
that the shuttle is a massive boondoggle full of cut-price engineering and
frankly I'm surprised it works at all. Even then it's only been called
back early two or three times (not the 50% you mentioned) and the first
time was an early test flight when things were expected to go wrong.

> You
> can't do that on an interstellar mission. "Oops, Snorf, we busted the
> toilet, we've gotta turn around...."

When have NASA ever brought the shuttle back because of a broken toilet?
AFAIR all those aborts were due to broken fuel cells, and the mission
could have happily continued without them were it not for NASA's paranoia.

> Buddy, you are talking to someone who has worked on the best we've
> got, and they still wear out, and still crash. Expecting your godlike
> aliens to be any different is pure delusion.

But you're still talking about military aircraft, not commercial (and I'd
agree that if this were the first flight that might be a valid comparison,
I just don't think that it would be). And you're talking to someone who
worked as a military avionics designer, so I know more than a little about
the badly designed military maintenance programs that I talked about. I'll
just get into trouble if I *do* talk about them.

> There is nothing badly designed about them. They are doing their best
> with what they can get.

Precisely; and they could get a lot better for the same price, if they
speced it right in the first place.

> Lockheeds skunk works had a few dozen geniuses
> who made things work right the first time. That kind of skill is a wee
> precious commodity that regualr service cannot afford in any but
> extremely special circumstances.

However, the people who were looking after the Blackbirds weren't those
geniuses, they were just normal Lockheed technicians. The main differences
(from what I've been told) were in training, motivation and longevity;
the Lockheed crew were there *because* they wanted to work on those planes
and stayed with them for years whereas the Air Force crew were just posted
there and moved on a couple of years later.

> We had
> the highest utilization rate in the USAF TAC the first year I was there,
> and had not lost a plane in over ten years (we had lost an F-106 a few
> months before they were retired in 1979). Our unit was deactivated in
> January of 1990.

An impressive record!

> The CIA also did not have the operating environment militarily that the
> USAF did. By the time the USAF took over, the Soviets had developed
> missiles capable of catching the plane, which required the development
> of EW units for the plane.

Hmm, the CIA were using EW units on their U2s, so I don't see why they'd
have any great problems using them on the Blackbirds. I don't know whether
they were using them prior to the handover and can't check at the moment.