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astronaut23
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posted 03-17-2007 06:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astronaut23   Click Here to Email astronaut23     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Washington Monthly
Beam Me Out Of This Death Trap, Scotty
quote:
"Here's the plan. Suppose one of the solid-fueled boosters fails. The plan is, you die. Solid rockets can fail in two ways. They can explode; enough said. Or they can shut down spontaneously. If a booster shuts down, there will be 2.5 million pounds of thrust on one side battling zero pounds on the other. Even a split second of this imbalance will send the ship twisting into oblivion, overriding any application of pilot skill."
Sad to say many of the predictions of this author were to come true about our Space Shuttle program. Its really painful to read this and admit that a lot of what he says has come to fruition.

I used to be a real shuttle lover. I still support the space program but the rose colored glasses I once had have no been ripped off with two accidents. Its really time to move on to something else and get a better design to put our astros on.

Unfortunately both accidents didn't have to happen. NASA operated its vehicles outside of safety both times. The hot gas leakage around the 0-ring problems and the foam shedding for sure should have been solved before they brought down the ships. STS is definitely fundamentally flawed though.

No escape system and putting the ship right on the side of the tank to be hit by falling debris is bad. Space ships need to be up on top of the rocket so they don't get hit with junk during flight. I think we'll never see a design like this again.

In my opinion, solid motors on a manned vehicle are especially bad since they can't be shut down. I don't like that the new NASA design for the next manned rocket uses a solid motor. I thought we'd have learned. Course if they had never killed anyone I probably wouldn't be bothered by them so much.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-17-2007 06:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by astronaut23:
I don't like that the new NASA design for the next manned rocket uses a solid motor. I thought we'd have learned.
We did learn. Orion sits atop the SRB and is equipped with a launch escape system. The two failure modes cited by the magazine column are both negated by the presence of the LES.

art540
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posted 03-17-2007 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes the shuttle was a waste of time and energy. Did some good things nevertheless. My main gripe is petty: the shuttle was the STS and the expendables became the CELV (complementary expendable launch vehicles). I would love to see the STS changed to include complementary or maybe temporary: TSTS or CSTS. What an insult the STS was to the people who really knew the facts about safety and costs and turnaround time.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-17-2007 07:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It has its faults to be sure, but the shuttle was far from a waste of time and energy (or money).

The Saturn V, to which the shuttle is most often compared, cost significantly more per launch, carried less crew members and was less capable once in orbit than the shuttle.

More than 600 crew members have flown on 117 shuttle missions. It would take approximately twice as many flights of the Saturn V to launch the same number of people. The Saturn could not support any significant down mass (e.g. LDEF, Spacehab), nor could it support in-orbit activities such as Hubble servicing or ISS construction.

The Saturn V only flew 13 times — were it to have flown the same number of flights as the shuttle, no one can say how many times it may have failed. The shuttle flew nearly twice as many flights before its first tragedy, and as was noted by the OP, its fault was of management rather than engineering. The shuttle was no more a necessary "death trap" than its predecessors. An LES can solve for a Challenger-type loss, but other failure modes exist.

The space shuttle has been the most capable space-faring vehicle ever launched. It has brought more people to space, conducted more science and has constructed and serviced more payloads than any other rocket in history.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 03-17-2007 08:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One has to consider Shuttle in the context of when it was conceived, rather than now: Given the choice of no space program, or Shuttle, what would have been the better decision?

KSCartist
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posted 03-18-2007 05:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My initial response would be to say give me the space program. But then of course I never lost a loved one riding a rocket.

If the Challenger and Columbia crews were told "We need you to fly this mission, but you will die" I don't believe they would have flown. Nobody goes into a situation knowing that it will kill them. But people put themselves into situations where they understand that it could kill them all the time. We do it because we believe the gain, the experience is worth the risk.

I can type these words safe in the knowledge that I'll never be drafted to fight a war, or pass a flight physical to fly in space. I can only vote to support or deny the expenditure of taxes. There are a few things that I am willing to pay more tax money to accomplish and one is a robust, multilayered space program.

