Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
NASA

Endeavour Launch Now Slated For Monday 55

Posted by timothy
from the green-with-envy dept.
For anyone camping in Florida through the series of delays in the shuttle Endeavour's launch, it may be nearly time to get out the earplugs and champagne: though there's a fair chance of yet another weather delay, for now the shuttle's final launch is slated for tomorrow. If you're thinking of driving in to catch a glimpse, good news — a Monday launch may mean a smaller crowd.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Endeavour Launch Now Slated For Monday

Comments Filter:
  • Godspeed, Endeavour. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nbvb (32836) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @09:45AM (#36132792) Journal

    Godspeed, Endeavour. It's a real shame to retire these workhorses. Are they expensive? Yes. Are they exactly what was envisioned in the 70's? No. But, so what? They're still incredible machines that do things mankind has NEVER been able to do before.

    The ISS? Wouldn't be possible without the Shuttle.
    Hubble? Impossible without Shuttle.

    They're workhorses, and it's a damned shame that we, as Americans, have gotten ourselves into such a political quagmire that we can't figure out how to keep man in space. Depressing.

    • by symes (835608)

      NASA bore the initial development costs that would have been prohibitive for a commercial organisation setting out to put people in space. That work is done, and now commercial entities should rightly take the lead. I would guess that with the right conditions we can potentially go further, faster now than NASA ever could. Sure, the shuttles were important, but they were outdated the day of their first launch. It is time to move on.

      • Yes and no. The time for industry to pick up the ball was in the eighties - the US and USSR had shown you can put a man into space, how to do it, where the biggest problems are and how to mitigate them. By the 1970, people had walked on the moon. By the mid seventies, everything was in place. That's when the shuttles were designed.

        As it turns out, there's literally nothing in space. There's no conceivable economic gain to be had this quarter from sending people into space - and that's all that matters to

        • "The time for industry to pick up the ball was in the eighties..."

          From a purely logical perspective, this might be true. But there was no way it was going to happen, for at least two reasons: (1) the R&D expenses were considered to be too high for anyone but a government to take on, and (2) the government would never have let them.

          "As it turns out, there's literally nothing in space. There's no conceivable economic gain to be had this quarter from sending people into space - and that's all that matters to big business."

          Which is exactly the problem with American corporations today. In the past, many corporations because successful because they bet in the long term. This obsession with short-term profit has been a real problem for America. Yes, there are tim

          • Sorry, bullshit. Just because you don't like the long term strategy doesn't mean there isn't one.

            The "business acumen" on this site is frankly astounding for its absence.

            • Excuse me? BS?

              The short-term-profit obsession in American corporate culture has been well-known for years. It hardly as though I just made it up off the cuff.

              Sure, there are exceptions. There are exceptions to nearly everything. (And by the way: I wasn't referring to "strategy", I was referring to their profit goals... not necessarily the same thing.)

              But I'm not saying it because "I don't like" their long term profit goals; I'm saying it because of the general lack of same. I would have to know abo
            • And I give you a case in point: the proliferation of corporations whose "strategy" over the last couple of decades seems to have been mostly "acquire, liquidate, and dump". We have seen them everywhere.
        • BTW, I don't know if you are actually saying there is no profit in it or that corporations just don't perceive any, but perusing the NASA Spinoffs site [nasa.gov] is a good eduction.
    • I remember hearing an interview with an astronaut regarding the end of the shuttle program, and he was amazed at how these complex and flexible machines were 50 years before their time.

      However that is also the problem... They were over-engineered and used too much new tech with no clear objective or familiarity with the demands of the hardware. Basically they lept forward when they would have been better off taking measured steps.
    • by khallow (566160) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:00AM (#36132878)

      Godspeed, Endeavour. It's a real shame to retire these workhorses. Are they expensive? Yes. Are they exactly what was envisioned in the 70's? No. But, so what? They're still incredible machines that do things mankind has NEVER been able to do before.

      "But so what?" Two words: "opportunity cost." Let's keep in mind that everything we could have done with the Shuttle, we did by the time of the Challenger accident. The US developed a reusable launch vehicle and it used it. Hubble and the ISS did not require the Shuttle.

      Hubble due to its mirror, required a vehicle with the fairing size of the Shuttle, but repairing it was unnecessary. We could have used the funding for Hubble repairs to instead make and launch more space telescopes.

      The ISS, after being shrunk slightly in width, could have been launched on the Titan IV or the Delta IV Heavy. We could have also launched a much smaller Mir-sized space station for a small fraction of the cost of the ISS (no international "coopoeration") and have gotten most of the functionality of the ISS.

