STS-135: Final Launch of Atlantis and the Space Shuttle Program.

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by quagmire, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. quagmire, Jul 4, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011

    quagmire macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #1
    The final launch of Atlantis and the Space Shuttle Program is set to launch on July 8th at 11:26 am. July 8th will be a sad day in American history. :( I am personally mad that there isn't a replacement in the works.

    [​IMG]

    For those interested, here are updates of the decommissioning work on the other Shuttle's.

    Discovery Update: It is being prepared to be moved to the VAB for further decommissioning work and setup the landing gear to be remotely operated.

    Endeavour Update: It's spent drag chute pyrotechnics have been removed along with all 3 Space Shuttle main engines. Workers are currently working on its hypergolic system.

    Here is a picture of Pad 39B as of June 7th being converted to a clean launch pad like it was back during the Apollo program.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Anonymous Freak macrumors 601

    Anonymous Freak

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    #2
    There are multiple replacements in the works, they're just not "space shuttle"s. (And for resuability, the goal is that the Dragon and Falcon 9 will be almost entirely reusable.)

    Personally, I agree, though. The Space Shuttle is what I grew up on. From the earliest successful missions through the tragedies, to the realization of the dream of permanently manned space stations (starting with Mir.)

    Personally, I think it amazing to think that we have had people continuously in space since November 2000. And that there were people continuously in space for nearly 10 years before that, as well. The gap of 'continuity' being the gap from August 1999 until November 2000. (August '99 was the end of Mir's continuous inhabitance, which lasted just a few days shy of 10 years.)
     
  3. quagmire, Jul 5, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011

    quagmire thread starter macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #3
    Sure private companies are developing their own space vehicles, but I doubt they will have the ability to leave LEO or even touch the orbit Hubble is at( it's at the edge of the Shuttle's capabilities). But, there is no official replacement in the works from NASA. I have read reports that NASA has selected Lockheed to manufacture the Orion capsule, NASA is doing engine tests on the J-2X engine( I believe that is what it is called which is an updated Saturn V engine), and Obama apparently gave NASA $1 billion to develop a new heavy-lift vehicle.

    But ever since Obama cancelled Constellation, details of what is coming after the Shuttle are still not clear.
     
  4. Lone Deranger macrumors 65816

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    #4
    NASA just uploaded a 2 hour long 'History of the Space Shuttle' documentary (narrated by William Shatner) on their NASA TV page on youtube.

    link

    Some great footage I hadn't seen before.
     
  5. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #5
    Thanks for posting that, I enjoyed it.
     
  6. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #6
    I posted this elsewhere but will post it here as well.

     
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #7
    Thanks for posting this; an interesting (and yes, sad) day. I, too, grew up awestruck at the adventure and wonder of manned space flight.

    Cheers
     
  8. MacNut macrumors Core

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    #8
    So the launch might be delayed Friday due to weather.
     
  9. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

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    #9
    welcome to multiple projects being canceled and zero political will to get one done.
     
  10. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #10
    Hmmm. I'm not so certain about that. Personally, I'm actually torn on the issue. On the one hand, I loved the drama, the excitement, adventure and the sheer thrill of the idea of space exploration, especially manned space exploration. I don't just recall the early Space Shuttle flights, I was a kid when the moon landings happened and I was electrified with awe. And yes, I blush to admit that I love sci-fi (such as Star Trek) as well as actual science. As an historian, I have also found the whole narrative & history of exploration and discovery tremendously interesting, on earth as well as in outer, or inner, space.

    But, but, but, on the other hand, the political analyst in me asks different questions of the whole space programme. Questions such as motivations, justifications, and indeed, actual cost at a time of world recession and colossal want and need not simply elsewhere in the world but in western societies also. Can we really justify spending so much on something which seems to deliver so little? Are unmanned craft - Voyager and the like - not a much better option in terms of value for money and scientific and knowledge based returns?

    Besides, initially, the US programme was a horrified response (using German scientists from the old V2 rocket programme amongst others) to Soviet advances in space technology, such as Sputnik, putting Laika into orbit and later on Yuri Gagarin's flight. This was what prompted the moon programme, not the desire for serious research.

