Friday, May 22, 2009

NASA's New Transport Vehicle Orion, Is All Wet

The Hubble space telescope was just serviced by the astronauts of the space shuttle Atlantis, who are still up in space waiting for a clear landing strip in un-sunny Florida. The mission to replace the batteries and update the scientific instruments was supposed to be very dangerous but thankfully was a huge success.

I wish NASA's space shuttle, or something more like it were going to be the near future of American spaceflight.

Instead, the future is Orion, a capsule on top of a rocket...again -- like Apollo 30 years ago, and like Russia's and China's launch vehicles today. Servicing missions with the capabilities that the space shuttle presently has won't be possible with the unimaginative Orion crew capsule.

I really think it is up to private concerns like Burt Rutan's The Spaceship Company (Spaceship One) and Virgin Galactic to move us forward into the space age. NASA's sometimes lofty goals are too often interrupted by politics and budget considerations and therefore programs are often axed or funding is reduced and what you end up with is the Apollo program redux. And just you wait, even that compromise will be defunded, delayed, and derided.

Oh, I'll be there to watch the splashdown of the Orion capsules, but they'll be pale evanescences compared to shuttle landings and the hoped for Space Ship Two deorbits.

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