Friday, July 08, 2011

STS-135.



Yes, I'll be watching the last launch of the Shuttle Program today. Don't come over all wookie-suit on me: I own autographed copy number 463 of Kings of the High Frontier; I know what a bureaucratically-crippled, politically-logrolled white elephant the whole Shuttle program was from the start...

...but I'll get a little choked up all the same.

If you're going to steal money from me at gunpoint, promise me you'll use it to do cool stuff like shake the ground with thunder and punch holes through the sky.
.

33 comments:

Tirno said...

Now, Spider Robinson writes some stuff that frankly starts from base principles I don't hold and accelerate pell-mell towards the event horizon of moonbattery, and he's in thrall to the demon lord of puns... and I have a lot of his books.

He seriously captured the soul of a shuttle launch in one of his books. As the characters were abandoning New York to find more fitting locations in Florida to re-establish The Bar, they stopped off to watch a launch. The engines started, the ground started to shake, then the speed of sound brought them the roar of the engines as the shuttle lifted off the launch pad, clawing for altitude to get out of the sucking drag of the lower atmosphere. A hundred million expensive parts and gigajoules of stored energy screaming the defiance of humanity against the entropy that keeps most of our species stuck at the lowest energy state at the bottom of the gravity well. Well, those four to eight people are making a prison break on engines rated at millions of dollars per second, and as they streak towards the sky, you just wanna scream from the bottom of your soul:

Go, baby, GO!

Alan said...

I have KOTHF #184. :D

Tam said...

I saw STS-7 live. I can still remember it like it was yesterday, even if all the mundane months and years around it are succumbing to bit-rot and misfiling.

Bram said...

With space, like most other things, we seem to have lost our balls. The Space Shuttle program made sense when we were going to get people off planet.

It was the platform we would use to build a real space station - not the white trash trailer we parked in orbit. It was the tool to build a space elevator with. Maybe shuttle up a few extra fuel tanks into orbit, pick them up, point a shuttle at the moon and go back. Maybe use them to assemble real space craft in orbit.

It was supposed to be a design that was improved upon - so that private and NASA users would have cheaper and better versions by now.

It wasn't supposed to just fizzle out.

Anonymous said...

A recent cartoon said it best: The shuttle up on blocks, tires missing, "For Sale" sign hanging off the wing. Caption: "One step for a small man, one giant leap backward for mankind."

*SIGH*

cap'n chumbucket

Anonymous said...

I worked for Bendix Aerospace doing the stress testing of the Shuttle in the early 80's and saw the first Shuttle launch at the Cape. I met Crippen and Young at the annual NASA picnic at RSA and was totally in awe.

If you never saw a launch you cannot appreciate the actual feel of the power shaking you as one took off, it was awesome.

Gmac

Bubblehead Les. said...

Crossing fingers for a good launch, but I'm still pissed that if I want to go to Space, it'll be on the wings of Converted T-34. But, hey, if your Foreign Policy is based on the premise that "It's not FAIR that the United States is the World's Only Superpower" ( Madeline Albright), what can one expect?

og said...

A friend of mine was in the teacher-shuttle program for a while before he washed out. (he didn't have the prerequisite number of fingers on either hand) he was kind enough to give me copies of the course materials, including an owners manual for the Shuttle. It was about 6" thick, and gave operating instructions for all the pieces, from the heads-up displays to the centrifugal potty. I loaned it to a colleague who still has it. It was a hoot to read.

Now, if we can get civillians to start doing this shit, I don't care if it's 30,000 Estes D rockets and sonotube with surplus Olive Drab parachutes and used SCUBA equipment, I know it'll go faster further for less.

Joanna said...

In a perfect world, all NASA funding meetings would take about two minutes.

"Gentlemen, this is what we're planning."

[cue frikkin' awesome 90-second slide show with rock soundtrack and visuals by Michael Bay via the Hubble telescope]

"And why should we fund this project?"

"Dude! Did you not just see the slideshow?"

"Ah, yes. Funding approved. Next!"

Nathan said...

Alan,

#901 here.

Nathan said...

FWIW I will never listen to that song and not think "Ah. Spectre's Anthem!" again.

Anonymous said...

That's not a rocket, this is a rocket!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uoVfZpx5dY

Being a semi old codger I remember watching this and laughing as Cronkite almost wet his panties.

From Mercury to the Shuttle the program went from space explorers to hauling the trash in the public eye in 50 years. A damn shame.

Gerry

ExurbanKevin said...

The Shuttle was (and is) a point of national pride, especially for all us who grew up in the Cold War. For what seemed like a decade, the Soviets were sending up Salyut and Mir missions and breaking through space endurance records like Rosie O'Donell crashing a buffet line, and the U.S. had, um, err, well we'll have the Shuttle online REAL soon.

