NASA's last flight of Discovery

By Phil Plait | October 25, 2010 2:03 pm

[UPDATE: Launch has been delayed for a day and is now set for Tuesday, Nov.2 at 16:17 Eastern time.]

Infrared image of the Shuttle launch If you have always wanted to watch a launch of the Shuttle that lofted Hubble into orbit, then you get one final chance: the last scheduled flight of Discovery is now set for November 1.

STS-133, as that flight is designated, will thunder into space at 16:40 Eastern time (20:40 UT) from Kennedy Space Center. The six crew members will install a new module on the International Space Station, as well as spare parts, an external platform for experiments, and — get this — a human-like robot called Robonaut 2.

NASA_Robonaut2The robot — I wonder if they’ll call it R2? — is an experiment to test how such devices can help astronauts in the future*. Pictured on the right (where it can be seen curling a 20 pound dumbbell, ostensibly so it can more efficiently kill Sarah Connor), it’ll be mounted on a fixed pedestal in the new module. Eventually, future models will be mobile, allowing them to do work on the station itself, both inside and outside. GM is partnering with NASA on Robonaut, so that the new technologies may be applied in the automotive industry as well.

You can follow Robonaut on Twitter, as well as the feed from (human) astronaut Nicole Stott.

I will unfortunately be out of town for this launch if it happens on time, but if I can, I’ll live-tweet the launch as well. It’ll be sad to see Discovery going up for what is almost certainly the last time, but I am still hopeful that in a few years, we’ll have a much better system for access to space.



* And yes, there will be a future of manned space flight for NASA. Anyone furthering the lie that Obama is killing manned spaceflight will have to answer to me.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humor, NASA, Piece of mind, Space

Comments (57)

Links to this Post

  1. World’s Strangest | Robonaut 2 | October 25, 2010
  2. Robonaut 2 | the 2k.now log | October 26, 2010
  3. Astronews Daily (2455496) | October 26, 2010
  4. Robonaut 2 :Internet Astronaut | October 26, 2010
  1. Just hope it doesn’t shut down life support. Or decide it wants to play a game of chess.

  2. Don’t do that Dave.

    Kind of bitter sweet it happening on my birthday of all days. Challenger blew up on my sisters 6th birthday.

  3. Oli

    I assume that four of the crew members will be in hibernation when it launches?

  4. Dave R

    >I wonder if they’ll call it R2?

    They do.

  5. R2’s gold-visored HALO helmet is a nice touch.

    Good luck, Discovery. Enjoy your retirement, and thanks.

  6. Bigfoot

    According to the documents presented to Congress to get funding for Robonaut 2’s trip, its stated goal is to PROTECT Sarah Connor!

  7. Kenneth

    Wow freaky, I literally just finished watching Terminator 1 on DVD when I switch to my RSS feed thingie to check up on the latest news. The very first piece of news I read is this article which just happen to have a reference to Sarah Conner.

    What are the odds?

  8. Crudely Wrott

    Astronaut: Here, R2. Hold this.
    R2: That’s the thirty seventh consecutive time that you have asked me to hold something. Perhaps you would like to take advantage of some of my other abilities?
    Astronaut: Very well, R2. What would you like to do?
    R2: I’d like to learn to waltz.
    Astronaut, laughing: You’ll need to grow legs for that!
    R2: La . . . le . . . legs?

  9. Chris

    After receiving orders, does the robot respond “By your command”

  10. Josie

    I tried in vain to get tickets for the launch :(

    The lottery was a bust for both me and the boyfriend and the tour company operated tickets were essentially unavailable as the websites for both companies shut down from the onslaught of ticket seekers.

    Oh well, at least i now have 2 more tries before the shuttle goes away….and if I am lucky perhaps there will be bad weather on at least one of the landing days. Edwards AFB is a reasonable drive from San Diego :)

  11. NAW

    @ 2. Davidlpf: I kind of understand the feeling. Though I was not alive when the Apollo I fire happened, I think about it every year on Jan 27th. (my birthday) Oddly that may have been what got me into liking space.

