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NASA Space Science

Historic Shuttle Spacesuits to Meet Fiery End 70

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the burn-baby-burn dept.
collectSPACE writes "While some museums bid for retired space shuttle orbiters, the real prize may be the spacewalking spacesuits, at least if NASA's plans for them hold true. The now-reusable extravehicular mobility units (EMUs) are soon to become disposable, allowed to disintegrate as they reenter the Earth's atmosphere inside spent cargo ships."
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Historic Shuttle Spacesuits to Meet Fiery End

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  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Friday June 08, 2007 @06:37AM (#19435491)
    they take the astronauts out first.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by monk.e.boy (1077985)

      ...allowed to disintegrate as they reenter the Earth's atmosphere inside spent cargo ships.

      Finally NASA come up with a solution for my dirty underpants problem.

      (insert joke about skid marks)

      monk.e.boy

    • Knowing their track record? A zipper would get stuck.

      "Houston, we have a problem!"

  • So why can't museums have them?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2007 @06:50AM (#19435531)
      They are talking about after Orion replaces the current space shuttles. Orion does not have the ability to carry as much weight as the shuttle; thus, some things can not be brought back. One of these will be some suits that are stored on the ISS.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mikelieman (35628)
        I think that perfectly summarizes NASAs problems.

        Their heads are so far stuck up their asses that they've forgotten what their Mission is.

        Develop access to space.

        And if they can't even BRING BACK THEIR STUFF, then they've failed completely.

        And another thing. These suits suck. Hamilton Standard needs to lose their lock on it, so we can get some innovation and development.

        And another thing. For less than we've spent on the Iraq war, we *could have had* a constellation of space solar power satellites, and t
        • by R2.0 (532027) on Friday June 08, 2007 @09:06AM (#19436605)
          "And if they can't even BRING BACK THEIR STUFF, then they've failed completely."

          Which is exactly the kind of narrowminded thinking that brought us the Shuttle in the 1st place.

          The whole concept of shuttle "reusability" came from the idea that *OBVIOUSLY* reusing the orbiter would be cheaper. But it wound up costing more to basically rebuild the shuttle and SRB's every time. Real economy there.

          Sometimes, it actually makes more sense from an engineering economics standpoint to throw something away. If it is cheaper to build something for 1 time use, and throw it away after that use, that's OK.

        • >>
          For less than we've spent on the Iraq war, we *could have had* a constellation of space solar power satellites, and the lifting infrastructure to ensure access to space.
          >>

          For less than the price we spend on one shuttle mission, we could have had a constellation of satellites which are actually useful. Lifting infrastructure is a major challenge for the space program, but the bigger challenge is that there is no purpose to the space program. Here is a magical Wand of Lifting Things Into Orbit
          • You know that oft reproduced scene in the old Frankenstein movie where all the villagers are gathered outside the caste with torches and pitchforks and all? I always wondered who would react that way to hearing about a breakthrough in immortality research.

            Now I know.

        • by coaxial (28297)
          And another thing. For less than we've spent on the Iraq war, we *could have had* a constellation of space solar power satellites, and the lifting infrastructure to ensure access to space.

          In what world? Sim City?

          I'm sorry. But the technology simply doesn't exist, let alone advanced enough for wide scale commercial deployment.

          Get thee back to thou Heinlein novels of mining asteroids for common materials that are easily and much more economically exploited terrestrially.
          • by mikelieman (35628)
            "I'm sorry. But the technology simply doesn't exist, let alone advanced enough for wide scale commercial deployment."

            Specifically, which technology doesn't exist?
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        Isn't coming back just falling back to earth? How can you not have enough power to fall? Ok maybe I'm trying to be a little bit funny, but it seems like if they have enough energy to bring it up, then there should be not problem bringing it back down.
        • by Xiph1980 (944189)
          It would fall back indeed. Thats not the problem. But it'll burn and vaporise in the process due to the friction with the atmosphere.
          check this thread I just digged up via google:
          http://physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-14993 3.html [physicsforums.com]
        • by forkazoo (138186)

          Isn't coming back just falling back to earth? How can you not have enough power to fall? Ok maybe I'm trying to be a little bit funny, but it seems like if they have enough energy to bring it up, then there should be not problem bringing it back down.