      Finally, with the money we would have saved by discontinuing the Shuttle way back when (say 1990), we could have manned missions beyond LEO, research into low gravity (not zero gravity) effects, ISRU research on the Moon or Mars, etc. You know, things that actually advance our knowledge of and presence in space and on other worlds.

      They're workhorses, and it's a damned shame that we, as Americans, have gotten ourselves into such a political quagmire that we can't figure out how to keep man in space. Depressing.

      You ought to check out SpaceX's activities then. The Falcon Heavy, for example, is a game changer. If they can hit their price targets, they'll be launching payload for about a factor of 20 to 50 less than what the Shuttle can do and they can launch more mass than a Shuttle could launch.

      • by vlm (69642)

        and have gotten most of the functionality of the ISS.

        I thought most of the functionality was cut to save money, but the program couldn't be killed for political pork reasons...

      • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
        • by khallow (566160)

          A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

          So what is your take on several birds in the hand versus one? As I see it, the opportunity cost here is the sacrifice of a space program for the Shuttle launch vehicle. Sure you can claim that we'd either have the Shuttle or nothing at all, but I don't buy it. The NASA budget has been very stable since the cutbacks of the 70s.

      • The ISS, after being shrunk slightly in width, could have been launched on the Titan IV or the Delta IV Heavy.

        It would have taken *much* more than being shrunk slightly in width... None of the US (and hence Shuttle launched) ISS modules had any capability to self support or maneuver. So figure roughly 25% of their launch mass would have to bee parasitic (that is, required to support their survival until docked with the station, and unneeded afterwards), as opposed to essentially zero as they actually exi

        • by khallow (566160)

          It would have taken *much* more than being shrunk slightly in width... None of the US (and hence Shuttle launched) ISS modules had any capability to self support or maneuver. So figure roughly 25% of their launch mass would have to bee parasitic (that is, required to support their survival until docked with the station, and unneeded afterwards), as opposed to essentially zero as they actually exist.

          And most such modules were under 20 tons, meaning the launch vehicles I mentioned would be adequate for the purpose.

          In some mirror universe where "most of" actually means "practically none of". In the same mirror universe, my PC-Jr has "most of" the functionality of my Athlon. Here in this universe, you also have to consider the problem of parasitic mass mentioned above.

          Worse yet, you've forgotten the cost to develop and operate whatever you're planning on using for transporting crew to and from and supplies to your fantasy space station.

          We'll use the same vehicles for crew and downmass. And development of crew vehicles and reentry containers won't dent the budget, if you spend it well. You might recall the SpaceX example I use on occasion. They certainly seem to have figured out how to keep development costs under control.

          When you add up the costs required to deliver three station crew, return three station crew, and either delivering a module or delivering aa supply transport via expendables - you pretty much have paid for a Shuttle mission which can do all of those

          Only if you ignore both that it looks like these companies can provide these services for much less than

          • It would have taken *much* more than being shrunk slightly in width... None of the US (and hence Shuttle launched) ISS modules had any capability to self support or maneuver. So figure roughly 25% of their launch mass would have to bee parasitic (that is, required to support their survival until docked with the station, and unneeded afterwards), as opposed to essentially zero as they actually exist.

            And most such modules were under 20 tons, meaning the launch vehicles I mentioned would be adequate for the pu

            • by khallow (566160)

              As usual, you either miss the point entirely or are stupid enough to not even comprehend the point. Module weight isn't the issue - the issue is that moving from the Shuttle makes the modules smaller, heavier, more complex, more expensive, and far, far less capable.

              Without the Shuttle, your argument falls flat on the claim of being more expensive. Remember, $450 million per launch plus $2 billion per year? The modules would, of course, be slightly smaller due to fairing size restriction. As to heavier and more complex, I think the small increases in each would be more than compensated by the reduction in launch vehicle costs.

              Here in the real universe, SpaceX is a recent development and utterly irrelevant to an ISS analog built with expendables in the 80's and 90's. Once again, you ignorance leads you to false conclusions.

              SpaceX is the process of developing a manned ISS cargo vehicle.

              In some fantasy universe where businesses don't bill for overhead. Or, in other words, once again your ignorance leads you astray.

              Earth, for example. Most businesses don't bill other businesses for overhead.

              We never 'needed' pretty much anything we've done so far as manned space is concerned. But if you mean that to be read as "we could have done everything the Shuttle did much cheaper", as abundantly and repeatedly demonstrated... you're wrong.

