NASA Spends 72 Cents of Every SLS Dollar On Overhead Costs, Says Report

A new report published by the nonpartisan think tank Center for a New American Security shows us where a lot of NASA’s money is being spent. The space agency has reportedly spent $ 19 billion on rockets — first on Ares I and V, and now on the Space Launch System rocket — and $ 13.9 billion on the Orion spacecraft. If all goes according to plan and NASA is able to fly its first crewed mission with the new vehicles in 2021, “the report estimates the agency will have spent $ 43 billion before that first flight, essentially a reprise of the Apollo 8 mission around the Moon,” reports Ars Technica. “Just the development effort for SLS and Orion, which includes none of the expenses related to in-space activities or landing anywhere, are already nearly half that of the Apollo program.” From the report: The new report argues that, given these high costs, NASA should turn over the construction of rockets and spacecraft to the private sector. It buttresses this argument with a remarkable claim about the “overhead” costs associated with the NASA-led programs. These costs entail the administration, management, and development costs paid directly to the space agency — rather than funds spend on contractors actually building the space hardware. For Orion, according to the report, approximately 56 percent of the program’s cost, has gone to NASA instead of the main contractor, Lockheed Martin, and others. For the SLS rocket and its predecessors, the estimated fraction of NASA-related costs is higher — 72 percent. This means that only about $ 7 billion of the rocket’s $ 19 billion has gone to the private sector companies, Boeing, Orbital ATK, Aeroject Rocketdyne, and others cutting metal. By comparison the report also estimates NASA’s overhead costs for the commercial cargo and crew programs, in which SpaceX, Boeing, and Orbital ATK are developing and providing cargo and astronaut delivery systems for the International Space Station. With these programs, NASA has ceded some control to the private companies, allowing them to retain ownership of the vehicles and design them with other customers in mind as well. With such fixed-price contracts, the NASA overhead costs for these programs is just 14 percent, the report finds.

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French Banks Offer Credit Card Numbers That Change Every Hour

Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes The Memo:
What if the numbers on your card changed every hour so that, even if a fraudster copied them, they’d quickly be out of date? That’s exactly what two French banks are starting to do with their new high-tech ebank cards… The three digits on the back of this card will change, every hour, for three years. And after they change, the previous three digits are essentially worthless, and that’s a huge blow for criminals… As most fraud happens a few hours or days after your card details are actually taken, this would leave criminals essentially with a bunch of useless numbers.

It’s just like credit cards you have now — other than the tiny digital screen that’s embedded into the back of the card.

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Nearly Every Seabird May Be Eating Plastic By 2050

sciencehabit writes: According to a new study almost every ocean-foraging species of birds may be eating plastic by 2050. In the five large ocean areas known as “garbage patches,” each square kilometer of surface water holds almost 600,000 pieces of debris. Sciencemag reports: “By 2050, about 99.8% of the species studied will have eaten plastic, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Consuming plastic can cause myriad problems, Wilcox says. For example, some types of plastics absorb and concentrate environmental pollutants, he notes. After ingestion, those chemicals can be released into the birds’ digestive tracts, along with chemicals in the plastics that keep them soft and pliable. But plastic bits aren’t always pliable enough to get through a gull’s gut. Most birds have trouble passing large bits of plastic, and they build up in the stomach, sometimes taking up so much room that the birds can’t consume enough food to stay healthy.”

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Tesla Suffering Cash Flow Issues; Every Model S Means a $4,000 Loss

An anonymous reader writes: The latest reports from Tesla show a trend of missing positive cash flow targets. Despite previous guidance to the contrary, Tesla is losing more than $ 4000 per car in operating margin and no sign of near term improvement as they are now reducing their production targets at a time when they are also experiencing pricing pressure. A scan of articles published today on this news reveals a common opinion that Tesla will need to raise more capital soon.

A small slice of the Reuters report linked: Tesla has signaled capital spending will drop next year because the company won’t be spending on a major vehicle launch. In 2017, Tesla plans to launch its Model 3 line, which the company says will start at about $ 35,000 and push total sales toward the goal of 500,000 vehicles a year by 2020.

Barclays analyst Brian Johnson disagreed with the company’s estimates, and said he expects Tesla’s capital spending will go up in 2016 and 2017 as the company ramps up its battery factory and Model 3 development. “Their small scale means the cash generation is not as great as they might have hoped for,” he said.

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In Windows 10, Ad-Free Solitaire Will Cost You $10 — Every Year

Wired UK reports that the pre-installed Solitaire on Windows 10 capitalizes on the long-cultivated addiction that some users have to the game with an interesting bargain: rather than being an ordinary included application like it used to be, what may be the world’s most pervasive on-screen office time-sink of a game now comes with ads, unless a user wants to pay (by the month, or by the year) to remove those ads. Notes the linked piece: “To be entirely fair, this is the same as on the Windows 8 version, which wasn’t installed by default but could be downloaded from the Windows Store.”

At $ 1.49/month or $ 10/year, this might be enough to drive some people who otherwise would not to check out some of the free, open-source games out there; PySolitaire is one of many in this incomplete list.

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The Price Of A Beer At Every Major League Baseball Stadium

A day or evening at the ballpark offers up a few hours of outdoor fun, and of course an opportunity to have more than a beer or two. But washing down those pretzels, peanuts, and hot dogs is going to cost you quite a bit. How much?
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