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Space Shuttle Endeavor Lands In Los Angeles After Final Flight

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the an-era-ends dept.

NASA 111

Today the space shuttle Endeavor completed its final ferry flight, landing in Los Angeles, California after leaving Edwards Air Force Base earlier today. The shuttle will now undergo preparations for its journey through the streets of L.A. (at a cost of 400+ trees) to its final resting place at the California Science Center. It'll go on public display October 30. Endeavor spent over 296 days in space throughout 25 missions, comprising 4,671 orbits that added up to over 197 million kilometers of travel. Slashdot's own Kaushik Acharya was at the Griffith Observatory in L.A. for the flyover, and he provided some great pictures of Endeavor's passing.

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Space Shuttle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41416339)

Hull.

How do you guarentee a safe shuttle flight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41416449)

Put it on the back of a 747.

Re:How do you guarentee a safe shuttle flight? (2)

letherial (1302031) | about 2 years ago | (#41416853)

planes have more of a average crash rate then the shuttle did...just FYI

Re:How do you guarentee a safe shuttle flight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41417669)

No, they just don't.

Re:How do you guarentee a safe shuttle flight? (3, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#41417711)

But lets face it..the shuttle was a megaflop.

It was SUPPOSED to be a "space truck" that could take both the military (thus saving money) and civilian loads while having a fast enough turnaround time to make space travel truly economical but that's NOT what we ended up with. What we got was a ship that had too small a bed for military payloads, which meant we had to pay for Atlas for the military as well as the shuttle, and as we found the rigors of spaceflight meant that the inspections and work required to get it ready for another flight slowed things down too much to ever make it economical, finally they were supposed to be retired by 86 but because we never could settle on a replacement we kept sending up these aging birds until they finally started falling apart.

Frankly if we can't get the Apollo system back on line economically we ought to just fricking buy Soyuz. I'm sure the Russians would be happy to license their designs and sell us some rockets, we've been using their engines in our rockets for awhile now, why not just go all the way? It'll save us a ton of time and cash, the Russians will be happy for the checks, its a win/win as far as I can see and saves us having to hitch rides just to get anything done. The only other choice I see is man rating the Atlas or Delta rockets which who knows how much that'll cost.

Re:How do you guarentee a safe shuttle flight? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41419673)

Frankly if we can't get the Apollo system back on line economically we ought to just fricking buy Soyuz.

I believe skipping the Apollo system altogether would be the far better choice at least until there's enough demand. For me, that threshold would be at least ten launches a year. And it seems to me that one is forgetting US launch vehicles here such as Falcon 9 and Atlas 5.

Re:How do you guarentee a safe shuttle flight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41419727)

It sounds like the end of an era, just be reminded that the US do not have the capability anymore to go to the moon.

Re:How do you guarentee a safe shuttle flight? (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | about 2 years ago | (#41420233)

Why is that a bad thing? That's like saying the US does not have the capability anymore to build zeppelins or Model T Fords..

The only reason to go to the moon is if we get a working fusion reactor that requires Helium 3. Other than that, what is the point? Other than He3 it has no natural resources worth going there for.

Re:How do you guarentee a safe shuttle flight? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41420715)

Other than He3 it has no natural resources worth going there for.

Less delta v and energy required to achieve either Earth orbit or one of the Lagrange points. It has a variety of useful metals (aluminum, iron, titanium, etc) and oxygen, which is a human consumable and likely to be a propellant in chemical engines for quite some time to come.

Re:How do you guarentee a safe shuttle flight? (2)

rumith (983060) | about 2 years ago | (#41419909)

Frankly if we can't get the Apollo system back on line economically we ought to just fricking buy Soyuz.

Why on Earth would someone want that? Check out SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon spacecraft; both seem to be pretty solid machines, and they are cheaper. Actually, I will not be surprised to see ISS crews scheduled to launch in 2016-2017 training to use Dragons instead of Soyuz. On a side note, there are some very fundamental problems with the Russian space industry at the moment, and alas I don't see them being fixed anytime soon.

Re:How do you guarentee a safe shuttle flight? (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | about 2 years ago | (#41420681)

What I still fail to get is why the heck are they wasting payload on making the rockets re-useable. Getting anything from 0 to 18,500 mph takes a LOT of energy so you design things to be as light as possible. If your engine needs to work for 6 minutes you design it to work for 6 minutes plus a safety margin.

Rocket engines are like Top-Fuel Drag racer engines. After every run you have to completely rebuild the engine. Why don't they build the engine to be stronger so they don't have to? Because it would be too heavy to put in a drag racer. ANY additional weight can have a nasty cascade effect. To add that extra pound of weight can require several pounds of fuel which then requires a larger fuel tank which is heavier which requires a more powerful engine. all of which weighs more and requires even more fuel, starting the cycle all over again.

