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NASA Science

Discovery Heads Into Retirement 129

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the rest-in-pieces dept.
dweezil-n0xad writes "Technicians in bay No. 2 of Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facility remove shuttle Discovery's forward reaction control system (FRCS) on March 22 as part of the ship's transition and retirement processing. The FRCS will be completely cleaned of all toxic fuel and oxidizer chemicals, which are used for the steering jet system while a shuttle is in orbit. NASA says the FRCS will then be put back into Discovery to help prepare the shuttle for future public display." These photos are pretty cool.
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Discovery Heads Into Retirement

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  • Cool? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @10:15AM (#35652584) Homepage

    These photos are pretty cool.

    Only if you consider the US dismantling what little remains of its manned space program cool.

    • Also, the photos are pretty poorly done - someone did these with an inexpensive camera, and without much photographic experience.

      I know NASA has good photographers that work for them, as I've seen their photos - these are awful in comparison, and they don't do the occasion justice, in my opinion. I mean, really - most of them are crooked, even.

      One hopes that the good NASA photographers are actually documenting all this stuff, and that these photos were just taken by someone who was there and happened to hav

    • by chaim79 (898507)

      At this point I don't think that NASA is in any way able to push forward in space exploration. Though we are in for some 'dry' years in space I really think that this will be the best move, get NASA out of the way and allow private corporations to get into the mix.

      If you really want something interesting on this topic, look at Burt Rutan's talk on TED [ted.com]. He makes some very excellent points on the pace of space exploration and technology and why NASA just isn't helping the situation.

      • by SETIGuy (33768)
        I'll trust Rutan's opinion of NASA when one of his spacecraft puts people into orbit and returns safely.
    • It means NASA is going to have to work a lot harder to kill 7 astronauts in one shot.

    • by strack (1051390)
      the space shuttles were the most expensive and risky way to get people into orbit. this isnt dismantling the US manned space program. its dismantling the most wasteful parts of it to make way for much more efficient and safer ways to get people into orbit. and thats pretty fucking badass if you ask me.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      Just as UAVs are taking over the dull and dangerous jobs of aerial surveillance and warfare, so to can remote-manned spacecraft take over exploration. Astronauts don't explore, they merely operate equipment while demanding

      There is plenty of time to play about with sending manned missions when we have more advanced knowledge of space and a far more advanced matrix of supporting technologies and materials to choose from.

      We can also exploit tech growth of other countries. Spacefaring won't be a single nation C

      • Other countries benefit from US tech, why not turn the tables?

        Because then we will be doomed to playing catch up with Russia/India/China. As they develop cutting edge materials science and propulsion technologies to further their own space programs we will be stuck licensing or reverse engineering their toys.

  • ... but to me, we shouldn't take the shuttles apart until we have a viable replacement that isn't just drawings and a budget meeting. If we dismantle the shuttles, and then the Republicans cut space budget for the new vehicle, we're at the mercy of Russia, China and the EU for the foreseeable future. Bad, bad move without a functioning replacement in the hangar.
    • by Burdell (228580)

      The problem is that flying the shuttles costs a lot of money, and developing a replacement costs a lot of money. NASA is never going to get enough budget to keep flying and developing a replacement at the same time. The only real option is to stop flying so NASA can concentrate on development.

      • by agentgonzo (1026204) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @11:02AM (#35653086)
        It's more that the shuttles had a limited lifespan. They are old. The airframes are only rated for so much before they get mechanical weaknesses in the airframe and they just become too dangerous to fly. The longer we keep aged vehicles flying, the more chance they have of failing during flight and giving us another Columbia. The shuttles are already flying beyond their original lifespan. After a certain point, mechanical fatigue means you have to replace major parts of the airframe, essentially building a new orbiter. This is not just about the cost of keeping them running. It's about not unduly putting the lives of those who fly in the shuttles in jeopardy - replacement or no replacement.
        • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
          The shuttle airframes are rated at 100 flights each. I think it's more that they were designed 35 years ago - this is one case where a new vehicle really could be better, faster, cheaper.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      It actually looks like they are being very careful with this process. Odds are they are doing it in a way that they could return them to flight if they needed to. But I am just guessing.

