Farewell, Space Shuttle Program, It's been Grand.

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mobius's picture
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Farewell, Space Shuttle Program, It's been Grand.

Good evening folks,

Atlantis landed today concluding the  30-some years of (more) sustainable space flight.

 

My husband and I were fortunate enough to witness the Discovery launch in February of this year.  Litterally hundreds of thousands of people came out to that thin strip of Floridian coastline, waiting hours for a 3-minute glimpse of this marvel of human ingenuity.  There was hours of grid-lock for the return trip as well.  But it was such a massive moment, we did not have any regrets. 

Talking to the folks around us, and you hear how people made the effort to be there : -took time off, booked their flight, cancelled all of the above when launch delays occurred, repeat.  I had the feeling that if you let the people vote to determine NASA & the space shuttle program's fate, it would be unanimous: Keep it!

I was in High School when the Challenger disaster happened.  I remember the twisted vapour trails and the utter, utter shock at what had happened.  But despite the (corporate) failings, NASA and more importantly its employees dusted them selves off and got the program back on track.  And while watching the launch I kept the binoculars pressed tightly to my eyes until the SRBs (solid rocket boosters) smoked no more and eased back to Earth.  A sigh of relief, the worst, in my mind was over.

I am Canadian and grew up some 10 miles from where the "Canada Arm" at Spar Aerospace was made.  I always smile when I see our flag in a Shuttle camera shot and I'm proud that we could take part in this wonderful adventure of space flight.  And I will mourn the loss of the STS program because its fate seems to represent lost potential of human ingenuity lost due to the short-sightedness of my generation.  It is a step backwards for the sciences and its effects will be felt in education for the years to come.

It was a fine ride and worth every penny.  Thanks for the aspirations!

Joanne.

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mobius wrote: Good evening
mobius wrote:

Good evening folks,

Atlantis landed today concluding the  30-some years of (more) sustainable space flight.

What, exactly, has been "sustainable" about it?  Energy and resource-wise, there is of course nothing sustainable about it. 

In terms of finances, there is nothing sustainable about it either.  Has the space program every turned a profit?  In my opinion, the space program is mostly a giant waste of money.  I would be happy about the "end" if only it really were.  Instead, they're going to blow billions of dollars going to Mars and who knows where else. 

The space program is the modern-day equivalent of the pyramids:  incredible, amazing work, awe-inspiring work... all built on the backs of slaves, with the modern-day slave being the ordinary tax payer. 

 

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Benefits of the Space Program

Benefits of the Space Program:

How does NASA technology affect your life? The benefits of America's space program can be found just about everywhere! This Web site provides a down-to-Earth look at what the space program has done for you, your neighbors, America and the world. Explore these pages and feel at home with NASA technology!

http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/at_home.html

I have lived on the space coast for a short time and heard the last double sonic boom and also saw the last shuttle launch. I'm almost 60-years old and have seen a few things in my life time. Never worked for NASA but have been to the visitor center. Once you stand next to one of the rockets that helped transports something like the shuttle into space you can never comprehend the magnatiude of such an effort.  To say the U.S. Space Program is a total waste is simple not true. I'm sure the people who dedicated their careers to the effort and lost their lives for it don't consider it a waste nor the the entire labor force that helped make space travel happen.

 

Sage

 

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NASA a deal?
FarmerBrown wrote:

The space program is the modern-day equivalent of the pyramids:  incredible, amazing work, awe-inspiring work... all built on the backs of slaves, with the modern-day slave being the ordinary tax payer. 

I don't believe it's quite the same as the pyramids, since there has been a lot of technological and scientific advancement out of the space program that has provided benefits for all of us.  However, I believe it was probably considerably more expensive to obtain than if it had been done by private enterprise.

The question is, would this have all been done and farther along without the govenrnment doing it?  If governnment was going to be involved it might have been better to do something along the lines of the X-prize. At any rate, I would much rather have NASA than many other programs of the federal government, and the costs are still pretty small compared to much of the other spending.   For example, TARP was larger than all of NASAs budget combined over it's existence. (Source).  Compared to that, NASA was quite the deal!

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NASA - Human Space flight in the future?

Was speaking with my spouse the other day. 

I told her that we may very well be seeing the last US MANNED space flight, maybe forever, or at least for a generation.

I guess there will be some corporate type space experiments as those are currently underway.  Those seem to be small and without the big scope that NASA carries.

My feeling is that by the time that Constelation is under way, we will have had to trim it due to budget/energy decline.

Manned missions to Mars?  I doubt it.

