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[Spaaaaaace!] Endeavour's/Atlantis's final flight

2

Posts

  • Emissary42Emissary42 Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I recall space guns (basically the Jules Verne concept) have regained a fair deal of interest as of late, particularly to cheaply launch durable cargo and fuel/water into orbit. I don't think any companies are very close to making one at all at this point, but it's safe to say they're an attractive way to free up more expensive weight on launches for more interesting cargo. That, and they're completely feasible from a technical and economic standpoint.

  • dark_porpoisedark_porpoise Registered User
    edited May 2011
    Emissary42 wrote: »
    The end of the Shuttle is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, we'll be taking a step back in terms of the history of human spaceflight; it will be the first time NASA has not possessed or been working on a [new] spacecraft. On the other, the situation will be almost perfect to catalyze very rapid development of vehicles by entirely private groups to satisfy NASA's demand for new, safe and - perhaps most importantly - inexpensive spacecraft. Not just in a relative sense either, many are an entire order of magnitude cheaper anything NASA or any other government agency has fielded.

    Another reason for hope is that many of the founders of the newer private spacecraft companies are very gung-ho about space exploration. Elon Musk is perhaps the poster boy in this regard, having plans to build rockets capable of launching a manned Mars mission in 20 years [10, on his most optimistic estimates]. "Mars is the ultimate goal of SpaceX."

    I feel pretty similar. From my (admittedly layman) perspective, the shuttle had gotten to the point where it wasn't economically feasible. Some of the privately developed plans to Low Earth Orbit look pretty promising to me, as they are on track to transport loads much more cheaply and effectively. While it is sad that we won't have an immediate successor to the shuttle, that's been set for quite awhile now. Even before Constellation was cancelled, there would have been around a 3 or 4 year gap before anything from that kicked in, IIRC. And, in my opinion, Constellation got too bloated and overbudget, and I honestly never understood what it was actually trying to accomplish. Hopefully the newest plans will be more efficient and more clear about further exploration.

    I remember reading a good article about this as well, expressing similar thoughts on the matter. I'll see if I can dig it up.



    Edit: That was quick. It was an article by Phil Plait written on the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first space flight.

  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited May 2011

    Interesting article. I found myself thinking aloud, "Well, that's why Baikonur sent up some dogs first."

    Orca wrote: »
    Synthesis wrote:
    Isn't "Your sarcasm makes me wet," the highest compliment an Abh can pay a human?

    Only if said Abh is a member of the nobility.
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I like Phil, but he's a bit of a silly libertarian goose. First, STS was not all that expensive, and the ISS certainly wasn't all that expensive. No, they didn't achieve the sci-fi pipe dreams that a few people thought they might, but they accomplished a Hell of a lot over a very short lifespan.

    This idea that the ending of the shuttle program somehow 'opens the door' for private corporations is just outright nutty. The door has been open for private industry since forever, and large aerospace companies have been involved in NASA projects for a very, very long time.

    Guess what? Running, say, a space tourism service is an idea that no intelligent investor will be interested in. Why? Because you'll get zero return on an absolutely huge investment for decades, if you even get one at all. I mean, who is going to front the cost for training the astronaut tour guides? For building the command & control infrastructure? For doing all of the initial work (manufacturing materials on the ground, launching them into space, performing years of assembly work in LEO) involved in getting an inter-planetary vehicle ready?

    Perhaps someone could piggyback on the infrastructure that's already been set-up by NASA, but then it's hardly reasonable to claim that somehow the private sector is/was the great beacon of hope for space exploration (and even then, I find it incredibly dubious that a private company would go to all of the trouble & expense of developing space vehicles unless it was to directly sell them to NASA, as has been done in the past and is being done with the SpaceX program).

    Nobody is going to go on a space cruise for centuries. We might get to that point, but we can't somehow expect the invisible hand of the market or profit-based motives to get us there. We'll do it by continuing to fund agencies like NASA, who are pursuing the goal for it's own sake, and being patient.

    TOG Solid wrote:
    If that guy wasn't white he would have gotten popped by so many tasers simultaneously that Marvel could use that as the new origin for Electro.
  • Emissary42Emissary42 Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    The Ender wrote: »
    I like Phil, but he's a bit of a silly libertarian goose. First, STS was not all that expensive, and the ISS certainly wasn't all that expensive. No, they didn't achieve the sci-fi pipe dreams that a few people thought they might, but they accomplished a Hell of a lot over a very short lifespan.

    This idea that the ending of the shuttle program somehow 'opens the door' for private corporations is just outright nutty. The door has been open for private industry since forever, and large aerospace companies have been involved in NASA projects for a very, very long time.

