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Space Shuttle Endeavour's Final Journey

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the to-boldly-roll dept.

NASA 87

daveschroeder writes "After over 296 days in space, nearly 123 million miles traveled, Space Shuttle Endeavour (OV-105) is making its final journey — on the streets of Los Angeles. The last Space Shuttle to be built, the contract for Endeavour was awarded on July 31, 1987. Endeavour first launched on May 7, 1992 (video), launched for the last time on May 16, 2011 (video), and landed for the final time on June 1, 2011 (video). Endeavour then took to the skies aboard the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), completing the final ferry flight and the final flight of any kind in the Space Shuttle Program era with an aerial grand tour of southern California escorted by two NASA Dryden Flight Research Center F/A-18 aircraft on September 21, 2012 (video). This morning around 1:30AM Pacific Time, Endeavour began another journey, this one on the ground. All Space Shuttles have traveled via road from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, CA, to Edwards Air Force Base, but this time a Space Shuttle is taking to the streets of Los Angeles for the journey from Los Angeles International Airport to its final home at the California Science Center. Getting the shuttle through LA surface streets is a mammoth logistical challenge as it lumbers along at 2 mph to the cheers of onlookers. Watching Endeavour make the journey is a sight to be seen (pictures, video)! Thank you, Endeavour!" Slashdot's Principal Software Engineer Kaushik Acharya was on hand, with camera, and took some great pictures of the event.

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rah rah rah (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41637591)

blah blah blah

I'm glad this is finally over.

In a museum it belongs (1, Troll)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 2 years ago | (#41638011)

And good riddance to one of the most overpriced and inefficient NASA programs and hello to the age of private space exploration. In 2011 money, the total cost of the space shuttle program was $190 billion (or $1.5 billion per launch) and let's face it, it wasn't worth it.

Re:In a museum it belongs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41638877)

Oh yes, the private market for pictures of an empty radiation-blasted hell must be in the dollars. Not to mention the market to get the exact same elements we have on Earth, but far more expensively and complexly. And when the invisible hand crushes your adolescent daydreams, what religion will you embrace next to keep your space delusions going?

Streets of L.A.? (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 years ago | (#41640677)

Space Shuttle is taking to the streets of Los Angele

Good chance it will be stolen and later found on some side street on blocks with the wheels and the stereo missing.

Re:Streets of L.A.? (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 years ago | (#41640785)

Space Shuttle is taking to the streets of Los Angele

Good chance it will be stolen and later found on some side street on blocks with the wheels and the stereo missing.

...and tagged.

Re:Streets of L.A.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41647231)

At least in CA, it'll be garage kept, if they sent it down south, it would end up rusting in the front yard next to the old fridge. When it starts falling apart, they'd just blame who ever is the leading Democrat is still in office when it happens.

Re:In a museum it belongs (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 2 years ago | (#41640987)

And good riddance to one of the most overpriced and inefficient NASA programs and hello to the age of private space exploration. In 2011 money, the total cost of the space shuttle program was $190 billion (or $1.5 billion per launch) and let's face it, it wasn't worth it.

The way *this* shuttle was designed wasn't worth it.

The concept of a glider lander is a pretty good idea if the glider is on top of the launcher stack.

The CAIB findings of ice strikes from the tank to the orbiter as the design flaw in the side mounted configuration that had been accepted during the operation of the Shuttle. As it stands CAIB's criticism that it was a development vehicle and not a Space Transport Service is reasonable. I think if you frame the Shuttle program that way, then it was a success.

If it was designed without all that engine mass to move around and having to repair tiles from ice strikes the lower maintenance operation may have actually made it viable, but that's the price of some compromises. At least the knowledge exists on how to get that much mass into orbit, hopefully it can be utilised again.

Whether it be private or government, I hope the sacrifice of those who flew the shuttles will be acknowledged by implementing the appropriate safety and engineering cultures required to operate such extreme vehicles for human flight.

Re:In a museum it belongs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641273)

You mean the 'private enterprise' welfare queens dependent on government subsidy.

Principal Software Engineer? (2, Funny)

presspass (1770650) | about 2 years ago | (#41637609)

Slashdot has a "Principal Software Engineer"?

Who knew?

Re:Principal Software Engineer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41637827)

Must be the guy who got drunk at the Dice christmas party and hit on the CEO's wife. :)

Re:Principal Software Engineer? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41646421)

Yes, he administers the Student Software Engineers, and sometimes gives them harsh punishment in his office. At least, that's what it sounds like.