    So, while the romantic in me mourns the passing of the shuttle programme, I really must confess to mixed feelings on the issue.

    Cheers
     
  11. quagmire, Jul 6, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011

    quagmire thread starter macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #11
    NASA is only .6% of the US's entire budget( 2008 budget). NASA and manned space flight is hardly putting a strain on the US's financial situation...... If you want to fight over .6% of the budget, be my guest. But, there other programs that we can cut( DEFENSE!) that will have a bigger impact in order to get our financial situation under control.......

    NASA's 2011 budget is $19 billion. That is with the Shuttle's, Hubble, Opportunity( since Spirit finally died), probes, the new Curiosity Mars Rover, etc.
     
  12. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #12
    I agree with you entirely on the question of defence spending; it is - and has been - an obscenity for quite some time. Moreover, starting - or getting involved in - idiotic conflicts, or worse, conflicts on the basis of mis-information or disinformation or outright mendacity - is even more costly, in terms of time, lives, money and of course, reputation.

    Re manned space flight, I suspect that a cost benefit analysis concluded that it was not worth what was spent, especially when contrasted with the information benefits derived from non-manned exploration flights.

    Personally, as I have already said, I regret this; but I also see the reasons that I suspect may have given rise to this decision.

    Cheers
     
  13. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #13
    Lets hope Nasa can have a great final mission for shuttle and then design a real spaceship, you cant explore space without one. If the best we can do 40 years after apollo are more capsules on top of chemical rockets I for one will be very disappointed. Mars is waiting as are more places in the solar system but chemical rockets wont get us there. We need short travel times otherwise a man cant even stand up after a few months in space. Speed and more speed is the answer. I still think Lockheed has some tech that wont ever see the light of day that could do the Job.
     
  14. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #14
    You are completely right concerning the limited development in rocketry over the past half century. The technology has hardly moved on from the days when Von Braun drove it. I understand that NASA had grand plans but that funding was cut in the 1970s after the termination of the moon programme.

    I'm curious to know what you mean by the Lockheed having "tech" that will not see the light of day; such as?

    BTW, I like your sig.

    Cheers
     
  15. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #15
    Lockheed's Ben Rich made some very interesting statements before his death about technology that was locked up if you will that we could travel the stars but it would take an act of god to get it out of the black programs.

    Our advancement in space propulsion if you can even call it that ....... is nearly stagnate. There still is nothing that comes close to Apollo and thats 40 years ago. I think we must have had some serious advancements somewhere but its not at Nasa. It makes sense when you look at how Nasa strings are yanked different directions after every election cycle. The 2 partys are to busy fighting each other to run a decent space program. History shows that many times over. Its only logical the good stuff be kept far away from those clowns. Hence Ben Rich's statement.
     
  16. quagmire, Jul 6, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011

    quagmire thread starter macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #16
    The Ares V was supposed to be bigger and more powerful than the Saturn V.

    The thing about Constellation that I don't like was that it would be require two launches to get the command module and lunar module into space. I can't imagine launching Ares I and Ares V would be cheaper than launching one rocket like they did with the Saturn V. NASA liked the two rocket launch so Ares V's launch was more optimized for carrying heavier cargo than having to launch the crew and cargo.

    The great thing about the Saturn V was that it could lose two engines on the second stage and still reach orbit(happened with Apollo 6 and Apollo 13 lost one engine).
     
  17. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #17
    And still its only enough for the moon and perhaps a nearby passing asteroid. To really explore the planets with man we need something different and much faster.
    There again is the political problem of the constant changes in administrations and partys. A coherent space program has to be isolated from these two endlessly bickering partys.
     
  18. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #18
    Just figure I would point this out to you but our cars that we drive every day still are the same basic tech from the early 1900's That is it still runs on gas and a piston engine. Not exactly much has change from the basic tech. Same fuel source and we still have not found a good alternative to oil for fuel for cars because not much else for unit volume provides power.

    Rockets pure unit volume and mass provide a hell of a lot of thrust and we just have not found anything that can do the same thing.

