July 7th, 2006
The best news I've received in a bit. There's three more shuttle missions planned after this one!
The worst news I've received in a bit. NASA's replacement for the shuttle isn't a reusable space vehicle. It's a reimplementation of a Saturn V rocket. That's looks a lot like one giant leap backwards to me.
I don't think NASA quite understands me. I want to know more about space and Mars, but more importantly, I want to move there.
This new design is apparently NASA's answer to Columbia. What do you do when your space vehicle apparently fails because it's been used numerous times? You implement one that you have to remake every mission. It sounds a lot more safe to me. My bet is, this design will be used until they perfect (and I mean perfect... they can't afford another incident like Columbia anytime soon, so they're gonna take their bloody time) a new "reusable space vehicle", probably around 2020 or 2030. You may want to move to the moon or Mars, but you have to wait until NASA is ready as well. :)
With respect to maintenance issues, I'm not sure that rebuilding one for each mission is the right thing to do either. After all, Challenger's right side SRB was subject to basic maintenance prior to deployment at the pad.
There's a great quote from Lindburgh about why he chose a single engine for the Spirit of St. Louis instead of two (which virtually every other attempt had gone with). He mentioned that there was one fewer engine to go wrong. There's a little nugget of truth there.
Despite all the flak it has taken, it ultimately wasn't the shuttle which failed its crews -- it was management. Foam strikes of the sort that killed Columbia were well known. The temperature ranges of the O-ring in Challenger's right SRB were known. In both cases, engineers objected to the flight and were overruled by management. In fact, Columbia was probably survivable.
The same thing occurred to one of our Mars missions as you may recall.
And it's not as though our age of rocket flight wasn't without its mishaps. Consider Apollo 1 and 13.
x prize has clearly shown the nasa folks that it isnt feasible for them to try to engineer a new reusable vheicle .. I beleive they are going to a safe fallback position and waiting for the new commertial and other country development for a while ..
They still have the corner on teh facilities so I bet they will liscense the use of the facilities and manpower once the commercial ventures produce something safe and reusable ..
you think ?
I'm not sure I agree. The X Prize has shown that a commercial reusable space vehicle can be made and operated. In all probability, this would lead to cost of operation and maintenance going down, but I don't believe that's been shown as much as it's been hoped.
Of course, NASA's known the Shuttle wasn't the complete answer for a long time. I recall people talking about the next generation NASA reusable space vehicle as far back as 1988.
I certainly hope they'll make efforts to license use of their facilities, although I think that ultimately, the security clearances which will probably required to operate the facilities would hamstring effective commercial use. Having to work in a classified environment has the potential to be a real drag.
If you move to space, you will probably have less space for all your stuff, at least for the near future. But then, the sky will always be clear. Hmmm .. you could put the old computers outside if there isn't any space in your cabin - I wonder of all those old computers will work in the vacuum on the Moon? For one thing, there won't be any air to cool them with. And temperatures fluctuate wildly. :)
Not a chance in hell that they'd work outside. For one thing, one would have to equalize pressures. Any sealed component would be in danger. For another, there's a much larger amount of background radiation to foul things up. Especially since the moon's atmosphere consists of captured solar winds and gases released from the core (radon, for example).
Anyway -- I could fit all those into my room at the Armory. I'm confident that I can fit it all into my residence on the Moon.