Crime it's not in Houston (0, Troll)

devleopard (317515) | about 2 years ago | (#41637633)

LA as we know is well known for its role in the space program, and is well known for being included in famous quotes throughout the space program's history.

Tens of thousands of Houstonians have worked at the JSC so that all the hipsters could Instagramify their giddiness at seeing Endeavour come to its final resting place.

Re:Crime it's not in Houston (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#41637671)

It was built in California, jackass, and It landed at Edwards many times. Go yell at New York for theirs.

Re:Crime it's not in Houston (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41637815)

Hey buddy ours never flew in space, it is just a test shuttle and we did not have to destroy half our fake city or bitch about it to put it on show.

Why do you never hear Mississippi and Alabama bitching, they are the ones who actually really build and test this stuff.

Re:Crime it's not in Houston (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#41637857)

400 trees is not anywhere close to 'destroying half the city' But you wouldnt know that considering the only trees in New York are in the park.(see i can make up stuff too!)

Re:Crime it's not in Houston (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41638071)

I'm not American, so reading this thread has suddenly given me a good insight into Pork Barrel Politics and why Americans seem to argue about things before doing anything, then do them in the most inefficient way possible. $190 billion? Shipping boosters a couple of thousands miles by road and barge? It all makes sense now.

Re:Crime it's not in Houston (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 years ago | (#41640791)

Yep. It's Re-Distribution.

Re:Crime it's not in Houston (1)

scosco62 (864264) | about 2 years ago | (#41641805)

Sure. It's always easier to criticize, than do.

Re:Crime it's not in Houston (1)

Kelson (129150) | about 2 years ago | (#41637889)

Yes, actually, Los Angeles and its suburbs do have a long history with aerospace. Look up JPL on a map sometime. Or type "Downey Rockwell Apollo" into Google.

Re:Crime it's not in Houston (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41637975)

Yeah, it's not like the engines were built in Los Angeles or anything. And it's not like Los Angeles is where they landed a good deal of the time. And it's not like Los Angeles is home to JPL, the NASA lab that designs and builds all of the shit that goes to Mars and employs many more people than JSC.

Besides all of that, Los Angeles has better weather and never has hurricanes. Endeavor probably wanted to be retired there instead of muggy ass Houston.

Re:Crime it's not in Houston (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#41639081)

You know it would have been nice to have a shuttle, but I was not so bummed about it. After all, we have had many shuttle views, we have been able to greet astronauts, and a lucky few of us have been in mission control working during a mission. Many of the places who are getting shuttles did not have such a deep connection with the shuttle. Sure, some may have built it, but they did not have the year after year experience, knowing astronauts, seeing the development as we grew up, even seeing launches in non public viewing areas.

Furthermore, where would we put it in Houston. At the joke of a Space Center Houston. It would be an embarrassment. At the Museum of Natural Science. The Musuem is more interested in bling that science. In the new exhibit space, bones are not labeled as real, cast, or other. In the old days, like the Diplodocus, these things were labeled. I know that no one wants to see a planetarium, but using it for a Mayan doomsday thing is just not so useful. And of course the space stuff, which has always been hidden in the basement, is even more relegated to obscurity. Artefacts do not seem to interest people, and the museum is a private foundation.

Not to mention transportation. Houston is not going to cut down trees.

Houston knew the shuttle was ending, and could have built a space museum around it. It did not. We did build a Soccer stadium. Nothing wrong with that, but that is the priorities.

I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (0, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | about 2 years ago | (#41637653)

Watching Endeavour make the journey is a sight to be seen (pictures, video)! Thank you, Endeavour!"

While I applaud the engineers' achievements, I am not sure that these space shuttles' cost has been worth it. I know experiments have been done in space...but can someone really tell me what an ordinary street walking John Doe has benefited from these shuttles? I am open minded and waiting to be convinced.

Heck, our country is in bad shape financially. The funds used to build and maintain these shuttles could have done a lot more. Isn't it?

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41637681)

It doesn't help matters that Endeavor was certified to fly up to 100 missions but the cancellation of the shuttle program saw it's retirement at only 25.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#41637701)

The purpose of the shuttles was never to improve a single human life. Thats is a fools game and you are a fool for trying to play it. The ultimate goal of the Space Program is an insurance policy against an extinction level event. If we waited until all humans were clothed, fed and sheltered, we would have never gotten off the ground.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41637811)

" The ultimate goal of the Space Program is an insurance policy against an extinction level event."