I also believe that government is the best way to begin such a venture but at some point private industry has to take over because government programs tend to not be efficient.

I want the vision from my childhood to be a reality. "TWA Shuttles" to a massive space station and "Pan American" flights to the Moon. (Note: you'll noticed both companies are out of business.) Heck, I still want the flying "car" from "The Jetsons." I want us to think and act for a better future.

If the decision had been made for no space program and no space shuttle, I believe that we would be in a far worse place today. A lot of talent would have been wasted and No, we would not have spent that tax money to fix something else.

Politics and politicians being what they are would have passed along some tax savings to the public. Fourteen people would be enjoying their children and in some cases their grandchildren still looking up on occasion dreaming about what it would be like to fly in space but realizing that "we don't do that anymore."

IMHO Jon Clark said it best, "We have to decide, are we going to be a space faring or a space fearing nation. For certainly there will be more names added to this memorial." Mr. Clark knows a thing or two about the pain of sacrifice.

I apologize for the length and I'll get off my soapbox now.

Tim

Scott
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posted 03-18-2007 09:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
The Saturn V, to which the shuttle is most often compared, cost significantly more per launch, carried less crew members and was less capable once in orbit than the shuttle.
Oh my goodness - but look what the Saturn V did. No comparison at all.

I believe the Shuttle has been a huge waste of time, energy and lives. The number of astronauts flown, number of missions, lower cost per launch, etc does not address the central issue - "What did it accomplish with the money, time and (most importantly) lives spent?"

I'm sure it would also be very difficult and require a lot of engineering and effort to drain all the water out of Lake Superior and then pump it back in, but would that undertaking really do any good, either?

I personally see the Hubble Space Telescope launch/servicing as one of the only really significant contributions of the Shuttle. I never much cared for this program and I'm glad to see it end. Imagine all NASA could have done with robotic exploration alone with all the effort and money spent on the Shuttle program, not to mention plans for more ambitious manned programs the Shuttle infrastructure no doubt swallowed.

Thank goodness for Michael Griffin and for the end of this program.

Matt T
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posted 03-18-2007 11:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"One has to consider Shuttle in the context of when it was conceived, rather than now: Given the choice of no space program, or Shuttle, what would have been the better decision?"

Von Braun's initial concept of the role of the shuttle in the 40s/50s bears little resemblance to the STS program. He would have been as disinterested in a space program stuck in LEO as most of the rest of humanity has proved to be. The shuttle was just a cog in a program of exploration that should have seen us on Mars by now. A very idealistic vision we all realize now...

'Shuttle or no space program' should never have been the only option.

Cheers,
Matt

------------------
www.spaceracemuseum.com

John Charles
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posted 03-18-2007 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Matt T:
Von Braun's initial concept of the role of the shuttle in the 40s/50s bears little resemblance to the STS program. He would have been as disinterested in a space program stuck in LEO as most of the rest of humanity has proved to be. The shuttle was just a cog in a program of exploration that should have seen us on Mars by now. A very idealistic vision we all realize now...

'Shuttle or no space program' should never have been the only option...


"Should never have..." has no relevance. For those too young to remember the reality of the 1970s, I can tell you that the American public and the world at large, while impressed with Apollo, wanted that same diligent effort devoted to improving life on Earth. Remember the old buzz-phrase, "If they can put a man on the moon, why can't they--?"? That was not a joke, nor was it a choice. The public sentiment at that time was, "enough with the moon, now focus on Earth." Mars was never even an option.

Three Apollo missions were cancelled outright because Congress read the public mood and saw that they were expendable -- unfortunately, their funding may have gone to the Vietnam war instead, hardly preferable to the public. Public interest in the moon landings waned so quickly after Apollo 11 that Apollo 13 was practically unnoticed until it malfunctioned. Any bets on how long public enthusiasm for exploration will be sustained in that era of long outbound trips and long, long on-planet activities, every day of which will have the same reddish tint as the day before? Note that the interval between Apollo 11 and Apollo 13, during which public interest plummeted, was about 8 months--just about the same time it will take the average Mars crew to arrive on that planet.

