Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Monday, December 14, 2015

53 Years Ago

Mariner 2 did its fly-by past Venus.

There are fewer and fewer people who can remember the days when all humanity could do was to look out at the cosmos and wonder what was out there.


w3ski said...

My take from this is that we had working solar panel tech. that far back. I guess oil was a 'forever' thing back then but why has it taken 50 plus years to get solar tech to "the people"?

Comrade Misfit said...

Not doing any research, I'll bet that the cost of solar panels in 1961 was north of $1,000/watt in `61 dollars. These days, it's below a buck a watt in today's money.

CenterPuke88 said...

Best data I can find:

Mariner series costs $554 million for 10 units.

Mariner 2, maximum watt output during encounter (Venus) was 270 (wiki says 220, but NASA/JPL data from 1971 says 270) from one of two panels (the second, slightly smaller, panel failed completely about 2.5 months into the mission). Pre-mission testing provided a peak output of just 200 watts, but the data was not clear if that was just the one panel, or both, at that time. The peak encounter wattage was from a single panel of roughly 1.39 sq/m. This remaining panel was able to supply enough power to keep all the scientific instruments running at that time due to proximity to the sun. Total panel size was 2.69 sq/m, with an efficiency of 5.5%.

Since Mariner 2 was the second of ten units, all with similar construction, but the later units bearing improvements, we can ballpark the cost around $35-40 million. However, these costs include hardware and launch, so there is no way to figure the cost per watt...but I suspect that Comrades estimate (with a resulting "cost" of about $200,000) is low. Correcting via CPI, 1962's $200,000 is about $1.6 million today.

CenterPuke88 said...

Re-read, missed the "north of", apologies Comrade. Also slipped and used '62 vice '61.

Cowpoc said...

To answer w3ski's excellent question:
Two words. "Semiconductor processing". More words: the processification at large volume of silicon wafer manufacture is the cost driver. --wb4irp