Wow. Do you have insurance against meteor damage to your roof?

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41637903)

It was more military than anything, not how we leave this rock, but how can we kill each other in space and defend against the other side. Sprinkle on some PR and make everyone feel good about it and there you go, well documented worms ... fucking in space!

SCIENCE!

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41638107)

Glad to see the ratio of cranks to geeks on slashdot is still steadily increasing.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41638317)

It was more military than anything

Nonsense. If the Shuttle was meant to be a military vehicle first and foremost, there wouldn't have been a two year gap of Shuttle launches due to the Challenger accident. There's also the fact that Shuttle design predates military involvement (the military became involved only because NASA needed a lot more funding to complete their great white elephant). Finally, after Challenger and the above gap when military payloads weren't launching, the military took great pains and great costs to move as many of its payloads to the Titan IV rocket as it could.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41639249)

funny, something an organization that grew out of the air force just magically made a space cargo van for what again?

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41639335)

NASA started life as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1915 and predates the US Air Force (which separated from the US Army in 1947) by 32 years.

And frankly, the shuttle just doesn't make sense as a military vehicle. Too expensive, capabilities that the military didn't care about (like putting seven people in space), other capabilities that weren't that good (small payload capacity for the size of the vehicle), and the operator, NASA wasn't under the control of the military (as I noted in my last post).

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41638275)

Huh. I'd have to disagree. For 190 billion USD, I bet we could have gotten a lot better extinction insurance than that.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 years ago | (#41640715)

Huh. I'd have to disagree. For 190 billion USD, I bet we could have gotten a lot better extinction insurance than that.

Yeah, I see what you mean, but now we know. We didn't, before. And whatever we do in the future, we'll try to avoid those problems (as new ones are created).

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41640895)

Yeah, I see what you mean, but now we know. We didn't, before. And whatever we do in the future, we'll try to avoid those problems (as new ones are created).

That's a rather empty thing to say.

A lot of Slashdotters like to compare the cost of the Shuttle to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So would it make the wars and the vast sums spent on them ok, if I just observed that "Now we know, we didn't know before"? And of course, "We'll try to avoid those problems."

It's especially empty since we really did know ahead of time that the Shuttle was going to have most of the problems it had. Obviously, not the oblivious NASA managers who were forecasting a bunch of nines (1 in 100,000 prior to the Challenger accident according to Feynman) of reliability for the Shuttle. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at the budget for NASA (even back in 1970 when things were starting to draw down) and see that there wasn't both money for the Shuttle and money for interesting things to do with that Shuttle at the same time.

Nor was there surprises for those who look at actual reliability of rockets. Accidents were bound to occur which for NASA caused at least 4-5 years of cessation of launch activity.

And we can see with the Space Launch System funding, that US Congress and the NASA supply chain aren't interested in learning from their "mistakes". It looks to me like the US is about to repeat all the mistakes of the past half century again.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41637733)

The country is not 'broke'. That's just a bankers' trick to steal more tax money. The shuttle was worth every penny for cool factor alone.. oh yeah, and Fuck the poor! [youtube.com]

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (4, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | about 2 years ago | (#41637911)

Nope. Ironcally nations that promise total fairness, equality and prosperity generally turn into total shitholes.

Nations that stretch their horizions expand their frontier, and search for answers have massive opportunity and progress.

What makes people more inspired, staring at the ground or looking at the stars?

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41639455)

false choice much?

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

quacking duck (607555) | about 2 years ago | (#41641593)

Yes. Except the false choice comes from idiots who think that the $15-20 billion a year given to NASA (or even the $2.5 billion on Mars Curiosity over 8 years) should instead be spent fixing poor housing, welfare, health, hunger, etc.

To even think that is to be wilfully ignorant to the fact medicare, medicaid and social security already take up $1600 billion a year, and still can't get the job done. An extra 1.2% will do exactly nothing except reward pork-barrel bureaucrats instead of highly educated and skilled rocket scientists and engineers.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (5, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 years ago | (#41637913)

People always trash the space program in general. "What has it ever done for me?" The number one thing the shuttle program has given us is knowledge, about many things. It's pretty hard to quantify either the amount of knowledge we've gained or the value of it, or its subsequent impact on the rest of our lives. The shuttles in particular delivered many payloads to orbit, including several satellites and great observatories including Hubble, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. They also delivered the Galileo, Magellan, and Ulysses spacecraft to orbit to begin their missions. They also delivered components for Mir and the ISS. NASA also has a list of some technologies that resulted from the shuttle program here [nasa.gov] .