How long do you suppose it will take before Congress feels the pressure to redirect NASA back to benefiting life on Earth, again?

------------------
John Charles
Houston, Texas

astronaut23
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posted 03-18-2007 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astronaut23   Click Here to Email astronaut23     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by John Charles:
Three Apollo missions were cancelled outright because Congress read the public mood and saw that they were expendable--
That's one of the dumbest things this country has ever done. That hardware was already bought and paid for. They should have spent the money to fly it. Called pennywise and pound foolish in my book.
quote:
Originally posted by Matt T:
'Shuttle or no space program' should never have been the only option.
Shouldn't have been but it was. The question to ask is why? What went wrong with humanities quest for the stars.

Or rather why are we different than the general public. Why do we have a space age vision and they have lack of any kind of space exploration or man living and working in space vision?

Instead of shooting for the stars we turned our backs. We spent the money on wars and other useless stuff.

When I was growing up it was gonna be that by the time I was older regular people were gonna be able to go to space. We were gonna have moon bases and go to Mars. It ticks me off that that the dream died.

I hate what America has become by and in large. A bunch of American Idol watching idiots that don't know the first thing about science and or engineering.

Sorry for and this is the end of my rant but the shortsightedness of humans really ticks me off.

MCroft04
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posted 03-18-2007 03:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by astronaut23:
I hate what America has become by and in large. A bunch of American Idol watching idiots that don't know the first thing about science and or engineering.

Sorry for and this is the end of my rant but the shortsightedness of humans really ticks me off.


I often share your concerns but usually when I make some degrading remark about American Idol or Survivor my wife is quick to challenge and correct me. Remember we are a diverse population, and no matter how much we criticize those who don't see the value of the exploration of space, that is just the way it is. I call this attitude my "mother in law perspective"; she thinks the world is going to h___ in a hand basket because of all the negative reports about the new generation she reads in the newspapers. Unfortunately the media seldom reports the good news. I have the opportunity to work with many young people coming out of college and I am very impressed. Their intelligence, attitude, and hard work ethic is very impressive. Perhaps they are a minority, but they are out there, and it is these young people who will carry us to the stars. I'm excited!

collocation
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posted 03-18-2007 05:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for collocation   Click Here to Email collocation     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Before Mr. Flecther and Mr. Nixon cut the Shuttle budget drasically, wasn't orginally designed to land at airports, or is an urban legend

KSCartist
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posted 03-19-2007 07:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The shuttle orbiter and booster were both to be piloted and land on runways. In fact the orbiter can still land on any runway large and long enough in it's path.

It wasn't Mr. Nixon alone or Mr. Fletcher that cut the shuttle budget. It was Congress who voted to approve a reduced budget in April, 1972.

The reduction forced the change from a piloted booster to SRB's.

Incidently, UTC was prepared to manufacture the SRB's in one piece in Florida and lost the contract to Morton Thiokol who submitted an (apparently) less expensive design, meaning segments shipped to Florida by rail and stacked.

I appreciate you young people and your passion. But you are only able to see history from the perspective of knowing what decisons were right and wrong after the fact. Read John Charles post of March 18th again - that's the way it really was.

If you want to see the "right" things done in the future then get involved with space program advocacy. This IS a democracy and majority does rule. The bottom line is are YOU prepared to pay taxes to support what you want to see happen?

Tim

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 03-19-2007 08:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by astronaut23:
Shouldn't have been but it was. The question to ask is why? What went wrong with humanities quest for the stars.
Because people want immediate results. It's hard to justify anything - a space program, a new highway - if the results are not next day. Tell people that a new road will improve traffic now, and you'll get grumblings but it'll probably get built. Tell people that a new highway neds to be built based on a trend that indicates the population will double in 20 years and see what happens.

