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  1. Miguel says:

    I would also suggest a blog written by this lady who wishes to become an astronaut. She actually works on the Shuttle program, and her blog has some really cool, unseen photos every now and then. It’s at

    http://damarisbsarria.blogspot.com/

  2. JT says:

    Just like launching a model Estes rocket in your backyard but on a massive wasteful taxpayer funded scale. It gets launched and docks with the equally wasteful and useless International Space Station. What are we accomplishing with this Space Shuttle program anymore except to keep these NASA employees and contractors on the public dole?

  3. thatsawesome says:

    wow, i never noticed that laser cannon on the dorsal side before!

  4. TJGeezer says:

    2 – I think the laser cannon was added for the shuttle’s planned pass over JT’s house.

  5. noname says:

    For the love of all that is Homeland and Secure, Uncle Dave, what are your doing?

    Department of Homeland Security should immediately designate these shuttle pictures as “sensitive”, all copies removed and turned over.

    These revealing scenes obviously can help any terrorist demolish western society, as we know it, crashing the shuttle. These pictures should be pulled as containing too much sensitive security information!

    We know now in 2003, Columbia Shuttle, STS-107 shuttle’s breakup was really an attempt by Osama bin Laden to crash the shuttle into Bush’s Midland Texas ranch.

    Goto http://www.ColumbiaShuttleCrashWasOsamaTerroristAttack.org for proof. Homeland Security has been trying to close this site down.

    Uncle Dave, hang your head in shame sir. You should know better.

  6. RuralRob says:

    All those pipes pipes PIPES running everywhere… Bill Cosby would be proud!

  7. JT says:

    These pictures could have been taken in 1982. Are they doing anything different 25 years later?

  8. BubbaRay says:

    4, Geezer, I’ve warned you about this — now I’ve got to quit sipping water while I read these posts. Another shirt to the cleaners! 🙂

  9. Miguel says:

    #8 – There are differences in the processing of the shuttle, and a big contribution to those changes was the Columbia accident. Right now, the shuttle, that was going to be launched a few weeks ago, was recalled and the external tank is being repaired, after sustaining damage during a heavy hail storm. 25 years ago nobody would know if that sort of damage was dangerous or not. There are also differences in processing due to smaller faults that were found gradually during the past 25 years. It’s been a learning process. If anything, the fact that the design is so complex and RELIABLE – yes, *reliable*, even after 2 disasters that COULD be have been avoided, if not for political expediency of a few – only goes to show how right the design is. The shuttle is the right idea with a flawed execution. It’s failures are no reason to jump back 40 years into the past, like NASA is now planning to do with the CEV / Orion – the so called Apollo on steroids but that should be called Apollo on food stamps…

    #2 It seems wasteful, but the DoD goes through the equivalent of NASA’s yearly budget in under a week… Now, what would you rather spend your dollars in? Creating a political and military situation that’s lining a few big – should I say HUGE – pockets, or learn how to live and work in space, and one day travel with your kids to Mars or Jupiter? I was a skeptic about the ISS, but now I realize that important research is being done there – research that has to be done if humans are ever going to live on the Moon or on Mars.

    And trust me. If resources weren’t being squandered for the benefit of a few individual fortunes, we’d be routinely traveling to space by now.

    This is the most important thing America is doing – developing skills in space. I feel sad for not being American, just because of this single fact.

  10. John Paradox says:

    All those pipes pipes PIPES running everywhere… Bill Cosby would be proud!
    Comment by RuralRob

    And the TUBES! (Where’s Ted Stevens?)

    Actually, this takes me way back, pre-Shuttle, when I lived in Florida and did a visit to KSC, including a visit to the VAB, where we saw one of the Apollo craft (Okay, technically a Saturn 3). The most impressive things were the VAB itself, and the ‘crawler’ that takes the various rockets out to the pad(s).

    A lot of work just to make movies on a special stage to fake a moon landing.

    /kidding

    J/P=?

  11. Odyssey67 says:

    Mark my words – NASA will find that they need something like the shuttle within 5 yrs of retiring it.

    This Orion/Constellation program requires too many launches & is too limited in scope for the kind of extensive LEO operations the shuttle excelled at. We’ll have a much harder time building things up there without it. And if you think a permanent, functional presence in LEO isn’t a prerequisite for deep space exploration … well, you too could have run NASA for the last 20yrs.

    All this money they’re spending on ‘Apollo on Steriods’ should have been used to rework the shuttle launch system to put the orbiter on top of the launch stack. If it had originally been designed that way (as had been proposed, until a Nixon administration committee decreed the ‘side saddle’ arrangement), the orbiter would be out of the way of flying debri & exploding rockets, and we’d have about a dozen more astronauts living today, plus one more functional shuttle. Such a launcher would also, obviously, accomodate any other type of craft they get a jonz for in the future (i.e. where is the Orion capsule going to be located? On TOP).

    Continually launching from Earth’s gravity-well to get anywhere beyond Earth orbit is too energy intensive to be a viable strategy for anything more than planting flags & going home. A LEO station will very soon become the ‘no duh’ solution. We’ll either build a new one, or reconfigure the one we already have, but either way it will REQUIRE a craft like the shuttle to pull it off. And that will REQUIRE putting the orbiter on top (since no one will be willing to make the same mistake twice in two centuries). Better we just do it now and get on with some serious exploration.

  12. BubbaRay says:

    Continually launching from Earth’s gravity-well to get anywhere beyond Earth orbit is too energy intensive to be a viable strategy for anything more than planting flags & going home.

    Yep. Why am I not vacationing on the giant wheel space station right now? I grew up with Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein. Werner vonBraun is spinning in his grave like a comm satellite about to be launched from the shuttle.