As far as money goes, and spending it wisely, over its 30-year run the shuttle program ended up costing us just under $200 billion in 2011 dollars, as well as 14 lives. That sounds like a lot of money. The current estimate of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is between 3.2 and 4 trillion dollars, with over 4400 Americans killed and over 33,000 wounded in Iraq alone. Afghanistan has cost us another 2100 American lives, and those numbers don't even include non-Americans or civilians. In 2008 alone Bush proposed $190 billion for the wars, just under the total cost of the 30-year shuttle program. I'll leave it up to you to decide which is the better investment.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (5, Informative)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 years ago | (#41637939)

I'll also note that the margin of error alone for the cost of the wars is 4 times the total cost of the shuttle program.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41638377)

As far as money goes, and spending it wisely, over its 30-year run the shuttle program ended up costing us just under $200 billion in 2011 dollars, as well as 14 lives. That sounds like a lot of money. The current estimate of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is between 3.2 and 4 trillion dollars, with over 4400 Americans killed and over 33,000 wounded in Iraq alone. Afghanistan has cost us another 2100 American lives, and those numbers don't even include non-Americans or civilians. In 2008 alone Bush proposed $190 billion for the wars, just under the total cost of the 30-year shuttle program. I'll leave it up to you to decide which is the better investment.

I see war cost estimates a third of that. And funding a couple of years of a war in a critical region to the US does seem to have a lot of value compared to coming up with the most expensive method possible for launching things into space.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (2)

quacking duck (607555) | about 2 years ago | (#41641623)

The "most expensive method possible" was not used. That's why we got the shuttles in their final form in the first place. An excellent example of spending less money up front, but being forced to spend more later to work around issues on a compromised system that wouldn't have occurred if enough money had been spent on designing it right in the first place.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41645481)

The "most expensive method possible" was not used.

Well, name a more expensive method that still works and would fall within the budget.

An excellent example of spending less money up front, but being forced to spend more later to work around issues on a compromised system that wouldn't have occurred if enough money had been spent on designing it right in the first place.

A vast amount of money was spent up front. Keep in mind that they built a number of orbiters at roughly $2 billion apiece, plus development costs, and Earth-side infrastructure.

The problem wasn't the lack of funds to build the Shuttle, but the design itself was too amibitious. I consider this essay [selenianboondocks.com] a great explanation of the problem.

What if they had intentionally bitten off a smaller task at first. What if they had retired the Saturn V, and slimmed down the staff for the Saturn IB (or better yet, auctioned it off or allowed the companies involved to commercialize it), and then done a much smaller first generation âoeshuttleâ? This shuttle might have only been capable of putting a couple thousand pounds into orbit, and might not have gone straight to an operation vehicle. This wouldnâ(TM)t have been a program trying to keep as much of the Saturn team together as possible, or an attempt to replace all existing rockets in one fell-swoop. It wouldâ(TM)ve been an X-vehicle in reality.

In other words, keep the Saturn 1B and build a much smaller shuttle capable of carrying 2-4 people or in the unmanned version a ton and a half of payload. I think the US would have much more than a space program these days, if they had gone that route.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 years ago | (#41661221)

A vast amount of money was spent up front.

And where did that money go? The vast majority of it, if not all of it, went to companies and workers here, in this country. Compare that with where the money spent on the wars has been spent.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 2 years ago | (#41661193)

And funding a couple of years of a war in a critical region to the US does seem to have a lot of value

Try that again. We're going on a decade and counting of war, not "a couple of years". Let's stick to facts, there's no reason to bring hyperbole into this. Might as well ask though.. what have those wars done for me? You seem to see the value, what is it? Is it worth 4 trillion dollars and almost 7,000 American lives? From what I can tell our mission in Afghanistan is finished, so why did my brother in law just leave for his 4th deployment?

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 years ago | (#41638541)

Good post, mod parent up.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 2 years ago | (#41638811)

The current estimate of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is between 3.2 and 4 trillion dollars [...]

Yeah, but at least we found Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons! [worldpublicopinion.org]

Oh, yeah... [factcheck.org]

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41644179)

"What has it ever done for me?"

Yeah, this reminds me of that question: What have the Romans ever done for us? [youtube.com]

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (3, Informative)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 2 years ago | (#41637951)

I actually used to think like you - I thought most of the space program was wasted taxpayers money on ego until someone on /. pointed that (paraphrasing) ...

