Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Shuttle Replacement

Posted by Phil Aaronson at 11:00 PM

Caught this great quote by Michael Griffin, NASA Administrator on the NY Times ...
"As long as we put the crew and the valuable cargo up above wherever the tanks are, we don't care what they shed," he said. "They can have dandruff all day long."
What they're talking about is a replacement plan for the space shuttle. The plan calls for splitting the shuttle in two, one rocket for lifting people, and another for lifting cargo. The two could potentially synch up at the space station. The people lifter is a capsule sitting on top of the shuttle's existing solid rocket booster. Which shouldn't be all that surprising since the proposal is coming from ATK, the company that makes them.

Solid rocket motors are funny things though. You can shape the fuel so it has certain burn characteristics, but there's no throttle, and there's no shutting it down once its lit. It'll be a heck of a ride. I guess the days of the shuttle's relatively modest 3 or 4g liftoff will be a thing of the past.

[Update] Just noticed, STS-114 wake up calls. Flight Day 9, they played "Where My Heart Will Take Me", the theme song from the now cancelled series Star Trek Enterprise. Seems fitting on a number of levels.


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