      Part of me kind of wishes they would launch the last one unmanned and boost it up past Geosync and leave it there. Vent the volitals and park it there for some far distant generation to find.
      Yes I know the Shuttle lacks the fuel to go into that high of an orbit it would take launching and docking a separate booster and would

      • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @10:36AM (#35652806)

        It actually looks like they are being very careful with this process. Odds are they are doing it in a way that they could return them to flight if they needed to.

        Uh, no. The parts production line was mostly shut down a year or two back; there will be no more external tanks after the currently planned flights, and they'll presumably be laying off shuttle workers before long.

        Restarting the program now would be expensive and complex; restarting it in a couple of years would probably cost as much as building a new spacecraft from scratch.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          That will depend in large part if they keep the jigs and fixtures. There are still spares available The will have a short time frame in which to do it but it may be possible for a year or so but you are correct after that time frame. I wonder how much it would cost to build a new Shuttle today. If you used the same requirements but with modern production methods and materials.

        • Even with the last flight, there is a standby flight waiting if there is on-ascent damage preventing re-entry. That stack will never be used because there is no backup for it will probably sit alongside the segmented Saturn V at Kennedy.
          • Actually I might be wrong, but I believe there is no backup shuttle for Atlantis. The boosters it's using were the last ones made, and they were meant to not be used because Atlantis was supposed to be the emergency backup for Endeavour. But when another flight was authorized, Atlantis moved from backup to being an actual flight. If there's a problem with Atlantis, the astronauts will ride home in a Soyuz from the ISS.

          • There will be no rescue shuttle for the Atlantis flight. It is being flown with a skeleton crew that can live in the ISS if needed and await evacuation by Soyuz. You would have been right, but the plan changed. Atlantis is going to be prepped for rescue of Endeavour. Since most of the cost of an Atlantis launch will have to be spent in those preparations anyway, it's just being launched with supplies and the small crew if a rescue of Endeavour is not needed.
      • by strack (1051390)
        id say there being careful because of the hydrazine propellant involved in the manuvering thruster system. off the top of my head.
      • by tibit (1762298)

        They are careful because that RCS section is quite toxic. MMH can kill very easily if you're not careful.

    • ... but to me, we shouldn't take the shuttles apart until we have a viable replacement that isn't just drawings and a budget meeting. If we dismantle the shuttles, and then the Republicans cut space budget for the new vehicle, we're at the mercy of Russia, China and the EU for the foreseeable future. Bad, bad move without a functioning replacement in the hangar.

      We'll only be at the mercy of Russia, China, and the EU if Democrats cut the military budget. The military has it's own launch capabilities.

    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @10:47AM (#35652934)

      If we dismantle the shuttles, and then the Republicans cut space budget for the new vehicle

      It is just as likely that the Democrats will cut the space budget for the new vehicle.

      More likely, in fact, since they've done that already.

      Try not to let your political prejudices affect everything in your life.

      • The Republicans have the majority. Congress requires a majority to pass any resolution. So nothing can happen if the Republicans don't do it. It's not prejudice, it's simple math.
      • by Danathar (267989)

        I find it ironic that it was a Democrat that really kicked off America's space program (Kennedy), a Republican to hobble it (Nixon) and finally a Democrat (Obama) to stomp on whats left....

        • by strack (1051390)
          what, cut the pork barrel ares and orion, and try and get more funding for COTS and spacex? which, by the way, are fucking awesome.
        • by Mindwarp (15738)

          I find it ironic that it was a Democrat that really kicked off America's space program (Kennedy), a Republican to hobble it (Nixon) and finally a Democrat (Obama) to stomp on whats left....

          And they say that bipartizanship is dead.

        • by Gravatron (716477)
          No, he stomped on a bad project, in order to direct money to better projects. How much did Ares cost, versus how many orbital flights? Now compare that to what Falcon costs, and how many orbital flights it's had.

          Now, with that in mind, which is offering the better return on investment?

          Obama made the right call.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      We don't need manned missions to deploy military hardware.

      The idea of manned missions for space is as silly as manned aircraft, which we are rapidly supplanting with remote-manned systems.

      The ideal mechanical servant is expendable. The ideal job is not done by humans, but for them at their will. Work on the remotely manned tech that we REALLY need on Earth and Space.

