Friday, July 08, 2011

Godspeed, STS-135

The weather is still the wild card for the final launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, scheduled to go off a little more than an hour from now.  There's been a lot of press nostalgia of late about how today marks the "end of an era" but not nearly enough about the United States becoming a second-rate space power with the Shuttle program's demise.  Here's some thoughts in that space (heh) from a CNet article today:
"Does it bother me? I think the transition could have taken place a little more gradually," (STS-135 commander Craig) Ferguson said of the Obama space policy. "I would have liked to have seen a little more openness and not have it occur so suddenly. Does that mean it's the wrong thing to do? I'm really not sure. We had alluded to, in the past, we're really taking a risk. We are. And with big risks come big rewards. This could turn out to be the savior of human spaceflight in America. I'm really not sure, only time will tell.


"We are going to miss it," former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, architect of the Bush administration's moon program, said of the shuttle program. "I was, as administrator, supportive of and willing to retire the shuttle in favor of a new and better system that would take us back to the moon and even beyond, but I'm not willing to retire the shuttle in favor of nothing. That, to me, doesn't seem like good national policy."
In the near term, "we're going to have a reverse brain drain," he told CBS News. "It used to be that people came from other places and other industries to work in the space program because of what it meant and what it was. And as it goes away, we're going to lose those people because talented folks go where there are tough problems. And that's not going to be good for the country."
There's more here, including excerpts from a highly critical open letter to President Obama written by Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong, Apollo 13 commander James Lovell, and Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan.

It's gonna be an emotional day.  Godspeed, STS-135.


  1. I was hoping the President would decide to keep two orbiters as a stopgap measure to protect our interests in the Space Station.

  2. That cartoon makes me really sad, on severakl levels.

  3. The shuttle missions became too secretive. Does anyone really know what they do? One astronaut (I forget which) was quoted after the ship burned-up over Dallas, that the experiments on-board that ship were not very important science. They all lost their lives bringing home an ant farm for some high school kids basically.

    The shuttle was supposed to make it cheaper to move stuff into space, but it actually costs more, as each person in a seat probably raises the price 10 million. An unmanned rocket is about 1/10 the cost.

  4. Moogie: Coz it's true.

    Anon: The Shuttle may not have been cheap but it was all we had that was "man-rated." Now? Nuthin'. Except pay the Rooshians.

  5. I kind of think Yeager had it right. The spaceship is basically built so that the human is a redundant part. He later changed his insulting "spam in a can" to something more sensitive.

    The Shuttle was made simpler because a human was onboard. But then the human cost a fortune to push the buttons.

    I used to work on a system that was supposed to be 100% self-fixing, and the redundant parts were designed to switch-in all by themselves, and then I would replace the bad parts on my weekly PMI's. Not so, they basically ran out of money and only made it 95% redundant (which is a big number still).

    But 95% redundant meant driving to the mountain top late at night with deer attacking my truck from all sides...


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