          There are a couple of things going on. Yes, do-orbit is basically falling. But, orbiting is also basically falling, and the devil is in the details. You see, the big fuel tanks and rockets that you see them using to get off the ground -- most of that energy

      • by ec_hack (247907)
        Orion does not have the ability to carry as much weight as the shuttle; thus, some things can not be brought back.

        The pressurized cargo version of Orion, or the commercial cargo vehicles being developed now, could carry the suits back if the ISS program made room/mass available. The crew version of Orion may or may not have space/mass for the EMUs. The exact cargo capability available in the post-Shuttle era will determine what comes back and what doesn't.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Good point.

      Also I think its ironic that at the height of the cold war - of the fight of capitalism vs socialism - that the US Govt used a centrally planned and tax funded program (NASA/space landing) as a propaganda tool of how great they were. The commies must have been laughing their asses off.

      • Yeah, because there's nothing in between "let it be" capitalism and communism, right?
      • by u-bend (1095729)
        I'm sorry, but that doesn't demonstrate knowledge of cold war history. The commies were the first in space, and made much of it. The silliness was distributed at least equally on both sides. One might be able to argue that the Soviets played it up even more than we did. They had more of a state-sponsored propaganda engine fueling the thing; huge billboards, giant, space-age social realism-styled statues of Yuri Gagarin located centrally in Moscow--it was a BIG deal.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      So why can't museums have them?

            Like almost everything else out of NASA for the past 30 years, this makes no sense.
    • Tax money (Score:2, Interesting)

      Not to sound like a jerk, but the number of things that our taxes pay for that we can't see in museums is most likely staggering. I'd love to see all of our latest and greatest gadgets... not that spacesuits are state guarded secrets, right? Perhaps some fat-cat space contractor just talked NASA Manager #45ef.99 into agreeing to a deal where fat-cat space contractor gets to make a TON more money by making "disposable" space suits... Nothing ensures orders like a terminal product.
      • On the other hand, maybe the added cost of making a spacesuit reusable is less than the cost of making a number of disposable spacesuits over the estimated lifetime of the reusable spacesuit. E.g., if a reusable spacesuit has a lifetime of five missions, but costs more than five times as much as a disposable spacesuit, then the choice is clear. Note that this solution may still give the contractor more money (in spacesuit manufacturing charges), while still saving NASA money overall in costs related to st
    • by moldor (985453)
      Bugger the museums, why can't *I* have them ?
  • by Tribbin (565963) on Friday June 08, 2007 @06:41AM (#19435507) Homepage
    "Historic Shuttle Spacesuits to Meet Fiery End"

    Who also though on first sight that it was about Shuttleworth and Feisty Fawn?
  • Couldn't they give them away in a jingle-writing contest?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mindwarp (15738)
      "Couldn't they give them away in a jingle-writing contest?"

      Sure they could, but the winner would have to pay for Postage and Packing.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    One of the many times when /.ers should RTFA.

    The suits are going to be destroyed because the new Orion Shuttle replacement cannot support returning suited astronauts to the ground.

    It's not big enough, or it's got weight problems.

    Fer F***s sake, this doesn't sound like a replacement, or an advance. It sounds like a f*****g retreat. We are now so crap we can't bring suits back.

    I suggest we give the all the suits to the Russians. At least they still seem to have an advancing space programme!
    • by couchslug (175151) on Friday June 08, 2007 @07:54AM (#19435933)
      If we want to advance instead of grandstand, we need a faster technology development cycle. We can't have that because of the safety issues associated with putting Meat in space. If we skip (government funded) manned missions for say, fifty years, we could have far more capable unmanned systems.
      We have as much time as we care to take.