And there needs to be a way to sell and promote those results so either they're not taken for granted, such as weather satellites, or remain obtuse to the public, such as determing how a fire burns in space.

collocation
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posted 03-19-2007 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for collocation   Click Here to Email collocation     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the event of trouble at lift off, where does the shuttle land in Flordia. I realize Congress passed the shuttle budget, but without Nixon and especially George Shultz OMB head who advised Nixon to cut the shuttle budget, Nixon would not have approved Congress recomendation. The US was in the mists of a recession and either Congress or the President could afford an expensive shuttle from a political point of view. Thanks for your insight

mjanovec
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posted 03-20-2007 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by collocation:
In the event of trouble at lift off, where does the shuttle land in Flordia.

The same place it normally lands...the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Cape.

garymilgrom
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posted 03-20-2007 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The faults and risks of the Shuttle were known by the engineers who designed it. They predicted losing 2% of the fleet over time. Since we lost 2 orbiters in approximately 107 flights they knew exactly what they were talking about.

The politics behind launching in 40F weather may have exacerbated the problem, but the engineers knew their stuff.

Gary Milgrom

collocation
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posted 03-20-2007 01:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for collocation   Click Here to Email collocation     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personal observations on the reliability of the Shuttle, by R.P. Feynman:
quote:
It appears that there are enormous differences of opinion as to the probability of a failure with loss of vehicle and of human life. The estimates range from roughly 1 in 100 to 1 in 100,000. The higher figures come from the working engineers, and the very low figures from management. What are the causes and consequences of this lack of agreement? Since 1 part in 100,000 would imply that one could put a Shuttle up each day for 300 years expecting to lose only one, we could properly ask "What is the cause of management's fantastic faith in the machinery?"

Rob Joyner
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posted 03-20-2007 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's all relative. There will be people 30 years from now saying the CEV/Orion was a complete waste of time & money.

Lunar rock nut
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posted 03-20-2007 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar rock nut   Click Here to Email Lunar rock nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As I read this forum, It stimulated my memory and I recall reading in the early 80's the shuttle was supposed to be a stepping stone for an O/V that was independent of a launch vehicle. What ever happened to the Scramjet engine program, To costly or did it hit a brick wall? As I remember it was also tied to the development of a transcontinental leo hypersonic transport.

Joe Holloway
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posted 03-21-2007 12:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Holloway   Click Here to Email Joe Holloway     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Every time I encounter severely critical remarks about the Space Shuttle, to include whether or not America should have built and operated her, I think back to our mindset as a nation in 1981 and the effect which the Shuttle's early successes had on us. Rather than mount a brand new soapbox, I attach the following e-mail which I wrote to Administrator Griffin in from Iraq in 2005. (Dr. Griffin had stated to NASA employees something to the effect that the Shuttle, and possibly the ISS, should have never been built.)
quote:
Dear Dr. Griffin:

To say that America should have never undertaken the Shuttle program is absolutely unthinkable. Coincident with the abandonment of the Apollo/Saturn program, our national prestige began a rapid decline. The Watergate scandal, the Arab oil embargo, the chaotic end of the Vietnam conflict, and the Iran hostage crisis, made hope in America's future very difficult, indeed.

Then, along came 1981. President Reagan was swept into office in a landslide. The hostages were freed from Tehran during his inauguration after 444 days of captivity. The American military was to become mighty once again. As the old Chrysler automobile advertisements declared, "the pride was back."

In April of that year, Astronauts Young and Crippen mounted up aboard the untested, "all-up" Columbia. I was 16 years old, a high school sophomore, and, with my late-father, was glued to Frank Reynolds' ABC coverage of the STS-1 launch. (We had been at the VAB viewing site during the Apollo-Soyuz launch in July 1975, and were thrilled that the 5 1/2-year wait for return to manned spaceflight was over.)