    Guess what? Running, say, a space tourism service is an idea that no intelligent investor will be interested in. Why? Because you'll get zero return on an absolutely huge investment for decades, if you even get one at all. I mean, who is going to front the cost for training the astronaut tour guides? For building the command & control infrastructure? For doing all of the initial work (manufacturing materials on the ground, launching them into space, performing years of assembly work in LEO) involved in getting an inter-planetary vehicle ready?

    Perhaps someone could piggyback on the infrastructure that's already been set-up by NASA, but then it's hardly reasonable to claim that somehow the private sector is/was the great beacon of hope for space exploration (and even then, I find it incredibly dubious that a private company would go to all of the trouble & expense of developing space vehicles unless it was to directly sell them to NASA, as has been done in the past and is being done with the SpaceX program).

    Nobody is going to go on a space cruise for centuries. We might get to that point, but we can't somehow expect the invisible hand of the market or profit-based motives to get us there. We'll do it by continuing to fund agencies like NASA, who are pursuing the goal for it's own sake, and being patient.

    Of course the end of the shuttle opens the door to private corporations - despite the fact that NASA is almost entirely hands-off in new vehicle development, they still want a new vehicle. The more interesting thing this time around is companies that aren't established in the military-industrial complex are far ahead of all their competitors, along with their open enthusiasm for ambitious human space exploration.

    Now, whether that's a case of a wise business plan (they are selling the rockets after all) or a 'build it, and they will come' approach is certainly up to debate. At least in terms of SpaceX, I would say the two are present in equal measure.

  • KrieghundKrieghund Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Is it really that hard to get a heavy lift rocket designed today? We were building those things forty years ago, dust that stuff off and get the heavy, uneconomical stuff up as easy as possble.

  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Krieghund wrote: »
    Is it really that hard to get a heavy lift rocket designed today? We were building those things forty years ago, dust that stuff off and get the heavy, uneconomical stuff up as easy as possble.

    I would have to imagine that private design bureaus (or, as you call them in the United States, "corporations") have drawn up plenty of potential contenders. They're just waiting for one they can make a profit off of, which is the tricky part, since NASA probably isn't in the mood to make it rain.

    Orca wrote: »
    Synthesis wrote:
    Isn't "Your sarcasm makes me wet," the highest compliment an Abh can pay a human?

    Only if said Abh is a member of the nobility.
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Of course the end of the shuttle opens the door to private corporations - despite the fact that NASA is almost entirely hands-off in new vehicle development, they still want a new vehicle. The more interesting thing this time around is companies that aren't established in the military-industrial complex are far ahead of all their competitors, along with their open enthusiasm for ambitious human space exploration.

    ...But claiming that 'the door is now open' implies that it was at some point shut, which it never was. Lockheed, Northrup, Raytheon, etc, are all private corporations that have been making stuff for NASA for a very long time (and will continue to do so).

    It also twists the truth to call these aerospace & high-tech companies 'established in the military industrial complex'. Lockheed is probably the biggest offender for making modern weapons system & platforms - but they are amoral about what they use their manufacturing & engineering capabilties for. Perhaps if you did not offer them giant paychecks in order to manufacture weapons rather than exploration vehicles, they'd be less interested in making weapons and more interested in making exploration vehicles.

    And yes, if the SpaceX program proves successful, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Pentagon will approach the developers of the system with an open wallet to develop new military toys.


    In other news:

    Everyone should Google 'Bricks in Space'.

    It's kind of superficial, but it makes me feel good inside for sme reason.

    TOG Solid wrote:
    If that guy wasn't white he would have gotten popped by so many tasers simultaneously that Marvel could use that as the new origin for Electro.
  • Curly_BraceCurly_Brace Not a Robot Skeleton A Robot Skeleton PartyRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I'm really enthused by the AMS, I gotta say.

    So! Can we talk about all these nifty rogue planets in this thread too?

    tQCnY.giftom_sig2.jpg
  • Mr RayMr Ray Sarcasm sphereRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    DID SOMEBODY SAY SPACE?

    So space is neat I guess. Have they actually started designing the new shuttles yet I keep seeing renders of what they'll "probably" look like every couple of years, but I have no idea if any of them are "official". Likewise with the new suits; skinsuits look pretty cool but are probably years away from being ready. Don't google skinsuit btw. Not what I was after at all.

    Spoiler:
  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I'm really enthused by the AMS, I gotta say.

    So! Can we talk about all these nifty rogue planets in this thread too?

