Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Wednesday Wrap-up

My Five Cents:

So we get a new nickel next year, I like that they are finally being creative with the designs and finally getting away from the same stodgy profiles that we've seen for years. I think that the state quarters are a great idea, and think that the most recent redesign of the 20 dollar bill is a step in the right direction, though still not as creative as our counterparts across the ocean.

Lost in Space:

From the space corner, it seems like Discovery's foam loss on the STS-114 mission had nothing to do with the foam itself being bad, rather it came from mishandling. According to the AP, "Workers may have accidentally cut or crushed the section of foam that broke off Discovery's fuel tank" causing it to come off of the external tank within minutes of launch. Of course, knowing is half the battle and knowing it now allows them to fix it.

[Via the Orlando Sentinel]

Mike Griffin sat down with the USAToday a week ago and said the space shuttle was basically a "mistake." He also said if building the ISS had been up to him he wouldnt have approved it. After the outcry from the public, and even people within NASA itself, he released a memo that basically tried to mend the toes he'd stepped on, although it didn't do much...he'd already insulted most of the engineers and technicians that designed and built two very innovative projects. Today, USAToday released a transcript of the interview, showing that as usual the media can make things look a lot worse than they really are by taking things out of context.

Griffin says he wouldn't have built the space station the way it was presented, honestly as I go back and remember the whole debate the program itself seems kind of useless. The Soviets/Russians has a few Salyut space stations up in the 70's and 80's, and then put Mir up, giving cosomonauts and eventually astronauts from the US and other countries vital experience in long duration space flight. If we ever wanted to go to Mars, we'd need this kind of experience. Don't forget though (as most people do) that we had a space station up there before we'd ever thought of the ISS, Skylab, and we sent three different crews up to it. So why did we really need to build the ISS? Politics.

He also says the shuttle wasn't then and isn't now a really viable program. It was built to be a cheap way of getting cargo and personnel into space. It's never been cheap, and because of that became the mainstay of our manned space programs that effectively doomed exploration of space beyond Earth orbit. We could have gone to Mars in the 70's if we'd wanted to. The reason the Earth/Moon/Mars/Beyond (the President's 'vision' for space exploration) looks so much like Apollo is because the system works so well. By the end of Apollo program we could have fitted a Super-Saturn V with a long duration-adapted Apollo capsule and gone all they way. Why didn't we? Politics, yet again. Let the long term direction of a manned space program be decided by a president who has, at the outset 4 years, and at most 8 (and in the case of Nixon, only 5 years) and you'll get a short termed space program.

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