    Let’s start a new expensive Holy War so we can just kill people for oil (money) and launch some new military junk into orbit….

  13. busdriver says:

    How big is the piece of the pie the shuttle uses compared to the entire NASA budget? A lot I bet. This thing is doing what we have been doing since the early 60’s – low earth orbit – 45 YEARS AGO. Time to move on.

    My favorite movie ‘The Right Stuff’ had the line “No Buck Rogers, no bucks” and that still lives on, I believe. Last I checked, unmanned Hubble and those rovers on Mars were pushing our knowledge further along than the shuttle ever has.

    How about more of the first A from NASA – aeronautics. What is the last improvement in wing design (Laminar airflow) or engine design has come from the boys in the govt?

  14. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    #11 – J/P

    I never thought I’d catch you, of all people, out, on a trivial error of fact, but…

    “(Okay, technically a Saturn 3)”

    Er, how’s about a Saturn V? 🙂

    – – – – – – – –

    Incidentally, those photos bring back great memories, as they remind me of some I took way back when, in my misguided youth.

    A couple friends and I were subjected to a NASA bureaucratic snafu and by way of apology were given a VIP tour of the Cape. We spent a lot of time at Launch Complex 39 and the VAB; I shot an entire roll in the VAB alone. When they were printed, we saw that a few of my shots turned out exceptionally well – so well in fact that one of my friends, Phil, who has since gone on to make a name for himself in computer encryption, had, unbeknownst to me at the time, snatched my negatives and passed off the photos as his own.

    Now and then I’ve considered dropping him a note to ask if he’s still got the negatives… they would’ve looked nice in my portfolio. 🙂

    I tell you this – the entire Cape is a photographer’s paradise…

  15. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    J/P – NOW I remember – Saturn 3 was the title of Farrah Fawcett’s first feature film. I knew it sounded familiar…

    Oh, and 2001 it ain’t… :O

  16. Odyssey67 says:

    @busdriver: “How big is the piece of the pie the shuttle uses compared to the entire NASA budget? A lot I bet.”

    The shuttle is a huge portion of their budget, something like 60-70% I think. And the biggest reason for that is the extensive maintenance they have to do whenever it comes back from space, and the massive amount of personnel they have to keep ‘on payroll’ for that purpose even when the shuttle isn’t flying. Particularly, the ceramic tiles have to be gone over with a fine-toothed comb, and the main engines have to be removed/rebuilt/reinstalled, before each launch. Yet both these maintenance issues have everything to do with where the orbiter is positioned on the launch stack.

    For example, putting the main engines in the orbiter, instead of on the bottom of the launch stack, means these beasts have to be reusable (read: more expensive). Since they are obviously mission critical, they also have to be essentially rebuilt everytime they’re launched (another expense exclusive to this particular design decision). Plus, these 3 heavy engines being on the orbiter means the amount you can take up in the orbiter itself is reduced equivilently. Since the more you can take up in one shot, the less expensive per pound each launch is, this is yet another aspect of the side-saddle arrangement that makes the entire shuttle program more expensive than it should be. And, obviously, hanging off the side results in foam insulation, ice, various bits of metal from the main fuel tank, etc … hitting the orbiter at high velocites during every launch. If the orbiter were on top, that single, extremely time and money intensive maintenance/safety nightmare would be gone, we’d still have Columbia and all her astronauts (what price do you put on that?), and there would have been one less costly program shutdown.

    For the same tens of billions we’re spending on Apollo on Steroids, we could be solving all of the above problems & still have a shuttle capability, plus be left with a launch system capable of throwing into space whatever else we wanted to put on top of it.

    “This thing is doing what we have been doing since the early 60’s – low earth orbit – 45 YEARS AGO. Time to move on.”

    We won’t be moving on until we establish a LEO base to move on from. Getting humans to other destinations AND having them stay will be too costly otherwise. And for such a base itself to affordably be built, as well as perhaps others (at Earth-Moon Lagrange points, or in orbit around the Moon) we’ll need something like the shuttle.

    “How about more of the first A from NASA – aeronautics. What is the last improvement in wing design (Laminar airflow) or engine design has come from the boys in the govt?”

    Aside from some areas in hypersonic research, which doesn’t require a huge monetary investment, the “A” in NASA isn’t really needed any longer. When it comes to aeronautics, we ‘get’ it. It’s like telling computer scientists they need to invest more research into COBOL.

    “My favorite movie ‘The Right Stuff’ had the line “No Buck Rogers, no bucks” and that still lives on, I believe. Last I checked, unmanned Hubble and those rovers on Mars were pushing our knowledge further along than the shuttle ever has.”

    I have great respect for the pure science that NASA does. And I loved that movie too. Yet if there’s one message that comes across loud & clear from it though, it’s that humans need to do stuff like this. It’s part of our collective DNA to push those boundaries. God help us if it ever becomes otherwise. IMO, without the human element there really is no point.

    Pure space science and human space flight should not be mutually exclusive, but mutually reinforcing.

  17. BubbaRay says:

    I know it’s too late for a post to this thread, but it’s been a great one.

    I’ll bet there are some Trek fans here and thank goodness for people with vision.

    It seems wasteful, but the DoD goes through the equivalent of NASA’s yearly budget in under a week… Now, what would you rather spend your dollars in? Creating a political and military situation that’s lining a few big – should I say HUGE – pockets, or learn how to live and work in space, and one day travel with your kids to Mars or Jupiter?

    Exactly.

    Wish I could specify some percentage of my taxes to go to the space program. Heck, wish I could win the lottery and finance one of the new private corporations that are embracing our need for adventure and exploration.

    Just sent my dues in to the Planetary Society. God rest Carl Sagan.

    http://planetary.org/home/

    Just another 2 cents (new gold dollars) worth….


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