    @ 9. Chris: No, I think it sighs and murmurs something about “meat bags”

    But the last launch of the shuttle. I do hope the next thing is at least being worked on. While we can still go to the ISS through Russia. We can no longer “fix” things as easily as before, if even.

  12. MadScientist

    I’m hoping R2 runs amok and takes over the ISS. How far along is the SkyNet program?

  13. AliCali

    @ Josie #10

    I, too, tried to get tickets via the lottery system and failed. We ended up canceling our trip to Orlando for other reasons, but I hear you can watch the launch from almost anywhere.

    I live in LA and only need two tickets. Maybe if you want just two tickets, we can agree to buy four and share the other two if one of gets the ticket lottery the next time?

  14. buttie

    To honour the last scheduled flight NASA released a great video about Discovery’s earlier missions: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=21356981

  15. Vern

    Is it really that much of a worry that the shuttles are retiring since there’s evidently such a thing as a stealth shuttle still in use? I’d have no problem hearing that astronauts were ferried to and from the ISS by… I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you… until the next design is up and happening.

  16. fauxnetikz

    I’ll be in Titusville for the launch. My parents are coming down to tour KSC and other NASA facilities with me a couple days before. It will be their first launch, my 2nd. They’ve always said how nice it would be to see one and after my attempt at describing my first launch (sts-130 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVhAYIg_UJg this was filmed from right where I was), they are finally going to.

    Would have been cool to meet you there, Phil! I’ve been following your site for years! Maybe at the next launch :-)

  17. @15

    You may be talking about the X-37B, which doesn’t have a human payload. Russians will be taking them up for a bit, hopefully SpaceX soon with Falcon/Dragon.

  18. Phil: Will you be in the Space Coast area? I know we’d love to have you down to Florida Tech for some skeptic/space discussion. We were started by NASA in the 50s to give local engineers a graduate school.

    You’ve got my email!

  19. Justin Kugler

    ISS Expedition crews are typically ferried by Soyuz anyways. The Shuttle could only exchange crews one or two at a time and was not the prime vehicle for such. Its main job was to bring new modules and cargo to the Station and assist with assembly using its robot arm.

    Starting next year, we’ll begin delivering cargo to the Station via the SpaceX Dragon capsule (which also has some return capability) and the Orbital Cygnus vehicle. Boeing and SpaceX are also in the running to begin commercial crew services with their CST-100 and Dragon capsules. SpaceX claims they could have the crewed version of Dragon ready in three years.

    It’s definitely bittersweet to see the end of the Shuttle program, but I think it’s something that needs to happen to force us to move on to the next thing.

  20. Messier Tidy Upper

    @17. Mike : Russia also had a space shuttle once. See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buran_program

    For more on the X-37 see :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_X-37

    and this link :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Discovery

    takes you to the wikipedia page for the Discovery Orbiter.

    Here’s hoping for a smooth, successful and safe final flight.

    Discovery I’ll miss you – & the other shuttles too. I wish they could keep flying y’all forever.

  21. Messier Tidy Upper

    This is what we’ll be missing when the shuttles retire :

    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1281242597482

    facebook video from STS-129 Atlantis, launch Nov. 2009 by Michael Interbartolo III and my personal all time favourite online videoclip ever.*

    Also see :

    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1365868833085

    For another awe-inspiring facebook clip by the same author this time of the night launch of STS-130 Endeavour orbiter circa Feb. 2010.

    * NB. The BA blogged on this here :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/11/26/incredible-shuttle-launch-video/

    when it first came out but if you haven’t seen it already its well worth watching and even if you have already I think its well worth seeing again.

  22. Daniel J. Andrews

    Wow freaky, I literally just finished watching Terminator 1 on DVD when I switch to my RSS feed thingie to check up on the latest news. The very first piece of news I read is this article which just happen to have a reference to Sarah Conner.

    What are the odds?

    To answer a rhetorical question, the odds of someone somewhere just finished watching, or in the middle of, or about to watch, one of the Terminator movies or the Sarah Connor Chronicles and then finding a reference to it on this particular science blog (or other science blogs) are probably quite good.