      We don't need meat tourists. Let the romantics pay out of pocket for adventure.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    **A massive disaster occurs on earth, forcing humanity to flee.**

    "Oh wait...we forgot we took apart our space only space ships."

    Darwin would be proud.

    • Re:Typical Scenario (Score:5, Informative)

      by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @10:28AM (#35652700) Homepage

      **A massive disaster occurs on earth, forcing humanity to flee.** "Oh wait...we forgot we took apart our space only space ships." Darwin would be proud.

      The shuttles can't do anything beyond going to low Earth orbit and only can carry a handful of people. If that sort of situation occurs humanity is toast even if we had a fleet of shuttles orders of magnitude larger.

      • even if we had a fleet of shuttles orders of magnitude larger.

        If we had a fleet of shuttles orders of magnitude larger (say, 300), we'd be having a shuttle launch pretty much every day.

        Which means, for example, that we'd have boosted about 70,000 tons of cargo to orbit over the last decade.

        Which means massive (by our standards) orbital infrastructure. And probably several deep-space vehicles assembled in orbit. At least.

        Plus, of course, if we had that much stuff in orbit, it's likely that some of the s

        • by maxume (22995)

          So for a few trillion dollars we could have a toy lunar base and make some pretty bootprints on Mars?

    • by tgd (2822)

      The impact that took out the dinosaurs would've put crap into orbit plenty high enough to take out a "space ship" that can't actually go anywhere.

  • by JudgeFurious (455868) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @10:25AM (#35652680)
    Why aren't we replacing this generation of shuttles with an updated and improved "Mk.II" version? This just seems like an enormous step back to me and I can't get excited about this process at all.
    • by Burdell (228580) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @10:38AM (#35652832)

      The current vehicles are already essentially a Mark II (or III or IV ...). There is actually not much more than the airframe/skin left from the originals. They've upgraded the engines, replaced the computers and flight instruments, etc. Each vehicle underwent an extended downtime in Palmdale to be refurbished/rebuilt.

      Also, the problems that lead to loss of life are inherent in the design, so the only way to "fix" them is to build something else. In retrospect, a staged vehicle with stages and tanks side-by-side is a bad idea. Both Challenger (first stage SRB punctured the tank) and Columbia (tank debris damaged the vehicle) would not have happened in a stacked setup (like basically every other orbital launch system has used). Obviously, there were a number of contributing factors, both in design and management, but the basic fact is that a stacked vehicle (with the crew at the top) would not have had these failures. Columbia wouldn't have happened at all, and Challenger at worst would have been a survivable event.

      • by trout007 (975317)

        We could have upgraded the TPS to metalic heat pipes. Google heat pipe leading edge

        • Heat pipes to channel away the re-entry heat. Interesting idea. I'm not to thrilled about using lithium as the working fluid. I'd rather see something more benign. Any idea how much mass something like this would take up?
        • From what I read after a quick google, only the leading edges, since they're piping the heat to cooler areas to radiate away. A big advantage is that this is apparently a metallic alloy, not the reinvorced carbon-carbon, so a direct hit on it like what doomed Columbia would not have left a gaping hole in the most heat-sensitive place on the craft. On the other hand, it could disable the coolant circulation system...

          You probably couldn't replace the entire TPS because the surface area covered by the black-ti

      • by jandrese (485)
        Challenger probably would have been a disaster still. An explosion that large is hard to deal with, and you only have a scant few moments to figure out what happened and act to have any hopes of saving the vehicle (immediate separation of the upper stage and an attempt to land the vehicle somewhere).
        • by Burdell (228580) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @11:11AM (#35653222)

          There wouldn't have been an explosion in a stacked system. The explosion was a direct result of the first stage booster being attached to the second (or 1.5) stage tank. The booster did not explode; the burn-through eventually destroyed the bottom strut between the booster and the tank. The booster pivoted and the nose punctured the tank, at which point the tank lost structural integrity and the fuel and oxidizer mixed and exploded. The orbiter was not "blown up" (nothing inside it exploded), it was torn apart by aerodynamic forces.

          If this had been a stacked system (think something like the Ares I design), the burn-through would have eventually caused enough of a off-axis thrust that the guidance system wouldn't have been able to compensate, and you'd fire the escape tower and separate the capsule. Even if somehow the burn-though managed to burn all the way around (unlikely), you wouldn't have an explosion; you might could have a segment of the booster separate, but that would only increase the solid fuel surface area a little. You'd lose control, but again, separate the capsule and the crew should survive.

