Saturday, December 07, 2013

Does Their Reach Exceed Their Grope?

     Or is it just their hubris?  In the wake of revelations about the Feds spying on, well, everyone, an NRO spysat just went up with this mission patch:
     Yeah.  We don't have an Orbital Hilton or a tourist lodge on the moon and Pan-Am can't run you up there on a shuttle -- in fact, they're struggling to make the trains run on time while NASA astronauts have to bum a lift from the Russians.*  But our .gov can bigawd tune in every cel-phone call, walkie-talkie and baby monitor everywhere, and read everyone's e-mail and web-browsing history to boot.  China plans to put a missile base on the Moon and this country's space program is all about listening at keyholes and peering in windows.

     It makes me as proud as the protagonist  in a Greek Tragedy, it does.  And I lurves me some Big Brother, especially when he dresses up like Cthulhu and looms.  Just gimme a minnit to urp neatly into my shirt pocket first, 'kay?
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* Russians are to spaceships as Cubans are to classic cars, as near as I can tell.

18 comments:

Bear said...

They want to be spineless would-be world dominators? Fine.

Frank W. James said...

Personally, instead of an Octopus I think they should have a picture of George Orwell on their shoulder patch....

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Ritchie said...

China turning outward. Murica turning inward. The cycle cycles. Cats and dogs living apart.

Roberta X said...

There is a perception of....itching.... I ching.

Tam said...

This being December 7th, I wonder what the shoulder patch for Pvt. Lockard of the sooper-seekrit Signal Aircraft Warning Company looked like?

Comrade Misfit said...

Ayup.

Eck! said...

All I can say is I think I heard somewhere from someone or something
a faint...


I heard that.


Eck!

Robin said...

"* Russians are to spaceships as Cubans are to classic cars, as near as I can tell."

Was that the product of my request for a snark consult on the older Soyuz thread?

Cirze said...

Seems like the Fox Snooze (and National Inquirer) meme has triumphed.

We don't want to actually do any (or pay employees to do any) real work anymore, but we'll gladly pay all we have for all the world's gossip.

Cause inquiring minds want TO KNOW!

Thanks for a great read on this rainy Saturday.

Firehand said...

I'm reminded of a line from Big Bang Theory: that the Soyuz was built 'by the same geniuses who couldn't catch Rocky and Bullwinkle.'

Roberta X said...

Yeah? How many Soyuz + boosters have blown up on launch and killed the crew? How many have suffered catastrophic failure on re-entry?

AFAIK, they have lost two ships and a total of four cosmonauts in 121 missions/365 crew. Call it a 1.1% death rate

The space shuttle numbers are messy due to repeat flights by the same astronauts. Per person, it's worse: two spacecraft, 14 crew lost in 135 missions and 355 people for a 3.9% rate. However. that doesn't take repeats into account; per occupied seat, it's 14 of 833 and a death rate of 1.68%, only a little worse than Soyuz. However, each flight cost about 10X more than economy class out of Baikonur but carried only 4 more crew.

No class of space vehicles has been flying longer than the Soyuz/R-7 combination. They're (relatively) cheap and more rugged than the Shuttle; the deaths resulted from relatively simple failures that were fixed. The Shuttle accidents had deeper causes and were essentially unfixable; most major systems had a 1-in-200 chance of failure. (The late Richard Feynman went into this in some detail -- it was a huge failure of the bureaucracy.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_accidents_and_incidents

Roberta X said...

(To answer my questions -- "zero" and "one.")

Roberta X said...

Grrrh. Problem with my data. Soyuz flew with two-man crews after the Soyuz 1 accident until a redesign in 1980. I assumed three-man crews after Soyuz 1.

This is going to push up the death rate to something closer to that of the Shuttle.

Old Grouch said...

There's much to be said for older, less-complicated technology. The weaknesses have been weeded out, and the remaining failure modes tend to be known and thus avoidable. "State-of-the-art" == "teething troubles."

But that misses R's point that Our Masters in Washington would rather muck around in other people's privates than head for the stars.

NotClauswitz said...

I really miss Pan-Am, in the skies they were the best, and JAL was pretty hot too...

wheelgun said...

Actually I have to quibble with your characterization of the Russian space program.

First man in space. First orbit. First space-walk. First woman in space (almost 20 years before NASA thought that Sally Ride had the Right Stuff - maybe more than 20 years now I think about it.)

All that was after Sputnik. The first artificial satellite.

Until the Apollo program, they made the Americans look like a bunch of Johnny-Come-Lately.

And the space shuttle was a "classic car" almost before it was first sent into space. It relied on reel-to-reel tapes for one system of data recording. NASA was reduced to buying some on eBay for parts.

Roberta X said...

My characterization of the Rissuan space program? You may have misread my intent. I admire 'em -- but the basic Soyuz capsule and booster *is* 1950s tech, steadily improved: evolution rather than sudden change. They have kept what works, while NASA suffers clean-slate-fever/Not Invented Here Syndrome with every new vehicle and pays a high price for it, too.

Joseph said...

Cthulhu? I thought that was Squidward.