Final Space Shuttle Launch: Live HD Feed

by leavingwt 18 Replies latest social current

  • unshackled

    Interesting stuff botchtower...thanks. I'm not much of an expert on the latest developments of space exploration. But was reading a series of tweets by Neil deGrasse Tyson this morning, and that is the sentiment he was stating - lamenting no program in place.

    Read his thoughts here on Twitter:!/neiltyson

  • botchtowersociety

    I'm optimistic. I think we will have several man rated commercial launch vehicles to choose from in the years ahead. We will be much better off than when we relied on a single, design-by-committee and political-compromise vehicle. The SS was way overpriced. It didn't do any single thing terribly well. Pretty much the only really unique capability it brought to the table that comes to mind is being able to return satellites from orbit in the cargo bay. Maybe we can move away from the ISS as well and use Bigelow Aerospace's expandable space habitat technology.

    Check it out:

    Now that we will replace the SS, launch costs will go way down, and we will be able to plan more missions and do a lot more cool stuff. Go back to the moon and establish a permanent presence there now that we have found water, plus a mission to Mars. The SS high cost was a dead weight on the entire program, IMHO.

  • Glander

    It is time to privatize. It is no longer space exploration time, it is space exploitation time. The space program has enabled us to know the verdict in the Anthony at the instant the killer knew it. From thousands of miles away! God Be Praised, Peace Be With You.

    Someday, I hope that similar technilogical and financial resources will be focused on the oceans. The Japanese recently discovered rare earth metals in abundance a few miles down. This can eventually takes the monopoly out of the hands of the Chinese and a couple of other countries who now control these vital commodities. The answers to food, energy, medicine, and who knows what are really at the bottom of the sea.

  • Twitch

    Yea, I remember when Columbia first went up back in the day; exciting times for a teen kid caught up in the Star Wars craze.

    In honour of that flight, I submit a fav track from Rush off their Signals album, Countdown

  • unshackled

    Someday, I hope that similar technilogical and financial resources will be focused on the oceans. The Japanese recently discovered rare earth metals in abundance a few miles down.

    That's a good point Glander. It has been said that we know more about the surface of the moon than the deepest depths of the ocean. The Mariana Trench is deeper (approx. 36,000 ft) than Everest is high (29,035 ft). That was an interesting discovery of those rare earth metals.

    So much still to learn below and above. Heck, we can only account for 4% of the universe, the other 96% has been named dark matter, we just don't know what it is yet.

    Hope I'm around when we find out. *now regrets grabbing McD's for lunch*

  • botchtowersociety

    It is time to privatize. It is no longer space exploration time, it is space exploitation time. The space program has enabled us to know the verdict in the Anthony at the instant the killer knew it. From thousands of miles away! God Be Praised, Peace Be With You.

    Great article at Popular Mechanics. Lots of great stuff going on. The shuttle was a bad design, and it was a mistake to hang on to it for so many years.

    6 False Lessons Of The Space Shuttle

    With the final flight of shuttle Atlantis sparking inspired debate over where NASA should go from here, PM contributor Rand Simberg warns against some of the conclusions that observers are drawing from 30 years of shuttle flights.

    The last space shuttle flight has now launched . And with Atlantis safely in orbit, many are reflecting on the legacy of the shuttle program, which lasted a little over three decades and for much of that time was at the center of America's human spaceflight program. While it was a magnificent technological achievement, and had many great accomplishments, it was a failure in the primary purpose for which it was built: to dramatically reduce the cost of access to space, and make such trips routine and safe. So as NASA heads into an uncertain future, many are drawing lessons from the shuttle experience to apply to policy going forward.

    Unfortunately, many of those lessons are false. If they are believed and applied, they will result in human spaceflight, at least as performed by NASA, that remains expensive, unsafe and rare. Here are some of the more important things many people learned from the shuttle program that are just plain wrong:

    1. The Shuttle Proved That Reusable Launch Vehicles are Not Cost Effective

    This is a pernicious myth‚ one that has driven NASA policy for years, since the failure of the X-33 program and through former NASA head Mike Griffin's policy of reverting to expendable systems with the now-canceled Constellation program. But the reality is that the shuttle taught us nothing about the cost of a properly designed, fully reusable launch system, because that's not what it was.

    The external tank was thrown away on each flight, and the solid rocket boosters had to be rebuilt every mission. The only "reusable" part of the vehicle, the shuttle orbiter itself, required extensive inspection and maintenance between flights, with a vast army of technicians costing billions per year. These high costs and headaches were not the result of any intrinsic technical issues with reusable vehicles, but were caused by penny-pinching during development in the 1970s. Spending more then could have created a truly reusable vehicle later. But it is always easier to slash budgets now and let some future politician have to worry about operational costs down the road.

    2. The Shuttle Proved That We Must Move Beyond Chemical Rockets

    The perennial myth is that we simply can't cut the costs of going to space if we're still using rockets. If the most cost-effective rocket-propelled vehicle possible‚ the space shuttle‚ couldn't do it, the thinking goes, it must be time to give up on them. The flaw in this argument is that, as noted, the shuttle wasn't a very cost-effective rocket. And, people who make this argument assume that the high cost of rocketry is all of the fuel that is expended, but in fact fuel costs are typically only about 1 percent of the total operations cost for a rocket-based launcher. Compare this to 30 or 40 percent for an airliner, and it's clear that with reusable rockets, there is a lot of room to bring down costs‚ if we can get the traffic level up. Indeed, if SpaceX really does build its new Falcon Heavy in the next couple years, it will reduce the cost to a thousand dollars per pound (that's more than ten times less than the shuttle costs, and considerably less than other expendable vehicles, such as the Atlas and Delta).