One nice benefit to the space program was essentially a big R&D. A lot of interesting tech was developed as we tried to solve new problems.

You'll want to read these links as they fully answer your question:

http://www.nasa.gov/50th/50th_magazine/benefits.html [nasa.gov]
http://www.spaceexplorationday.us/benefits/technology.html [spaceexplorationday.us]

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (0)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41638405)

It's interesting how many NASA "spinoffs" described in those links fall in the category of "would have done anyway". But why research it yourself when you can get NASA to overpay for that research?

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

quacking duck (607555) | about 2 years ago | (#41641699)

That's the same silly argument that all of Apple's iPod/iPhone/iPad innovations (NOT inventions) "would have happened anyway" by other companies. Bottom line is, just like with NASA-funded research... in many cases other companies didn't do it anyway, they were crap, or development would have happened many years later than they actually did.

It took private enterprise over 50 years to replicate what NASA did in the early 60s, and they had that 50 years of experience to draw upon--back then many things about rockets and space were still being researched and discovered through trial and error, that's why many early attempts ended with an exploding rocket. Space is far too expensive up front, with not enough profit to justify it.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41645991)

That's the same silly argument that all of Apple's iPod/iPhone/iPad innovations (NOT inventions) "would have happened anyway" by other companies.

Well, in my defense, most NASA spinoffs are by other parties which were already conducting research in the areas in question. That alone brings it out of the silly category, even if you do choose to ignore that your argument was a fallacy by virtue of the original statement being false. Most Apple innovations would indeed have happened anyway.

It took private enterprise over 50 years to replicate what NASA did in the early 60s, and they had that 50 years of experience to draw upon--back then many things about rockets and space were still being researched and discovered through trial and error, that's why many early attempts ended with an exploding rocket.

And for an order of magnitude lower cost than NASA could do the same now.

Space is far too expensive up front, with not enough profit to justify it.

If that were true, then it wouldn't be worth doing. The amazing work that companies like SpaceX are doing now demonstrate that the premise was false. You can speak of the "50 years of experience", but NASA wasn't doing anything with that experience except squandering it for another generation.

Does it ever bother you that the world is doing now, could have been done in the 60s and 70s? Commercial space launch a couple of decades early? The true development of space rather than a mere superficial exploration of it?

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

quacking duck (607555) | about 2 years ago | (#41646657)

That's the same silly argument that all of Apple's iPod/iPhone/iPad innovations (NOT inventions) "would have happened anyway" by other companies.

Well, in my defense, most NASA spinoffs are by other parties which were already conducting research in the areas in question. That alone brings it out of the silly category, even if you do choose to ignore that your argument was a fallacy by virtue of the original statement being false. Most Apple innovations would indeed have happened anyway.

You left out the tail of my paragraph: "in many cases [...] development would have happened many years later than they actually did". It's not that the "would have happened anyway" argument is false, it's that such a statement refuses to credit Apple/NASA with pushing or jump-starting many areas of R&D. It's like saying a Google Maps-type web application "would've happened anyway" by incumbents like Mapquest, so Google doesn't deserve any credit for modern online map UIs.

It took private enterprise over 50 years to replicate what NASA did in the early 60s, and they had that 50 years of experience to draw upon--back then many things about rockets and space were still being researched and discovered through trial and error, that's why many early attempts ended with an exploding rocket.

And for an order of magnitude lower cost than NASA could do the same now.

The "than" makes it hard to parse your intent.

Are you saying NASA could do everything private enterprise can, but for an order of magnitude less (implication: bureaucracy and pork barrelling inflate NASA costs)? No argument from me there.

Are you saying private enterprise can do the same as NASA can now (or could have up til recently), but for an order of magnitude less? That has yet to be proven, since NASA's mandate extends beyond launching satellites into orbit, and humans into sub-orbital space.

Space is far too expensive up front, with not enough profit to justify it.

If that were true, then it wouldn't be worth doing. The amazing work that companies like SpaceX are doing now demonstrate that the premise was false. You can speak of the "50 years of experience", but NASA wasn't doing anything with that experience except squandering it for another generation.

I was responding to the general assertion that everything NASA did would've happened anyway by private enterprise, not specifically the spinoff applications linked to by UnknownSoldier. I refer more to "pure" research that typically lack short-term ROI (Hubble, environment monitoring satellites, Mars and other probes/landers), as well as manned orbital and lunar spacecraft.

