Thursday, July 21, 2011

Atlantis is down safely...

...and government astronauts are now officially reduced to bumming rides from the Russkies.

Private astronauts can buy their tickets here.

I'll not lie, though; NASA sure picked a poignant date to pull the plug.
.

29 comments:

Bubblehead Les. said...

As one of those people Blessed to be alive and watching Humanities' One Small Step as it happened, where we were 42 years ago compared to where we are today sickens me. As of this morning, NASA now has the same ability to put Humans into Space as we did before Al Shepard went up, i.e. NONE. I hope every Satellite that this Admin puts up to Monitor "Global Warming" instead of using our Science, Technology and Engineering towards moving the Human Race out of this Egg Basket called Earth blows up on the pad.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

My elementary school books had pictures of the L7 space stations were gonna live in. My World Book encyclopeia set had pictures of the Moon landing and what our Mars lander might look like.

Tam said...

NJT,

The space stations were at L5. The people in the pictures were L7. ;)

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

D'Oh! Gimme a break. The elementary textbook perusal was so long ago...

Tam said...

Yes, but I had to make the "square" joke. I had to! :)

og said...

Indeed, we would think you were slipping if you didn't. But we all know who's pulling the wool these days.

WV: Globb. Chris Matthews still has a globb of... nevermind.

North said...

Not About Space Anymore.

Anonymous said...

And so we begin the long, sad regression...science will advance again when "Urg! Look!! Thog make fire!! Now can keep wolves back from cave!!"

cap'n chumbucket

docjim505 said...

I'm going to be contrarian (this from a guy who's favorite childhood reading was a picture book about the Mercury program):

We blew through a flippin' great wad of cash keeping up with the Joneskis. We got some kick-a** photos of Americans doing incredible things in space, we got some way-cool rocks from the Moon, we developed some neat-o technology that we MIGHT otherwise not have done. We demonstrated to ourselves and everybody else what Americans can do when we put our minds and resources to a task. It was great while it lasted.

But...

Other than military purposes*, what use is served with having a manned spaceflight capability? Is it cost-effective to maintain such a capability against the need to occasionally go up and tinker with malfunctioning satellites in low orbit, or to ferry astronauts to have fun living in zero-g for several months while playing mad scientist?

Perhaps there will be a good (i.e. cost-effective) reason to send men into space some day: mining or other processes on the Moon, Mars or the asteroids ("Outland", anyone?). If so, then I expect that the market will provide the necessary capital and means. Otherwise, I'm for shutting down NASA and returning it to an advisory agency such as the old NACA, preferably without James Hansen.

----

(*) The military, especially the USAF, had great plans during the '50s and '60s to have a manned spaceflight capability. If there's good reason for this such as ballistic missile defense, earth surveillance, or interdicting an enemy's use of space, then the Air Force should reinvigorate this program with modern versions of the X-20 and the MOLAB.

Tam said...

cap'n chumbucket,

The government is hardly the cutting edge of science. Bought your ticket with Virgin Galactic yet? :)

Lanius said...

Virgin? Tourist nonsense. SpaceX is going to have their rocket certified for manned use, and they already have a capsule.

Tam said...

They ain't sellin' tickets.

Uncle Tom said...

Maybe I am just sentimental and a bit biased, but I want to see America at the cutting edge of science, military, education, ect. To see our space program get slowly cut is sad. To maybe think that our astronauts might be hitching rides with our competitors is sickening.

Here's to you America...

Tam said...

It's not my space program, it's the government's space program. If it was my space program, I could go hitch a ride.

Lanius said...

I suppose there's some novelty in paying hundreds of thousands to look at this dirtball from really far up, but honestly, what's the point? Hi-res satellite photos not enough?

If I had $200 K to waste, I'd learn to fly an aeroplane and buy one. Not from so far up, but at least it wouldn't be over that soon.

That'd be better value, unless one crashes.

Anonymous said...

There was a big THUMP!THUMP! here in central Fla early this morning. I snap awake, and think of grabbing my gun. Then I remember, and glance at the clock. It was 5:48 a.m.

What a rude and even frightening way to be awakened -again- with what sounds and feels like a couple of 100 lb. sandbags dropped from some height onto the roof directly over your bed.

And I'm so saddened and sickened and sorry to know...it's the last time that'll happen.

AT

Tam said...

Lanius,

"Hi-res satellite photos not enough?"

No.

Why don't you read about riding a bike or shooting a gun or having sex?

Wouldn't that be cheaper?

Andrew Weitzman said...

On the other hand, the Dawn probe is now in orbit around Vesta. It got there using frickin' ion thruster engines. There's also a huge nuclear-powered Mars rover being readied to take over from Spirit and Opportunity.

The space program is still kicking.

Tam said...

Yup.

Anonymous said...

I see that somewhere on the order of 2800 employees will be gone from Cape Canaveral after tomorrow. I wonder what the ratio of engineer to bureaucrat is in the layoff?

