Coverage of America's Space Program, 2010 - 2050
US Shuttle Museum Pieces
America has only one shuttle left to launch for its final journey during Summer 2011. None of the historic retired US Space Shuttles will be presented to The National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson AF Base in Fairborn, Ohio. NASA at Houston will also not receive one. Both facilities have a long history of developing the US Space Program, its personnel, and space craft components.
Recipient organizations include the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex in Florida (Atlantis );the California Science Center in LA (Endeavor ); the Smithsonian Institution flight-related facility in Virginia (Discovery ); and NYC's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (Enterprise prototype, non-functional). Challenger and Columbia were lost in explosions. The Kennedy Space Center award of a retired shuttle is the only site that makes sense of the award group. The Virginia facility is a Smithsonian annex and not as well attended. The other two are based on future tourist trade.
Mission STS-135, Space Shuttle Atlantis , was mobbed with visitors that will never again have the chance to view a shuttle launch.
Atlantis is a fitting name - a civilization sought out by humanity for centuries and not yet found. But we are still searching with hope.
- The Asteroid Mining Race - Google and Company vs Deep Space Industries
New controversy & competition - while pundits and some scientists say asteroids are too far away to mine, a new Asteroid Mining Company in 2013 plans to compete with Google backed Planetary Resources.
- The Spaceports Of North America - Ready For Business
Imagined Lunar mining facility. As of the end of 2012, North America supported 13 spaceports, with one in Canada and the reamining dozen in the USA.These ports are real and they are not all government operated. In fact, with the emergence of the...
- Google and James Cameron Entered the Space Mining Business in 2012
We have lift off of privatized space flight. Partnerships between NASA and private designers, astronaut trainers, and manufactures overlapped the end of the US Space Shuttle Program by at least a year, with astonishing results.
- NASA's Partnerships with the Private Sector
NASA took a proactive stance toward partnerships with the private sector for future space exploration and commercial aerospace enterprises long before the final US Space Shuttle launch during Independence Week in July 2011. Almost before the...
- Privatized Space Flight - Spaceship Designs to Mid-Century
In August 2011, NASA chose 7 top companies for commerical aerospace transport manufacture. They were chosen to design and build a commercial spaceship.
- NASA - Space Shuttle
NASA.gov brings you images, videos and interactive features from the unique perspective of Americas space agency. Get the latest updates on NASA missions, subscribe to blogs, RSS feeds and podcasts, watch NASA TV live, or simply read about our missi
Dependence For Funding
Politics and low-bidding construction traditions have at times led to much waste of money, time, and human life in the US Space Program. Not all of this has been covered well by the media.
Lowest Bidder Parts
Many who were alive when Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off will recall that the explosion was caused by a cheap rubber O-ring. This farce was echoed in the dialogue of the film K-19 (Liam Neeson, Harrison Ford) that covered the nuclear submarines of the Soviet Union in the 1960s and the tragedies that occurred on them. One sub commander seethes, "They send me a 9-kopek part to do a 12-kopek job." (A kopek equalled roughly a penny USD at the time.) In addition, depite commanders' requests, the nuclear power plant in the submarine had no back-up cooling system installed. Thus, it was not only America cutting corners. Moreover, the nuclear cores of those Soviet subs are at the bottom of a fjord at Leningrad, still leaking radiation into the North Sea today in 2011.
What killed the three American astronauts that burned and suffocated inside an unlaunched Apollo capsule in 1967? -- The lack of a latch on the inside of the hatch. They were locked in form the outside as an electrical wire ignited. That team needed the sense of Apollo 13's man, Ken Mattingly, grounded for measles exposure, but still able to develop an emergency fire-up sequence - without a computer - that would allow his three friends in the spacecraft in the heavens to have enough fuel to return to earth.
