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X-Prize Competition Live Streaming Video Today
Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:39 pm
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You might have heard of the X-Prize competition, which awarded at $10 million prize to Spaceship One for being the first commercially developed rocket to reach orbital altitude twice within a limited period of time.

The X-Prize foundation continues its fun with a NASA-sponsored competition to demonstrate a privately developed lunar lander.

You can watch the streaming video live NOW.

Either point Windows Media Player at http://wm-live.world.mii-streaming.net/live/space/pull1

Or go here on the web: http://www.space.com/xprizecup/video/streaming.php

Credit where credit is due: In addition to NASA, funding for this competition is provided by [http://www.wirefly.com/]Wirefly[/url] (cell phone retailers) and Northrop Grumman (aerospace company who built the first lunar lander).

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Ghostman
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:46 pm
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And I heard rumors that the NASA wasn't going to release more videos...

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Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:49 pm
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If you watch the video, you'll see a lot of Phil West, whom I'm beginning to think of as the New Voice of NASA.


Phil West at the X-Prize Competition in Las Cruces, New Mexico
That's the Armadillo Team's lunar lander in the background.
Not the greatest picture of Phil. That's the hazard of doing a vidcap in real time.


Phil keeps showing up in NASA public videos. Some time ago I worked with him in the EVA world, where he was mostly doing space suits. In the time since then, he seems have become Mr. Hollywood from the Johnson Space Center!

If the Armadillo Team's lunar lander flies today, they'll get the $350,000 NASA-sponsored prize. They have two-and-a-half-hour window in which to complete the flight, starting about a half hour ago.

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Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:57 pm
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There seems to be sort of a carnival atmosphere in the desert near Las Cruces today. It's a dramatically different environment from the time we ventured out to White Sands to watch the DC-X fly!


X-Prize Grounds October 20, 2006

They just tried a static live firing of the engines, but they had the camera pointed in the wrong place! Rolling on the Floor Laughing

It's a learning experience for everyone, y'see.

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Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:11 pm
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This has turned out to be quite an exhibition! Retired Shuttle astronaut John Harrington is one of the judges.


Shuttle Astronaut John Harrington

They just had an F-117 stealth fighter fly over. That was pretty neat. Big airplane. Very quiet. Totally ugly.

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Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:23 pm
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ghostman wrote:
And I heard rumors that the NASA wasn't going to release more videos...


*blink* I don't understand that rumor. It might just be something someone made up. NASA is increasingly pushing toward communicating with the public and commercialization of space operations.

That's one of the primary reasons that President Bush fired the former administrator, Dan Goldin. Goldin was openly and actively hostile toward private enterprise in space. (Goldin had a lot of other problems, such as letting the agency run open loop and ignoring its mission while he pushed for his favorite social causes.)

The current NASA administrator, and especially the Associate Administrator for NASA's Exploration Office (that would be former astronaut Scott "Doc" Horowitz), enthusiastically support private space development.

While watching the X-Prize coverage I've noted that they understand something that the NASA Public Affairs Office doesn't seem to get: Adults want educational programs about space development and space travel. NASA's PAO focuses almost entirely on very young children.

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Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:30 pm
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Astroanut Mike Foale was telling stories about when he was aboard the Mir when the Progress resupply vehicle collided with it.


Astronaut Mike Foale at X-Prize competition in Las Cruces, October 20, 2006

The Mir started leaking air very fast and they were expecting to have to abandon ship, but they were able to clear the critical hatchway and get it closed (using a kitchen knife to cut straps holding ventilation ducts and wire harnesses) in time to seal off the damaged module.

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miros1
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:44 pm
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Greg wrote:
While watching the X-Prize coverage I've noted that they understand something that the NASA Public Affairs Office doesn't seem to get: Adults want educational programs about space development and space travel. NASA's PAO focuses almost entirely on very young children.