Anonymous said...

"I suppose there's some novelty in paying hundreds of thousands to look at this dirtball from really far up, but honestly, what's the point? Hi-res satellite photos not enough? "

You absolutely do not get it...

Scott said...

Re: BL at the top
"I hope every Satellite that this Admin puts up to Monitor "Global Warming" instead of using our Science, Technology and Engineering towards moving the Human Race out of this Egg Basket called Earth blows up on the pad."
You do know that it was Bush who canceled the shuttle, with the last flight in 2010 - don't you?
You do know that Obama extended the program by a flight or two into 2011, to stock up the ISS - don't you?
Your "this Admin" reference is ignorance at its best.

Lanius said...

@Anonymous

Unlike you old farts, who're not going to see orbit.. by the time I'm an old fart(2065), it's quite possible the orbital elevator will be standing.

Or maybe SSTO space planes will be widely used.

Anyway..


You absolutely do not get it...

Maybe I don't want to. What's the point of yearning for something that's cool but useless?
I'll confine my yearnings to vintage machineguns(ZB-26) and the vaunted but somewhat mythical collector's extemption. Bloody cops.. so stingy with those.

@Tam
Not the same thing... reading, and photographs. How many people you know who read dirty stories, eh?

... going to see orbit is about as practical as getting to experience WWII fighter combat by spending $n-million to refurbish a dozen vintage planes and then flying with them.

Most people don't bother.. flight simulators are getting pretty decent these days, and there's also 3d goggles with good resolution.

It's all so bloody premature, these space dreams. I blame naive SF..

Space's not for us, never has been, never will be for meatbags and right now it's so expensive that it's not worth thinking about unless one's a billionaire. Suborbital hops don't count as seeing space in my book.

Anyway, what just ended wasn't a space program, it was a space joke.

Orion project was the only real manned space program of the 20th century. Apollo was nothing more than a bloody useless PR stunt.

Tam said...

You're so cute when you try to be jaded and cynical. :)

Tam said...

(Oh, and by the time you're an old fart, in 2025 or so, there won't be any "space elevator" any more than there was an "L5 Station" in 1999. Your demographically feeble generation will be working 100 hours a week and paying 80% taxes to keep the 68ers in tennis outings and wrinkle cream.)

Lanius said...

100 hours a week and paying 80% taxes? Uh-huh.

You've obviously never met anyone under forty from central Europe...

I'd say a quarter of them are in favour of disenfranchising people who don't pay taxes, and most of them very much in favor of pushing retirement age past 70, since they bloody well know they'll never collect any retirement, so why should their parents enjoy it?

In 2025 I'll be barely middle-aged ;-) and we all know that while women are prettier and don't smell, men age far better than women..

In 2035...well.. I'll be an old fart, I give you that. Wouldn't rule elevator by that time.. unless the world economy goes really pear shaped before then.

Tam said...

"You've obviously never met anyone under forty from central Europe...

I'd say a quarter of them are in favour of disenfranchising people who don't pay taxes,
"

They can be in favor of moonbeams an lollipops while they're at it.

They have the numbers.

They have the votes.

They have the money.

They have the government, the cops, and the military.

You can be in favor of whatever you want, but you've got dick. And you'll like it.

JebTexas said...

Tam, Lanius, SpaceX already has the booster (Falcon 9 Heavy lifts about 75% of Saturn V, due for first lauch later this year w/ engines already tested), the moon orbit capable Merlin/Dragon combo, and has been planning for months on hireing several hundred new peeps... where ever will they find them? SpaceX has already secured the $1B NASA COTS contract... they sent a wheel of cheese a la Monty Python to the ISS in the Dragon capsule- and then recovered the capsule on splash down. Next step in to dock with ISS, then a manned trip (maybe just to orbit & back) I've a bro in the engineering end of SpaceX, and let me tell you the 9 engine test on the BFTS in McGregor is TRULY awe inspiring. BFTS- Big Falcon Test Stand, but ya know what the engies call it. Heh. They started by hireing ex-NASA. Take not council of your fears, for American space is STILL leading the way. Check out SpaceX.com.

Lanius said...


You can be in favor of whatever you want, but you've got dick. And you'll like it.


Yeah, well, except, dear old US seems to be in far worse shape, politically speaking, than eastern Europe. You've got a leftist for a president and some of you are already likening the US to the next Greece, except there won' be an EU to bail you out.

Default of inflation is inevitable. I wonder what kind of politics that'll make... whereas here, leftists aren't doing that well, and finances are not in such a sorry state. Not to mention the infrastructure's been rebuilt, whereas US is living off past glories. I mean, you had a bridge collapse?

In peacetime? Last time we had that here, it was 1931, and it only collapsed because an ex-army demolition expert who could only get off by killing lots of people blew up the bridge the train was passing..