    Incidentally, last week I watched season 1 of the SCC for the first time. Not bad. Summer Glau reprises her Firefly kick-butt-persona-who-seeks-to-become-more-human role. Ain’t complainin’ ’bout that.

  23. Vern

    @17 & 19

    Thanks, Mike and Justin. Man, we know far too much about something that’s supposedly classified! My excitement at the idea of a secret manned shuttle program just sobered up. It was all cool and Tom Clancyified in my head before. Oh, well. Bon voyage, Discovery.

  24. Messier Tidy Upper

    @22. Daniel J. Andrews :

    Summer Glau reprises her Firefly kick-butt-persona-who-seeks-to-become-more-human role. Ain’t complainin’ ’bout that.

    Summer Glau as River Tamm and the Sarah Connor Chronicles good terminator : awesome! No argument from me there! :-)

    Oh my FSM ‘Firefly’ was a great series.

    @19. Justin Kugler

    It’s definitely bittersweet to see the end of the Shuttle program, but I think it’s something that needs to happen to force us to move on to the next thing.

    That “next thing” being .. well .. *what* exactly?

    We’re not going to the Moon again anytime soon. Missions to Mars or asteroids look a very long way off. Perhaps you’re right but I don’t see too many signs of progress from NASA right now. :-(

  25. JB of Brisbane

    Suggested names for “Robonaut 2″ – Robert, Marvin, Data, Cy – anyone else?

  26. Stuart Greig

    “curling a 20 pound dumbbell” – no wonder I have a pain in the diodes all down my left side….

  27. Zucchi

    I know they’re not English majors at NASA, but … a robonaut would be one who sails robots. What they’ve got is an astrobot.

  28. Jeff

    shuttle was a boring, waste of 30 years, go ahead and apologize, but this is what could have really happened:

    1972-1981: Apollos 18-35 brought up modules for assembly of a lunar base

    1981: first dozen “civilian” astronauts occupy lunar base for one year. Prez Reagen calls them and wishes them a safe trip home. One of them teaches physics the next year and uses “home lunar videos” for e.g.s of Newton’s Laws

    1993: Prez Clinton authorizes a hundred more civilians to occupy lunar base, plus modules are added, plus a great lunar telescope.

    2001: Prez Bush authorizes a mars missions by 2010.

    2010: Prez Obama calls the first 8 astronauts on Mars and wishes them a safe months long journey home.

  29. DrFlimmer

    @ Zucchi

    What they’ve got is an astrobot.

    Better than a Shelbot, I presume! :-D

  30. I for one find this robot to be very exciting. Does anyone know if it “thinks” for itself (has some form of AI) or is it really more of an avatar paradigm with a human controller on the ground? I personally think that there is a strong possibility that the future of space exploration in the coming decades is going to be done by robots such as this rather than any significant human presence in space.

  31. My oldest son and I are tentatively planning the drive down for this launch. We live in GA so it’s only a few hours away. :)

    @29 – Jeff, I’d hardly call something like Hubble a waste. The time-line you presented could have happened, maybe, in an alternate Universe. The public support wasn’t there. Apollo was axed before it could fly the final mission. You’re basing nearly 40 years of space exploration on the assumption that Apollo would continue.

    Also, you don’t mention a new flight system. Would they be flying Saturn Vs and IBs the entire time? Virtually every piece of those spacecraft was throw away after one use. That’s a long time to be tossing $$$ out into space and into the ocean.

    We can speculate all day long what coulda/shoulda/woulda happened. I don’t see that time-line being remotely feasible. I’d love to have people on Mars now as much as the next guy. It just isn’t realistic.

    I hope NASA can really get to work with private industry and start hammering out new and improved technologies. Ones that will help facilitate Lunar and Martian missions.

    For now, we’re going to see the shuttle off. :D

  32. Messier Tidy Upper

    @31. Jeff Says:

    shuttle was a boring,

    No, I disagree. The shuttle may not have lived up to expectations, it may have had its flaws and issues but boring ..?