I reload my own ammunition, let me demonstrate the problem with some 22 caliber reloading data.

To accelerate a 40 grain bullet to 2900 fps requires 12 grains of propellant.
To accelerate a 55 grain bullet to 3200 fps requires 26 grains of propellant.
To accelerate a 35 grain bullet to 5100 fps requires 46 grains of propellant.

To double the velocity of an object requires 4 times the energy. Thus the need to make everything as light as possible in a rocket. As you can see in the last example, the propellant weight soon exceeds the weight of the payload.

Re:How do you guarentee a safe shuttle flight? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41417823)

I certainly hope not. The Space Shuttle program had 135 flights with 2 losses (1.4%). There are around airplane 90,000 flights in the US daily. If airplanes were as safe as the Space Shuttle, half a million planes would crash per year.

Re:Space Shuttle? (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 2 years ago | (#41416811)

Hull.

Hull? [wikipedia.org] Not going there, I'm afraid- it narrowly lost out to Los Angeles.

Re:Space Shuttle? (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about 2 years ago | (#41417555)

You got it wrong. He was talking about this place and the shuttle flew over that city quite a while ago. On top of a 747 of course. It was just a kind of PR stunt to show the shuttle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hull_quebec [wikipedia.org]

Saw It (5, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41416359)

I went on the back patio of the Space Sciences lab at Berkeley, up the hill from the Lawrence Hall of Science (the "Command Center" building in the movie "Colossus: The Forbin Project").

Nice low-level flight right over Berkeley.

My kid was in class, heard the sound of the low-level flight, and they all saw it right out of the classroom window.

Gee, the end of an era. We could have had so much more. It's good that we have SpaceX doing something sensible about space flight, and NASA funding enough of that, but I think we learned one sad lesson from the Space Program: You can't trust the American electorate and their political representatives to do what's important for the future of the species.

Re:Saw It (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41416517)

Well, at least you have a democracy where you can vote between "doesn't" and "won't".

Re:Saw It (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41416639)

Don't be so sure. Our democracy is heavily manipulated by wealth, and not all votes have the same weight due to an antequated thing called the "Electoral College". Essentially, my vote in California will not be as important as a vote in a "swing state" such as Ohio.

I think we mostly have a plutocracy, like most places.

Re:Saw It (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41416781)

I don't think a single line of code got written in the entire Bay Area this morning.

My kid was in class, heard the sound of the low-level flight, and they all saw it right out of the classroom window.

A million kids seeing their first flying spaceship, a few thousand of whom will be inspired to take on STEM careers, and a few dozen of whom will make actual breakthroughs in whatever field of expertise they specialize in by 2040, probably more than makes up for it.

Re:Saw It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41417621)

I live right by both LAX and SpaceX, so I get to see all of the cool spacey shit.

"The future of the species" (2)

markjhood2003 (779923) | about 2 years ago | (#41417787)

You can't trust the American electorate and their political representatives to do what's important for the future of the species.

For most of us here on Slashdot, space exploration is cool, exciting, motivating, and instills a sense of pride and adventure in ourselves as humans.

But I get so tired of this idea that space travel is important to the future of our species. Even if the only way we could survive would be through an exodus to other worlds, how does that solve the problems that would lead us to such an exodus? Until we become more enlightened here on Earth and make some progress in the nature of the human heart, we will only bring those problems with us.

What the heck is so important about the survival of our species anyway? Hopefully we'll involve into something more than we are now, but if we die out, that won't be so unusual as far as species go. Do we consider it a tragedy that the dinosaurs evolved into birds? Compared to the vastness, mystery, and awesomeness of the Universe as a whole, we're really insignificant.

I doubt that we're the only intelligent beings in the galaxy, let alone the entire Universe; there are probably many more to fulfill whatever purpose we have, if any, as sentient, self-aware, curious observers and participants in the evolution of the Universe. If they've managed to solve the problem of interstellar travel, they're probably praying that we'll become more civilized before we escape the bounds of our planet.

Re:"The future of the species" (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41417967)

Even if the only way we could survive would be through an exodus to other worlds, how does that solve the problems that would lead us to such an exodus? Until we become more enlightened here on Earth and make some progress in the nature of the human heart, we will only bring those problems with us.

This is like saying that nobody should have children until we discover a way to keep them from getting cancer.

The urge to propagate to other places (islands, continents, and now farther) is just a larger form of the urge to have children. They will live their lives, fight, have wars, die, or do other things that we can not conceive of. Only by planting the seed of humanity, warts and all, do we give them the chance to evolve past us.

If [aliens have] managed to solve the problem of interstellar travel, they're probably praying that we'll become more civilized before we escape the bounds of our planet.