When Columbia thundered aloft, it seemed that America did so with her. Here, you had the most complicated machine ever devised by man, with millions of working parts, flawlessly executing the most complicated flight profile in the history of spaceflight. The bird that many said would never fly or even fail miserably performed magnificently, even beyond all expectations.

Even more spectacular was her first reentry, approach and landing at Edwards. Hundreds of thousands of Americans waving Old Glory to the strains of patriotic music welcomed Columbia to the Mojave in that pre-9/11 era when Americans actually had access to their space program...and weren't charged exorbitant admission prices to witness history-in-the-making as they are today.

I just watched the IMAX DVD "Hail, Columbia!" in my off-duty hours here. The DVD images of Captain Young happily bounding down the steps after his magnificent desert landing, rekindled the pride that I had felt in our nation's technological might 24 years before. That Spring afternoon in '81, it was truly great to be an American.

Despite its developmental woes, (namely with the tiles and main engines), as well as the tragic losses of the Challenger and Columbia crews, the Space Shuttle was and is an incredibly successful and vital American technological achievement. While no loss of flight crew is acceptable, the failure of two missions out of 100-plus is no less than phenomenal.

As for the Shuttle's recent bad-P.R., the sensationalist, ratings-crazed "news" networks share much of the blame. I had never heard so much predicted gloom-and-doom originating from behind anchor desks as I did prior to the STS-114 mission. However, I also assert that NASA itself has lost the intestinal fortitude to "just light the candle," instead imposing ridiculous launch criteria (winds, temperature, cloud cover, system redundancies, etc.,) on the Shuttle that are nearly impossible to meet. After all, this IS the space program, is it not? Astronaut Grissom reminded us 38 years ago that spaceflight will never be without its risks. Indeed, it never will be, even with the CEV and "safer," Shuttle-derived systems of the future.

In summary, Sir, I believe you were greatly mistaken to have said that the Space Shuttle should have never been built. Although the reality has struck that Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour will soon pay-off, their place in history as icons of American achievement and technological prowess is indeed secure.

Suffice it to say that, particularly in the early-1980s, the Space Shuttle WAS America at her very best.

Respectfully yours,

Joseph L. Holloway
Sergeant, Tennessee Army National Guard
Iraq


Administrator Griffin was kind enough to reply that same day with the following message:
quote:
Sir-

I honor you for your service, and understand your view. My comments were to the point of the Shuttle's basic architecture. From a technical perspective, my remarks stand. From a strategic perspective, I am as committed to U.S. preeminence in space as you.

Thank you.

Mike


Lunar rock nut
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posted 03-21-2007 03:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar rock nut   Click Here to Email Lunar rock nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am glad you shared that Mr. Holloway (Touche'). Most of the critical seem to easily overlook the fact that almost every electronic gadget in every day usage developed in the last thirty years probably has roots tied to the R&D of that fabulous machine. And the zero gravity experiments conducted on it, Mir and the ISS's contribution to the medical community for medicines and tech. applications.

As a tax payer since 1975 (when I started drawing a paycheck) I feel as though it was worth every penny for the accomplishments opposed to the failures.

Every astronaut, cosmonaut, test pilot, commercial and private pilot, sky diver and so on down a long list knows that what they have chosen to do carries a risk and consequences. That is the mindset of a pioneering spirit. And I am thankful of every single one of those spirits: astronauts, cosmonauts, military personnel, police officers, those that put their lives on the line for the betterment of humanity. To do anything else is an insult to what they believed, lived and died for.

I believe IMHO which everyone is entitled to, that the future will bring the shuttle back or an improved likeness. Maybe some private org. won't let it fade away, the phoenix will rise again!

Terry

CJC
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posted 03-21-2007 03:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CJC   Click Here to Email CJC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sergeant Holloway,

That was an excellent letter!!! You should send it to every idiotic congressman and senator, dare them to reply and put copies of their replies up here.