      If we can study and manipulate the things in space we need to study and manipulate without human attendants, we can get far more bang for our investment. Terrestrial exploration was carried out by humans when these were relatively expendable. Astronauts may be willing to take risks, but the public snivels when they die (unlike the risk acceptance in the heydays of test pilots...) and their life support systems impact mission duration.
  • shuttle astronauts don suits that are assembled from separate upper and lower components

    NASA's Orion spacecraft, which will replace the shuttle, does not have the weight allowances to permit the return of a single EMU.

    I'm sure someone's thought of this, but isn't there weight allowance on the Orion for even half an EMU?

  • by sdo1 (213835) on Friday June 08, 2007 @07:43AM (#19435839) Journal
    Egads people. The shuttle is scheduled to launch today. Could you please not post a front page story with words "Shuttle", "Space", and "Fiery End" all together? A quick glance at the sentence made me gasp and ask "WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?"

    A half second later, I understood the context, but it took a few moments for my heart to slow back down...

    -S
    • Egads people. The shuttle is scheduled to launch today. Could you please not post a front page story with words "Shuttle", "Space", and "Fiery End" all together? A quick glance at the sentence made me gasp and ask "WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?"

      A half second later, I understood the context, but it took a few moments for my heart to slow back down...
      If something does go wrong, would it count as a dupe?
  • Seems like there is an argument that we do not need hyoomans in space [boston.com] for the things we send them into space to do. If this argument is indeed valid, NASA can partner with Branson or some of the other space travel companies for funding and send robots to space. Also if political backing for NASA does actually come from the public's desire to see astronauts sent to space (as the article claims), once space tourists start getting sent regularly (by Branson or others), this charm will wear off since most of t
  • Ok Im sorry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768.comcast@net> on Friday June 08, 2007 @08:01AM (#19435991) Journal
    But if they cant even fly down a EMU because of its weight... whats going to happen if god-forbid they need to emergency evac the ISS and the only thing left to leave on is a Orion? I realize there is a Soyuz, but say its damaged in the emergency, or say it happens at a point where they are switching out the lifeboat. Your telling me that this new spacecraft is going to be so poorly designed in relation to our assets as to be useless in the case of a emergency? Have we learned NOTHING in regards to planning for the worst?
    • by dintech (998802)
      Let's say the Orion was damaged too. Then what?
    • by ps236 (965675)
      Looking at wikipedia's article on Orion [wikipedia.org] it looks like a major step backwards. If that article is up to date, the Orion is nothing like the shuttle. It's more like the service module & command module from the Apollo spacecraft. So, all that comes back down to Earth with the crew is a little cone.

      So, given that, I can see that it wouldn't have much space spare for EMUs.

      However, it can carry '4 to 6' astronauts. So, I can't see why, if it happens to be coming down with just 4 astronauts, they couldn't pu

      • by cowscows (103644)
        It's not a step back in technology, it's just a change of focus. Sure, there will be lots of things that the shuttle can do that Orion won't be able to accomplish, but there were a lot of things that the Apollo craft could do that the shuttle cannot.

        The shuttle is an amazing piece of technology, and the engineers did an outstanding job of meeting some of the design goals. The problem is that some of the design goals were never reached(much cheaper costs via reusable spacecraft, quick turn-around between lau
    • by ec_hack (247907)
      whats going to happen if god-forbid they need to emergency evac the ISS and the only thing left to leave on is a Orion?

      Orion will have its own suit design.
    • But if they cant even fly down a EMU because of its weight... whats going to happen if god-forbid they need to emergency evac the ISS and the only thing left to leave on is a Orion? I realize there is a Soyuz, but say its damaged in the emergency, or say it happens at a point where they are switching out the lifeboat.