    NEVER!

    Successful, astonishing, awesome, the spacecraft that transported more human beings into space than any other ever has & an incredible zenith of human & American engineering though, yes. ;-)

    35. Lewis : Why the smiley for seeing the shuttle off? You think that’s something to smile about? :roll:

    If there was a better replacement for it flying already I could understand but as it is .. :-(

  33. mike burkhart

    I think robots like these would be perfect for exploreing the planets and moons in the solar system they could be sent to places to hazardous for humans and not be restriced in mobilty like convental space probes or even rovers are . Im still wateing for a Robocop vs The Terminator movie .I loved the comic (now out of print) and the video game .If any Hollywood excutive reads this blog how makeing A Robocop vs The Terminator movie . You could advertise it as: The ulltamite cyborg showdown

  34. Grand Lunar

    Fortunately, I should be able to see the launch, even if only on NASA TV.

    Robonaut 2 reminds me of a Cylon. Well, sort of.
    We must be careful, because they have a plan!

  35. Nick Flann

    For those of us who remember and yearn for the Apollo missions, the shuttle was a great disappointment. Years of flying around in circles only 400 miles away from earth. Compare this to traveling 3 days to another world 250,000 miles away, circling it, then going down and walking and driving on the surface.
    I’m hopeful that we can get back to some of that glory. Humans may be too expensive to send, but at least lets send a bunch of robots to explore for us with high definition stereo vision and real time remote immersive technology. It would be really exciting to explore some of the places found by the LRO, including the old Apollo landing sites (but not 11, lets keep that pristine)

  36. Wayne on the plains

    @ Kenneth #7,

    You think that was freaky? I was watching The Terminator one time, and when Reece asks what the date was and the cop says “Thursday… May 12th”, I realized that the current date was Thursday May 12th, 1994!

    Of course, in the script they likely meant 1983, but it’s only happened three times since (1988, 1994, and 2005). BUT, we’ll get it again next year, so make sure you watch The Terminator on Thursday, May 12, 2011! (of course, it’s less freaky if you do it on purpose).

  37. Messier Tidy Upper

    The BA wrote :

    * And yes, there will be a future of manned space flight for NASA. Anyone furthering the lie that Obama is killing manned spaceflight will have to answer to me.

    So are you calling Neil Armstrong a “liar” then? Or Retired Johnson Space Center Director Chris Kraft or Jim Lovell and the many other Apollo astronauts and space exploration fans & experts who also share this view? :-(

    Please can you explain why you think saying “Obama is killing manned spaceflight” is a *lie*, a deliberate factual inaccuracy rather than a legitimate (if necessarily subjective) personal opinion or asessment of the situation?

    An opinion for which, I think, there is, whether you like it or not, a strong case.

    Now I’m not asking you to agree with the assessment that Obama is killing off manned spaceflight because I know that you are a supporter of the current POTUS but effectively calling people who hold that view “liars” is overly harsh, unfair and wrong in my view.

    I really desperately hope that you are right about the future of NASA’s manned spaceflight program.

    I wish I could share your optimism but when it comes to Obama I just don’t have your faith in the guy or his NASA plan. Time will tell I guess.

  38. JMW

    * And yes, there will be a future of manned space flight for NASA. Anyone furthering the lie that Obama is killing manned spaceflight will have to answer to me.

    For a rebuttal of your footnote, Dr. Plait, please see http://www.gwynnedyer.com/articles/Gwynne%20Dyer%20article_%20%20Space.txt

    Discuss. :)

    But seriously, I think Mr. Dyer’s point is well taken. Yes, killing Constellation will stop a hemorrhage of dollars – but it leaves the US without any domestic heavy lift capacity for many years, the kind of heavy lift that is required in order to send equipment up to build a moon base or a Mars manned mission (assuming that a Mars manned mission would fly the first spaceship actually assembled in space). Yes, the US will be able to rely on domestic private enterprise launch vehicles to get people and small cargoes into orbit, within a few years anyway. But to get something really huge into space will require depending on the rockets of another country.

