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Shuttle Launch Success

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the still-should-have-fixed-the-crack dept.

355

mkosmo writes to tell us NASA is reporting that shuttle launch today was successful. This launch occurred despite the safety warnings from many top NASA officials.

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hu (-1, Troll)

ahpaway (898375) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657626)

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Moron (5, Funny)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657693)

Until today, I thought trolling/crapflooding was the most pathetic form of internet nerdery. Today I have learned that failing at it is the true low point. I hope that the mysterious inner circle of reject friends gives you a lifetime ban from their secret club for being such a failure.

When is it my turn? (4, Insightful)

w33t (978574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657628)

It is so inspiring to see that shuttle blast into orbit. Such a technological achievement, such an affirmation of the power and beauty science has brought to us.

And yet, here alongside these feelings of grandeur in my heart are these off-putting notions of what the shuttle actually means. How, even though it's one of the most amazing creations in the history of mankind, it represents so many of our failings.

The cost of a shuttle launch, while great, is dwarfed by the day-to-day costs of modern wars.

The shuttle, while technologically impressive, is still very much a cut-back version of what it was intended to be [slashdot.org] .

If you have the time I recommend watching and listening to Rutan's adress [google.com] to the National Space Society.

Rutan makes many points to ponder - which highlight questions I myself have wondered. For instance, why can't I fly to space yet? Why is it so hard?

Burt Rutan makes the observation that when he saw the Redstone rocket at the national air museum he wondered, "why don't we fly this anymore?".

Indeed why! It's cheap, it's simple - simpler can and often does mean safer. The Redstone can get a person or two into orbit. And why not launch a couple a week? Burt Rutan goes on to point out that after each new space vehicle is created the old designs are never used again.

He states that if we followed this philosophy with aircraft we would have only one airplane flying right now, the B2 bomber!

I don't mean to be a naysayer on this great launch day. I don't mean to steal thunder from such a remarkable achievement (and few are greater fans of the space shuttle than myself). But I think there is a problem with NASA's philosophy of what space exploration is - what it means to the average person.

For me, space exploration means the exploration of space. And I want to be the explorer.

As far as I know, NASA doesn't have me slated for any launches in the foreseeable future.

Re:When is it my turn? (1)

Too many errors, bai (815931) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657636)

As far as I know, NASA doesn't have me slated for any launches in the foreseeable future.

Perhaps you should work on your "surviving escape velocity" skills, perhaps they'll notice. ;)

Re:When is it my turn? (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657674)

Two years ago the X-Prize was won. Since then, no-one has had the opportunity to buy a suborbital flight. The vehicle that won the X-Prize is hanging in the Smithsonian. The spinoff of that vehicle (Virgin Galactic) won't be opening its doors for 4 more years. It would appear that the only people with the means to make suborbital space tourism a reality no longer have the motivation to do it as fast as possible. Maybe this just means other groups will have time to play catch up, but when you consider that suborbital is just the first step of many in commercial space flight, you gotta wonder when, if ever, we'll get our turn.

Is the demand really there? (3, Insightful)

vancondo (986849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657792)

It would appear that the only people with the means to make suborbital space tourism a reality no longer have the motivation to do it as fast as possible.


Why do you suppose that is? Is that 'being first' was enough of a motivator to get to the point where the x-prize was claimed, but once you get into the nuts and bolts of going to the next step there just isn't the demand, or if there is the demand the economics just don't work out?

How much would you pay to go into space? Would you be able to afford it?

Re:Is the demand really there? (1, Offtopic)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657960)

How much would you pay to go into space? Would you be able to afford it?

As long as there are plce I haven't yet been on Earth that I would pay good money to visit, I wouldn't really have much desire to go into Space.

I've travelled a bit, but there are just SO many places I haven't been that I want to see right here on the planet.

Re:When is it my turn? (2, Informative)

cbcanb (237883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657697)

Burt Rutan makes the observation that when he saw the Redstone rocket at the national air museum he wondered, "why don't we fly this anymore?". Indeed why! It's cheap, it's simple - simpler can and often does mean safer. The Redstone can get a person or two into orbit.
No, it can't. Redstone could only launch an astronaut on a very short suborbital hop. A substantially larger rocket is needed to get a human into orbit.

Re:When is it my turn? (3, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657840)

No, it can't. Redstone could only launch an astronaut on a very short suborbital hop. A substantially larger rocket is needed to get a human into orbit.

