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Space Shuttle Retirement

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March 16, 2011 6:56:46 PM

Any thoughts on the impending retirement of the space shuttle fleet? What did you think of the program as a whole throughout the years? Any ideas on what the next generation of space flight vehicles should be?

Like a lot of Americans and perhaps many around the world, I've always been a fan of the space shuttle program at NASA. It has shown us that regular travels into space are very possible and we can do so using reusable vehicles. With the end of the program looming there has been a revival of the nostalgia that first surrounded the program in 1981 when Columbia first lifted off. I've heard that more than a million people are expected near the Kennedy Space Center when Atlantis lifts off on the last shuttle mission in June. I'd personally like to go and see it, as I've never witnessed a launch in person. It's a shame that the shuttles are being retired, but it is time, as they are aging and getting more and more expensive to maintain.

Of course, there have been a few downs over the years, namely the Challenger and Columbia disasters. Sadly, I think that is what most will remember about the shuttle program, but I won't. It's a dangerous thing to strap your butt to a rocket full of liquid hydrogen and oxygen and lighting a match, not to mention coming back into Earth's atmosphere at break neck speeds. It was a shame that we lost two crews, but they did not die in vain, that is for sure. Otherwise, Endeavor, Discovery, and Atlantis performed well and hopefully Endeavor and Atlantis will on their lasts missions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle

In regard to the future, I'm not so keen on going back to the capsule like space craft that were used during the Apollo missions and such. The idea, while proven, seems dated and wasteful. I'd personally like to see a new generation of spacecraft that could be used to go to the moon or just into orbit around Earth. Perhaps something with engines/rockets that can be angled vertically like on some of the fighter jets so that they can land like a helicopter on basically any surface. Of course, such an idea may not be feasable from an engineering standpoint or financially, but it is a start.

Regardless of the danger involved, I've always wanted to hop aboard one of the shuttles, as it looks like one heck of a ride. :D 

In the meantime, it looks like until 2015, astronauts will be flying to the space station in Russian Soyuz capsules:
http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/europe/news/arti...

On a side note, did you know that the Russians (Soviets) had a space shuttle program? Indeed, they had a few models at various stages of completion when the USSR fell and even one of them flew into space, but without anyone abaord. The video below is of the Buran space shuttle launching and landing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buran_(spacecraft)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql2spMZyKo0&feature=rela... (launch-landing videos)
March 16, 2011 10:43:04 PM

I think it is a really pity that the shuttles are being retired.

I understand the economic costs so perhaps the program can be expanded so the costs are met internationally ... this is NASA becomes a global conglomerate.

Space travel is bigger than one country.

I'd be happy to chip in $50 a year ...
March 17, 2011 2:47:16 AM

I feel a ton of money was wasted on that program. I think it retarded the development of man kind to already having bases on the moon to even further manned missions perhaps to Mars already. Gotta get the military out of this or we'll never get anywhere.
The first shuttle that blew up after lift off. In my heart and head I knew something bad was going to happen for the simple fact that a civilian was on board. Never hear talk about that anymore do you ?
Can't help it but I just find it hard to trust.............. say what you will. From the early 70's til now......... WTF have "we" accomplished ?
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April 5, 2011 4:26:28 AM

With the second to last mission coming up in a few weeks with Endeavor (hopefully), I found the very first shuttle launch from April 12, 1981 (skip to 4:50 for the good stuff):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt6Bt1pZ4Is&feature=rela...

Obviously, the camera views and quality have gotten much better since then:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsJpUCWfyPE&feature=rela...

I saw that NASA was basically trying to give away the main engines of the shuttles, but decided to keep them. I'd have taken one and rigged it to my car, as I need 400K lbs+ of thrust to get from point A to point B. ;) 
Anonymous
April 5, 2011 11:21:38 AM

I would prefer all the money spent on "SPACE EXPLORATION" be spent on helping lift people out of poverty and researching a better form of power!

Lets get our own planet sorted before worrying about leaving this one!
April 5, 2011 3:26:18 PM

I hear the chinese want to buy a couple of the shuttles ...
April 5, 2011 5:35:06 PM

Personally, I think more of the space budget should go toward establishing orbital colonies. Think International space station x100. Once we get that mastered, then we can begin working on Lunar colonies, then onto Mars.