 

John

 

 

 

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ehood wrote: Benefits of the
ehood wrote:

Benefits of the Space Program:

How does NASA technology affect your life? The benefits of America's space program can be found just about everywhere! This Web site provides a down-to-Earth look at what the space program has done for you, your neighbors, America and the world. Explore these pages and feel at home with NASA technology!

http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/at_home.html

I have lived on the space coast for a short time and heard the last double sonic boom and also saw the last shuttle launch. I'm almost 60-years old and have seen a few things in my life time. Never worked for NASA but have been to the visitor center. Once you stand next to one of the rockets that helped transports something like the shuttle into space you can never comprehend the magnatiude of such an effort.  To say the U.S. Space Program is a total waste is simple not true. I'm sure the people who dedicated their careers to the effort and lost their lives for it don't consider it a waste nor the the entire labor force that helped make space travel happen

Are those benefits worth the cost?  I'm sure the people who dedicated their lives (in some cases literally) do not consider it a waste either.  But that is because they chose those careers.  The everyday taxpayer has little or no choice.  You can try to convince him the program is worth it, but in the end, there is no choice in the matter, so what's the point?

Like I said, it is an awe-inspiring incredible achievement; a testament to the capabilities of man; achieved through the extortion of money from law abiding citizens by brute force, who could have otherwise done something of their own choosing with that property.

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Farmer Brown- Are you

Farmer Brown-

Are you talking about the Shuttle Program and manned spaceflight or the space program as a whole?  And are you really objecting to space science and travel, or just the fact there is government involvement in it?

I won't argue with you that government must fund the space program.... I personally find a space program to be a worthwhile endeavor (no big surprise there), but I wouldn't force anyone to pay for it without their consent.  I also will go so far as agreeing that Shuttle Program is unsustainable and inefficient, but that is more a matter of problems in the design process (losing sight of the purpose and requirements) and especially the interference of politics.  But as the link ehood showed, you can't say there wasn't at least some benefit realized from the space program!  And not all benefits come in the form of a monetary profit, nor should they.  How much more shallow would the world be if everything we did was only profit-motivated?  We wouldn't likely have astronomy, art, or cures for some diseases.... instead we'd only have things like marketing research, pornography, and erection pills .

 

rhare-

I too am very much in favor of X-prize awards and incentives for many space program endeavors and projects.  IF we as a society decide to have any government involvement, best to let it define the stated goals & basic requirements and provide the means to pursue them (cash award upon completion of any said goal) while putting the design and implementation in the hands of those that are both willing to take the risk and will have a personal stake in it.  And if they succeed then great; if they don't, well no taxpayer money is wasted.  A hell of a lot better than the government contractor "cost-plus" contract BS that more often than not just amounts to corporate welfare.

 

jturbo68-

Sadly, I think you're probably right.  A lot of politicians give lip service to the space program, but I expect relatively few would go out on a limb to defend it if it's politically unpopular.  I kinda wonder if this will be like the short-lived exploration and settlement of North America by the Vikings... an opportunity wasted by circumstances and lack of will, only to be tried again successfully much later by a completely different people.

- Nickbert

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achieved through the

achieved through the extortion of money from law abiding citizens by brute force, who could have otherwise done something of their own choosing with that property.

 

Well, think back to the times when the program began and then picture a possible scene if NASA wasn't involved.  I don't think we woud be feeling very happy today having only cosmonauts looking down on us from the ISS, etc...

Now, I believe that it is in human nature to have a "government" in society.  It has evolved out of the necessity to protect a group of people from outsiders and to exert a social control on the insiders.  It also tends to act in cycles and when too large without any balance of power, it will grow too large to fulfill its fundamental functions.  I think we are at this point right now.

Actually, I'm quite sad because this "largess of government spending" was vital to trail-blasing work, which in turn stimulated the sciences (pure & applied) in education; that more than say the lonely inventor tinkering in his garage which would happend anyway.

And on a last note {it's all friendly} Farmer Brown, my life experience has convinced me not to over-estimate the masses ability to exercise free choice and make informed decisions. 

Enjoy the weekend.

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nickbert wrote: Farmer
nickbert wrote:

Farmer Brown-

Are you talking about the Shuttle Program and manned spaceflight or the space program as a whole?  And are you really objecting to space science and travel, or just the fact there is government involvement in it?

I won't argue with you that government must fund the space program.... I personally find a space program to be a worthwhile endeavor (no big surprise there), but I wouldn't force anyone to pay for it without their consent.  I also will go so far as agreeing that Shuttle Program is unsustainable and inefficient, but that is more a matter of problems in the design process (losing sight of the purpose and requirements) and especially the interference of politics.  But as the link ehood showed, you can't say there wasn't at least some benefit realized from the space program!  And not all benefits come in the form of a monetary profit, nor should they.  How much more shallow would the world be if everything we did was only profit-motivated?  We wouldn't likely have astronomy, art, or cures for some diseases.... instead we'd only have things like marketing research, pornography, and erection pills .