So far, manned orbit-capable craft have only been achieved by government agencies of Russia, the USA and China. All American-based private, manned orbital craft under development seem to be funded by NASA contracts, with the goal of reaching the International Space Station. Space-X seems to be the leader, having already docked uncrewed variants there, but even it says 2015 is the earliest they plan to have a manned launch is 2015.

Note that without the ISS (thanks to taxpayers of many countries) as a destination, it's unclear why a private for-profit company would even want to develop a manned orbital craft. Space tourism is an extremely limited and expensive endeavour, and all it'll take is one multi-millionaire tourist killed in flight for a lot of future clientele to evaporate overnight (I'm assuming anything already paid has a no-refund clause). Unlike airplanes which offered significant speed advantages over cross-country trains and trans-oceanic ships, orbital craft have no advantage over airplanes (orbit implies looping around and above your starting point, give or take a few hundred kilometres depending on inclination, at least once), and significantly more risk. Sub-orbital craft *might* fit this bill, and have already flown, but not in any real commercially-sustainable way.

Does it ever bother you that the world is doing now, could have been done in the 60s and 70s? Commercial space launch a couple of decades early? The true development of space rather than a mere superficial exploration of it?

At this point we're engaging in "what if" scenarios.

There were plenty of commercial satellites in the 60s and 70s already, just no commercial launchers. All satellites were off of rockets by the usual suspects: defense-contract companies like Lockheed, Boeing, etc. AFAICT, all based on work originally done for government projects.

"True development of space" is rather nebulous. No one has developed the ocean--no floating or underwater homes, just ships carrying cargo and passengers--and the latter usually short cruise jaunts, very few trans-oceanic liners these days. The closest analog to communication satellites might be the various undersea communication cables linking the world together. What kind of development of space were you thinking of?

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41646769)

Are you saying private enterprise can do the same as NASA can now (or could have up til recently), but for an order of magnitude less? That has yet to be proven, since NASA's mandate extends beyond launching satellites into orbit, and humans into sub-orbital space.

Sure. I've seen a number of cases where private companies have done stuff like what NASA has done in the past. SpaceShipOne was another example which vastly undershoot the corresponding NASA program in development costs, the X-15.

I was responding to the general assertion that everything NASA did would've happened anyway by private enterprise, not specifically the spinoff applications linked to by UnknownSoldier. I refer more to "pure" research that typically lack short-term ROI (Hubble, environment monitoring satellites, Mars and other probes/landers), as well as manned orbital and lunar spacecraft.

Of course not. A number of things NASA did, such as fly the Space Shuttle had negative value. Who thinks a private group would fly a white elephant for thirty years and consume a fifth of a billion current dollars over that time? It just wouldn't make sense.

Note that without the ISS (thanks to taxpayers of many countries) as a destination, it's unclear why a private for-profit company would even want to develop a manned orbital craft.

Why do you think the ISS is the only destination in space? Bigelow Aerospace has already launched two prototype habitats into space. So creating new destinations just isn't that complicated.

"True development of space" is rather nebulous. No one has developed the ocean--no floating or underwater homes, just ships carrying cargo and passengers--and the latter usually short cruise jaunts, very few trans-oceanic liners these days. The closest analog to communication satellites might be the various undersea communication cables linking the world together. What kind of development of space were you thinking of?

Commercial space habitats in orbit and on the Moon. Methodical surveying of every body of significance in the Solar System. Non profits sponsoring exploration missions. Some early space-based solar power. That sort of thing.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41646775)

consume a fifth of a trillion current dollars

Oops. Off by a little bit there.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

edt12345 (603677) | about 2 years ago | (#41638195)

I agree, there was no reason whatever to spend the money to haul it to a LA Museum. There is plenty of space at Edwards to park it.

Instead the beauracrats at the LA Museum decided it would look good on their bloted resumes to have a Shuttle. The people are too stupid to tell the city "You will cut my tree down over my cold dead body" and thus prevent this travesty.

I would rather them cut the Shuttle up and recycle it than spend one cent of my taxes to display this.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41638381)

>but can someone really tell me what an ordinary street walking John Doe has benefited from these shuttles?

Hey, now. Everyone thinks you're a complete waste of space too but we are at least polite enough not to ask you to justify your existence.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 2 years ago | (#41638657)

While I applaud the engineers' achievements, I am not sure that these space shuttles' cost has been worth it. I know experiments have been done in space...but can someone really tell me what an ordinary street walking John Doe has benefited from these shuttles?