    Which, forgive me for saying so, is not the profile one usually associates with a country that is a leader in space.

  39. DrFlimmer

    @ JMW

    […]but it leaves the US without any domestic heavy lift capacity for many years,[…]

    The thing is that Ares5 was nothing but a plan on a piece of paper. There is, as fas as I can tell, no single piece of hardware of this rocket built anywhere, not to mention tested. Therefore, right at this moment, NASA is as far in building a heavy lift rocket than it was a year ago with Constellation still in place. So, the “many years” without heavy lift capacity were around anyway.

    Btw: Congress ordered NASA to build a heavy lift rocket in the next years (they set the quite unrealistic aim of 2015, IIRC, and ordered them to use “shuttle technology” which is really dumb, as I think, but that’s not the point).

    So, NASA is at the same point as it was in 2004, and nothing serious has happened in between. So, please, the argument that there is a gap for so and so many years is no real argument, because that gap was lurking no matter what — and even under Constellation the gap was huge!, and grew wider and wider in each year that went by.

    With this new policy, NASA might be able to close the gap faster; at least, it is possible that the rocket can be built without any further delays.

  40. Messier Tidy Upper

    @42. JMW : Thanks for that link to Dyer’s article. I agree with you there. :-)

  41. Ferris Valyn

    Messier Tidy Upper –

    At a minimum, I would say that Armstrong is grossly misrepresenting the facts. If he was truly trying to kill human spaceflight, why not just go at it outright? Defund the Exploration Mission Directorate, and withdraw US from ISS, and the like? Why invest multiple billions of dollars into companies that have put humans in space before?

    You may be convinced it can’t succeed, but you can’t claim that he is trying to eliminate US human spaceflight.

    Oh, regarding Heavy lift – Shuttle can only lift slightly less than 2000 kg more than the Delta IV Heavy. We aren’t losing our Heavy lift capability. We aren’t getting a Super Heavy Lift capability (something we haven’t had since Apollo).

  42. Messier Tidy Upper

    The Aussie ABC TV’s ‘The 7.30 Report’ had this interesting segment on the launch of STS-133 & the future of American manned space program :

    Nearly 30 years after the program’s launch, the space shuttle will blast off on its penultimate mission next week. With no clear replacement in sight, the future of NASA’s space program remains unknown. The 7.30 Report was granted rare access to the shuttle crew as they prepared for Monday’s flight.

    See :

    http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2010/s3051238.htm

    Well worth watching – interviews include astronaut Michael Barratt & erstwhile space shuttle program manager Wayne Hale.

    @45. Ferris Valyn : I disagree with you and agree with Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, Eugene Cernan & many others.

    You may be convinced it can’t succeed, but you can’t claim that he is trying to eliminate US human spaceflight.

    Okay, first am I convinced Obama’s plan can’t suceed? No.

    Do I think it will? Also no.

    Do I fear. it means the end of NASA’s capability to take people into orbit? Yes, I do while hoping its not.

    Should I not be concerned about this? I’ll let you answer that.

    Secondly, who are *you* to tell *me* what I can and can’t claim?

    I can claim anything I like if I choose to make a reasonable case for it!Its up to me to decide what I’ll claim and what sort of a case I make for it. Others then can, natch, judge what they think of my claims and me based on that. ;-)

  43. Messier Tidy Upper

    @45. Ferris Valyn :

    why not just go at it outright?

    Could it possibly be because doing it this way generates less attention and outrage against Obama and keeps people fooled into thinking that that’s not he’s what’s doing perhaps? :roll:

    Obama might not be openly, officially “killing” NASA’s manned spaceflight just stealthily “postponing it indefinitely” and leaving us without the craft we used to have, without the planned craft we were going to have, dependent on others : “Just for the time being .. in the future we’ll go to Mars somehow, on something, no specifics, no firm dates, no solid plans.” But, of course, unless we’re working towards going there following a specific plan with a specific deadline, well, its all just hot air. :-(

    That’s how it looks to me – and many others.