    I was at the observatory where they got the data for that last weekend. Touched the telescope and everything.


    It's kinda crazy how much information we get from just measuring doppler shift and brightness over time.

  • Emissary42Emissary42 Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    The Ender wrote: »
    Of course the end of the shuttle opens the door to private corporations - despite the fact that NASA is almost entirely hands-off in new vehicle development, they still want a new vehicle. The more interesting thing this time around is companies that aren't established in the military-industrial complex are far ahead of all their competitors, along with their open enthusiasm for ambitious human space exploration.

    ...But claiming that 'the door is now open' implies that it was at some point shut, which it never was. Lockheed, Northrup, Raytheon, etc, are all private corporations that have been making stuff for NASA for a very long time (and will continue to do so).

    It also twists the truth to call these aerospace & high-tech companies 'established in the military industrial complex'. Lockheed is probably the biggest offender for making modern weapons system & platforms - but they are amoral about what they use their manufacturing & engineering capabilties for. Perhaps if you did not offer them giant paychecks in order to manufacture weapons rather than exploration vehicles, they'd be less interested in making weapons and more interested in making exploration vehicles.

    And yes, if the SpaceX program proves successful, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Pentagon will approach the developers of the system with an open wallet to develop new military toys.


    In other news:

    Everyone should Google 'Bricks in Space'.

    It's kind of superficial, but it makes me feel good inside for sme reason.

    I see your point. My stance was more that NASA's impending lack of a vehicle + a new entrant that seems to have found a way to undercut everyone else's price is exciting. SpaceX's rockets are probably extremely pedestrian by rocket standards, which is important if it becomes one of NASA's mainstays. The money they save by using a much cheaper launch system means more funding for more exciting things, like enormous space telescopes and something to strap the VASIMR plasma rocket to. That's the exciting part.

    Perhaps a better question is why no other company has been able to make a rocket so cheaply before? Surely the people Boeing and Lockheed have doing the engineering are just as good if not better, and more experienced than SpaceX's engineers.
    Spoiler:

    Oh, and I think someone mentioned nanotubes at some point in reference to space elevators. The issue we have with nanotubes is we can't make them longer than say, a millimeter (or a fraction thereof). So they make a lovely carbon fluff/paper pulp type thing, but beyond that they're rather limited. My guess is we won't end up making long [read: no longer than a few inches] individual nanotubes until we have some kind of engineered enzyme or an entire modified organism to help the process along, which is a pretty tall order.

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Launching satellites , however much science can be gleaned from the payload is whats making NASA a pathetic shell of an organization.

  • Zilla360Zilla360 Spaaaace! In Space.Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
  • Zilla360Zilla360 Spaaaace! In Space.Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    There's a great interview with the guys who drive the crawler (which is being retired) here.
    This last trip to the pad will be unique, but in some ways it will be the same as always, Couch says. When the shuttle is safely at the launchpad, an event known as "hard down," the close-knit crawler team always has a little ritual.

    "Our little celebration that we do, is we open up a bag of chips and salsa," says Couch, who notes that champagne is not an option for drivers entrusted with the crawler, even after something as significant as the shuttle's final trip to the pad. "It will probably be the same ceremony we have done for every other hard down. We will have our chips and salsa."

    Then they'll back up the crawler and drive away, leaving the space shuttle behind.

    I wonder what he'll do with a resume like that. :)

  • xraydogxraydog Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Pictures of the Shuttle Station complex from a Soyuz flyaround have started to be posted.

    http://www.spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/station/crew-27/ndxpage60.html
    http://www.spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/station/crew-27/ndxpage61.html

    Needless to say they are breathtaking...

    iss027e036710.jpg


    Go to the links above for hi res awesomeness

  • Zilla360Zilla360 Spaaaace! In Space.Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
  • Zilla360Zilla360 Spaaaace! In Space.Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
  • Emissary42Emissary42 Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Zilla360 wrote: »
    (video)

    Now that's a spicy [strike]meatball[/strike] superheated ball of plasma!

    I'll see your solar storm and raise you a supernova in the Whirlpool Galaxy:
    m51sn_bailey_440.gif

  • Curly_BraceCurly_Brace Not a Robot Skeleton A Robot Skeleton PartyRegistered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I love when shit blows up (in space I mean... and far enough away to not fry us all).

    tQCnY.giftom_sig2.jpg
  • DanWeinoDanWeino Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    IS it me or does the stuff we build in space look like the flimsiest stuff ever? I'm suprised the space station doesnt just fall apart anytime someone inside touches a wall.