I don't think you are putting your own birth in context. You are the cumulative result of millions of generations of fights to the death. The beings who lived passed their genes on to you, the ones who were out-competed did not. That means that you are extremely highly optimized to be the nastiest SOB out there, the one who lives and competes successfully for the resources necessary to reproduce (including a gender-opposite partner) while others lose. Only recently, in evolutionary terms, has your species developed society as a means of collectively optimizing the survival of their DNA. You are only evolved to be nice to the extent that it promotes the survival of related DNA.

You are theorizing other species whose evolution doesn't follow the same rules. Fine, they're called Aliens because they're Alien. You should not automatically assume that your idea of altruism would apply to them at all.

Re:"The future of the species" (1)

Onan (25162) | about 2 years ago | (#41418273)

> Until we become more enlightened here on Earth and make some progress in the nature of the human heart, we will only bring those problems with us.

Really, sorting out the nature of the human heart will get rid of asteroids? I had no idea.

Man, dinosaurs must have been assholes.

Re:"The future of the species" (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#41418961)

We are Gods in a universe filled with inanimate matter, no matter how vast. How readily you dismiss Free Will and Reason, as if they were not true super powers. Given enough energy/mass and knowledge I could stand astride the cosmos, bending it to my will.

You are never going to 'solve' humans, we will always be somewhat irrational creatures, and thats ok. Part of irrationality drives Imagination, another super power.

It is imperative we get a viable colony off world. Its as natural an urge and having children, to the reasoned mind. The goal to ensure a greater chance of the survival of the species, no matter how remote.

We are indeed special enough to warrant such an Endeavour.....

Re:"The future of the species" (1)

towermac (752159) | about 2 years ago | (#41420185)

Very nice.

Re:Saw It (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41417871)

Gee, the end of an era. We could have had so much more. It's good that we have SpaceX doing something sensible about space flight, and NASA funding enough of that, but I think we learned one sad lesson from the Space Program: You can't trust the American electorate and their political representatives to do what's important for the future of the species.

Why should you? It's not the job of either one to do what you think is important for the future of the species. Frankly, public funding of manned space activities have added a lot of noise to the process, but not much of anything useful. Maybe that's just not a good tool for big, long term goals.

Re:Saw It (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41418121)

Why should you [expect the electroate and their representatives to do what's important for the species]?

Because that is the only cause that justifies their existence. Societies exist to facilitate the survival and growth of their population. Populations don't survive and can't grow for all that long in one place or doing one thing. Endangered species are endangered because they can't move and they can't change fast enough.

Re:Saw It (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41419467)

Because that is the only cause that justifies their existence. Societies exist to facilitate the survival and growth of their population.

That's not the same as "important for the species". Keep in mind both that any given current society is only a part of the "species" and that species is a vague term that will become much more vague for whatever are considered members of society in the near future.

Re:Saw It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41418269)

That's funny! :) I work there and was on the roof, but I saw that there were people next to the SSL Annex. Would I have known that I could meet the inventor of open source, I would have gone down to the patio :D

Re:Saw It (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41419055)

That's funny! :) I work there and was on the roof, but I saw that there were people next to the SSL Annex. Would I have known that I could meet the inventor of open source, I would have gone down to the patio :D

I am always happy to give a brown-bag talk, etc., on campus or at LBL. I only live a mile away.

If I invented anything, it was the rule set for Open Source licensing, not Open Source itself. One must give some credit to RMS and others.

Re:Saw It (2, Interesting)

ridgecritter (934252) | about 2 years ago | (#41418993)

I saw Endeavour today as it headed south to overfly Moffett Field. End of an era, yes, and I do miss our nation's having a spacecraft, even one with the Shuttle's long list of flaws and shortcomings.

But we *are* doing quite a lot of stuff out there:

- We just landed a nuclear powered, laser-zapping mobile lab on Mars, and it's headed off to climb a mountain;
- Dawn recently lit up its ion drive and left orbit around the asteroid Vesta to visit another asteroid, Ceres;
- Cassini continues touring Saturn and its moons;
- Messenger is exploring Mercury from orbit;
- Opportunity is still wandering around on Mars, continuing eight years of exploration;
- We're still getting good data from Voyagers 1 and 2, over a third of a century after they were launched.

I've left stuff out, but you get my point. The space age has arrived, but in a different way and at a slower pace than most of us might have wanted. But it's here, and it's not going away.

Re:Saw It (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41419043)

Yes. I think the truly important part is still rather far away, though. Probably beyond my lifetime. And that is a self-sustaining colony, where children are born who need not return to Earth.

Re:Saw It (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 2 years ago | (#41419169)

A teacher friend of mine planned ahead and took the kids outside to see it fly by. Sounds like your kid's teacher needs a stern talking to about a more rounded education if she's got them cooped up while the shuttle flies by.