Are you saying NASA didn't do a good job brainwashing you as a young child? wink

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Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:08 pm
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miros1 wrote:
Greg wrote:
While watching the X-Prize coverage I've noted that they understand something that the NASA Public Affairs Office doesn't seem to get: Adults want educational programs about space development and space travel. NASA's PAO focuses almost entirely on very young children.


Are you saying NASA didn't do a good job brainwashing you as a young child? wink


They did an outstanding job of brainwashing me as a child! lol

I think they were more effective back then. Today they're just part of the barrage, and they've dumbed down the message to the point of being boring.

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miros1
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:10 pm
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Yeah, kids today are smarter than we were, or would be if they weren't treated like morons!

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Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:26 pm
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I wouldn't say they're smarter, but they're definitely more sophisticated in some areas. On the other hand, on the average they seem to be much more gullible, prone to buy into fads and cults; or (more likely) maybe that's just the impression I get from watching the television news.

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miros1
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 6:25 pm
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Well, I've taken a college course more recently than you have... And this is my take...

When I was in college (back when the dinosaurs cowered against the mountains in fear of enroaching glaciers) learning to write code, we got the assignment, the relevant equations, and except for clarifications, minimal help. It meant you had to figure out all the other stuff. It also meant you effing learned!

Now they get about 90% of the project spoon fed to them and the other 10% is pretty trivial.

Example: I audited a UI course. For one of the big projects, you had to simulate shuffling cards. None of the students had the slightest clue where to even start! So the professor had mercy on them and spent class time explaining how to simulate shuffling cards, justifying it as "this is a UI course, not an algorithm development course." His solution was much more elegant than the ones I knew... but the ones I knew, I figured out myself 20 years ago!

Ok, times have changed; you don't have to write a game before you can play it... but the next Tetris won't be created by one of the students intending to become a coder/programmer/engineer -- the initial flash of insight will come from someone else, probably an artist or psychologist, who then asks the coder/programmer/engineer to write it.

Maybe this is New Math meets Software Development?

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Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:33 pm
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Now that you mention it, it has been a long time since I took a college course. I think the last course I took was one in Industrial Engineering at the University of Houston around 1984.

I also took a course in Computer Graphics at the same time. All we had was a graphics-compatible terminal, an account on the minicomputer it was attached to, a Fortran compiler, and an EMACS editor. The assignment was to write a program that would display a 3D image, wireframe with hidden line removal, of a Land Rover. (I did a pickup truck instead because it was more graphically interesting.)

We did get a lot of help with the math. The prof explained the transformations and showed us how to set up the transformation matrices. Then I showed him how much faster the routine would run if you worked out the algebra for the transformation matrices by hand and programmed that instead of using a matrix multiply routine. That was the oogenesis of the Silicon Graphics geometry engines, which became the video cards we enjoy today.

I didn't get the tailgate modeled in time but still aced the course. I didn't know it at the time but in the process of writing the code I invented routines for scalable, deformable primitive solids and revolved surfaces.

That was right in the middle of writing the proposals for the Phase B space station contract. I was stuck out in California, and was calling the university's computer at 300 baud on my TRS-80 Model 100 from my hotel room in Long Beach via a telephone line to the McDonnell Douglas computer in Huntington Beach, then through the company net to the MDC computer in Houston, and finally out through its modem to the university machine.

God bless the Internet! Rolling on the Floor Laughing

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miros1
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:52 pm
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I suspect there was a math pre-requisite for that class tho... even with explanations, matrix manipulation of that order requires knowledge of linear algebra. I admit it... I took linear algebra in 1980. I have a horrible suspicion I vaguely remember more of that class than a lot of the class of 2007 currently knows.

Admittedly, SBU is not known as a math school. Journalism, MBA and basketball, yes, math, no.

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Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:06 pm
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Hmm... yeah, it was a graduate-level course and I did take a course in linear algebra while pursuing my bachelor's degree.

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X-Prize Competition Live Streaming Video Today
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