We need to establish a sort of "Ark" in case the planet is truly threatened by something from the cosmos.
Anonymous
April 5, 2011 6:05:26 PM

Oldmangamer_73 said:


We need to establish a sort of "Ark" in case the planet is truly threatened by something from the cosmos.


No we dont! Life will continue to evolve in its own way long after our bodies are gone from earth!
April 5, 2011 6:27:29 PM

I should have clarified and specified "human life". We need a viable gene pool stored off planet. A DNA bank if you will.
April 5, 2011 9:03:00 PM

IIRC it was the famous Arthur C. Clarke (author of 2001: A Space Odyssey and one of the top 5 scifi authors of all time, IMO) who first suggested the space plane concept. But his idea was to launch it from a much larger carrier plane that would carry it up to the exosphere, not use rockets to punch through the atmosphere. To me that makes eminent sense because the carrier plane coudl use conventional jet engines, and probably RAM or SCRAMjet engines as well to achieve the required velocity and altitude. Of course the shuttle itself would still require rocket engines but the external fuel tank could have been much smaller since all the work to achieve suborbital status could be done by the carrier plane, and just the final push provided by the shuttle itself.

AFAIK it was Werner Von Braun who nixed that concept - he was for huge rockets, the bigger the better. For example, the Apollo 11 moon landing could have been accomplished earlier that July 20, 1969 if NASA had gone with using several Saturn 1 rockets using the J-1 engine, and docking the pieces together in Earth orbit prior to the lunar burn, instead of using one massive rocket with 5 of them bulked together (i.e., the Saturn 5 rocket). After all, the Earth-orbit docking technology was a skill learned in the Gemini missions prior to Apollo where the 2-man capsule would chase and then dock with a target vehicle launched by another rocket. But that would have lacked the supreme drama and earth-shaking roar that the Saturn 5 generated. IIRC it was the late Walter Cronkite who said nothing, including the space shuttle, ever matched the Saturn 5 liftoff, and impressing the boys from Congress is the surest way to get the big budgets..

Clarke is also credited with the idea of communications satellites (circa 1948 IIRC) and some other advances. A man far ahead of his time it seems..
April 5, 2011 11:05:27 PM

Thanks to the Shuttle program we were able to find unique low level vertebrate forms of life like this. Maybe that was found during the Apollo Moon missions of the 60's or possibly on the streets of London or New York in the 80's I've forgotten. It was in that movie where Sigourrney Weaver was dresssed in only her Sigourmey mask and Sigourmey underpants. Lance Armstrong was in it and the guy from toy story too. Buzz. :love:  Ziggy Weaver in that Space Shuttle documentary film Aliens.





April 6, 2011 12:53:10 PM

I am excluding you all from the "viable" gene pool for the purpose of this exercise.

No insult intended ... i just wanted the best people.

Looks like it is just me, Buwish, Elvis, and 50,000 women.

I picked Elvis and Buwish so I'd look good.
April 6, 2011 10:26:26 PM

Well, badge should be able to come along as well. We need to sure up the population from a genetics standpoint, the more the merrier.

I think that the shuttle has gone a long ways towards getting us to mars and such. Personally, I agree with Buzz Aldrin in the sense that we should forget the moon for now and make our way to Mars. There are a lot of proposals out there for such missions, but the one Aldrin proposed is called "Mars To Say." I think that reynod's plan would work out just fine if they sent us off to Mars forever.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_to_Stay
April 6, 2011 11:23:07 PM

I got a PM from the govt asking us not to take badge.

Evidently they need him to keep the alien conspiracy theories going ...
April 7, 2011 3:04:00 PM

But Bu ... ol badge is probably "past it".

Man ... he is like nearly 60 isn't he ??

Plus all of those x-rays ...

badge ... you will have to get a medical clearance from your wife before we can consider you.

You might have to staff with your "staff" ...

April 7, 2011 6:10:44 PM

Quote:
But Bu ... ol badge is probably "past it".

Man ... he is like nearly 60 isn't he ??


In space, I will protect you. I'm bringing a lot of pussy cats. I also want to mention your reincarnation went well.