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          Challenger probably would have been a disaster still. An explosion that large is hard to deal with

          The ET didn't explode. If it had, there'd have been nothing much left.

          But you're right, it would probably still have caused an increase in angle of attack large enough to tear the wings off, the way the ET disintegrating did in this world. Surviving a major launch incident is hard when your spacecraft needs wings to land.

      • but the basic fact is that a stacked vehicle (with the crew at the top) would not have had these failures

        No, a tandem vehicle wouldn't have had those failures - it would have had different failures.

        But there's another basic fact you're either ignoring or unaware of, the Shuttle isn't the only vehicle to use parallel staging. In fact, there are many such and many flights of them under our belt - and their failure rate isn't noticeably different from those using only tandem stages. Notably, the Shut

        • by strack (1051390)
          you do realise they spent very large amounts of money to get that reliability rate that high. the shuttle dosent have a crew escape system, so everything has to be perfect, and work every time. and thats expensive.
          • Yes, I realize that. I also realize that that large amounts of money are spent to make all launch systems and manned craft that reliable. The Shuttle isn't unique in that respect.

            I also realize that of the various manned accidents to date (Russian and US), escape systems would have been useful in only a fairly small percentage of them. Out of two hundred odd manned launches, and twenty odd serious accidents - escape systems were or would have been useful in precisely two... And for the Soviet ac

            • The point is not that a stacked vehicle has a higher reliability rate than a side-mounted vehicle. The point is that IF something goes wrong, you're more likely to survive in a stacked vehicle because all the exploding stuff is below you rather than under your chair. If Challenger had been perched on top of a stack, and an O ring failure happened in the first stage booster, the crew vehicle probably wouldn't have broken up. And assuming it had, since it would have been in a stacked configuration they'd have

              • And assuming it had, since it would have been in a stacked configuration they'd have had an escape tower and a parachute system like on all the other stacked manned vehicles we've launched

                Actually, that's not true. (Gemini used ejection seats and had no escape tower.)

                Now all that said, I'm not sure how we'd have stacked something with the size requirements of the shuttle without rebuilding the VAB to make it even taller.

                And at last, you begin to show the glimmer of wisdom - every design is a compro

        • But, most other parallel staging launch vehicles use liquid propellant boosters, not solid propellant ones that can't be shut down early once they're fired. And the payload for most of these launchers is still at the top, the Soviet-era shuttle notwithstanding.

          • But, most other parallel staging launch vehicles use liquid propellant boosters

            Wrong. Virtually all parallel staged launched vehicles use solid propellant.

            not solid propellant ones that can't be shut down early once they're fired.

            Wrong. Solids can be shut down in flight. (It was first done back in the 1950's.)

            And the payload for most of these launchers is still at the top, the Soviet-era shuttle notwithstanding.

            Irrelevant to my basic point. No matter how you slice it, the Shuttle's failu

        • by Burdell (228580)

          All those other vehicles have crew/cargo on top of the vehicle, not down beside the stages. When the crew/cargo area is beside the stages, a failure in the stages is almost certainly to be fatal or destroy the cargo. If the crew/cargo area is on top, you have an escape rocket and can recover the crew or cargo safely.

          • When the crew/cargo area is beside the stages, a failure in the stages is almost certainly to be fatal or destroy the cargo.

            Go look up how many tandem staged vehicles have failed - and how many cargo's have been destroyed. (Hint: The numbers are identical.)

            If the crew/cargo area is on top, you have an escape rocket and can recover the crew or cargo safely.

            In some strange universe where it's impossible to put an escape rocket on a parallel staged vehicle. (Hint: we don't live in that universe.)

      • by tibit (1762298)

        So you say that strap-on solid boosters that would blow up the first stage would be OK if only the shuttle was on top of the 2nd stage? Can I have what you had? Solid and liquid propellants don't mix...

    • by Wowsers (1151731)

      Why aren't we replacing this generation of shuttles with an updated and improved "Mk.II" version?

      Speaking as a non-American so looking at it dispassionately, it looks like Mr.Obama had a bigger priority of keeping whoreporations like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan rich, then keeping the Shuttle going.