Cheeres,

CJC

Joe Holloway
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posted 03-21-2007 06:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Holloway   Click Here to Email Joe Holloway     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Alas, CJC... I DID write both my Congressman and my Senior Senator personalized, impassioned pleas NOT to cut NASA's budget by $500 million for fear that it would jeopardize the good work being done in the name of VSE.

That was weeks ago. Not a peep of a reply out of either of them since then, and it has been a number of weeks.

Seems like the more I write anyone in support of America's space future, the less responses I receive.

To his credit, Administrator Griffin is 2 for 3; that is, 2 replies to my 3 e-mails to him during his tenure.

astronaut23
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posted 03-21-2007 06:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astronaut23   Click Here to Email astronaut23     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Joe Holloway:
...impassioned pleas NOT to cut NASA's budget by $500 million for fear that it would jeopardize the good work being done in the name of VSE.
NASA is the official whipping agency of everybody. Go ahead and spend money elsewhere with no questions asked. However, if NASA gets at .1% increase in cash, all hell breaks loose.

Its pathetic.

I'm really at the point of not giving a damn anymore. This pathetic excuse for a a society has become stagnant. This isn't the same America that put men on the moon. Its an America that only cares about entitlements. Most people can't see beyond the here and now. They got no vision for a future that includes space.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-21-2007 07:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by astronaut23:
This isn't the same America that put men on the moon.
It's a myth that the nation was any different then as it is now. Opinion polls taken in the 1960s showed the public was, at best, indifferent to the Apollo program, and many thought it didn't deserve more funding. When we actually reached the Moon, the majority of the public lost interest as soon as Apollo 11 was over (and again post-Apollo 13).

We didn't reach the Moon in 1969 because the public was enthralled with the idea. We didn't go for science; science went because we were going. We reached it because there was a 'perfect storm' created by the Cold War/Space Race and the death of a president.

Society hasn't changed. Politics hasn't changed. We like telling ourselves that it has to make us feel like we were better then than we are now rather than admit that when we went to the Moon, we went for all the wrong reasons.

JFK said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." But he was wrong: it was easy, the reasons to go were handed to this nation.

Now we face the hard choice: do we return to improve ourselves rather than beat others? Do we let science and knowledge drive us forward rather than politics and pride? For the engineers and scientists at NASA, the answer has always been yes. For the general public, they've never really cared and probably never will. That leaves the politicians and the space enthusiasts: are our voices loud and strong enough to convince our leaders that the money is worth it? Maybe.

But if we give up (e.g. "I'm really at the point of not giving a damn anymore.") and if we let ourselves overly romanticize the past, then we don't stand a chance.

Joe Holloway
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posted 03-22-2007 05:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Holloway   Click Here to Email Joe Holloway     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by astronaut23:
I'm really at the point of not giving a damn anymore. This pathetic excuse for a a society has become stagnant.
Although I understand your frustration, astronaut23, I encourage you to continue "giving a damn." America's space program needs all the supporters it can muster, including enthusiasts like us...particularly in these uncertain political times.

When last I visited KSC and the Cape (7 weeks ago), "the dream was still alive." Don't give up on it now.

quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Now we face the hard choice: do we return to improve ourselves rather than beat others? Do we let science and knowledge drive us forward rather than politics and pride? For the engineers and scientists at NASA, the answer has always been yes.
A point-of-contention, Robert...

There is no question that Project Apollo forged ahead in direct political response to the Soviet "space threat," rather than a desire to bring back "the Genesis rock" or explore the rilles and majestic mountains of the Moon.

However, it is my contention that our very ABILITY to respond to (and soundly whip) the Soviets "at their own game" proved that the United States is a great technological and spacefaring nation. $25 billion...1 Cent out of every U.S. tax dollar, was surely a small price to pay for the national pride and prestige gained from our efforts. Millions of people, from Picadilly to Moscow to Peking, stood in awe of America's achievement, as is well-documented in the newsclips of the day.

