NEVER take a shuttle coming home for granted. Discovery spent exactly 15 days and 2 hours in orbit to repair the damage solar panel on the International Space Station and to expand the stations living quarters by delivering a new Section called Harmony.
It was a long and dangerous space wall that required an hour just to get to the solar array on the far side of the station and five hours to repair with a further hour to return. The High charge array can't be turned off from collecting solar energy so the EVA had to be callcuated very carefully to avoid touching objects which could arc burning a whole through the spacesuit.
It was tearful farewells after Discovery undocked form the station after which Discovery flew around the station to obtain pictures and damage reports for the station review team on the ground. The station has been occupied constantly ever since it's comisioning and they traded crew men once again bring on station occupant home.
The shuttlle landed safely after scorching a blazing path over the US traveling at 10,000 mph and rapid decelerationg, then diving almost nose first for the ground. On it's approach up to two minutes away from the mile long shuttle air strip in Florida the Discovery was in excess of 4,000 mile per hour crossing Geogia in just 3 minutes and to it's landing site in then next two.
NASA predicted a 12:01 landing and that is exactly what they got...These boys really know there stuff!
But what next! The shuttle is to be decommisioned. But why? This is truely a marvel of science and creativity. is there a better option in production?
Jeff is a mean boss
28th July 2002
I'm amazed they are still using 30+ year old shuttles. They need some updates, and thats why they are retiring the entire shuttle fleet.
Is age really that much of a factor. The avionics of the shuttles are upgraded. But to return to plus 50 year old tech of capsules and disposables is a step in the wrong direction. The tech is actually the best we have. While that doesn't say alot for advancement....I think it speaks volumes for how far we've come.
Infact the oldest shuttles which were 30 years old have been destroyed. Columbia and Challenger. And their destruction had nothing to do with age.
Age is mostly a factor because today we are able to simulate stress much better with computers which leads to better results when designing a vehicle. In the last 30 years there also have been a number of advancements in all sorts of science that are useful for space-technology and it is not always easy to incorporate them into an existing system.
As far as I know the latest disposable transportation technology is more cost-efficient and reliable than the Space Shuttle, a new shuttle system may be even better but it would require more money than anyone is willing to spend right now.
That begs the question...why continue with the space program if the money to do it right is not there? Why pursue the exploration of space? I know why I would but money is an ever present reason for degenerating situation in the space agency.
The shuttle was outdated at it's first launch, mostly because their had been a technological revolution (semi-modern computing) which eliminated a lot of need for maintainence, and thus eliminated alot of jobs from the space program. So the people figured that designing a modern (for that time) shuttle might loose them their jobs, and getting a job in such a field is difficult and the pay was already roughly sustainable. So the shuttle we have, at it's launch was outdated by about half a decade or so, from day 1. We've upgraded them, we've tried various installations, but maintaining the shuttle still requires a massive team of experts and until the program is totally scrapped, it always will.
NASA isn't making major progess in the space field, but is helping leaps and bounds with the Air Force, but NASA can't very well keep the S without being in some way involved with Space, but beyond that, we have a massive investment in the ISS (International Space Station/ Imperial Star Ship) and we aren't about to give that up.
The shuttle program has simply become too dangerous to continue. Every launch is like a teeter totter of life and death with a dice throw to determine whether or not the crew makes it there, and another toss for the trip back.
Last reason for continuing the space program, incase the Chinese remove the American flag (on the moon) in 2012 with their mission aboard the Kua Fu (named after a giant that drank all the water on Earth while chasing the Sun in vain and then died of heat and thirst with nothing left to drink).
The shuttles nor the ISS can't follow the same computer revolution that occurs down on earth. They require a different and less complex systems because as I've been told there are problems with the miniturization process used on micro chips that preven them from being used in space. When the Endeavor was launched in 1996 the entire shuttle fleed recieved that avionic upgrade I spoke of and I wouldn't doubt that there have been others.
Also there's no doubt if they built another space shuttle it would undoubtably be better in terms of materials they'd use but I don't predict much better than the current craft.
what is required by Lockheed and Boeing is to develop craft that are reusable yet don't requires the billions of dollars and ground crew and hundreds of hours to prep. But these throw away space craft aren't the answer. NASA has been here and done that. If the risk was high for a reuseable lauch vehicle such as the shuttle..then the risk will be even higher with disposable rockets which will have to be manufacture from scratch every single time a launch is necessary. I'll remind us of the death of Gus Grissom and Ed White in a capsule...unable to escape a fire because the atmosphere was too oxygen rich. Moreover we will have no vehicle ready to go if the crew of the ISS require evacuation...
Thats a main point I find disturbing. Fly the space shuttle is a desire of every naval pilot...a capsule is something you escape from.
Is age really that much of a factor.
i bet you are not using a thirty-year old car.
But it is a disturbing aspect of the space program. There is too little funding and too little motivation to continue the space programme right now, by the American government. Which I think is truly unfortunate.
I would use a thirty year old car alot faster if I had NASA as my pit crew.
I agree with that though. I have dreams where space travel is normal and every day for some people and not in a Star Trek sort of way but much more modern. I've been working on a space shuttle that has a radical change from the current design.
In it I include Three types of engines. it's a craft that does not require VTOL (vertical take off and landing)
I used a hybrid form of scramjet engine imbeded in the upper wings of a delta wing craft. Imagine the concord but with the engines above the wings. The Scramjet would have flat turbines to provide air speed.
But even that wouldn't be enough to get a shuttle into space a SRB style motor system would be a primary engine. the fuel could be poured in and made to set into a rubber form.
Then also a set of (OMS) Orbital manuvering systems. I've been working on the idea for a while...the hard part is the incoporated SRB's
I wouldn't place my life, much less the lives of 7 other people people, in the hands of the NASA pit crew. I understand that it's had upgrades, and that it has certain requirements for it's circuitry (probably due to solar wind interference and the radiation belt that they have to pass through to enter space), but I'm saying that it has been purposely behind the times in almost every way to ensure the need for further work on the shuttle program. It's like a power company with the ability to sell a cheap, efficient house hold generator, once they sell it, they are no longer useful except to produce more of them.
Whenever you design a shuttle, you have to think about how it's going to deal with re-entry as well as exit, so in that sense, I don't know if delta (those are the ones that go forward rather than back, right?) wings would work for re-entry.
I think the space program won't get a major leap till anti-grav comes around, though such a thing may be closer than most think.