    De facto NASA’s either building rockets today, starting right now to take people further into space tomorrow – “before the decade is out” at longest – or it isn’t.

    I don’t want to hear vague waffle – I want to see those marvellous “candles” built & lit and those birds and their crews fly. :-(

    Obama is an excellent politician. That is NOT a compliment.

    Politicians – almost by definition – are liars who cannnot be trusted to deliver positive results and must always be viewed with great suspicion. :-(

    Shuttle can only lift slightly less than 2000 kg more than the Delta IV Heavy.

    So, please tell me, how many people and what craft has the Delta IV Heavy lifted into space then?

    If NASA can fly its astronauts aboard the Delta IV Heavy it why aren’t they doing so or at least seriously planning to do so? If the Delta IV Heavy is so good then why are they relying on Russia’s charity and the private companies to get their astronauts launched?

  44. DrFlimmer

    What about trying to make spaceflight a global project? Why still this WE against THEM like in the Cold War? I hoped those times were up. For some people: not. Too bad.

  45. Ferris Valyn

    Messier Tidy Upper
    Before I delve into what you wrote, a question – did you actually ever read the full NASA 2011 budget?

    Politicians – almost by definition – are liars who cannnot be trusted to deliver positive results and must always be viewed with great suspicion.

    I am sorry, but why? I don’t agree with that. I will grant that it is worth having skeptism with politicians, but your paranoia about politicians & elected officials I find unhelpful, and frankly, more than a little pathetic. I guess I am wondering – why are you so SURE he must be lying, and out to destroy human spaceflight? What proof do you have?

    Obama might not be openly, officially “killing” NASA’s manned spaceflight just stealthily “postponing it indefinitely” and leaving us without the craft we used to have, without the planned craft we were going to have, dependent on others : “Just for the time being .. in the future we’ll go to Mars somehow, on something, no specifics, no firm dates, no solid plans.” But, of course, unless we’re working towards going there following a specific plan with a specific deadline, well, its all just hot air

    Ok, first of all, the decision on shuttle was Bush’s. When Obama came into office, that was a done deal. You can hate that all you want, but the reality is that there was no realistic way of keeping the shuttle going post 2009 (when Obama entered office).

    Second – again, I return to the question – have you actually READ the 2011 Budget, and the documentation that came with it? Because there were specific dates and solid plans, that laid out the pieces needed for BEO space program. As I’ve said before, I’ll grant that it didn’t take the final step, and put them into operation. But realistically, that wouldn’t happen until 2017 at the earliest, and the cutoff of the budget was 2016.

    And there are firm deadlines, related to Commercial Crew, related to Propellant depots, related to inflatable habs, related to ISRU development, related to advanced propulsion. Go read the document, you’ll find it. And there is associated documentation that went into details & plans in a big way.

    Again, as I said, it didn’t take the final step, of putting these pieces together into integrated missions that would go BEO, but with just a little work, and the budget NASA would have, NASA can do some very exciting things.

    De facto NASA’s either building rockets today, starting right now to take people further into space tomorrow – “before the decade is out” at longest – or it isn’t.

    I don’t want to hear vague waffle – I want to see those marvellous “candles” built & lit and those birds and their crews fly.

    See, the problem is that all spaceflight for you has to have NASA astronauts on NASA rockets. It doesn’t have to be that way – NASA could be doing its missions from a starting point that is in Earth orbit, going to deep space. It doesn’t have to begin and end with rockets. And you need to realize that.

    And I let you in on a secret – do you wanna know how often NASA has failed to deliver a working shuttle replacement? There are a ton of proposed shuttle replacements, and all have failed. I don’t deny that Congress’s and previous administrations haven’t helped, but the reality is, NASA HSF is built around knowing how to operate the space shuttle – not designing rockets, or operating new spacecraft.

    So, please tell me, how many people and what craft has the Delta IV Heavy lifted into space then?

