Monday, March 17, 2008

It was all worth it.

I may carp and complain about an inefficient NASA bureaucracy that has done naught in decades but produce a flying garbage scow of a government jobs program, but despite all the failing O-rings, abandoned manned programs, and diaper-wearing stalkers, sometimes my chest is filled to bursting with the swelling pride that makes the vast tax sink worthwhile. I mean, do you people realize that we have successfully completed a Giant Space Robot? Decepticons, Cylons and Thetans beware!

Someday this planet may be reduced to a wasteland, with cockroaches, brainiac chimps and Charlton Heston slugging it out in the radioactive rubble, but future space alien visitors will say "Hell's bells, Marge-10Tz3! Will you look at that 2-ton space robot? The arms alone must be eleven foot apiece! These carbon-based guys were really somethin'!"

As a bonus, the headline to the article read "Spacewalkers resort to banging...", confirming what we knew all along: There really is a Hundred-Mile-High Club!

19 comments:

Lorimor said...

Meh... just a matter of time before this thing transforms itself into a Cadillac and terrifies the residents of some backwater Texas town.

Aaron said...

Things can only go one way from here, you know. Von Neumans out to the asteroid belt followed shortly by the fall of humanity.

Don't these people read?

Anonymous said...

Waste, fraud, and at times a comedy of human errors and frailty, no doubt.

But much of what we use and enjoy now is directly traceable to space program origins (like that titanium smif), and that whiz-bang satellite shootdown a while back was truly worthy of awe (and could save the lives of us all one day, avoiding that kockroach kingdom).

And there is this; imagination and speculation of what lies outside our vision and knowledge provides a good part of that SF world you so appreciate, and a symbiotic relationship of that avatar's world with the reality of space endeavor certainly exists.

So the shuttle has outlived its practical and symbolic usefulness, but it is a step on the staircase to whatever is next; it's up to us to see that tax sink redirected...will it be "beam me up, scotty" for real or only in reruns?

A waste of good snark on this one, Tam. Onward and upward!

James

Alex said...

You forgot the best part of the story:

"For nearly two days, a cable design flaw prevented NASA from getting power to Dextre, lying in pieces on its transport bed."

'Nuff said.

Zendo Deb said...

You do realize it was the Canadians, not NASA that built this thing, don't you?

Tam said...

The Canuckistanians?

We cannot allow a Giant Space Robot gap!

Anonymous said...

SPAR builds that and the shuttle "arm".I think.

Special Project and Research used of be a branch of deHavilland, then I think indepedendant, IIRC but god/google only knows now.

Canadian engineering students used to get all excited about working there.

Roberta X said...

"Excited Canadian Enginnering Student?" Oh please not again. They're lousy tippers and they grab.
;)

John said...

If it could be taught to play ping-pong with itself, it would truly be one of the great human achievements.

Zendo: The Canadians built the space shuttle robot arms as well, but we're the ones with the resources to actually swing 'em around up there.

Jim Sullivan said...

I remember asking about the arm a long time ago. In pictures of the shuttle cargo bay with the doors open and arm extended, you could always see the Canadian flag and Canada on the arm, in bright Communist...I mean Red Serge Red. Yeah.

I'd think, "What the hell's up with that?"

og said...

it's a waldo. I'm a robotics engineer, and assigning "robotic" status to that is like calling foam cupholder a refrigerator.

Bryan said...

NASA contributes to my daily life with the
Astronomy Picture Of The Day site.

As for There really is a Hundred-Mile-High Club!, I listened to a conversation with an astronaut once. He was asked about whether anyone had ever had sex in space. He said "Not that I know of. Not with anyone else, anyway."

Hey, 6 months on a space station ...

BryanP

Tam said...

"it's a waldo. I'm a robotics engineer, and assigning "robotic" status to that is like calling foam cupholder a refrigerator."


Be careful, og, for you are treading on my dreams.

og said...

A goddess should have no illusions.

Want to see some real robots, I can arrange it, in your vicinity. I'm surrounded by them, all the time.

Jeff the Baptist said...

There are also plans to equip the ISS with Starfuries.

Anonymous said...

As long they don't use any electronic components from these folks, we humans are probably OK:

http://www.skynetusa.com/

The Cabinet Man

Sean Galt said...

Spiffy, but its no ED-209.

Ben said...

You do realize its not NASA's fault right? I think NASA does an excellent job for what its given. If you want to blame anyone, blame the politicans. Don't like the ISS, blame, Ronald Reagan & Bill Clinton. Don't like the fact that the shuttle didn't have a true replacement plan till Columbia? Blame Congress, who killed all other replacement programs.

Granted, NASA has its problems, but it's only as good as the mission its given by the President of the nation. For instant, after we're done with the ISS we're going back to the moon to put a moonbase up there and going to Mars (Thank you President Bush!). Which will make the ISS seem cheap, because such a feat is likely to come close to costing as much as the Iraq War if not more.

So yeah, plenty to be critical about, but NASA is still the most experienced space agency in the world. I'd just wish they'd stick to robotics though, they're cheaper and overall more effective and can survive in the harshness of space far longer then us humans are capable.

Ben said...

Oh, and that being said, there is a very good reason the shuttle hasn't been replaced before now. The ISS, which is the main reason why the shuttle wasn't replaced. After all I believe its like 70 percent of the components of the ISS rely upon the shuttle to ferry it to the ISS. Just replacing the shuttle simply wasn't viable any time soon. So yeah, I blame the loss of Columbia ultimately on the ISS and the goal to complete it as fast as possible.