[ExI] commie spacecraft landing

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu Dec 2 16:19:38 UTC 2010


From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Dan
Sent: Thursday, December 02, 2010 7:02 AM
To: ExI chat list
Subject: Re: [ExI] commie spacecraft landing


Your comment about high-tech and high-priced makes me think of the joke about the pen that writes in space. I don't know if it's merely an urban legend, but it goes like this: NASA spent millions to develop a pen that writes in space while the Soviet space agency opted to use pencils. (Of course, ignorant people might chalk this up to the command economy working better than free markets. They are ignorant because NASA is not the free market in action. It's definitely command economy -- just command economy with a much bigger budget -- hence more waste and more Kafkaesque developments.)






Dan, it was a mixture of urban legend and market-speak.  One of the pen companies did in fact have a pen called a power point, which worked upside down so you could write over your head.  They claimed they developed it for NASA to work in weightlessness.  Like everyone else who had one in 1970, I never did figure out why anyone needs to write upside down or over one’s head.  But we had them and they were high tech!  Perhaps the US government’s tax revenue for all those pens would eventually cover the contract they let for the development effort.  Your tax dollars at play. 


Regarding using pencils in space, I can easily imagine the commies doing it, but I can think of a coupla good reasons why it would be better to not do that.  Graphite would splinter off and float around until inhaled by the proles onboard, perhaps causing some new space disease twenty years hence.  Also the powdery conductive graphite floating about would introduce risk of short circuiting electronic gear.  We have cleanroom markers that are actually more similar to waxy hard crayons that would be better. Now of course we would just use keyboards.


The clear message was that the commies are willing to accept waaay more risk that NASA ever was, and consequently they did their thing at a small fraction of the cost.  Even more illustrative is how the Chinese do their space launches.  We launch rockets way far out by itself on an island like Cape Canaveral or Vandenberg, and launch out over water.  The Chinese have their launch facilities inland, with a city evolving in a ring around it with a radius of a leisurely bicycle ride.  They never did own up to the number of proles slain in the 14 February 1996 Long March crash.  Watch the video.  The official number of proles was 6, but I know someone who was there, who claimed it was at least in the hundreds, perhaps thousands:






On the other hand, everyone I knew who worked in the space program at Cape Canaveral had to drive an hour to get to work, which presents cumulative risk to the proles one would suppose, so that should be counted somehow.  I would estimate the death toll at perhaps 20 in driving accidents between Cape Canaveral and Titusville, most of these as a result of hitting a wild boar or alligator on NASA causeway, which passes through an enormous wildlife refuge.






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