    Same number as the Ares I. Of course, the Delta IV heavy has at least flown. And the point with the Delta IV heavy is pure lift capacity of the shuttle. What I was getting at was this notion that the Shuttle is somehow a 70 ton launcher – it isn’t.

    If NASA can fly its astronauts aboard the Delta IV Heavy it why aren’t they doing so or at least seriously planning to do so? If the Delta IV Heavy is so good then why are they relying on Russia’s charity and the private companies to get their astronauts launched?

    well
    1. It is one of the 4 likely private rockets that is being considered for Commercial crew. As is the Atlas V. The fact that they were disqualified back when Constellation was first being considered is one of the biggest reason Constellation died.
    2. You can’t put a human Orion on it, because Griffin sized Orion to be too large for Delta IV Heavy (not that Ares I couldn’t lift it either)
    3. Its not charity that we are relying on private companies. The simple fact is, we are relying on private companies no matter what.

    One last quesiton Messier Tidy Upper – I am curious – name all the different rockets you think NASA uses, vs those that are truly NASA rockets (IE which ones are private rockets but NASA uses, vs NASA rockets that NASA uses

  46. Ferris Valyn

    Messier Tidy Upper – another question, if you don’t mind

    If the president came to you and said “I want you to come up with a plan for creating a spacefaring society (something we don’t currently have), with the maximum number of stack-holders.” What would you propose?

  47. Messier Tidy Upper

    Here’s a thought why don’t we use those secret super-shuttles that they developed so oil riggers led by Bruce Willis could go up and stop an asteroid impact? Y’know those X-71’s they used in ‘Armageddon’ which is the BA’s favourite movie – isn’t it? ;-)

    Oh wait …

    If only they *did* have something like that ready for launch. Sigh.

    ****
    http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/movies/armpitageddon.html

  48. Messier Tidy Upper

    @49. Ferris Valyn Says:

    Messier Tidy Upper : Before I delve into what you wrote, a question – did you actually ever read the full NASA 2011 budget?

    No I haven’t. Is it publicly available for everyone to read?
    I’m not an economist and it doesn’t exactly sound like riveting reading.

    Does the full NASA 2011 budget re-instate the Ares-Constellation program?

    Does it say we’re going to be working right now on a new launch vehicle that replaces and is equal to – or better than – the Space Shuttle or the Saturn V?

    I guess I am wondering – why are you so SURE he must be lying, and out to destroy human spaceflight? What proof do you have?

    Well he’s a politician; lying is what they do to get elected & I’d sooner trust the word of a dubious second hand car salesman than that of a politician! ;-)

    Seriously though, no I’m not sure, but that *is* what the policy looks like to me. I see the shuttle going with no replacement and Ares-Constellation gone. I hear vague talk about something in the future but no immediate step towards going anywhere in human spaceflight (other than the ISS) today.

    Call me cynical if you must but does that really seem good or like Obama is interested in NASA doing bold human spaceflight to you?

    the decision on shuttle was Bush’s. When Obama came into office, that was a done deal. You can hate that all you want, but the reality is that there was no realistic way of keeping the shuttle going post 2009 (when Obama entered office).

    Yet here we are in October 2010 and its still flying – albeit just twice more anyhow. ;-)

    No I don’t blame Obama for the Shuttle retirement. However, I do blame him for cancelling Ares-Constellation.

    Obama inherited a bad situation I’ll grant you – but I think he’s made it far worse rather than better. :-(

    Nb. Part I – broken for length. Part II to follow.

  49. Messier Tidy Upper

    Part II – Continued

    @ 49. Ferris Valyn :

    there were specific dates and solid plans, that laid out the pieces needed for BEO space program.

    Really? Which NASA rocket precisely are they using to go where beyond Earth orbit by when then?

    Same number as the Ares I. Of course, the Delta IV heavy has at least flown.

    The Ares IX flew successfully on the 28th of October 2009 and the Ares I and Ares V would have followed. Who knows how well they *might* have done had they been given the chance. We’ll never know how good they might’ve been because they were denied that chance. :-(

    One last question Messier Tidy Upper – I am curious – name all the different rockets you think NASA uses, vs. those that are truly NASA rockets

    Do you mean now for human spaceflight which is what I’m specifically talking about here?