Re:Saw It (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41419225)

There wasn't good data on when it was coming by. I was listening to air traffic frequencies, and the controllers didn't have any data that they were giving out. They just held takeoffs and diverted landing planes for a while.

Re:Saw It (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41419715)

You can't trust the American electorate and their political representatives to do what's important for the future of the species.

To elaborate on my rather vague posts earlier, the point of societies is to further the interest of society. For societies, such as ours currently, which are dominated by one species (though it is worth noting that there are a fair number of client species, namely pets, agricultural animals, and endangered species, with non-trivial recognized rights and privileges) furthering the interests of society can coincide with what's important for the human species. But it's also worth noting that society has many other interests and these sometimes conflict.

Second, who decides what is important? The nature of a society is that complete agreement doesn't happen. I don't think it is appropriate to expect society to unconditionally back a pet goal or project. What I do think is appropriate is for those who favor particular space activities to convincingly demonstrate the value of such on their own dime before insisting that society put its resources in.

Re:Saw It (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41419745)

Come on, there are more important things for a society than space flight such as the well-being of its citizens. Governments spent some money on space flight. I also think the European ESA projects are more focussed on researching planet earth through satellite instruments.

Re:Saw It (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#41421207)

You can't trust the American electorate and their political representatives to do what's important for the future of the species.

If space travel was at a stage where it was relevant to the "future of the species" - you'd have a point. But it isn't. It isn't even close.
 
Anything we could do today in space is the equivalent of hauling a bedsheet out into the backyard and wrapping yourself up in it... it's cool, and fun, but you're still utterly dependent on the house for everything and much less protected from the elements.

The Shuttle program needed to be retired (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 2 years ago | (#41422541)

The entire rationale of a reusable spacecraft was predicated on the assumption that we'd have weekly launches. The initial concept of the program foresaw 50+ launches a year [wikipedia.org] . That was the only way to justify the cost of the massive support organization needed to inspect and refurbish the orbiters after each flight, vs. ordinary single-use rockets. Unfortunately, we never came close to that, averaging 4.5 launches per year. Consequently, the Shuttle became the cadillac of launch vehicles. Its lifetime per-launch cost works out to just over $10,000 per kg of payload, vs. $3000-$5000 per kg for other launch vehicles, with Falcon X approaching $2000/kg.

They are a marvel of engineering, and the iconic face of space travel for over a quarter century. But they were also white elephants [wikipedia.org] which consumed half or more of NASA's budget, harming multiple other missions whose primary goal was science instead of putting people into orbit. Don't blame the politicians for killing the program. Blame them for not funding a replacement as soon as it became obvious we weren't going to get anywhere close to 50 launches/yr. Instead they hemmed and hawed, until the Shuttles were forced into retirement because their components began exceeding their lifetime expectancy certification. And the politicians still haven't decided on a replacement.

Saw the landing @LAX (3, Informative)

JoeF (6782) | about 2 years ago | (#41416383)

I was @LAX, and saw the fly-overs and the landing there. Great crowd.

Good video of the landing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41416447)

http://youtu.be/qV_nNPX7qUo?hd=1

Re:Good video of the landing (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41416655)

Thanks... brought a tear to my eye to watch it though. To think my country did this before we inevitably succumbed to the greed of Wall Street, the corruption of Congress, and the ineptitude of the FED.

This is the same link.. just wrapped with the HTML to make it clickable.

Space Shuttle Endeavour lands at LAX [youtube.com]

Re:Good video of the landing (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 2 years ago | (#41416933)

Mod AC up.

We used to strive for greatness. We used to "go to the Moon, and do the other things; not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

I'm a child of Apollo. I was 6 when Apollo 7 launched. I'm sure there will be a moon base, or a Mars mission. But not in my lifetime. This saddens me to no end.

Re:Good video of the landing (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 years ago | (#41417537)

Thanks... brought a tear to my eye to watch it though. To think my country did this before we inevitably succumbed to the greed of Wall Street, the corruption of Congress, and the ineptitude of the FED.

What's really a shame is what a miserable decline in our space program I thought the shuttle was when it was announced and put into service. Now all these years later I long for the days when it was in service. Our space program has become an embarrassment in regards to manned space fight. Hell, we took pride in the times the Russians had to hitch a ride on the shuttle. Now we can't even put a man in LEO our selves. One the flip side, the unmanned exploration programs are still quite impressive. For now.

Re:Good video of the landing (1)

tsotha (720379) | about 2 years ago | (#41418711)

SpaceX could put a man in LEO and higher if the need was there.

But it isn't, and that's the entire problem with manned spaceflight. There's no reason for it.