    3. The Shuttle Proved that Cargo and Passengers Should Travel on Different Vehicles

    After the Challenger accident in 1986, many observers argued that the shuttle should stop risking astronauts's lives delivering satellites that could be launched on unmanned vehicles. After the Columbia loss in 2003, the argument went further: that crew and cargo shouldn't be mixed on a launch.

    But this isn't a philosophy that we use with any other form of transportation. Every airliner carries both passengers and cargo, and even cargo transport flights have a flight crew. The real lesson isn't to separate crew and cargo, but to design the launch systems to be more reliable, because both crew and cargo are far too expensive to lose. (And in the case of a reusable vehicle, the vehicle itself is too expensive to lose, even if it flies empty.) One of the reasons that the shuttle was retired was that there were only three left, so each flight put a third of the fleet at risk. Ultimately, this was simply unaffordable.

    4: The Shuttle Proved that NASA Should Have Stuck with, and Should Return to, the Safe and Successful Architecture of Apollo's Heavy-Lift Vehicle and Crew Capsule

    It is tempting to look at the 1960s as a golden era of spaceflight, when we had great accomplishments in space and no loss of crew on a space mission (the Apollo 1 fire that killed three astronauts happened in a test on the launch pad). But each mission to the moon cost billions in today's dollars, and we came very close to losing a crew on Apollo 13. While the mission team deserves applause for returning the crew safely, there was as much luck involved as skill. Had the liquid-oxygen tank explosion occurred on the way back from the moon, instead of on the way to it (when they still had the lunar module as a backup), they would have died. In fact, one of the main reasons for ending Apollo before all its hardware was used (there were at least two Saturn Vs left over) was that many running the program feared that deaths in space were inevitable if it continued much longer, with terrible effects on the program.

    There is nothing intrinsically safe about capsules, or dangerous about wings. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, and the only real way to find out which is best is to actually try multiple approaches. Fortunately, that's now happening. Three of the competitors for NASA's commercial crew program‚ SpaceX, Boeing and Blue Origin‚ are using capsules with parachutes, and one—Sierra Nevada—plans to use a lifting body and land on a runway. Since they're all commercial crafts, hopefully the market will determine which approach is best for which missions, not mistaken lessons from the shuttle.

    5: The Worst Result of the Shuttle Program was the Death of 14 Astronauts

    No doubt, the loss of the crews of the Challenger and Columbia was tragic. But risk is unavoidable in spaceflight, and there is no shortage of people willing and able to do that job even knowing the danger. I would argue that the fact that the nation itself grieved so extensively for them is actually a bad sign—an indication that we don't think that space is an important enough frontier on which to risk human lives, even though no frontier has ever been opened without such a cost.

    From a space policy perspective, the real problem with the shuttle program was that it failed in its promise to make space access affordable and yet we stuck with it for three decades. It was a huge lost opportunity in terms of time, the ultimate irreplaceable commodity.

    6: The Ultimate False Lesson: That the Space Shuttle Proved Anything at All

    To draw any firm lessons at all from the space shuttle by itself is a fundamental flaw in logic; it is called the fallacy of hasty generalization. Simply, the fallacy is extrapolating to some inductive conclusion from insufficient data. And in this case, there is a single data point: the shuttle.

    We can learn from history, but we have to grab a much bigger bite of it than any one example. If we consider the entire history of U.S. human spaceflight, there is a useful lesson to be learned. That is: What we are doing in space is too important to leave to a single monopoly system, developed and run by a government agency. Twice in the past three decades the shuttle was shut down for years, leaving us without the capability of getting into space because there was no alternative, or competition. The Space Launch System that NASA is now planning to build to Congressional specifications (without sufficient funding or a stated mission) will suffer from the same problem. It' s time to open the entire national space transportation infrastructure to competition, to give us robust, redundant capabilities‚ and stop looking for the next space shuttle.
  • darthfader

    The rational me agrees that the Shuttle was a bad design, it was to many things to to many people and became a "bloated cargo van to the stars."

    But I still remember being a kid watching the first Columbia launch and landing -- how inspiring! I'm sort of emotionally attached to them. And I'm not a big fan of ballistic reentry capsules.

    Twitch, thanks for that video of Rush, Im a Rushaholic! Signals is one of my favorite discs, with Countdown being near the top of list. Yeah, 1981,2 were big years for me :)


  • Twitch


    Yea Signals was/is a fav and what better song dedicated to the occasion. It's all but over now but for a moment, the shuttle program held a fascination for me, a testament to what is possible and a symbol of the quest for knowledge. Things that at the time were opening doors,...:)

  • botchtowersociety

    SpaceX to fly to Int'l Space Station in November

    HAWTHORNE, Calif. (AP) -- SpaceX's next mission is to the International Space Station.

    The Hawthorne, Calif.-based private rocket maker said Monday its Dragon capsule will launch on Nov. 30 on a cargo test run to the orbiting outpost. SpaceX said the launch will be followed by a station docking more than a week later.

    With the space shuttle fleet retired, NASA is depending on private companies like SpaceX to handle space station supply runs and astronaut rides. Until then, the space agency is paying for trips aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

    Last December, the Dragon capsule made the world's first private trip to and from orbit. During the test flight, the capsule simulated some of the maneuvers that would be needed for a docking.




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