I'm talking about the entire space program/NASA.  It's a giant sink hole.  You cannot say what would have happened if we hadn't funded it in the first place, because all the resources not consumed by the space program would have been used for other things, with different and quite possibly more or quite possibly less beneficial results.  It is impossible to say if the world would be better or worse because we cannot go back in time and run the experiment.  What can be said is that the choice of what to do with the resources would have been made by the individuals who rightfuly owned them, not government bureaucrats, be they astronauts or not. 

I am baffled with America's love affair with the space program.  It reminds me exactly of the pyramids.  I guess we don't know if the pyramids were built by slaves or if a theocratic social structure evolved wherebye they were built out of "love".  Either way, a lot of people spent a lot of time and resources building something with few benefits.  Europe is also literred with awe-inspiring works from hundred or thousands of years ago, mostly palaces and cathedrals but also a few water works and bridges here and there.  For the most part, these were also built by slaves, though the king who ruled them is credited. 

And no, I am not saying that anything not-profit-driven is bad, not at all!  There are inumerable non-profit driven endeavors that are fundamental to life (or at least a worthwhile life IMO), but none of the ones I can think of require taxes to pay for them, nor should they!  Most of them, in fact, don't even cost any money!

I just don't understand why anyone is sad over the end of the space shuttle era.  There are easier, more efficient ways to get payloads into space and they've been around for quite some time.  The program should have ended at least 10 years ago. 

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mobius wrote: Well, think
mobius wrote:

Well, think back to the times when the program began and then picture a possible scene if NASA wasn't involved.  I don't think we woud be feeling very happy today having only cosmonauts looking down on us from the ISS, etc...

Based on what we now know about the USSR, it does not seem like they would have outlasted the US anyway.  Maybe they would have been gone even sooner.  If we had invested all those resources countering the USSR's efforts here on Earth instead of on the Moon, who is to say what would have hapenned?

Quote:

Now, I believe that it is in human nature to have a "government" in society.  It has evolved out of the necessity to protect a group of people from outsiders and to exert a social control on the insiders.  It also tends to act in cycles and when too large without any balance of power, it will grow too large to fulfill its fundamental functions.  I think we are at this point right now.

We are in full agreement there!

Quote:

Actually, I'm quite sad because this "largess of government spending" was vital to trail-blasing work, which in turn stimulated the sciences (pure & applied) in education; that more than say the lonely inventor tinkering in his garage which would happend anyway.

There is plenty of research that shows that real trailblazing work and inventions occur during times of durress and scarcity, not times of excess.  As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.  I wouldn't count on the government stimulating anything, except debt.  As for US public eductaion, it is among the worst in the developed world and is the worst in terms of $ spent per pupil (highest) compared with results achived (among the lowest).

Quote:

And on a last note {it's all friendly} Farmer Brown, my life experience has convinced me not to over-estimate the masses ability to exercise free choice and make informed decisions. Enjoy the weekend.

Well, the public sure has elected some doosies, so I cannot argue with you there!  However, that does not take away anyone's right over their own property.  If they want to waste it on stupid decisions, that's up to them.  Likewise, they should not have the right to pass laws that tax me for arbitrary programs they think may be "beneficial". 

Have a good weekend as well.

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Space-bug Hater
Farmer Brown wrote:

I just don't understand why anyone is sad over the end of the space shuttle era.  

Hey dude, what is with all the space-bug hatred? LOL 

My local economy has benefited greatly from all those tax dollars and I have quiet a few friends and neighbors that work on the shuttle program. And over the last few decades, the space program itself has concentrated the brightest minds from around the world into my little community. You should see all the engineers riding around in their fuel cell-powered "moon rover" golf carts.

And that tax money buys one thing that no other government program can achieve; WONDER. I would gladly trade a little extra money in my pocket (that I would have sent to China anyway) for the chance to fund the age-old dream of space flight. There are about a billion other ways that the government spends our money that I think deserve serious consideration before we cut the space program. 

Besides, how are we going to exile all the lobbyists to deep space without the shuttle program?

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More known unknowns
Farmer Brown wrote:

And no, I am not saying that anything not-profit-driven is bad, not at all!  There are inumerable non-profit driven endeavors that are fundamental to life (or at least a worthwhile life IMO), but none of the ones I can think of require taxes to pay for them, nor should they!  Most of them, in fact, don't even cost any money!

