Friday, November 25, 2005

What do Ronald Reagan and Mark Hamill have in common?

Both are bad actors and played a leading role in Star Wars.

Pop Quiz: Which one was president?

So with a day to kill (since the launched was pushed a day), I decided to spend time finding out what the hell that thing is above the SpaceX headquarters. Remember the picture, from the first post:

SpaceX Headquarters

View from the other side

To give you an idea of how big this structure is, imagine a football stadium. It's huge. It's probably 20 stories high. And it's scary looking.

So I asked a few folks around what the hell this thing once did. There answer (I'm not kidding here): it was used as a target for laser beams from space. It had Giant Frickin' Laazzzzeeerrrr beams shooting at it from satellites in space. Dr. Evil, are you listening?

These laser beams would be powerful enough to take out an ICBM heading towards the mainland. The idea, I guess, was to test the accuracy and power of these lasers.

The inspiration: Luke using "laaaazzzzers" to blow away incoming

Turns out, that was harder than it sounded. And more expensive. And harder. Did I say harder? In the end it was determined that in order to get the level of power you would need to make such a laser, you would have harness the energy from an atomic bomb each time you shot one laser.

Really, really hard.

Ever tried surfing? It's also hard.

Although I've never tried it, I hear this is also pretty hard to do.

The Star Wars laser system was even harder.

Turns out, even if we did figure it out, we would need an enormous number of these things to counter a major offensive. We could ask nicely for the enemy to send one missile at a time, but it's unlikely they would accommodate us.

The Star Wars Building from far, far away

So in the end, they stopped the program and focused on good old-fashioned missiles. Also really hard to make work, but not as hard, and missiles are cooler. And you get to see them up close and go "oooohhh..."


The launch is now less than 24 hours away. All final preparations are in place and pre-launch activity is done.

Now I'm going scuba diving.



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