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April 7, 2011 11:37:09 PM

heh heh ... we were starting to think you were asleep in your rocking chair.

April 7, 2011 11:37:55 PM

Two words. Man envy.
April 8, 2011 6:21:02 AM

Regardless of age, I think a retirement on Mars would be excellent. You can live out the rest of your days in peace and quiet- literally.

To heck with solar radiation and such. If they build the ship right with lead lining, we'll all be good for the trip there. If the "living quarters" are build with lead lining, we'll be even better on the planet. Getting outside would be a good excuse to get a good sun tan.

Blast off is in 25 years. Cya's there! ;) 
April 8, 2011 1:06:11 PM

Crips ... I'll be 71.

What's that like badge??

April 9, 2011 1:48:18 AM

It's probably not bad, especially while on the way there with no gravity. The gravity on Mars is 38% the gravity on Earth, so we'd all be lighter on our feet. What a party it would be... ;) 
April 9, 2011 3:10:27 PM

bar the lack of oxygen ... there's no chance of getting any action in a spacesuit friend !!

Plus ... if you vomit the results are spectacular ... intimately so ... and not a shared event.
April 10, 2011 1:35:45 AM

This is true. Hopefully the quarters will have the appropriate dimensions for the such matters. We have to populate the planet somehow... ;) 
April 10, 2011 10:39:51 AM

I think we should put badge in charge of procreation.

It might take his mind off the republican rants he has been inflicting upon us here.
April 10, 2011 3:39:25 PM

Reynod said:
bar the lack of oxygen ... there's no chance of getting any action in a spacesuit friend !!

Plus ... if you vomit the results are spectacular ... intimately so ... and not a shared event.


reynod in a spacesuit reminder. You Are Now Free To Unclench Your Sphincter.
April 10, 2011 7:58:39 PM

Reynod said:
I think we should put badge in charge of procreation.

It might take his mind off the republican rants he has been inflicting upon us here.


Donald Trump came out of nowhere to trail Mitt Romney by a few points among GOP primary voters for president Thursday. After he questioned the president's birth certificate he went up in the polls. It didn't reassure the electorate Friday when Obama's advisers leaked plans to build his presidential library on the International Space Station.
April 10, 2011 10:52:10 PM

Donald is just trying to stir up publicity. I wouldn't want him as head of the local girl scout troop, much less the country. Chances are he'd be fired very early on. :D 
April 11, 2011 12:25:42 AM

I love the space program. I remember watching Mercury launches (and some of the early disasters) on the family 19" B&W TV. The indirect benefits have been remarkable. For example, computers might still fill rooms, and/or be too expensive or complex to be a consumer device.
Still, other than the military use of space, it isn't a Government job; to take by force from those who have earned in order to fund it. They're squirming and fighting every step of the way, but even the parasites are finally beginning to realize we just can't afford it.

Oh well.

April 11, 2011 1:32:34 AM

I met Donald once at NBC studios Hollywood. Trump is all right with me, but He will never be President. He has about as much chance as Barack Obama does. ;) 
April 11, 2011 2:54:05 AM

I don't care for him much either, but I'd vote for Trump long before I'd choose a[nother] career parasite; or a non-American.
April 12, 2011 1:51:31 AM

Onus said:
I love the space program. I remember watching Mercury launches (and some of the early disasters) on the family 19" B&W TV. The indirect benefits have been remarkable. For example, computers might still fill rooms, and/or be too expensive or complex to be a consumer device.
Still, other than the military use of space, it isn't a Government job; to take by force from those who have earned in order to fund it. They're squirming and fighting every step of the way, but even the parasites are finally beginning to realize we just can't afford it.

Oh well.


Agreed. It is surely an expensive endeavor- space flight, travel, satellites, the ISS, etc..., there is no doubt about that. From my perspective though I think that NASA should have more funding on a yearly basis to work on going to Mars or even establishing something on the news. The space programs has done wonders for our understanding of the universe, yet we have only begun to understand it. There is far more out there that we do not know about. It's just a matter of money at this point unfortunately.

Sorry about "editing" your above post jtt- accidentally clicked the edit button instead of the reply button.
September 12, 2011 3:35:15 PM

This topic has been closed by Reynod
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