Ok, so the Redstone's no good anymore. But why scrap Gemini? That was good enough for orbital flight. Why scrap the Saturn? That was good for going to the moon, and it could have "retired" as a heavy-lift cargo vehicle. Rutan's main point remains: why did NASA scrap the older launch systems (like Saturn) after the advent of the new system? Even if they didn't have the money to maintain 2 concurrent launch systems, they could have released the plans to private industry, so that these "tried and true" vehicles could be put to commercial use.

Re:When is it my turn? (2, Insightful)

jrmcferren (935335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657900)

If these systems were released to the general public, the Soviet Union would have been able to get a hold of them and get to the moon.

Re:When is it my turn? (2, Interesting)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657970)

True, but the cold war is over. Do we actually care if someone else knows how to get into space nowadays?

Re:When is it my turn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657901)

maybe we could outsource production to north korea or iran

Re:When is it my turn? (4, Informative)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657728)

Burt Rutan makes the observation that when he saw the Redstone rocket at the national air museum he wondered, "why don't we fly this anymore?".

Indeed why! It's cheap, it's simple - simpler can and often does mean safer. The Redstone can get a person or two into orbit. And why not launch a couple a week? Burt Rutan goes on to point out that after each new space vehicle is created the old designs are never used again.

Rutan does have a point, but the Redstone isn't a good example. It never took a man into full orbit, only the sub-orbital run and it was bettered by the Atlas which got Glenn into orbit. It was never powerful enough for orbital launch.

If anything he should be talking about Atlas and Titan. Which have evolved into the new EELV systems that the military are using. So the designs and evolutions are still there.

The Saturn 5 was a massive beast of a launcher, but they canned it after Apollo. With a heavy lifter like that, NASA could have launched the space station in half the time and much safer. And now they are redesigning the whole heavy-lift launch vehicle for the Moon project.

Re:When is it my turn? (2, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657891)

And now they are redesigning the whole heavy-lift launch vehicle for the Moon project.
they probablly don't have much choice, if you keep building something for years you make lots of changes incrementally to take into account technological improvements and component availibility. If on the other hand you haven't built your item for decades then even if you still have the plans you are going to find it very very difficult to build as you keep finding parts unobtainable, things that were judged by eye by a particular person (especially with something as short run as a rocket) suppliers and subcontractors that no longer exist and a whole host of similar problems and when your done you'll still end up with something thats subpar by modern standards.

buying foriegn is another option of course but i don't think even the ruskies stuff can rival the saturn 5 and there are political issues too

Re:When is it my turn? (2, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657729)

Indeed why! It's cheap, it's simple - simpler can and often does mean safer. The Redstone can get a person or two into orbit. And why not launch a couple a week? Burt Rutan goes on to point out that after each new space vehicle is created the old designs are never used again. He states that if we followed this philosophy with aircraft we would have only one airplane flying right now, the B2 bomber!

Not to nit-pick, but this isn't really the case.

Granted, the US only flies one manned orbiter at the moment, but there are several options to choose between when you're putting anything other than people into orbit. So, it's probably way more accurate to say that there tends to be only one logical option for any given type of launch.

Given that we're talking about items that remain largely expendible (except for the shuttle, although given the amount of work involved in turning it around, it tends to strain the definition of "reusable spacecraft"), this makes sense. After all, it's far easier to certify and keep safe fewer types of launchers than more.

Aside from that, this is still relatively cutting-edge tech when you think about the numbers of generations of rockets we've seen. Given that the older generations tend to be less capable and/or safe than the newer ones, I imagine most of us would rather take our chances with the Shuttle than a Redstone.

Re:When is it my turn? (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657741)

Indeed why! It's cheap, it's simple - simpler can and often does mean safer. The Redstone can get a person or two into orbit. And why not launch a couple a week? Burt Rutan goes on to point out that after each new space vehicle is created the old designs are never used again.

Oh come on. If we did that it would be too simple. The staff of tens of thousands of shuttle and space station design and redesign engineers would have nothing to do. We must create new and ever more complicated space welfare programs to keep the citizens of florida voting for the right party.

Re:When is it my turn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657986)

"We must create new and ever more complicated space welfare programs to keep the citizens of florida voting for the right party."

Globally, I think it's more a question of universities convincing everyone you need a bachelor's degree to do any kind of work in society.

Re:When is it my turn? (3, Interesting)

dj245 (732906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657752)

Burt Rutan makes the observation that when he saw the Redstone rocket at the national air museum he wondered, "why don't we fly this anymore?".

In doing some reading on the Redstone rocket I came across this odd duck [wikipedia.org] . A medium range ICBM that flew a total distance of 4 inches (100mm).

Re:When is it my turn? (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657767)

"Why is it so hard?"

9.8 m/s/s. It's not a small number.