    I get that it's got to be lightweight because of getting material to it, but still.


    steam_sig.png
  • Zilla360Zilla360 Spaaaace! In Space.Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Being free from gravity means we have to build that way.

    And it's only flimsy versus large micrometeorites. :P

  • fshavlakfshavlak Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
  • StraygatsbyStraygatsby Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I was watching some random commercial last night with a bunch of kids dressed up in their "what I wanna be when I grow up" outfits, doing kids things, and I turned to the missus and just sort of wondered aloud if this all means that kids can want to grow up to be astronauts anymore.

    I mean of course that's shortsighted, but it still feels like the end of a pretty neato thing more than it feels like the beginning of a truly huge one.

  • Knight Of AwesomeKnight Of Awesome Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I've been trying to get a photo of M51 and that 'brand new' supernova though my telescope. Needless to say, the weather has not been kind and the light pollution is simply too much, so I haven't.

    lastfm_red_small.gif 4jGb8.jpg
  • Zilla360Zilla360 Spaaaace! In Space.Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-animation-depicts-mars-rover-action.html

    11 Minutes if you've got the time. It's even cooler if you queue up 'Still Alive' for the last two minutes. :P

  • Zilla360Zilla360 Spaaaace! In Space.Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    1883127.jpg

    Laser-pumped fusion thrusters. Truly, we live in [strike]awesome[/strike] interesting times.

  • Zilla360Zilla360 Spaaaace! In Space.Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
  • Curly_BraceCurly_Brace Not a Robot Skeleton A Robot Skeleton PartyRegistered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Man, they are not waiting any time to throw all of NASA under the political bus, are they? And by "they" I mean Congress.

    tQCnY.giftom_sig2.jpg
  • Zilla360Zilla360 Spaaaace! In Space.Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    They could just stop or cut down on the 20 frickin' billion they spend every year in air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then you could fund at least ten JWST's.

  • Curly_BraceCurly_Brace Not a Robot Skeleton A Robot Skeleton PartyRegistered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I don't think that's an apt comparison, Zilla, but I think I understand on what you're trying to say: We probably spend way too much money on silly, pointless things X, Y, and Z instead of on productive, awesome, science things A, B, and C.

    tQCnY.giftom_sig2.jpg
  • azith28azith28 Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    There it goes
    for the last time
    to eternal twilight.

    Its fire burns to lift
    itself and our hearts
    to remind us
    there are more worlds then this

    Why is it the last
    Man grips the earth
    and refuses to release

    steam_sig.png

  • KoopahTroopahKoopahTroopah Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Last shuttle (Atlantis) just took off from Florida about an hour go. Not related to the Endeavour but it is related to SPAAAAAAAAAAAACE!
    Spoiler:

    YRIfidu.gif]
    status.php?streamuser=KoopahTroopah - Steam - Battle.net - 3583-0010-1507 - Smash Bros 3DS/WiiU
  • Xenogear_0001Xenogear_0001 Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Went outside and tried to see it go--alas, the clouds got in the way. Oh well, saw the previous launch. That'll have to suffice. I'm gonna miss me some shuttle launches, though.

    steam_sig.png
  • SyphonBlueSyphonBlue Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Emissary42 wrote: »
    I see your point. My stance was more that NASA's impending lack of a vehicle + a new entrant that seems to have found a way to undercut everyone else's price is exciting. SpaceX's rockets are probably extremely pedestrian by rocket standards, which is important if it becomes one of NASA's mainstays. The money they save by using a much cheaper launch system means more funding for more exciting things, like enormous space telescopes and something to strap the VASIMR plasma rocket to. That's the exciting part.

    No, it means they don't need that big of a budget, so we're gonna slash it by another 6 billion.

    metroid_sig.jpg
  • Zilla360Zilla360 Spaaaace! In Space.Registered User regular
    And NASA takes all the flak for not agreeing on a new launcher design quickly enough, when every-time they do agree it's shot down by some dumb, ill-informed congressional committee. Sigh. At least DIRECT has gone on to survive as a private initiative.

  • Zilla360Zilla360 Spaaaace! In Space.Registered User regular
  • Alfred J. KwakAlfred J. Kwak Registered User
    I find this article just a little bit sad.

  • South hostSouth host I obey without question Registered User regular
    Yeah, fuel is a huge cost for the military, especially in Afghanistan where the roads are so few/terrible that a lot of supplies have to be airlifted. One of the reasons why the military is starting to get really into fuel cells and solar power.

    Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.
  • SurikoSuriko AustraliaRegistered User regular
    Whelp. Atlantis has landed. So ends an age.

    Here's to hoping the Aries Project, European space efforts, and/or the private space industry steps up, and steps up fast.

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