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NASA Space Science

NASA’s Contest To Design the Last Shuttle Patch 164 164

rocamargo writes "The space shuttle program is on its way out, but the core of people who built and maintained it will live on. To honor them, NASA gave its employees the chance to design the patch that will commemorate the shuttle program, which is slated to end in September, after STS-133 flies. From the designs of 85 current and former employees, the Shuttle Program Office has selected 15 finalists. The prospective patches, presented here, will be voted on internally by NASA employees and judged by a small panel." I've been thinking a lot lately about the end of the Space Shuttle. For someone my age, the shuttle really *IS* space travel. I'm going to be really sad to see STS-133 land.
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NASA’s Contest To Design the Last Shuttle Patch

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  • by Kolie (1012967) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @11:02AM (#30682436)
    To quote wikipedia "The Space Shuttle Enterprise (NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-101) was the first Space Shuttle orbiter. It was built for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to perform test flights in the atmosphere.[2] It was constructed without engines or a functional heat shield, and was therefore not capable of spaceflight. Originally, Enterprise had been intended to be refitted for orbital flight, which would have made it the second space shuttle to fly after Columbia.[2] However, during the construction of Columbia, details of the final design changed, particularly with regard to the weight of the fuselage and wings. Refitting Enterprise for flight would have involved dismantling the orbiter and returning the sections to subcontractors across the country. As this was an expensive proposition, it was determined to be less costly to build Challenger around a body frame (STA-099) that had been created as a test article.[2] Similarly, Enterprise was considered for refit to replace Challenger after the latter was destroyed, but Endeavour was built from structural spares instead.[2][3]"
  • Re:I'm sick of this! (Score:3, Informative)

    by rubycodez (864176) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @12:10PM (#30683448)

    we do have proper replacements, spy satellites can drop down to 70 miles orbit. they make the SR-71 look like your great grandma on a walker

  • Re:Oh really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by FleaPlus (6935) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @12:51PM (#30684104) Journal

    Have they sent anything into orbit?

    Um, yes, much more often than NASA. For example, the United Launch Alliance has commercially launched 36 rockets in the past 36 months [satnews.com], SpaceX has had a number of successful launches (and seems to have worked out of their growing pains), and Orbital also launches regularly.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_spaceflight#Commercial_launchers [wikipedia.org]

    Have they made a trip to the ISS?

    If you're include non-US companies, Arianespace has used their Ariane 5 rocket to launch an ATV to the ISS. If you're only including US companies, SpaceX will be launching a prototype of their Dragon capsule this month, with two missions to the ISS this year: http://www.spacex.com/updates.php [spacex.com]

    Any other questions?

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @12:58PM (#30684240) Journal

    Nobody wants to see a space truck until they need a delivery.

    Sure, but is it wise to have a "space truck" be your country's only way to get people into orbit?

  • Re:Oh really? (Score:2, Informative)

    by icebrain (944107) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:07PM (#30685244)

    The rest of SpaceX and Orbital only engage in sub-orbital flight

    That's funny, because I distinctly remember SpaceX putting a payload in orbit [wikipedia.org] recently, with many more flights planned.

    Orbital has been doing, well, orbital missions for a long time. See Pegasus, Minotaur, Taurus, etc.

  • by icebrain (944107) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:20PM (#30685428)

    Err, no. Been watching Moonraker too many times lately?

    Most of the original shuttle designs involved two-stage launchers where the first stage flew back to the launch site with wings. They did carry the second stage piggyback, for the most part, but they still flew like rockets the whole way up (vertical launch off a pad, rocket powered, etc). There have been a couple of "back-of-747" style proposals, but none were actually built.

    Very good book on the subject: http://www.amazon.com/Space-Shuttle-National-Transportation-Missions/dp/0963397451 [amazon.com]

  • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @02:55PM (#30685910) Journal
    Sure, but is it wise to have a "space truck" be your country's only way to get people into orbit?

    No; at least, not in its current form. The Challenger accident was one of the primary motivations to the new NASA doctrine of separating crew and cargo. (Which lead to the 1.5 launch architecture embodied by ARES.) Cargo is expendable; crew isn't. In order to abort during the launch, it is much easier to pull a relatively lightweight crew module away from the rocket, than to move a 100 metric ton behemoth like the shuttle.

    I think the better way to go would be to revive the HL-20 [astronautix.com] crew vehicle. It's small enough, and light enough, for an abort system to pull it away from the launcher in the event of catastrophe. Also, because it glides to a landing on a conventional airstrip, it is more elegant than the current Apollo-style plan of ditching in the ocean and hoping you'll be rescued by the Navy before you sink.

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