Would it have been nice to land on the Moon "just for the science" or other high-minded purposes? Absolutely. But history records that, realistically, we did it just to show the bad guys that we could...and yes, in those days, the Soviets WERE the bad guys. (Much of my childhood in the 1960s and 1970s was spent wondering if their ICBMs would take out Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 15 miles from my house, so I have earned the right to call them the "bad guys" just for all that worrying they caused me! My kids haven't that worry today, thank God.)

And oh, by the way, if my memory serves me correctly, America was great enough to stage "a few" just-for-science shots, too:

- the Pioneers;
- the Mariners;
- the Vikings;
- the Voyagers;
- Cassini;
- the Mars rovers;
- Space Telescope.

Those are just a few off the top of my poor head. So, you can't say we haven't contributed as a nation to planetary science and astronomy.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with achieving a goal in the name of national pride or prestige. I, for one, am proud of the fact that we did it (and, believe it or not, that we could do it again if necessary).

quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
For the general public, they've never really cared and probably never will.
I wonder if the hundreds of thousands of people who crammed the causeways and riverbanks around KSC for countless missions (just to name a few, Apollos 11 and 17, Skylab 1, STS-1, and John Glenn's political payoff launch... I sat in a 3-hour traffic jam in an overheating car just trying to get out the CCAFS south gate for that one!) would agree with you there? Or how about the half-million or so who watched the early Shuttle landings at Edwards?

I'll shut up now.

KSCartist
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posted 03-22-2007 07:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing." Forgive me if I have mangled the quote.

astronaut23 believe me, I understand your frustration and disappointment about todays society. But you cannot give up. Rememeber that in 1993 (I think)the ISS came within one vote of being canceled. I think that even though the space station is stuck in LEO, we have benefitted by learning how to construct spacecraft in orbit. If it is allowed to be completed, then we will also benefit by the science it will accomplish.

Robert for someone who wasn't there, you nailed it with your post. While we may not have gone to the Moon "because it was hard", President Kennedy understood how to inspire the public with rhetoric. The remaining part of that quote is also important, "...because that goal will serve to organize and masure the best of our energies and skills. Becasue that challenge is one that we're willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone and one we intend to win."

Joe while the vast crowds packed the space coast to witness the launches you mentioned were impressed and cheered our national accomplishments, their support is a mile wide and an inch deep. Would those same people support a tax increase to speed up development of Orion? I doubt it.

Todays world is unfortunately a different place than the last time we looked up at the Moon. Then, we had "Godless Communists" threatening our way of life. Today we have "religious extremists" who are willing to commit suicide to end our way of life. Honestly, I don't have the answer to protect us from this threat. That's why we look to our leaders.

Regarding the shuttle program being worth it and "what did it accomplish?" It accomplished a lot. What did we need to know to accomplish Apollo? We needed to test our spacecraft and ground support equipment, we needed to know how to rendezvous and dock and we needed to know how to perform an EVA. Because it was the first time anything like that was done, it was an incredible accomplishment.

Building upon that knowledge base what have we learned since 1981:
- repair and recover satellites on orbit
- construct incredibly complex spacecraft
- work along side international partners
- conduct science over months and years (not just weeks and months (ala Skylab)
- innovative solutions such as 3 person spacewalk, unplanned spacewalks to solve an issue
- reuse and refurbish spacecraft and boosters
- flying hundreds of astronauts

I'm sure others can add to this list. If we didn't have a shuttle program, we would not have gained this type of experience. The problem with most people is that flying a shuttle in LEO is not "sexy." But because of the knowledge gained over the last generation we can build a better Moon base, and a better vehicle. With the knowledge and experience gained from the Orion program, we can think about venturing farther out.

OK I'm back off the soapbox again.

Tim

Joe Holloway
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posted 03-22-2007 07:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Holloway   Click Here to Email Joe Holloway     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KSCartist:
The problem with most people is that flying a shuttle in LEO is not "sexy."
Being in a nostalgic, "Shuttleist" mood this morning, Tim, I dusted off Dad's audio cassettes of Engle & Truly's STS-2 landing. Dad switched back and forth between networks during his recording, probably afraid he would miss something good.