Re:Good video of the landing (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41419101)

They're building a crew vehicle. They have a USD$75 Million Space Act contract to build the launch escape system, which is integral to the vehicle (not a tower like Apollo) and would also be usable for precision soft landing on ground rather than water. They are contracted to finish in May, at which time it is very likely they would get a larger contract for manned development.

Re:Good video of the landing (1)

tsotha (720379) | about 2 years ago | (#41421361)

I understand that. What I'm saying is they could send up people in the Dragon capsule they have on the pad if there was some kind of emergency. There wouldn't be a launch escape system, but then again shuttle didn't have one either.

Did the Russians fly it there? (2)

elrous0 (869638) | about 2 years ago | (#41416495)

They seem to be the only ones capable of doing anything anymore. May as well let them do that too.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (0)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41416703)

The Russians have the same capability that we would have today if we kept building and launching Apollo command and service modules on Saturn 1. If you want to see how bad things are there, look at what happened to the one remaining Buran.

Commercial spaceflight is really the only hope. And so far we have one company that appears to be capable of doing it, and a very large number of failed efforts, which I guess is what is to be expected. We're really lucky to have that one company.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41416847)

"Commercial spaceflight is really the only hope.
no it isn't. Stop being stupid.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (1)

jfern (115937) | about 2 years ago | (#41416889)

Agreed. This wait for commerical spaceflights that will charge us less than the Russians to hitch a ride is a pretty lousy strategy. The Chinese are probably the future of manned spaceflight.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41417249)

The Russians are commercial spaceflight right now. But we don't see them doing it with new engineering, so in general they are not looked upon as a future path.

You are expressing a whole lot of confidence that the Chinese will not have a revolution or economic failure, and will succeed in bootstrapping a program that hardly exists today.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41417265)

If you're not going to bother to write a rationale for your argument, you should just use the moderation button, and not bother us with postings of simple contradiction and abuse.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41416891)

The Russians have the same capability that we would have today if we kept building and launching Apollo command and service modules on Saturn 1. If you want to see how bad things are there, look at what happened to the one remaining Buran.

Commercial spaceflight is really the only hope. And so far we have one company that appears to be capable of doing it, and a very large number of failed efforts, which I guess is what is to be expected. We're really lucky to have that one company.

The minute private interests lose people on their own ventures you'll see how interested they remain in pursuing it.

One thing to have Ronnie make a heartfelt speach, another to hear a CEO anguish over it (and how it will affect the business, what with lawsuits, etc.)

Still feeling the way forward is through NASA, but perhaps with some partnership on these things.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41417121)

The minute private interests lose people on their own ventures you'll see how interested they remain in pursuing it.

If this were the case, we wouldn't be riding jet planes everywhere.

The only time something is shut down in connection with an air crash, it's something that was already on the edge of economic failure. Like the Concorde and Pan Am.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (2)

loshwomp (468955) | about 2 years ago | (#41418337)

The minute private interests lose people on their own ventures you'll see how interested they remain in pursuing it.

If this were the case, we wouldn't be riding jet planes everywhere.

I'm not sure that's a good analogy. Rocket launches are several orders of magnitude riskier than commercial aviation, and while we can expect modest improvements, I don't see the trend changing much. Launching rockets is hard.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41418599)

I'm not sure that's a good analogy. Rocket launches are several orders of magnitude riskier than commercial aviation, and while we can expect modest improvements, I don't see the trend changing much. Launching rockets is hard.

In 10 years, more than 500 commercial fishermen (3% were actually women) died on the job in the United States alone. An employee who works 10 years has over a 1% chance of dying on the job.

Yet, liability doesn't kill the industry.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41418825)

We need to eat. We don't need to fly in rockets to go nowhere. Seriously, you space apologists are a weak, weak bunch.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41419065)

So are you elementary school students :-)

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (1)

bitingduck (810730) | about 2 years ago | (#41419027)

Commercial spaceflight is really the only hope. And so far we have one company that appears to be capable of doing it, and a very large number of failed efforts, which I guess is what is to be expected. We're really lucky to have that one company.

This is a pet peeve of mine. People need to stop equating commercial manned space with commercial space. Space is extremely commercial already. US based launch capability is provided entirely by commercial entities, and there's no shortage of them-- Boeing, Lockheed, Orbital, and SpaceX. There's also ArianeSpace, Eurockot (bargain launches), and a number of other international groups, plus foreign governments. There's a ton of commercial stuff in space-- mostly telecom, imaging, and nav satellites. Even the US government now buys a great deal of its space imaging from commercial providers. And now there are the rebel asteroid miners and picture takers (Arkyd/Planetary Resources), too. Space is dominated by commercial interests (telecom, etc) and military (earth observing/listening). The stuff that NASA does in space is generally much smaller than either of those markets.

