Saturday, February 06, 2010

Too Good Not To Quote

"Obama lied. NASA died!" --Slogan on signs waved outside Kennedy Space Center.

Tam has recently made much of asking wottinell a limited government is doing in the space exploration biz and it's a good point. Better'n good, actually (Though were the Feds doing orbital-slot grants, we might see some huckster buildin' a railroad... Not gonna happen like that: Feds drank the UN Koolade). Still, I'm sorry enough to see the agency that put men on the moon -- and made it look so routine, people got bored with it (Bored with it?!) -- get shoved out of puttin' people in orbit that I'll happily post a link to a story like this.

For the near future of U. S. orbital spaceflight I'm bettin' on SpaceX's Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 booster. They already have a deal with NASA to make unmanned supply flights to ISS -- which will also be a proving ground for the manned version. I will not be surprised at all if Blue Origin or one of the other low-key outfits pops up one day with a big surprise for us, too.


D.W. Drang said...

SpaceX--any relation? ;-)

Blue Origin, hooray! They're local, one of their guys was in my CERT class. (The only "civilian" among the four of us whom all other classmates tried to get on thier teams during drills...)
All the firefighters know them, "Ooooh, you guys have some exotic hazmat..."

Roberta X said...

Yep, Jeff Bezo's gang has the good hydrogen peroxide, among other things. Kinda ouchy.

SpaceX: my third cousins, twice removed. Keep comin' back, they do.

reflectoscope said...

Think how much they could save on shipping hydrogen peroxide to drug stores if they would refrain from putting all that water into it........


D.W. said...

I agree with you that it's sad to see the proud NASA manned spaceflight traditions go by the wayside, but even those folks knew that it would be commercial ventures that would take us off the Earth for good. Personally, my money's on Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites or SpaceX to take the lead.

However, I would like to see NASA sell the shuttle orbiters to USA or one of the other contractors (or how about UPS?) so that they can put them to commercial use instead of parking them in museums. They've each got lots of life left to them, they'd make excellent advertising space (much like NASCAR vehicles) and by reducing overhead through the elimination of bureaucracy it might even make the things finally profitable.

wv: untera
What you do when you travel into space!

Roberta X said...

I don't think the Shuttle is reliable or safe enough to work as a commercial vehicle, let alone cost-efficient. Construction is spread across the continental US! I was fascinated by Richard Feynman's account of finding a huge disparity between engineering failure estimates for the solid-fuel boosters (1 in 200) and their boss's (one in 20,000 and up!), wondering if this was typical of the project, and discovering the exact same situation for the main liquid-fueled engines, with the boots-on-the-ground engineers saying 1 in 200 and their managers upstairs claiming 1 in 20,000. There was too much underfunded, ground-up engineering in that that thing; it looks impressive but it's not a good design.

The basic concept is a good one; it was a good idea when von Braun was pushing it in the 1950s. But I don't think the Shuttle is a good implementation.