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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.
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Endeavour Launch Now Slated For Monday

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  • 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 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 memyselfandeye (1849868) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:29AM (#36133002)

    Melodramatic? Can't think of anything more Melodramatic than stating rational adults think the shuttle program was and is a waste, and anyone who says different are bipolar misfits who cut themselves. How's this for melodramatic.

    Shuttle Program...
    Cost per year: $5 Billion
    Total program cost: ~$175 Billion
    Percent of annual Revenue: 0.1% - 0.75% over 35 years

    Compare that to....
    Cost of TARP: $300 Billion
    Bush Stimulus: $172 Billion
    Obama Stimulus: $862 Billion

    Which one of those created jobs. Disregard your politics, ask yourself if it is more likely that the Shuttle program created more engineers and mechanics and pipe fitters and electricians and truck drivers and chemical mixers, than say TARP and its bankers.

    Now for some other calculus. The space station was built so Russian scientists would have something to do other than build Nuclear bombs. I grew up in that world, and saw it fist hand as a teenager whose parents worked at White Sands. After the wall fell, one of those Russian scientists lived with us, and instead of building bombs and rockets, he built rockets and space stations.

    Somehow our calculus assumes the current NASA engineers are just going to flip burgers and mow lawns. The disassumes that some of them may move to China, or elsewhere, and build rockets and, possibly, bombs... since those nations have no desire to build space stations.

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