      Not that it's any better in other parts of the world who have also bowed down to the banking whoreporations.

      • When you use phrases like whoreporations how do you expect people to take anything you say seriously? If you have a valid argument to make, then make it in a civilized way and don't use childish name calling.
    • Why aren't we replacing this generation of shuttles with an updated and improved "Mk.II" version? This just seems like an enormous step back to me and I can't get excited about this process at all.

      Because every time NASA tries, Congress shuts them down.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Unmanned missions at this primitive stage of technology ARE better than manned missions that gobble the budget.

      If your goal is romantic tourism, send people early.

      If your goal is to RAPIDLY EXPLORE space and LEARN about what's out there, remote-manned missions are the way to go.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @10:30AM (#35652720) Homepage Journal
    The shuttle was overheard to be saying, "Damn kids! Get off my launchpad you lazy bums!"
  • Discovery heads into Restaurant

    But wouldn't it be cool to turn Discovery into a restaurant for a museum?!?

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      But wouldn't it be cool to turn Discovery into a restaurant for a museum?!?

      Didn't the commies do that with one of their retired shuttles?

  • I know the Evergreen Aviation and Space "Museum" also wants a shuttle for display. After visiting there, about half the displays are replicas and the other half are so far behind ropes you might as well look at a post card image. I was severely disappointed by the limited access to the Spruce Goose. In fact, after charging $20 for entry they charge another $25 to enter the flight deck.
    • by nharmon (97591)

      I believe it has already been determined that Discovery will be going to the Smithsonian. That is where Enterprise is located, so it seems Enterprise will be going somewhere else. It would be nice to see one end up at the USAF Museum in Dayton, OH. And likewise see the rest of the fleet find locations that are free to the public.

    • by danbert8 (1024253)

      I hope for the Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH. I grew up there and they have huge hangars where all the aircraft are indoors in an air-conditioned environment. Admission is free (except for IMAX movies), and lots of aircraft are open and free to walk through. Ohio also has a huge history in spaceflight, and I believe it would be one of the best venues for a shuttle.

      • Supposedly (I can't find any reliable, from NASA themselves statements, only reporters saying) Discovery has already been promised to Udvar-Hazy (the Smithsonian), who will in turn loan out Enterprise.

    • I didn't find Evergreen to be all that different from the way Dayton, or most any other air museum, has their displays arraigned. (I remember sitting on the nose wheel of Bock's Car at Dayton). I was a bit bummed about the cost for the Spruce Goose, but that is their star attraction and earner, especially since their B-17 is no longer flyable due to the dreaded wing spar AD. They're also a pretty new facility, so I don't blame them for having a bit of fluff and filler. Didn't see much in the way of obvious

      • "...I don't blame them for having a bit of fluff and filler. Didn't see much in the way of obvious replicas..."

        To their credit, they labeled replicas as such, you just have to pay close attention to each plaque. Your mention of "fluff and filler" reminds me of my other complaint: so much space (particularly in the space building) was taken by video viewing areas showing stuff you probably have already seen on TV. I can watch TV at home, I go the the museum to see the real thing up close. But they do have a

        • As I said, they're still comparatively young as a museum. Getting a Shuttle would go a long way towards filling that otherwise empty(-ish) space hall.

          I've been to better air museums; Fantasy of flight had a bit more of an overall theme, and the fact that they flew something everyday was fantastic (the day I was there they had a Fieseler Storch doing low speed flight and STOL demos). I've been to worse air museums; Pacific Aviation out at Pearl comes to mind. Evergreen's on a good track, they just need to ke

    • by Wowsers (1151731)
      Hey, the British sent a Concorde to the USA on retirement despite Concorde being hated (mostly by environmentalists). How about sending a Shuttle to the UK for display?
      • by hcdejong (561314)

        If a Shuttle comes to Europe, I'd argue it should go to the Technical Museum in Speyer, D. They already have a Buran (the atmospheric test bed).

