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Space Science

Moon Rocket Scrubbed and Blown Dry 305

Posted by Hemos
from the preseving-our-past dept.
loid_void writes "Reutersis is reporting that a giant Apollo moon rocket that never got off the ground is about to get a face-lift after years of rusting away in the Texas heat and humidity at the Johnson Space Center. Workers will construct a shelter for the Saturn V rocket and give it the equivalent of a "blow dry" in the first steps to preserve the relic of NASA's golden age, said Allan Needell, Apollo program curator for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. The 363-foot-long behemoth has lain on its side in front of JSC since 1977, a favorite sight of tourists, but also a victim of the elements. Instead of launching astronauts to the moon as it was built to do, it has become a slowly fading hulk of peeling paint and corroded metal where birds live and plants sprout, Needell said on Wednesday during a visit to the rocket. "There's a lot of biology growing on there," he said, pointing out streaks of algae staining the rocket's white skin."
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Moon Rocket Scrubbed and Blown Dry

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  • What a waste (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ra5pu7in (603513) <ra5pu7in@gmaCHEETAHil.com minus cat> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:39PM (#9457107) Journal
    For all the people who fuss and complain about the money spent on actual space programs, this is a great example of the kind of wastefulness that goes on. And, now, rather than reuse or slag it, even more money will be spent to clean it up and display it. I'd rather see it broken apart, melted and recycled in more useful form than have a never-used moon rocket sitting in a museum.
  • by PPGMD (679725) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:39PM (#9457108) Journal
    How cool would it be to sink a Saturn V rocket as an artificial reef!

    No because most people don't realize how massive of an accomplishment it was to get to the moon.

    All of that rocket, fuel, and oxygen to carry the LM, and CSM, which are small in comparison.

  • NASA's golden age? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pi_0's don't shower (741216) <ethan.isp@northwestern@edu> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:40PM (#9457118) Homepage Journal
    I have to object to referring to the 1960's/70's as NASA's golden age. Surely, that should be regarded as NASA's infancy, and that NASA's golden age [yahoo.com] may be yet to come? Maybe it's too optimistic, but I'm a 25 year old astrophysics grad student, and I know how much is out there waiting to be explored and examined -- I don't want to have to live my life in the belief that my industry's best days were before I was born!
  • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nakito (702386) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:43PM (#9457146)
    I'd rather see it broken apart, melted and recycled in more useful form than have a never-used moon rocket sitting in a museum.

    Going to the moon may have been the greatest single physical achievement of the human race. There are only three remaining examples of the engine that took us there. This is one of them. I say, let's keep it.
  • by Sean80 (567340) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:44PM (#9457150)
    Obviously, for any geek worth their stripes, the Saturn V rockets are a pretty awesome piece of history. Well, for this geek at least. It honestly surprises me that they let it come to this in the first place. Does anybody know what the condition of the other 2 is? How was it that this one was not deemed historically significant enough to be taken of?

    Although I've lived in the US for a few years now, I've never had the opportunity to go see some of this stuff. Seeing this thing cleaned up and in a permanent display will definitely be worth the price of admission.

  • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:44PM (#9457151)
    Yah, God only knows how terrible it would be to preserve a piece of history!

    And we'll we're at it, let's tear down the Washington Monument and make a Parking Garage there! No need to waste all that space and stone when we could make something useful of it...

  • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:44PM (#9457152)
    Yeah, because the used rockets make such good museum pieces..

    But you're right, there's no sense in remembering things from the past. We should have melted down the Spirit of St. Louis, it has no place taking up space in a building.

    In fact, that whole Smithsonian thing is such a waste! All that valuable real estate, wasted by useless relics of the past.

    .. I really should add something to make it entirely clear I'm being sarcastic.

    "Those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it's mistakes." - paraphrased from someone famous.
  • by confused one (671304) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:45PM (#9457163)
    It would be very un-cool.
  • Re:What a waste (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Snowdog668 (227784) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:49PM (#9457192) Homepage
    I'd have to agree with you here. Especially since according to the article there's two other Saturn V's on display at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Marshall Space Center in Alabama. If it were the only one left in existance I might be able to see spending the cash. Since this would be the third museum piece I think that the money would be better spent elsewhere.

  • Re:What a waste (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MoxCamel (20484) * on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:49PM (#9457198)
    For all the people who fuss and complain about the money spent on actual space programs, this is a great example of the kind of wastefulness that goes on.

    I agree! And all those stupid dinosaur bones cluttering up our museums...toss em! And all those damned paintings in the Looo-ver--digitize the damn things and burn em. Waste of space!

    ...is what I would have said if I were as ignorant as the original poster. There's probably more than a few scientists and/or astronauts who started down their career path by looking up at that piece of "waste," and thinking how wonderful it would be to be a part of something that great. Some things have more value than just their raw materials.

  • by jpnews (647965) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:51PM (#9457205)
    I live in Houston and I've visited JSC a lot of times through the years. The Saturn V is in bad condition, and has been steadily getting worse. Something surely needs to be done.

    And to those who have called it a waste of resources, I have only this to say. All the money in the world won't be of any use if we don't create another generation of engineers and scientists. I've personally seen the look in a kid's eyes when they get up close to something enormous and meaningful. You just can't buy that.
  • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @04:55PM (#9457246)


    How cool would it be to sink a Saturn V rocket as an artificial reef!