What there isn't a lot of is commercial manned space. There's not a lot of market for it at any price you're likely to see in the next decade or two. Just about anything you could want to do in earth orbit with people (short of saying "Dude, I was in space!!") is drastically cheaper to do with robotic missions.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41419081)

Give us a good heavy launch capability, and it will be man-qualified. The money for that hasn't dried up, or we wouldn't see all of the most credible companies other than Orbital Sciences with signed contracts in that market or attempting to get them.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (1)

bitingduck (810730) | about 2 years ago | (#41423261)

Russia has cheap reliable man rated stuff that they're willing to take any paying customer on, and there's not all that long a line of commercial customers waiting for rides on it.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41423365)

Yes, but because they're Russia nobody is willing to depend upon them. And that means countries pay a lot for another option.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (1)

bitingduck (810730) | about 2 years ago | (#41423517)

The US gov't has been depending on them for a quite a while, and the current model Soyuz are among the most reliable launch vehicles you can get. And Eurockot is cheap enough (and capable enough) for a shared launch that you almost can get a bunch of your friends together, build something in the garage, and fund the launch out of bake sales and kickstarter.

But really, my peeve is about equating "commercial space"=="commercial manned space". Space has been *very* commercial for decades, and the terminology that manned space advocates use tends to neglect that, or pretend it isn't so.

Re:Did the Russians fly it there? (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41424181)

Yes, I understand that commercial space != commercial manned space.

I think it was easier for other countries to deal with Russian aerospace before Putin started moving Russia back toward an authoritarian regime. At this point, they are nervous that they are bankrolling what is ultimately a military capability that can be used against them.

Space Shuttle Endaevor? (0)

Svippy (876087) | about 2 years ago | (#41416563)

I've never heard of a Space Shuttle named Endaevor .

Re:Space Shuttle Endaevor? (2)

Svippy (876087) | about 2 years ago | (#41416573)

Gee, as it turns out, I cannot even spell 'endeavour' correctly. Goddamn, Muphry's Law [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Space Shuttle Endaevor? (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41419109)

British spelling is a horse of a different colour.

Sacramento freeway came to a crawl (4, Interesting)

nrozema (317031) | about 2 years ago | (#41416579)

I just happened to be on US 50 in the Sacramento area when it flew overhead. Traffic slowed to a crawl to get a peek, some people just stopped. Very cool that these things can cause that type of reaction - even as they're being mothballed.

Unfortunately the spectacle caused more than a few fender benders.

Re:Sacramento freeway came to a crawl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41416607)

Nice! I was on the 80 coming into Sac.

Re:Sacramento freeway came to a crawl (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | about 2 years ago | (#41416903)

Traffic slowed to a crawl to get a peek, some people just stopped. Very cool that these things can cause that type of reaction

I hate to break it to you, but a few cars parked in front of a cop can cause the same thing.

Re:Sacramento freeway came to a crawl (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41418019)

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End of an era (2)

jfern (115937) | about 2 years ago | (#41416631)

No NASA manned flights. We're stuck hitching rides from the Russians. The Chinese will be sure to be kicking our asses in 10-20 years.

Re:End of an era (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41416659)

And mankind will still continue forward exploring space thanks to the Russians and the Chinese.

Re:End of an era (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 2 years ago | (#41417297)

Well, would you rather be spending $500 million to send a few guys up to the ISS when you could be spending $50 million to do the same task?

I'm a huge fan of the Space Shuttle. But it's time is up. It's expensive to run and can't really do anything that can't be done on ISS. Dragging it out with more launches just to drop off a few astronauts and pick up the trash eats NASA's budget. I'd rather NASA spend the money on more interesting things in both the manned and unmanned realms. I mean, LEO? Been there, done that.

If it makes your jingoistic tendencies feel better, though, just wait a few years and an American company will be flying to ISS.

Re:End of an era (1)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#41418381)

Let's check your Math.

The Russians charge $50 million per seat or for Progress 4000 lbs of payload.

At $500 million per shuttle launch you get
7 seats = $350 million
40,000 lbs = $500 million

So you have to pay the Russians $850 million to do what we could do with the Shuttles for $500 million.

Re:End of an era (1)

bitingduck (810730) | about 2 years ago | (#41418797)

I don't think there were many years when a shuttle launch was $500M. Typical program cost was closer to $4B/year for 4 launches/year, and if you divide total program cost by the number of launches it's about $1.5B/launch. And it didn't really cost less if you didn't launch it. It never really lived up to its promise, partly because reusability doesn't save you much when you're going to space unless you can avoid all the rework and retest. The cost of a piece of hardware is often incidental compared to the cost of verifying that it's going to have the reliability you need. So it doesn't save you much (and might cost more) to reuse a piece of hardware rather than just buying extras the first time through.

Re:End of an era (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 2 years ago | (#41419073)

And that's great, if you want to do that.

