I am no longer posting new puzzles to this blog. For all of my Sudoku puzzles, old and new, please visit Sudoku in another section of this website. I will still create and offer new puzzles, in batches of a couple of hundred, once a week or so.

Sudoku #35

Category: Sudoku
Fri, 29 Jul 2005, 16:21

Well, it looks like the Space Shuttle fleet is grounded again. During the launch of Discovery earlier this week, cameras detected a piece of foam insulation falling off its external tank. NASA engineers want to study the problem further before letting another shuttle fly.

This only confirms my paranoid suspicions about NASA's manned spaceflight program. NASA and its aerospace contractors have little interest in putting men into space. The aerospace industry is quite happy to accept government contracts to study, design, and even build prototypes. But when it comes to actually putting people into space, they run the risk of astronauts getting killed. And nothing affects access to the pork barrel as much as bad press from crashes.

By any credible quantitative measure, NASA's shuttle program has been a big failure. It was supposed to bring the cost of spaceflight down substantially. However, with a cost of at least half a billion dollars a flight, it's been anything but affordable. Sure, it's given us some spectacular images, but for cost-effective access to space, nothing beats unmanned rockets and satellites. Consider the Hubble telescope. For the cost of the five shuttle missions devoted to Hubble, NASA could have built and launched at least two replacement telescopes!

Now then, I'm not against the idea of men in space. I just think NASA needs to better define its role in that endeavor. Is NASA a research and development organization? Or is its goal putting men and cargo into space? These two goals are contradictory. If NASA is to be an R&D company, that's fine. We need an organization that's willing to invest in research, pushing technology to its limits. But a space transportation company has other needs. If the goal is to put things and people into space, a company needs to do so in the most reliable and cost-effective manner possible. And that often means staying away from bleeding-edge technology.

Back on Earth, as I promised a couple of days ago, here's another puzzle with mirror symmetry. In this one, there are three blank groups intersecting at the lower right.


3   1
3 5  
7   8
  4 9
5 6  

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