    You say this because... why? There's almost as many (somewhat) complete Saturn V rockets as ships? So many that it's hard to come up with contructive uses for them, maybe?
  • Re:What a waste (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wankledot (712148) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:01PM (#9457307)
    Don't you think it would cost significantly more money to break it up and recycle it, just to get some Al and Fe that could be had elsewhere easier and cheaper?

    The fact that it was not used 30 years ago is wasteful, but recycling it now would be even more of a waste.

  • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPGMD (679725) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:01PM (#9457311) Journal
    Exactly. As a kid I remember standing in front of this rocket at JSC, and saying, "Wow!" Here was the object that took our men to the moon, quite possibly the largest moving vehicle that I have ever seen.

    Years later when I was attending Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, I flew down to Titusville to see a friend. I went by the KSC during the evening (before the post 9-11 lock down), here in that night, I could almost feel the power, it was almost as moving as when I was a kid.

    Without the past, people have nothing to aspire to, for most people what's in the books is simply writing, it's no more real than Lord of the Rings, but if you put a kid in the rocket park down there, history comes alive, here is what you are reading about, not just in words, but in towering moments to the men that rode them.

    It inspired me, I would gladly pay for them to be around to inspire future generations.

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:11PM (#9457392)
    What do you think happened to that money? They laminated $100 bills and used that for the skin?

    No. A whole bunch of contractor companies were hired to design, build, and test parts of it. Companies that hired people. Thousands of skilled people. People that got paid a good salary for a good days work. People that supported tens of thousands of other people by buying food, clothes, cars, houses.

    So it didn't get used. The budget and interest ran out. A shame, but not like the money was wasted.

    What would you prefer we have done with that money? Collect taxes and merely give it away?
  • by mog007 (677810) <Mog007.gmail@com> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:37PM (#9457667)
    I've been to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and I've looked at the only unlaunched Saturn V. It's the biggest thing I've ever seen. Sure, I've also been to New York and seen the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, et el., but people don't put billions of pounds of liquid oxygen inside of the Empire State Building, set it on fire, and fly to the moon with it.
  • by .com b4 .storm (581701) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:40PM (#9457696)

    Am I the only one who sees this as a great pick up line?
    [. . .]
    Random gal: *SLAP*

    This is why us geeks can't get chicks. Our definition of a "great" pickup line is the one that generates the hardest slap. :)

  • by StarKruzr (74642) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @05:57PM (#9457867) Journal
    It made me sad, actually. Something kept telling me "this ship was supposed to go to the moon, and it's here because it didn't."

    Call me sentimental, but she looked like a giant failure of human exploration to me.
  • by boredman (169127) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:02PM (#9457920)
    Corny as this may sound, bleak outlooks on the future, however "justified," tend to produce bleak futures. The inverse is also true.

    As I've said in more than a few other space related threads, I became an engineer because of Apollo. Despite my mild depression, the space program has instilled in me a sense of optimism and purpose I just can't shake. As long as there are bright people with big dreams, we're in for greater days, I promise.

    On a more personal note, if you're young, remember that your life is just beginning and, given enough hard work, courage, and luck, you might just help bring about the next golden age.

    If you're older, and forgive me because I can't help but be rude here, please don't infect our youth with that nonsense. They need all the hope they can get.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:59PM (#9458335)
    How cool would it be to sink a Saturn V rocket as an artificial reef!


    About as cool as seeing how far it could be shoved up your ass without k-y.

  • by cmowire (254489) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @08:12PM (#9458784) Homepage
    The problem is, it's harder than you think.

    The real thing that limits space exploration is pretty much cost per pound to orbit. Because it's so damn expensive, you have to make all kinds of nasty comprimizes.

    The problem is that the shuttle never lived up to its promise. It takes far too many people to keep it going and far too expensive.

    The best solution is to retire the shuttle sooner rather than later, stop spaceflight for a few years, and develop something new. However, in doing so, you run the decided risk of being a budget cut target in Congress (And Congressional budget issues is what made the shuttle suck in the first place) and the entire manned space program shut down.

    It doesn't help that the Russians can't keep the ISS going forever with just Soyuz and Progress capsules and that they are, in general, not the best of partners. So if the shuttle is out for another few years, it's highly likely that the ISS will end up like Skylab, which ends up with another hunk of money wasted.

    The problem is, NASA wasn't paid to do things *right* it was paid to do things *fast* and *cheap*. So most of the chances to make the space program more of a long-term thing were passed up, even when they were properly funded and run by the guys with sliderules.
  • by wideBlueSkies (618979) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @08:46PM (#9458970) Journal
    Perhaps in the grand scheme of things that one rocket's purpose is to remind us of what we've accomplished before, and to inspire us to further greatness.

    wbs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2004 @10:47PM (#9459707)
    This quote [newseum.org] from a newspaper upon the Apollo 11 landing tends to sum it up for me:
    The Eugene Register-Guard of Oregon and Managing Editor William L.K. Wasmann call the landing "a triumph made possible by men of vision in every race and time." His front-page editorial continues: "If Sunday's Moonwalk shows enough men the nobility man is capable of, then we may have hope for mankind yet."
    And this:
    Apollo 11 enacted the story of an audacious purpose, its execution, its triumph, and the means that achieved it - the story and the demonstration of man's highest potential... an achievement of man in his capacity as a rational being - an achievement of reason, of logic, of mathematics, of total dedication to the absolutism of reality... The mission was a moral code enacted in space.- Ayn Rand

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