However, we're not sending 40,000 lbs of material to ISS. We're not sending seven people to ISS (figure, also, that two of those seats belong to NASA--the pilot and commander). We're sending a couple of people and some supplies. That's it.

Again, I'm a huge fan of the Space Shuttle. But it's a waste of money to run it for what we're doing. To use a car analogy, it's like using the Hummer SUV to drive to the grocery store down the block to pick up a load of bread. We don't need to carry the payload. We don't need to carry that many people. And whatever research is being done can be done on ISS. And, dare I say it, while I would love to increase NASA's budget and do more, I don't see a need to waste money keeping the shuttles running to perform such mundane tasks. Let the Russians do it for the next few years until SpaceX is ready to take over. Let NASA develop things that commercial companies aren't interested in doing--advancing the state of the art in space transportation beyond low earth orbit.

Re:End of an era (1)

twosat (1414337) | about 2 years ago | (#41419585)

One reason the space shuttle was so expensive was because of its size, a requirement from the US Air Force to have a huge cargo bay. What we need to reduce shuttle cost is something like a "baby shuttle" that only carries crew and a little cargo. It should be based on the "lifting bodies" that were being researched before Apollo diverted attention to the Moon, and to be made of modern materials like carbon-fiber - maybe something like Dream Chaser?
http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/09/the-long-complicated-voyage-of-the-dream-chaser-may-yet-end-in-space/ [arstechnica.com]

WRONG it wasn't ever in space (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41416741)

it was in low earth orbit NOT space

Re:WRONG it wasn't ever in space (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#41417153)

it was in low earth orbit NOT space

How do you define "space," exactly?

Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41416831)

I love how we didn't get one but shitty California did. Why do they get one and Houston doesn't? Bullshit, my friends.

Re:Texas (2)

Unbeliever (35305) | about 2 years ago | (#41418559)

You just have to look at how badly JSC allowed the Saturn V to deteriorate to have some idea why it didn't go to Houston.

Tough time tracking it (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#41416861)

Twitter was nearly useless, with all the chaff and incomplete information "It's over my house! #spottheshuttle" Where is your house?!? Blah blah blah I'm standing on a roof and NASA coverage, which was replays of the previous day's flight. We finally found a USTREAM from Ames and after watching it pass out of the frame we all scampered outside to wait, as it wouldn't be long. Finally spotted it and I got a few pictures. Probably the most photographed object in the world, today.

Nice (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41416927)

I just wanted to say that I am really surprised, but happy, at how much interest the last shuttle flight has caused. I thought this nation had forgotten about space exploration, but apparently I was wrong. It's nice to have a little bit of my faith in the future of this country restored.

Trees (0)

hawkfish (8978) | about 2 years ago | (#41417003)

I can't believe that they chopped down all those trees just to move it from the airport. It's not like LA has a lot of trees to begin with. Unlike Seattle... except that if the shuttle had been awarded to the Seattle Museum of Flight, they could have just rolled it across a treeless 6 lane road from Boeing field to the Museum's external display area - right next to the Concorde.

Re:Trees (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 2 years ago | (#41418225)

I agree, it's nuts to cut down the trees (which will take years to replace, if ever) when they could have removed the wings temporarily. It's not as if it needs to be put back into flying condition.

Re:Trees (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 2 years ago | (#41418311)

NASA would have given it to Texas, which had a runway near the museum and would not have had to chop anything. LA was only going to get the shuttle if they didn't abuse it further than NASA already has in making it "museum ready".

Street trees last about 50 years and then are in general too sick to remain. Some of these went sooner than that, but the museum is replacing 1000 trees that will live 50 years now.

Re:Trees (1)

petsounds (593538) | about 2 years ago | (#41418787)

They've promised to replant twice the number of trees. It was part of the deal.

Re:Trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41422639)

External display? That likely did in their chances.

An inspiration to future engineers. Oh, wait... (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 2 years ago | (#41417117)

On this theme... (1)

Whatsmynickname (557867) | about 2 years ago | (#41418843)

I am inspired by spaceships a LOT more when they are actually flying into space.

My pics of the departure (2)

HangingChad (677530) | about 2 years ago | (#41417513)

Some pics of the SCA and Endeavor flying over KSC and the rocket garden [dvfreelancer.com] .

The guy next to me was shooting video, watching it today I forgot how loud it was. It was a great moment.

At Edwards AFB when it landed there (2)

fructose (948996) | about 2 years ago | (#41417541)

I was at Edwards AFB yesterday when it landed. I can get to a couple great spots, so I took some great pictures. Here are some of the highlights. [shutterfly.com]

Final Flight? (0)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#41417759)

Well, I guess it is technically correct that this happened after Endeavor's "final flight," but this was not the final flight. Endeavor was cargo. It did not make a flight today.