              You h

        • by khallow (566160)
          As a further indication of just how messed up NASA's costs are, consider this. They estimated, for a recent report [nasa.gov] (see page 40), the cost of developing the Falcon 9 and they were over by more than a factor of 10. In other words, NASA estimated it would take $4 billion while it actually took SpaceX $300 million (which was verified by NASA, according to the report!). This is the actual feat of bending metal and launching rockets, not paper or hand-waving arguments.

          As I see it, NASA is out of touch with wh
    • I'm of a mixed opinion on this. It's a beautiful machine and it's been in use for 60% of the history of the space program. The configuration isn't really that safe, it was kept alive to fulfill ISS commitments, with a drawdown of the program started in 2004 because of the safety issues. The main differentiation for the design is to be able to take satellites home, and I only recall that being done once, with the LDEF. It was helpful to fix Hubble, so you have 5 missions out of 134 that really used the c

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The space shuttle program generated lots of real world data on reusable space launch vehicles. I would have liked much more experimentation with the shuttle Cs in the 1990s. An unmanned cargo launcher that could be allowed to fail might have gone some distance in lowering the cost of putting things into orbit.

      I am opposed sticking expensive people into orbit, and that very expensive ISS.

  • by Usually Unlucky (1598523) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:30AM (#36133016)
    If you want to launch station segments by themselves like the Russians do the segments become more expensive, smaller, and less capable because each segment has to be its own spaceship complete with guidance, altitude and attitude control, and docking capability.

    The shuttle allowed for the segments to be large, cheep, and uncomplicated. Plus the entire integrated truss system witch is quite literally the backbone of the station could not have happened without the shuttle. You would have to get your power from smaller solar arrays, which would greatly complicate the power system. Same problem with the radiators.

    The shuttle did a great job with the ISS,

    To bad the ISS hasn't done a great job for science or exploration. It has just been a large overpriced diplomacy tool, mostly used to keep the Russian aerospace industry alive after the collapse so they wouldn't wonder off and wind up in china or Iran.
    • by FleaPlus (6935)

      If you want to launch station segments by themselves like the Russians do the segments become more expensive, smaller, and less capable because each segment has to be its own spaceship complete with guidance, altitude and attitude control, and docking capability. The shuttle allowed for the segments to be large, cheep, and uncomplicated.

      The actual cost numbers don't match your assertion: Mir cost about $4.3B to build, while the ISS cost around $100B. (ISS's pressurized volume is only about twice Mir's)

      • For the US it would be more expensive to build.

        Everything built in Russia is cheaper.

        Also, can you provide a source on those numbers. The only mir cost I could find did not say it was adjusted for inflation or not
  • a Monday launch may mean a smaller crowd.

    It's also a Monday after a two week delay. I ran into a family from Australia at Jetty Park for the Atlas 5 launch last week. The Atlas was their consolation launch after missing the space shuttle. Unfortunately for them a stray cloud scrubbed that one as well and they were on their way home in the morning.

    They must have been the launch jinx because the Atlas went the next day.

    Hotels still have rooms and there doesn't seem to be the normal influx of people

  • OK, so I'm sitting in a cheapass hotel in Daytona (hotels any closer are insanely expensive) keeping my fingers crossed that this time, the third time that I've driven down to the armpit of the US to watch a shuttle launch, this time, its gonna go.

    you weather mavens can go f^#K yourselves - IT WILL LAUNCH THIS TIME!!!!

    OK - off to bed, got to get up at 3AM to get to the KSC visitors center before they close it in........

    Wish me luck, please...................

    • by jittles (1613415)
      Actually, the armpit of America is officially in Nevada [wikipedia.org]. Just ask Old Spice. Anyway, I live not too far from Daytona (I'll probably go out to the runway and watch the shuttle launch at work this morning), and I will agree that it's not the most exciting, or nicest place to live. At least, not when it comes to weather. I wish I could make it down to Titusville for the launch. Oh well, we will see what July has in store.
  • I look forward to multiple rockets coming to private space. In addition, one of them (spaceX) is CHEAP to fly. The only thing that will beat it anytime soon will be the chinese since they will simply cheat and subsidize it (illegally, but china does not care about that).

    Now, the problem is that CONgress continues trying to make NASA into a jobs bill. They had their CONstellation, and thankfully, it was killed. Now, we have SLS, as laid out by CONgress on HOW TO BUILD A ROCKET, TIMELINES, and MONEY. Yes, t

A motion to adjourn is always in order.

Working...