Does anyone remember a Space Station Mir construction incident? The two sides of one of the space station modules were built on different continents and did not fit together well in space. One nation used metric measures and one used English measures. No one checked measurements between the two factories, despite the many engineers and technicians on the job. How many times have such incidents occurred? Each one is wasteful and we hope the components were recycled.
Space Shuttle Columbia incinerated over Texas on re-entry, because a large piece of Styrofoam pulled loose on launch and crashed with great speed into the hull, creating a small opening. Despite the large cost, another ship or two could have been deployed before Columbia re-entry, provided additional fuel, performed a space walk, and completed some sort of repair. Alternatively, emergency services should have been made available and at the ready at the International Space Station in order to help any ship in space from any country. Should not a new facility in a new land have a first aid kit, so to speak?
Missions to space will always contain the possibility of error and tragedy, but some of this can be avoided. Every tragedy should have a thorough after-action evaluation and summary written, with plans for prevention in the future and these plans should be presented by the news outlets to the public. They should be sent directly to the R & D departments of privatized space flight companies as well.
On Apollo 16 in 1972, Ken Mattingly employed the instruments on board the Service Module in a low orbit to map a band around Luna's equator both photographically and geochemically, while his crew mates were on the surface. Afterwards, he became an Astronaut Manager in Space Shuttle Development and NASA could use more people like him today. He flight tested Columbia in the summer of 1982 and commanded Discovery in 1985.
Media coverage and public viewing habits and interest have changed from the 1960s to the 2010s, when it comes to Outer Space. Fifty years have brought about a slide from near-hysteria akin to teen girls screaming for The Beatles, to a state of near apathy toward Space Shuttle Retirement. Space enthusiasts are far from the majority of the US population. Little coverage is given on broadcast television to the dwindling Space Program and a little more is offered on cable networks.
People can visit NASA.gov and view lift-off on Internet TV, but not many do so. The last launch of Atlantis may or may not be targeted more fully. A week of interviews and other coverage would be historic and a good move for Florida tourism as well.
In the 1960s, elementary school children were routinely herded into school lunchrooms to view each lift-off on a local television station. This no longer occurs, although some classrooms have Internet TV and access NASA programs.
Each launch made the Page One headline of local newspapers in the 1960s. That no longer occurs, either.
The History of Endeavor, From High Seas to Space
There is more to be done is space. Space medicine is just beginning, with medicinal compounds that will combine only under low-gravity situations, and other advances. The study of aging is perfect for space, with its impact on bones and muscle as well as other body systems. The space program led to satellite communications that author and scientist Arthur C. Clarke first developed and spoke of previously - and people laughed at him. A space programs could use more effective planning and better news coverage, and might listen to the intelligence within it. Several sci-fi authors with good ideas retired or quit NASA and other government contractors and became authors.
We should stop jamming money into a barrel of parts on a launch pad and igniting it and its humans along with it; and now that NASA is beginning to think preventively as a whole, the Space Shuttle Program is over. Privatized businesses sometimes run a tighter ship - but not always.
Past disasters spurred NASA to put preventive measures into place, but I think we can do better still. Newly devised computer simulations might pick up ptential problems in new space vehicles before they are constructed. Engineers should put their imaginations to work, looking for additional problems. Even at the end of perfect planning, ships will still fail and entire colonies in space die; but we'll have done our best to prevent that - and space crews, after all, go willingly into the universe. We will mourn our losses and move ahead.
I look forward to a new chapter in the US Space Program, if it is allowed to develop. Many hope that conspiracy theorists are incorrect in feeling that the UFO Phenomenon and the Space Program were solely distractions from Cold War activities, wound down quickly during a single generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Space continues to be vast and we continue to look for the land of Atlantis.
Wake Up Songs for STS-133
- 1st: Blue Sky by Big Head Todd and the Monsters
- 2nd: Star Trek Theme Song by Alexander Courage -- William Shatner recorded a special voiceover that substituted "Space Shuttle Discovery" for "Starship Enterprise"
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