My video of the 200 ft flyby at KSC (2)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#41418313)

After taking off from the Shuttle Landing Facility runway at KSC the Shuttle and Shuttle Carrier Aircraft looped around and did a 200 ft flyby down the runway. Pretty neat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOYoiIxZgO4 [youtube.com]

Endeavour Not Endeavor (2)

FrankDrebin (238464) | about 2 years ago | (#41418563)

It's named after a British sea ship, so British spelling applies, as reflected on the actual craft.

People love science, if you let them (4, Insightful)

petsounds (593538) | about 2 years ago | (#41418883)

I was at LA's Griffith Observatory today for the flyover, and the crowd was not only massive (not only was every Griffith Park parking space filled, but also the nearby Greek Theater's parking lot), but it was very diverse. Young, old, in-between. A broad mix of races and probably economic level as well. Let's not forget, these people, and everyone else who went to a flyover area, were pumped for NASA, and for a symbol of an America that they can be proud of. Yes, certainly there was a novelty factor at play of a Space Shuttle flying around on top of a frickin 747, but regardless it was capturing their attention and imagination.

Looking at these people around me, it really struck me that there's a giant disconnect in how they view NASA in comparison to how Congress and the President(s) view it. People see NASA as a tool for exploration, a window to discovery, and a symbol of America's leadership and greatness in technological innovation. Our government often sees NASA at best as a way to put jobs in local districts, and at worst as an organization they try to starve because they can't get rid of it. Thank the universe that Curiosity landed in one piece, because it shone light on a NASA that was half-buried in the backyard. On the other hand, NASA recently chose to send another geology mission to Mars instead of sending a lander to float in a Titan sea. NASA needs to capture the public's imagination. The Curiosity Twitter account has been inundated by questions from the public on why Curiosity doesn't include a microphone in order to listen to the sounds of Mars; the stock answer is that a microphone doesn't fulfill a science need. Well half of the Apollo missions included activities by their astronauts that had no science goal. The goal was capturing the spirit of wonder. NASA must keep that in mind if it is to stay viable, let alone flourish, in the harsh budgetary environment it finds itself in.

Re:People love science, if you let them (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#41421351)

Yes, certainly there was a novelty factor at play of a Space Shuttle flying around on top of a frickin 747, but regardless it was capturing their attention and imagination.

Sure, it captured their attention and imagination - for the brief span of the flyover it was the "flavor of the moment", all but forgotten by Monday.
 

Looking at these people around me, it really struck me that there's a giant disconnect in how they view NASA in comparison to how Congress and the President(s) view it.

No, the disconnect lies elsewhere - in the Slashdotter/space geek who see all those people temporarily entranced by the flyby and thinks "I'm watching this and think it's way cool and NASA should get more money and do more cool things, they're watching this too and therefore must not only think like I do but also be equally passionate". By the time you read this, they'll be just as passionate about the Dodgers game, and tomorrow about the Angels, and on Monday about the latest reality show premier.
 
When was the last time pictures from Curiosity made the local paper or it's website? (If they even showed up at all.) Public attention is a fickle and short lived thing.
 

The Curiosity Twitter account has been inundated by questions from the public on why Curiosity doesn't include a microphone in order to listen to the sounds of Mars; the stock answer is that a microphone doesn't fulfill a science need. Well half of the Apollo missions included activities by their astronauts that had no science goal. The goal was capturing the spirit of wonder.

No, the goal of the occasional (and very brief ) PR presentation was to keep the bucks flowing... (By the time of Apollo 11, NASA's budget has already been dramatically slashed and the landing program was running on inertia and fumes.) And they were massive failures at that goal - few of them were carried live. Most of them got thirty seconds or a minute on the 6.30* news, and then vanished into the archives to gather dust.
 
* Back then, you got a half hour of local news at 6PM, then a half hour of national at 6.30PM.

Shuttles were Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41420055)

Shuttle program had a few minor flaws to be sure, but it still shows American Exceptionalism.
{For those of you from Berkeley, that means you live in a wonderful nation.}

Also, screw the trees and the stupid liberals who care about that throw-away comment.

Problematic trees to be removed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41420109)

What kind of problem do these trees have? Bad attitude? - 'Get outta my shade, MoFo!'

Am I the only one... (2)

sitarlo (792966) | about 2 years ago | (#41422369)

...who realizes that flying a modified 747 in landing configuration carrying a 75 ton payload on its back with wheels up at low altitudes over populated areas is extremely dangerous, totally irresponsible, and completely illegal if anyone other than NASA did it? Thanks for risking hundreds of lives to show off Mr. Biden. Your incompetence is only outweighed by your arrogance. BTW, I love the space program, and I want people to learn about its history, but this really was a questionable stunt that has me worried about the complacency of our leadership.
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