I just don't understand why anyone is sad over the end of the space shuttle era.  There are easier, more efficient ways to get payloads into space and they've been around for quite some time.  The program should have ended at least 10 years ago. 

FB -

It would be pretty difficult to accurately gauge all of the beneficial spiral technologies that evolved from the space program and their benefits.  But just because you can't easily quantify such spiral technology ROI doesn't mean doesn't mean it wasn't worth.  Besides, like you said, that genie is out of the bottle and we have no way of knowing how things would have turned out otherwise.

As to the program ending 10 years ago......my friend and Naval Academy classmate Willie McCool and the rest of his crew would probably agree with you.

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We are in a budget crisis...
JAG wrote:

Besides, how are we going to exile all the lobbyists to deep space without the shuttle program?

Concrete around the ankles and dropped into the ocean is an equally effective and far less costly solution.

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Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote: As to
Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

As to the program ending 10 years ago......my friend and Naval Academy classmate Willie McCool and the rest of his crew would probably agree with you.

Sorry about your friend, Dogs.  At least he died doing something he loved.  95% of people cannot say that. 

JAG:  I don't exactly hate the space program, I just hate the seemingly unqualified love for it that everyone seems to have, without any apparent regard to costs. Call me Grumpy.

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Don't Pollute
goes211 wrote:
JAG wrote:

Besides, how are we going to exile all the lobbyists to deep space without the shuttle program?

Concrete around the ankles and dropped into the ocean is an equally effective and far less costly solution.

LOL,

Yeah, but then you would pollute the oceans and kill all the fish. The vacuum of space is really the only viable solution. 

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Love and Rockets

Farmer Brown-

The unqualified love as you say is mostly because the space program became a national symbol of the incredible things we can accomplish.  If it makes you feel better, I'm an engineer that changed careers just so I could eventually be a part of space exploration, and even I recognize there is a serious cost and management problem in the space program that should not continue as is.

I am actually not terribly sad at the end of the space shuttle itself.  It was a product of awful compromises and politics, and I find it amazing mostly in the sense that despite the inherent flaws in the approach to its design that the scientists and engineers involved did such an extraordinary job with it and MADE IT WORK (BTW here's a interesting article offering a blunt assessment of the shuttle).  And I agree it should have been retired long ago.... the fact that it wasn't is mostly due to politics and lack of serious commitment to prepare a successor.   What makes me sad is that my nation's leadership (I use that term very loosely here) doesn't have much of a plan or the will to pick up where the shuttle program left off.  Obama says he wants to hand off these things to the private sector, but without outlining a clear strategy for doing so, the whole thing sounds like the Underpants Gnomes' business plan.  If he truly meant it then I'd be all for it, but the lack of a clear plan and the incredibly distant target dates for future goals indicates to me that it's all just BS and empty words.  Now it's probably going to be the worst of both worlds; no manned space program, but we're still going to be spending the money.  I'd rather they just sh!t or get off the pot, and not continue to half-ass things for the next decade or two.

Oh well, at least the sad state of affairs made for an easier decision for me and my family to go to greener pastures outside the country to pursue different opportunities.  When one door closes another one opens and all that...

- Nickbert

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Hmmmm
JAG wrote:
goes211 wrote:
JAG wrote:

Besides, how are we going to exile all the lobbyists to deep space without the shuttle program?

Concrete around the ankles and dropped into the ocean is an equally effective and far less costly solution.

LOL,

Yeah, but then you would pollute the oceans and kill all the fish. The vacuum of space is really the only viable solution. 

The collective vacuum housed within the heads of our elected officials in the House and Senate are also a possibility.  And don't forget the yawning chasm contained within the cranial vault of the Bernank.

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   And don't forget the

 

 And don't forget the yawning chasm contained within the cranial vault of the Bernank.

meh -  nature abhors a vacuum.. 

 I print, therefore I am..   -  "Imprimere ergo sum" ?

 

  shuttle program, imperfect.. obv.. but inspirational.

 Main drawback was the things undone, because it sucked the funds.. the many roads not taken.. opportunity costs.

 Amazingly succesful despite the tragedies... and hubris.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEjXjfxoNXM

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qAi_9quzUY

 Darpa model way better than Nasa IMHO.

 Fund loads of weird stuff.... rather than plan the perfect  one-true-project (tm).

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well, at least Cern is yielding some promising results...

 

Cern scientists suspect glimpse of Higgs boson 'God particle'

Unusual data bumps detected by two teams at Large Hadron Collider thought to be glimpse of elusive source of particle mass.

To read further: www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jul/22/cern-higgs-boson-god-particle

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