Previously by George Giles: The Malevolent Wind
The Space Transportation System (STS) is officially over. The last one did not blow up so the program did go out not with a bang, but a whimper, and for everyone on board that was a good thing. Prior to the STS Americans had never died in space, but the shuttle remedied that statistic.
NASA is now dreaming/scheming/fantasizing about the next generation rocket, the so-called Space Launch System (SLS). The crew compartment is no longer the size of a Kharman-Ghia it has been made large enough for 4 so it is a Taurus station wagon. The end result is the same a financial rape of the taxpayer, a ride in a very uncomfortable space u2018taxi' for the politically connected, and the never ending hype of national pride.
This vehicle (SLS) will never go to Mars and back it is a cynical hype for more money so NASA can continue playing in space. I remember sitting in my taxpayer financed NASA cubicle 21 years ago and thinking we cannot possibly build the space station. Assembly of the space station would have taken an estimated 19,000 hours of space walking which was adventurous to say the least considering that at that time the US (1990) the US space program had accumulated less 200 hours. Mercifully someone(s) came to their senses and everything space station related was either never funded or under-funded and the whole thing withered.
Some quick observations on the SLS:
- It is just another version of an old design Von Braun's Saturn I-V
- It will be a kerosene-liquid oxygen hydrocarbon burning rocket because the expense of the higher energy density hydrogen-oxygen (space shuttle) is not worth the cost
- Since these things explode occasionally the old escape tower is back aptly title u2018launch abort system'
- It will be liquid fueled which is what the u2018developable' engine architecture is all about
- Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) will help get this massive fuel tanker off the pad initially and then separate and fall back into the ocean, hopefully not on someone's private sector yacht
- Nothing is new about this other than the fact that there has been no new space technology since 1960
- New lies will be spun to make this appear to be a cost effective good idea
The Russian were smart enough to put their space shuttle u2018Buran' exactly where it belonged in the city dump! When they did it they did not call a press conference.
- More on the SLS
- My critique of the whole NASA/Rockets/Space Travel debacle is as true now as it was then
George Giles [send him mail] is an independent writer in Nashville TN. He studied atmospheric physics under the Alabama State Climatologist.