Here's an interesting one [nasa.gov] regarding software developed to determine the size of debris falling off the external tank and how it's also being used by contractors and homeowners to measure things for construction projects.

If you're looking for more, check out NASA's Spinoffs page [nasa.gov] .

Aww (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41640009)

you have your frown face on. Drink a soda and cheer up little Gandhi.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

Macman408 (1308925) | about 2 years ago | (#41645697)

In addition to the things already listed, here are two more sites that give some of the technologies that were originally developed for the Space Shuttle specifically or NASA in general, and then found more widespread commercial use:

http://spinoff.nasa.gov/shuttle.htm [nasa.gov]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_spin-off_technologies [wikipedia.org]
http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/ten-nasa-inventions.htm [discovery.com]

A quick list of some of the interesting ones: An artificial heart, video stabilization software, material used in prosthetic limbs, the scratch-resistant coating used on eyeglasses, memory foam, and powdered lubricants.

Re:I'm not sure it was worth it, sorry. (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 2 years ago | (#41646363)

I do not try in any way, to belittle these spin-offs in any way. I guess the better questions to ask would be:

Are all these inventions really worth all the cash that has been spent on NASA and the shuttles?

Are proponents saying that these inventions would not be in existence had it not been due to NASA's work? I doubt it.

Remember the trees (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41637665)

Nobody could figure out how to move the shuttle in standing position like on the launchpad, so the lives of 400 trees were sacrificed.

Re:Remember the trees (1)

landofcleve (1959610) | about 2 years ago | (#41638057)

That was pretty pathetic that they had to cut down all those trees, shame on the person that modded down this AC for mentioning them.

Remember the trees, indeed (4, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 2 years ago | (#41638615)

How are you replacing the trees that had to be removed? [california...center.org]

The California Science Center Foundation is investing approximately $2 million to replace 400 trees removed along the route with over 1,000 trees. These replacement trees are between 10 and 14 feet in height -- about the same size as most of the trees they will be removing. A minimum of two years of free maintenance will also be provided. Within five years the community along route will have an even greener and more beautiful tree canopy.

Re:Remember the trees, indeed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41638981)

Sounds like $2M that needn't have been spent, on a project with dubious chances of success: new trees.

Are the old stumps to be completely removed to make room for the new trees? If not, the new trees won't have much chance for for survival beyond the first two "covered" years.

In other news, your Medicare benefits are 100% safe with Romney/Ryan, too.

Re:Remember the trees, indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41640185)

5000 USD per tree? Are those the rare trees that grow directly bottles of Channel no5 on the branches?

Re:Remember the trees, indeed (1)

quacking duck (607555) | about 2 years ago | (#41641743)

Unthinking detractors never think things through.

You think those 14' trees are going to walk out there, plant and maintain themselves over (at least) two years? There's this funny thing called labour and equipment costs. And you're not dropping them into a nice open lawn, but along routes in a major city.

Up next... (-1, Flamebait)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41637803)

I hope they brought extra duct tape and paint to cover all the bullet holes... and I wouldn't be surprised if it shows up without its landing wheels. :)

Yet another slight against (2)

landofcleve (1959610) | about 2 years ago | (#41637809)

the National Museum of the United States Air Force that is amongst a massive history of aerospace development and milestones located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the largest base of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

Re:Yet another slight against (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41638907)

Define largest, according to wikipedia Wright-Patterson has a total area of 11.8 sq mi (30.5 sq km), on the other hand Edwards, the back up landing side for the shuttle is 470 square miles (1,200 km2). Maybe work force size its the largest but normally when someone says largest you are thinking physical size.

Incredible sight (5, Interesting)

Kelson (129150) | about 2 years ago | (#41637837)

I work near LAX, so I was able to watch the landing last month and walk out to see it on the ground today. They let the crowd get a lot closer to the shuttle than I was expecting: just one parking lot aisle away.

My own photos from both events: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kelsonv/sets/72157631590634138/detail/ [flickr.com]

Re:Incredible sight (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#41639735)

Very cool photos. I wish I could have come up from SD to see it landing (well, piggy-backing during a landing) or to see it land-crawl to the museum.

down724 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41637881)

Hi Guys, I've found this interesting! Check it out! http://down724.com

Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41638183)

Let's cheer about 1970s technology and the death of the manned space program. Thanks Dub and Barry!