      They won't need an EMU to do those things - because they won't be performing spacewalks. Instead, they'll use the suits they flew up in.

      TFA doesn't make this entirely clear - but both

      • by d0rp (888607)

        But if they cant even fly down a EMU because of its weight... whats going to happen if god-forbid they need to emergency evac the ISS and the only thing left to leave on is a Orion?
        The grandparent was talking about the weight capacity of the Orion, not that they would need to use the EMUs; the point being that they wouldn't be able to take all of the people from the ISS with them in case of an emergency.
        • In that instance, the second half of my reply applies;

          We've learned plenty about how to plan for the worst. But realize this; no matter how much you plan, there are contingencies for which no reasonable recovery exists. You hope they don't happen - but when they do, you hoist a few at the local watering hole, cry a few tears, then wash your face and head back to work. Real life is like that.

          But at any rate, it's still a bullshit complaint (by the OP) - if all that is left is the Orion, it can't tak

          • Which is my point, the Space Shuttle could be configured to take down more people in an emergency, it had extra pull out seats that all that was needed was a adjustment in trajectory and it could bring down 4 extra people on top of its mission crew, more if spacelab was installed (which granted it hasn't been in years if not a decade now. The orion can only take down 6 people period, so god forbid a emergency arise while they are up there, there is no way unlike the shuttle they could divert and rescue the
            • Spacelab cannot carry any passengers, all passengers must ride in the crew compartment. Nor can the Shuttle 'divert', it must be intentionally sent to the station (which takes weeks to prepare).

              The odds of an accident that both a) damages one recovery vehicle and b) leaves the ISS uninhabitable are exceedingly slim. There has never been a viable method of crew rescue in that circumstance in the first place - the retirement of the Shuttle changes nothing. There is simply no reasonable way to provi
  • If you want to hurl a package into the sun, you gotta do it yourself.
  • Can't they just push them the other way? I thought we had enough garbage, burned or not, in the atmosphere...

    They need a giant space catapult that just goes and flings junk away from the planet.
    • Unless that "giant space catapult" can launch things at several thousand miles per hour then what it's launching won't escape the earth's gravity and will remain in an unstable orbit that will eventually re-enter the atmosphere.
      • by Locklin (1074657)
        Yeah, but then we can just create another giant ball of space garbage and fire it at the old one, knocking it out of the way. Oh, the wisdom of Fry.
  • Ok, Let me get this straight....They can take off with the suits, but they can't come back with them...because of weight? So, the craft has the power to lift off with the suit, but doesn't have the power to fall from the sky with the extra weight of the suit? Does not compute Will Robinson....
    • It's not so much the falling that's the problem, it's the stopping. You see, as long as the heat shields remain intact, they're in no danger while en route to terror firmer. The hitch comes when it's time to slow the weight down to a safe speed such that landing is not a fatal endeavor.
    • Ok, Let me get this straight....They can take off with the suits, but they can't come back with them...because of weight? So, the craft has the power to lift off with the suit, but doesn't have the power to fall from the sky with the extra weight of the suit? Does not compute Will Robinson....

      If you increase the weight of the spacecraft - you have to increase the weight of fuel for the retrorockets, the size of the chute, the weight of the heatshield, etc... Pretty soon you end up exceeding the weight tha

      • But what *exactly* are these suits made of? Do we really WANT to get into the habit of using a re-entry burn up as a convenient incineration process to get rid of junk we don't want any more? Christ, when you consider that in California you can't even use charcoal to barbecue or paint your house with oils, since they emit toxic gasses, this makes no sense from the tree-hugging environmentalist point of view.. Deb.
  • ...soon we'll have more SuitSats [nasa.gov] to listen for!

    (SuitSat1 was a worn-out Orlan [Russian space suit] with some batteries and a transmitter inside that the ISS crew literally kicked out the door. You could hear it transmitting its internal temperature, battery power and 'elapsed mission time' on the 2M band.)

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