On these cassettes, you have Cronkite and Rather going ga-ga over the fact that Columbia was a true aerospace craft, zipping over Bakersfield at Mach-whatever, then touching down to a majestic landing.

On ABC, there was Frank Reynolds, impressed with the Shuttle but still harping about the fuel cell failure which ended that mission early. Meanwhile, Gene Cernan kept saying, "reliability will come, Frank."

John Yardley said there would be 75 Shuttle flights by 1986.

Listening to this landing coverage (and the thousands-upon-thousands of people lining the desert to watch, clapping to the strains of patriotic music) reminded me of how very much that vehicle meant to us then.

Amazing how things change over the years, isn't it?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-22-2007 11:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Joe Holloway:
There is absolutely nothing wrong with achieving a goal in the name of national pride or prestige.
Pride and prestige are fleeting and as taught to us by Apollo, cannot sustain a program. A project sold on pride has a finish line: goal achieved, prestige obtained, now come home.

As the Mars rovers and the space telescopes have shown us, missions sold on the basis of science have the ability to operate long past their planned (and budgeted) lifespans. To commit the same to manned activities however takes a special type of dedication due to the much larger price tag.

A "flags and footprints" Project Orion will repeat the mistakes made by Apollo: we may make it to the surface but sooner than later, politicians will lose interest and the funding will be diverted elsewhere. Likewise with a goal of beating another nation (i.e. China); once beaten, we are more likely to retract than push forward.

A program that embraces scientific, engineering, international policy and even commercial returns may have the right blend of results to sustain extended budgets.

quote:
I wonder if the hundreds of thousands of people who crammed the causeways and riverbanks around KSC for countless missions... would agree with you there?
As Tim rightly observed, spectators are a poor indicator of support. Out of sight, out of mind: once the rocket leaves the view of the crowd, the crowd loses sight of the reason they were launching. The vast majority of those who attend launches and landings do so for the entertainment value, not because they are ready to commit to more funding for the space program.

Joe Holloway
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posted 03-23-2007 12:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Holloway   Click Here to Email Joe Holloway     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Obviously, I am either a dinosaur or in the wrong decade for this august company.

Joe Holloway
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posted 03-23-2007 09:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Holloway   Click Here to Email Joe Holloway     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
A "flags and footprints" Project Orion will repeat the mistakes made by Apollo: we may make it to the surface but sooner than later, politicians will lose interest and the funding will be diverted elsewhere. Likewise with a goal of beating another nation (i.e. China); once beaten, we are more likely to retract than push forward.
"Let me make myself perfectly clear." By no means would I, a tireless supporter of America's space program, endorse a "flags and footprints" mission to any destination, lunar or planetary. Any return from such a mission would obviously never justfy the risk of a flight crew's lives or the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars.

I'm not so certain about any lack-of-science "mistakes made by Apollo," either. Apollo crews deployed EASEP and ALSEP packages, retrieved extremely valuable core and surface samples, and progressively improved and refined their field geology observations. All of this during very limited (2 to 4 hour) EVAs.

Other than canceling the program way too early, the biggest mistake we made during Apollo was NOT sending some of Jack Schmitt's geologist colleagues up sooner.

I guess the point I was trying to make was this; the public must be INSPIRED to support (and, of course, bankroll) the science-driven missions to the Moon and beyond. Unless we appeal to the taxpayers' emotions somehow, I can't see them funding "pure science" expeditions to Titusville, much less the Moon or beyond.

If convincing our citizens that we must get back to the Moon before the Chinese is what it takes to win support (i.e., appeal to their patriotism or national pride), then we need to get on it right now.

I'd much rather see us go back for reasons of prestige, then "retract" again, rather than NOT GO BACK AT ALL.

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