        • Buran was not an atmospheric test bed, it was a soviet aerodynamic replica of the US Space Shuttle. Buran only looks the same as the Space Shuttle, inside, it's completely different.
          • The one at Speyer is the atmospheric test bed, not the orbiter, same as Enterprise was. They have unit OK-GLI which is named "Buran aerodynamic analogue" on Wikipedia.

            http://speyer.technik-museum.de/en/spaceshuttle-buran [technik-museum.de]

          • by hcdejong (561314)

            That's incorrect. The Buran program [wikipedia.org] included a number of airframes. One of them, OK-GLI, was an atmospheric test bed. It featured four jet engines so it could take off under its own power. It was used to test the glide characteristics of the airframe.
            OK-GLI is now on display in Speyer.
            Maybe your confusion stems from the fact that both the program and the first shuttle in that program to be used for an orbital flight (OK-1K1) were named Buran.

  • Maybe I'm reading too much into what I see - but it looks to me like most of the people in those pictures are about ready to weep.
  • Good ridddence (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@@@ovi...com> on Tuesday March 29, 2011 @10:43AM (#35652876) Homepage

    We went down the wrong path with the shuttles. I think their main purpose was a plot to make the Soviets copy them breaking their economy. If we would have kept making Saturn V's ( 10 times the lift capacity of the shuttle ) we would be walking on Mars TODAY.

    But no, 30 years of waste, tiny lift capacity, and far more expense than single use rockets.

    The best use of the Shuttles in my opinion it to let people look at them in museums.

    The program can't end soon enough for me.

    • by vlm (69642)

      30 years of waste

      What you call "waste" the politicians in charge call "buying votes". That was the only purpose. If they could have found a more expensive way to do it, they'd have done it.

      • It would have been easy to find a more expensive way to do it (really easy, since Shuttle development costs were quite low); just go with the Paine plan, or the Mueller plan. Much, much more expensive, involved building a big space station (much larger than the ISS), continued production of the Saturn V, and so on. They didn't even have to keep doing Moon missions or Mars missions, it would have been perfectly easy to avoid doing that but still spend money like water.

        They didn't do that because they wanted

        • by strack (1051390)
          i believe the shuttle ended up costing the same per launch as the saturn V, which, by the way, put 120 tonnes of payload into orbit vs the shuttles 20 tonnes.
    • by tuffy (10202)

      As I recall, their function was to carry things between the Earth and some orbiting station. To "shuttle" them, if you will. The problem is that they were meant to perform this shuttling with rapid turnaround times that never materialized in practice. Therefore, it seems some launch vehicle with less emphasis on reusability would likely be a better replacement.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Therefore, it seems some launch vehicle with less emphasis on reusability would likely be a better replacement.

        The problem with the shuttle isn't that it's reusable, but that most of it isn't reusable. From what I remember the fastest shuttle turnaround was less than two months, and a week of that was being flown back to KSC from Edwards.

        Most of the problems that have delayed shuttle launches have been either due to parts that are replaced every flight (e.g. external tank) or parts that require major refurbishment every flight. If a reusable component has flown a hundred times and has no obvious faults it's probably

    • We went down the wrong path with the shuttles. I think their main purpose was a plot to make the Soviets copy them breaking their economy. If we would have kept making Saturn V's ( 10 times the lift capacity of the shuttle ) we would be walking on Mars TODAY.

      In some parallel universe where Shuttle development didn't begin in the early 60's and Saturn V production hadn't been canceled in 1965, sure. But we don't live in that universe. In our universe the Saturn V was canceled because there weren't any payl

    • by jonwil (467024)

      One of the big reasons the shuttle was built the way it was was due to the military funding and the fact that the military demanded the ability to be able to return payloads to earth.

  • I'm curious, why the cleansuit smocks?

    I mean, it's not like it has to be sterile-clean to sit in a hangar in Poughkeepsie.

  • Sort of seems like the doctor swabbing the convicts arm before he administers the lethal injection.

  • Yes the tech is old and the computer systems highly dated, but boost them up one more time and leave them up where they can do a world of good. Like a used car they can't do the cannonball run any more but they have much more use in space then they do down the gravity well in a museum. With two of them up there you have lots of possibilities (and spare parts).

    Up there they can be emergency escape pods, a space bound pick-up truck, they can use the robot arm(s) to help work on the space station and they coul

  • As we retire our shuttle fleet, we also retire our space aspirations. Something "better" can be done with all that money. I suspect that "better" means distribution of possible NASA money among Banking CEO's.

    It was a good ride while it lasted, sad to say, we'll probably sit by and watch while other countries carry on in space.

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