Something in common (5, Interesting)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 years ago | (#41638571)

I am impressed about the wide range of people that watched Endeavour and its carrier come in, and are watching the spacecraft move to the museum.

It was a beautiful sight as they swung around the downtown skyscrapers. The roar from pedestrians in the street reached me up the the 23rd floor, and I looked out and saw the majestic aircraft gleaming in the sun as they banked around us.

About half of us rushed to the windows and got out our cellphone cams. Yeah, we all knew we'd be getting shit video out of it, but it was more of a "You Are There" moment that was being captured.

Later that night my son had some twenty-something friends over, and we all spent some time telling our particular stories about how it was. We had something in common.

Today I was in the elevator & the monitor was showing the status of the spacecraft's progress. I rode it up & down a few times to catch the whole story. On my last ride down, a delivery guy got on and saw the video. He looked a little hassled, and said his company was on the route and it delayed him, so now he was humping to catch up. And then his face lit up and he said "but I did get to stand 20-30 feet away", and he proceeded to show me his pics.

I'll probably never see him again, but, for a moment, we had something in common.

Thanks for the mention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41638575)

First article I've seen in a while mention the antelope valley, the birth place, refurb center and back up landing site of the shuttles. Every time a shuttle was built or had to come in for major repairs it would crawl down the streets of palmdale and lancaster until plant 42 built a shuttle mating module and extended their runway.

And for all you whiners complaining their locality didn't get one, LA was the best choice for population and for its history in this area, I will consider LA being a good proxy for this area considering its only an hour away and we have no facilities to house it in a historic manner. How many of your towns out there can you drive down and not go much more then a mile with out running into something commemorating aerospace history or tragedies (shuttles and dead test pilots).

The complete missions (2)

juventasone (517959) | about 2 years ago | (#41638797)

I've watched a lot of different videos about the shuttles, and by far the most moving for me was one created last year by Nature to celebrate the completed shuttle program.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=II7QBLt36xo&hd=1 [youtube.com]

LA, so much more appropriate than Houston. (1)

gumpish (682245) | about 2 years ago | (#41638987)

Because Houston didn't have anything to do with the space program...

Re:LA, so much more appropriate than Houston. (3, Interesting)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | about 2 years ago | (#41639075)

It was built in Southern California. Houston let their Saturn V rot outside. The Houston team thought they were entitled to a shuttle and didn't put together a decent bid.

So it goes.

Re:LA, so much more appropriate than Houston. (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 years ago | (#41647965)

Yeah, I went through Houston in '75, and I stopped by the JSC museum. The museum was ok, some cool capsules, etc. I don't remember it too much, but I still remember the big Saturn V laying there, rusting. What should have been a centerpiece of the museum was more like a jalopy on blocks.

Re:LA, so much more appropriate than Houston. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 years ago | (#41639239)

I agree that Houston got burned. There are two shuttles in the upper east US and zilch in the middle. That's stupid.

Longer swan song (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#41639057)

than Spain's Franco.

Re:Longer swan song (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 years ago | (#41640807)

And in other news, Generalissimo Franco remains dead!

When I first saw photos of it in residential (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 years ago | (#41639253)

...neighborhoods, the first thing I thought was, "Apple really did screw up their map app".

What ever you think of the Shuttle program... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41641237)

just remember this:

The United States is *retiring* a system that the rest of the world _still_ can't match.

The future ?
The technology that will impress will be achieving the same, but cost effectively,
and profitably,
and by private companies.

IE that next advancement of technology will be the profitable and regular access to space available to a much wider audience!

Re:What ever you think of the Shuttle program... (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 years ago | (#41647941)

The United States is *retiring* a system that the rest of the world _still_ can't match.

Yeah, I remember thinking something similar in the 90's when they retired the SR-71's. I used to watch them take off. Like an earthquake. Fun times.

Shuttle behind sched, but moving along (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 years ago | (#41647929)

Well, as big projects tend, things are a bit behind schedule. Supposed to be done by 2030PDT, it's 0200 now and they're just getting around to tacking up MLK blvd. I hadn't really planned to go watch, but, I'm up, it's Saturday night, and there's a full moon.

I believe watching them tack up the blvd to avoid cutting down the pines will be slick. I watched "The Rock" as it made its way a few blocks from where I live earlier this year. Incredible engineering and teamwork, but I've seen big stuff move along the blvd before, and I'm ready for something unique.

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