Re:When is it my turn? (1)

fozzy1015 (264592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657933)

Yeah, I'm a little cynical of people who look at Rutan's excellent milestone in the private sector and then think the Shuttle and NASA are way behind the curve. As other's have noted, a sub-orbital parabolic flight is simply not on the same level as launching a shuttle, with a crew of 7 and plenty of cargo space, into orbit around the Earth. The energy required for the later is quite a bit more. And since that energy comes in the form of fuel that takes up most of the weight of the craft when loaded, the structural mechanics that go into the orbiter, external fuel tank, and two SRBs seem to simply be on a grander scale then Space Ship One.

Of course I'm not a rocket scientist so please feel free to point out the flaws in my observations.

orbiter burns up on re-entry? (1)

chocolatetrumpet (73058) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657796)

Yeah, the whole orbiter thing is absolutely flawless! ...except for that whole "burns up on re-entry" thing... yeah that might be a small problem...

I love how the contingency plan is that if problems with Discovery are found during its inspection, the crew will stay on the ISS while another shuttle goes to rescue them!

Great plan! ...except for that whole "the shuttles all have the same design" thing... yeah that might be a small problem...

Re:When is it my turn? (2, Interesting)

lfnoise (766132) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657815)

OK let's say NASA loads up the shuttle with a dozen people and has daily launches year-round. That's 4383 persons launched per year. Let's say that only 1 in 100 U.S. citizens both is physically capable and wants to go. The CIA gives the US population at 298,444,215. In order to launch 1 in 100 US citizens at that rate would take 681 years. 298444215 / 100 / 4383 = 680.9 Your turn may take a while..

Erm... (1)

mentaldingo (967181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657820)

For instance, why can't I fly to space yet? Why is it so hard?

Gravity?

Re:When is it my turn? (2, Insightful)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657860)

The cost of a shuttle launch, while great, is dwarfed by the day-to-day costs of modern wars.

Modern wars created the space shuttle.

We wouldn't even have launched anything into space if it weren't damned convienent to lob an unstoppable nuke at our enemies from there.

All the rest, just side benefits.

Re:When is it my turn? (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657892)

It is so inspiring to see that shuttle blast into orbit.

you have no idea. My daughter and I were 20+ miles away at my brothers home and watched the column of smoke rise in the sky. She is 14 and is of the "whatever" generation not caring about anything. I pointed at the sky and said, "there goes the shuttle" and she turned into an 8 year old kid once again. She then marvelled at the fact that I mentioned that I watched the exact same thing when I was 14 and that she will probably be the last of the family to ever witness a shuttle launch.

Seeing it for real although miles away is more awe inspiring... Even for a who cares 14 year old girl that still thinks emo is cool and that adults are stupid.

And my family though I was mential for vacationing in florida in early july... I was given one of those father daughter moments that will be in her memory long after I am gone.

That's how awe inspiring it is.

Re:When is it my turn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657969)

Most adults are stupid (and I say this at the age of 32, not necessarily exempting myself).

Re:When is it my turn? (0, Troll)

bombadier_beetle (871107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657964)

I think I can address all your concerns by saying: shut it, hippie faggot.

Just want to say... (4)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657634)

Godspeed, Discovery, and come home safe!

Re:Just want to say... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657650)

This just in

Space shuttle hijacked by bin laden

The space shuttle is expected to crash into a large building in the NY area

Re:Just want to say... (1)

saildude (986846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657666)

ditto

Re:Just want to say... (2, Insightful)

dex22 (239643) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657695)

What does Godspeed mean, really? It's an abdication of responsibility. If the vehicle is good enough, by luck, to make the round trip it's somehow a supernatural event?

No. This is the designers and planners and builders and maintainers who put together a complex set of systems. If they all did their job right, the risk should be so low that nobody feels the need to say 'Godspeed.'

This isn't a flame, and it's not meant as flame-bait. It's just that when people say 'Godspeed' they're really misplacing their wish for a safe journey whose responsibility is far more in our hands, and we should give credit to those engineers that made all the past successes happen.

Re:Just want to say... (5, Funny)

RabidMonkey (30447) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657716)

yes, but 'engineerspeed' doesn't really sound as motivational. or as fast.

Re:Just want to say... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657772)

What does Godspeed mean, really? It's an abdication of responsibility. If the vehicle is good enough, by luck, to make the round trip it's somehow a supernatural event?

No. This is the designers and planners and builders and maintainers who put together a complex set of systems. If they all did their job right, the risk should be so low that nobody feels the need to say 'Godspeed.'

