Archive for March 6th, 2011


Need a Sig Line?

March 6, 2011

I found these on the Starship Modeler discussion board…posted by somebody who had them saved since 2003. They may be possibly attributed to Steven Wright. They are still pretty good:

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the

I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Borrow money from pessimists – they don’t expect it back.

Half the people you know are below average.

99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.

All those who believe in psychokinesis, raise my hand.

I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.

OK, so what’s the speed of dark?

How do you tell when you’re out of invisible ink?

If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked

Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.

Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now.

I intend to live forever – so far, so good.

If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.

What happens if you get scared half to death twice?

My mechanic told me, “I couldn’t repair your brakes, so I made your
horn louder.”

Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?

If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.

The colder the X-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.

Everyone has a photographic memory, some just don’t have film.


What’s the problem with Orbital?

March 6, 2011

Orbital Sciences' Taurus

Orbital Sciences can’t get a frackin’ break. The second major failure of a satellite launch using its Taurus launch vehicle occurred last Friday, when the payload shroud apparently refused to jettison and the upper stage, Glory satellite and shroud fell back into the Pacific. The launch was from Vandenberg AFB and the Glory satellite was a NASA research item, designed to measure atmospheric aerosols. This launch followed a failure in 2009, caused by a similar shroud deployment problem. The two launches, with satellites, cost NASA about $ 700 million together.

The Taurus is a bit of an odd duck. It’s a four-stage solid booster, with the solids built by ATK, and leveraged from the Peacekeeper¬† and Minuteman antisatellite missile technology. Orbital has been involved in reusing military launch hardware for over 15 years. They are also involved in missile design and construction, as well as civilian satellite construction.

Prior to these two back-to-back failures the Taurus had a pretty good success rate, but the number of actual launches over the last fifteen years was relatively small. There are not enough data points to tell if it’s a systemic quality control issue or not, apparently. The descriptions I read were that the Orbital folks were pretty knocked back by this…they thought they had the shroud issue resolved.

In a couple of previous posts I talked about the actual amount of money NASA has to spend. If this was a $ 350 million project, completely lost, that’s a substantial amount of money that could have been spent in other places or with launchers that were considered more reliable, like an Atlas or Delta. Why Orbital? I’m all for civilian competition, you know that if you’ve read any of my posts, but if you dig through what Orbital does, they are a military contractor with a civilian arm. On the other hand, SpaceX, which has no connections to the military, has to jump through hoop after hoop to even get to launch from within the continental US.

Does that sound right to you? If SpaceX had lost two $ 250 million satellites for NASA, would they go back to them next time?

We’ll see.