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Best Practice Makes Perfect

A collaboration with Domino developers about how to do it and how to get it right in Domino

(*Year of our Moon Landing)

40 years ago today, a human first set foot on the moon.

Between the time President Kennedy proposed going to the moon, and the first landing, less than nine years elapsed.

Now NASA is proposing to go back to the moon, and if all goes well, we could be back there by 2020.

Hello? It takes longer to repeat what we already did than it took to do it in the first place?

I take this as a sign of how bloated, regulation-ridden and less nimble the government has become in the last 50 years. Nothing as important as the exploration and exploitation of space should be left in their hands. If they want to encourage it to happen, they should establish a prize for it. Someone will figure out a way to get that prize, and make money on the project besides.

Andre Guirard | 20 July 2009 09:06:43 AM ET | Home, Plymouth, MN, USA | Comments (5)


1) While it would be really cool to go back to the moon...
Elijah Lapson | 7/20/2009 10:43:06 AM

It would be cooler to discover something new in space start appropriate patriotic music here). I would think that space research funds would be much better spent on "unmanned" space exploration. Much easier to design probes without the weight of equipment neccesary to sustain human life.

The time it will take to get back to the moon does not bother me so much as the end result. For all the effort and expense is the new data (about the moon) really going to be more interesting/useful than what could be gleaned from deeper space exploration?


2) Something to consider.
Brian Miller | 7/20/2009 10:50:48 AM

When we went to the moon back then, we really cut a lot of corners to get there. We played fast and loose with engineering and safety rules, because we were in a rush to get it done, with the materials we had. We took huge risks peoples' lives. That cut the timeline down.

Ever since the space shuttle Challenger exploded, we've been far more risk-averse as a nation when it comes to space travel. Now, no one wants to send people into space unless everything is super-redundant, triple-checked, and as failure-proof as we can get it. So, we take more time in developing and preparing for space flight.

So, when you're comparing the Apollo program to NASA 2009, you're really not comparing apples and oranges anymore. If we wanted to throw together a rocket that mimics what we had in 1968, sure - we could do that in probably 5 years. If we want to build a vehicle that's safe to use, and even re-use, you're looking at something totally different. I don't disagree that perhaps we could do it faster if we wanted to put the resources into it. But, to constrain it by saying that we did it in nine years in the '60s? I think that's unfair, and it doesn't give the matter the intellectual treatment it deserves.

3) That’s right
Thomas | 7/20/2009 1:45:25 PM

Brian is right that Apollo cut a lot of corners. It was very lucky more people weren't killed. For example the oxygen tank wiring got all screwed up and no one noticed. And that's on top of the questionable decision to locate all the tanks together. And then there is the decision to use very difficult-to-handle, very dangerous liquid hydrogen instead of the comparatively safe kerosene, and so on.

It is also correct to say that a direct comparison between Apollo and Mars exploration is unfair. It's a very different set of challenges.

Charles Lindbergh flew the Atlantic for prize money. His first stop after returning to New York was St Louis where he reported to his backers so they could claim the prize. Such prizes were common in the early 20th century, and a great deal of aeronautical progress resulted from them.

4) What’s really changed today?
Ian Randall | 7/21/2009 1:08:11 AM

Last year I attended a conference and a project manager from NASA gave one of the presentations. He admitted that NASA had resorted to purchasing replacement micro processors on eBay for the Space Shuttles today, because they can no longer be supplied by Intel.

Anyone out there got some spare Intel 8080 processors and a backup CPM or DOS diskette?

NASA might be more risk averse than before the two shuttle disasters, but the basic computer technology currently in use on the Space Shuttle program today was what was available in 1974.

I guess the same thing will happen when NASA start building the next generation of Mars and Luna rockets and landers.

I also wonder if in the future whether Startrek's "Enterprise" will be built that way?

KIRK: "Beam me up Scotty",

SCOTTY" OK Skipper", then presses Shift+Ctrl+Delete keys.

5) And my 2 cents
Rob Goudvis | 7/21/2009 10:28:55 AM

When an adventure is at hand, it has no meaning to talk about money and other resources. Of course, an unmanned spacecraft is cheaper and has less risks than a manned version. But there will always be those dearing adventures that go for the adventure and do not mind economics, nor safety or even commmon sense.

If we would have looked in the past for safe issues and things that could not fail, we would not be where we are today. So there would be no computers, no cars, no aeroplains, no airbags, no PDA's, yes not even Lotus Notes. You could argue that we could very well do without a few of those mentioned things (cars, aeroplains, and perhaps Lotus Notes).

I believe that it is part of men's nature to look for the unknown and not for a economic solution.

And what about the side effects? Teflon, mobile phones, radar, computers, fiber optics, project management, etc. Many of these would not have evolved as far as they have done now, when it wasn't for programs like the space-program. In some cases the development was intitated because of a threathing enemy. I am not in favor of a war, but when the pressure is at its highest, people come with the best ideas.

Why do we fight in Afghanistan? To fight the Taliban? Or Al-Quida? Why should we care? Ok, it is not the best place to live, but we let the people in parts of Africa also on their own. So why bother about Afghanistan? To reduce the risk of another Twin Towers? But why do we nothing (or at least not enough) to limit the number of people that get killed in car accidents? That number is much larger (and repeated very year) than the number of victims in New York.

Think also about a few recent administrations, in any real democratic country with free elections. How was it possible that they were elected?

So, please do not come with "logical" arguments. For some reason people cannot think logically nor can they make objective decisions.

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