And it was worth the wait. In fact, it was so good, the Soviets tried to copy it.

TJIC said...

That video - I see that we're of a similar age!

mikee said...

I saw a shuttle launch, after two tries that ended as nice trips to Florida from my college in SC. The shuttle launch made me deeply regret I never saw a Saturn V blast off.

The future of space travel lies with the market based private business launchers, and I think progress will be faster, less expensive and more exciting than when NASA used their last years with Muslim outreach as one of their primary missions.

Bubblehead Les. said...

United States Manned Space Program: Born, 5 May 1961, Died 8 July 2011. Rest in Peace.

I'd like to personally thank Barack Hussein Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and all those other Politicians who decided to kill off the Hopes, Dreams and Aspirations of all those young children who thought that they might some day become Astronauts.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as of 11:30 this morning, the only nations that can put Humans into Space are Russia, China and Japan, right? And Japan is still trying to recover from the Disaster a few months back, so they aren't trying to maintain a Space Presence. So the Human Race now has to depend on the whims of Tzar Putin's New Imperial Russia and the People's Republic of China to even reach Low Earth Orbit.

Somewhere in Hell, Nikita Kruschev is High Fiveing Mao Tse Tung, and is screaming : "See I TOLD you that we would Bury Them!"

Tam said...

Japan has no man-rated boosters. They cancelled their human spaceflight program in '03.

Russia's really the only game in town at the moment for manned space flight; China's program is still very experimental.

India's first manned launch is scheduled for '03.

I don't care if the U.S. Government has a manned space program. "Americans are in space because of NASA!" is like saying "Indianapolis residents are throwing 300 yards a game because of the Colts!"

I want to buy a ticket on a Rutan ship flown by Delta. THEN Americans will be in space.

Tam said...

*India's manned launch is scheduled for '16.

Matt said...

One of my earliest memories is watching the '69 moon landing. I was all of 5 years old but I knew it was big deal. Hell, my mom even kicked her date out of the house because he wanted to watch a baseball game instead. To this day, I'm convinced part of the reason I tried so hard in school was that I soooo wanted to be part of the space program someday. That didn't happen, but I've never lost my fascination for all things space related.

Other countries used to have to depend on us to access space and we did it gladly. I cry when I realize that now we have to depend on a bunch of borscht eating mafioso wannabes to get to the space station that we started.

WV: bingsid - Bob Hope was a great partner but I preferred Dorothy Lamour

Drang said...

Have you seen yesterday's Abstruse Goose » History of Flight?

NASA may have put us on the moon, but what have they done for us lately?

We should be terraforming Mars and mining the asteroids!

Newbius said...

Actually, Tam, the Rutan ship will be flown by Virgin Galactic. Maybe even this year.

http://www.virgingalactic.com/

I, too, wished to see a live Apollo launch. (I was a young lad back then...) One of the last projects that my grandfather worked on at North American Aviation was the Saturn V. It was a nice exclamation point on a fine career.

Anonymous said...

Watched the video.
My five year old son wanted to know, "Are those boys or girls?"

Alath
Carmel IN

Tam said...

"They were Eighties people." :)

Ian Argent said...

Isn't that the song the ASS Vorpal Blade uses to warn off anything in her take-off run?

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Ian: Yup.

That was a fun book, too. I do wish somebody had glued a mini candy bar over the bridge hatch, though.

Ken said...

My great dream is that the next state to send someone to the moon is greeted by a guy in a pressure suit with Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites patches, and waving lightsticks: "Yeah, park it over there."

Anonymous said...

So is KOTHF worth the $75.00 tag taht Amozon has on it?

Tam said...

Anon 5:36,

Well, how many of us are bragging about which # signed copy we have? ;)

Anonymous said...

Got a few of those(signed books - ever see a full set of Geo. Chin's reference books signed to the owner?) meself. I was asking more about the reading than the signing, heh.

Tam said...

All I can say is that the Amazon reviews are not lying.

I've read it three times now, and going to read it a fourth as soon as Atlantis is safely wheels-down again.

Joseph said...

I like this video too...Rush "Countdown".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5vPrrnb6tw

I'm hoping that private enterprise will take over space exploration...I think they would likely do a lot more for a lot less than the government, not to mention keeping at least some of the space program people employed.

Ian Argent said...

I posted my thoughts a while back

http://ianargent.blogspot.com/2011/03/fire-in-sky.html

Tam said...

Joseph,

"I like this video too...Rush "Countdown"."

That song has snippets of launch control dialog from STS-1. It has long been a favorite driving song of mine, but I've had a hard time listening to it without tearing up since 2/1/03...