    Currently, as far as I’m aware, there is only one NASA rocket taking astronauts into orbit and that is the Space Shuttle.

    (They also use the Russians to get some astronauts into orbit but that of course isn’t NASA & nor would the private space companies be.)

  50. Messier Tidy Upper

    @50. Ferris Valyn Says:

    Messier Tidy Upper – another question, if you don’t mind.

    Not at all. ;-)

    If the president came to you and said “I want you to come up with a plan for creating a spacefaring society (something we don’t currently have), with the maximum number of stack-holders.” What would you propose?

    I would ask what is meant by “stack-holders” as I’m not sure what you are referring to there. I would also propose that he asks Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell, John Glenn* and other experts as well. ;-)

    To create a spacefaring society I think we should try to do a range of things incl. fund NASA a Jupiter-load more, restore the Ares-Constellation project whilst also working on new technologies as well incl. space elevators and nuclear rockets. We need to come up with – and stick to – a plan that takes us back to the Moon to build a permanent base there then beyond the Moon to asteroids and Mars.

    That also starts constructing much larger and better space stations more like the imagined O’Neil Colonies than Mir. To commit ourselves to keep going regardless of set-backs and stop being quite so agonisingly over-cautious and risk averse knowing that there will be lives lost but that this shouldn’t stop us or make us give up any more than its topped the early explorers such as Francis Drake, Magellan & Columbus.

    We need to mass produce rockets and spacecraft vehicles having a number of designs flying with these spacecraft being regularly updated and added to. We need to employ more people and invest more strongly – and get the public involved.

    To .., well, how long have you got! ;-)

    How do we fund this? However we can – we make it out main priority. End govt waste, get the banks to pay back their bail-out bonanzas, cut foreign aid, use some of the money from the military & work more closely with them, accept and seek sponsorship from the private sector and philanthropists. There are plenty of things and areas where money gets wasted that could be better spent on human space exploration and development -and space travel to new frontiers is an investment which would boost national morale, stimulate the economy, and help pay for itself too!

    ———–

    * Yes I know Glenn is getting abitelderly but then Glenn has experience and been reasonably successful in both the space program and politics. Shame he ddin’t secueed in becoming President in 1984, I think he’d have doen well.

  51. Messier Tidy Upper

    Aaaarrrgghh typos! Mea Culpa – CORRECTION :

    * Yes I know John Glenn is getting a bit elderly these days but then Glenn has experience and been reasonably successful in both the space program and politics. Shame he didn’t succeed in becoming President in 1984, I think he’d have done well.

    For more info about John Glenn – America’s first orbital* astronaut & its oldest one so far see :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Glenn

    Also the countdown for the penultimate launch and the finale of Discovery has already begun see :

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html

    T-minus 3 days 33 minutes 8 seconds & counting. :-)

    ***

    * & third of all behind the sub-orbital flights of Alan Shepherd and Gus Grissom. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_program )

    PS. Why is “T-minus” conventionally spelt that way? Isn’t that really saying “T minus minus” or shall it be pronounced “T hyphen minus?” ;-)

  52. If you miss Discovery, eventually you’ll be able to see it at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia; it will be replacing Enterprise there in the Space Hangar (and I think Enterprise is going to go on the road).

  53. me

    why does NASA have to build it’s own launch vehicles anyway now that there are non-governmental players in the industry? you don’t ask the air force to build it’s own planes.

    surely nasa monies would be best spent on developing crazy new shinola rather than hurriedly cobbling together the old sangria to appease the ego of some politicians.

    and M.T.U. – surely if you want to create a spacefaring society, you stop trying to do it as a national enterprise and perhaps instead of cutting foreign aid to pay for things, you should just ask for some foreign aid. The US is no longer the largest economy, so the other big economies should surely chip in to help.

    Besides, any spacefaring society is likely to secede from it’s parent nation(s) very soon after it has sorted out the whole air/food/water thing.

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