    The capsule being single use in many ways is cheaper and better than a something like the shuttle because
    1. it means it can be lighter during life off as it does not need to be strong enough to be used again.
    2. Cheaper to build because again only 1 use.
    3. It gets upgraded tech over time. Shuttles problem was it was cheaper to build a new shuttle that it was to retrofit newer tech on a lot of them. Or it was impossible to upgrade tech as things got better. Replace capsules you can do it every time.

    4. Cost per launch could easily be cheaper because for example the shuttle required a pretty costly over haul each time after launch. The engines pretty much had to be completely taken apart and replaced. Quite a few of the tiles would need to be replaced that were damage from landing and re-entry.
     
  19. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #19
    I take your point entirely about the relatively limited development in the whole area of the internal combustion engine since the early 1900s and it is a good example; and I agree with you.

    In any case, I have already made that point re Von Braun and his fellow designers - we have not really moved on from the space technology of the late 1950s and early 1960s, in essence, half a century ago; in some ways, it is surprising that more sophisticated and developed technology has not emerged or been allowed to emerge.

    However, I'm not sure I agree re since use rockets over re-usables; in an age of ecological awareness, the very idea of the re-usable shuttle (and the considerable piloting skills required for successful re-entry) meant that, in many ways, the shuttle was an advance on what had gone before.

    I seem to recall reading an article in the past year which seemed to argue that considerably more advanced engine development had been envisaged for the shuttle when it was originally mooted, but were shelved for reasons of finance (and yes, politics) for the clumsy solution of of the discarded rocket engine tubes with which we are familiar.

    There is another issue concerning lengthy manned space flights and it is this: we are not really designed to function long term in a weightless environment, and those astronauts and cosmonauts who have put in many months (in one infamous case about the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union - years) have learned much that is valuable about how difficult it can be to adjust to long term living in space and the multiple demands that places on the human body.
     
  20. quagmire thread starter macrumors 603

    quagmire

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    #20
    I read that initially, NASA was planning to use the first stage of the Saturn V to get the Shuttle up to an altitude where it could get to orbit via it's three main engines. NASA was also planning to install jet engines where the OMS pods are so it could fly to Kennedy or Edwards after reentry and if it went to Edwards, fly back to Kennedy under its own power. But, as you said those were cancelled due to escalating costs.
     
  21. *LTD* macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #21
    You mean they haven't retired these flying garbage cans yet??

    It's a shame they let the space program rot.

    More rovers to mars? How about actual people? When? It seems it's more important to pump massive amounts of cash into illegal wars half a world away. Plenty of money to spend on defence, to fight an imperceptible enemy: ideology. What a waste.

    The fascination and wonder of exploration (using humans) is gone.

    Wernher Von Braun is somewhere up there . . . in tears.
     
  22. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

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    #22
    You really think so?

    If I believed in Heaven and Hell, I would picture him in the latter place. ;)
     
  23. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #23
    While, as a space romantic, I agree with you, rationally I would argue that humans are not designed for long term life in space; the extensive experience of the Space Station showed how difficult it is for humans to adapt to longterm life in a weightless environment; a week away - such as the moon landings shoed - is easy enough, but the lengthy periods, months and years, clocked up by the Russians orbiting the Earth, above all, have shown how difficult it can be. Even with hours spent - daily - doing weight & other exercises, human organs undergo changes over a period of time in space; blood flow alters, blood composition changes, the heart is enlarged, muscles waste, etc, etc.

    I think the reason the programme was scrapped were a mixture of cost (unmanned craft and flights - at the moment - offer better cost benefit returns), political choices, the sheer time and difficulty getting humans to Mars or elsewhere given the current technological state of engines - Mars is nearly two years away and two years back under available technological possibilities! - think of the logistics of that.

    We - humanity - evolved to cope with a specific set of environmental circumstances, a specific gravity, a certain compound of nitrogen & oxygen etc; removing us from that environment means we have to adapt ourselves, or re-create our environment if we are to endure on a long term basis.

    That is where I'd place him, too. A terrific scientist, but a man with a rather retarded moral compass.
     
  24. MacNut macrumors Core

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  25. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #25
    Very interesting to watch, I hadn't seen this before now; thanks for posting it.
     

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