This isn't a flame, and it's not meant as flame-bait. It's just that when people say 'Godspeed' they're really misplacing their wish for a safe journey whose responsibility is far more in our hands, and we should give credit to those engineers that made all the past successes happen.


The shuttle launched. What are the engineers supposed to do now? they can't monitor and know what is happening on every inch of the shuttle, or do much about it if they did. You seem to think that the engineers can account for and control every variable in a shuttle mission. It's that kind of attitude that keeps space exploration held back.

Re:Just want to say... (0)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657851)

Wow... And the troll I expected was a wish for the crew to die on re-entry to motivate NASA to replace the shuttle...

Yes, the word I chose did have religious overtones for anyone willfully blind enough to overlook the modern usage. No, I did not abdicate responsibility for Discovery's flight to some invisible friend. I'm terribly sorry to have chosen a word which piqued your overly developed case of offensensitivity.

Re:Just want to say... (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657879)

According to the Oxford Dictionary Godspeed is: an expression of good wishes to a person starting a journey

Re:Just want to say... (3, Insightful)

Ortega-Starfire (930563) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657988)

Godspeed is a nominalization of the phrase God speed (you), understanding which depends on two things: speed in this sense means 'to prosper; succeed', which is now archaic, but which is the original sense of the word; and the verb is subjunctive, expressing a wish, with the entire phrase meaning "may God cause you to succeed." Semantic parallels are such common expressions as God bless you or God forbid!; another nominalization is goddamn (as in "I don't give a good goddamn what you think"), shortened from God damn you.
http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=1 9980129 [randomhouse.com]

So Goddamn you for nitpicking something as simple as a phrase which in this day and age is just the same as saying "Good Luck."

Oh, Yeah. Godspeed!

Re:Just want to say... (1)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657732)

Amen to that!

Re:Just want to say... (2, Funny)

leathered (780018) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657841)

Godspeed, is that even faster than Ludicrous Speed?

Re:Just want to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657944)

Even God can't go faster than Godspeed. Or can He?

Re:Just want to say... (1)

bsdewhurst (986863) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657991)

I think the current fortune says it best
Ahead warp factor one, Mr. Sulu.

who cares? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657637)

when we can laugh at the crying krauts.

"The mst complex machine ever built, blaah, blaah" (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657640)

Still trying to drum up some backing.... Since when is complexity a good thing? The space shuttle is really far more complex than it needs to be and is far less reliable than it needs to be to do a proper job. While this complex machine falls part, Russian "pickup truck"-style space vehicles just get on with the job with little fanfare.

Re:"The mst complex machine ever built, blaah, bla (2, Funny)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657653)

Yeah, but do Russian spaceships have heated seats, air conditioning, all-leather interior, a 16-speaker sound system and all-nozzle drive?

Re:"The mst complex machine ever built, blaah, bla (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657677)

I believe that they still use pencils in space.

No, they don't... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657705)

It's a great urban legend, but it's not true.

At the beginning of the space race both the American and Russian astronauts used lead pencils. However they found that the leads tended to break, and could get short out electronics if they got lodged somewhere they shouldn't, not to mention striking an astronaut or being inhaled (never mind the lead/graphite dust). Fisher independently developed the pressurized "Fisher Space Pen" in 1965 and all American and Russian space flights since, have used it.

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp [snopes.com]

Re:No, they don't... (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657908)

Pencils can strike but a pen can't?

Re:No, they don't... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657927)

i think the parent was reffering to the broken off pencil "lead" striking someone a full pen or pencil is far more visible. This is probablly however the least of the worries anyway.

generally in "zero G" little bits (especially conductive ones) breaking off anything is a bad thing. they won't just fall to the floor but will instead move until they hit something, get wafted arround by air currents and moved arround (relative to the vehircle) by acceleration etc. This greatly increases the risk they will get somewhere they shouldn't.

note: a standard ballpoint will work fine in a presurised spacecraft the space pens main advantage is it will write in a vacum (it will also write any way up under the influence of gravity or similar forces)

Re:"The mst complex machine ever built, blaah, bla (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657708)

Complexity is exponentially proportional to cargo capacity and delta-V. You shouldn't call the Russian craft a pickup truck when it really doesn't have the horsepower (delta-V) to push the space station up. The russian spacecraft are more like a really reliable 4 cylinder coupe.

Re:"The mst complex machine ever built, blaah, bla (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657822)

You shouldn't call the Russian craft a pickup truck when it really doesn't have the horsepower (delta-V) to push the space station up. The russian spacecraft are more like a really reliable 4 cylinder coupe. - you mean you shouldn't call the Russian 4 cylinder coupe [russianspaceweb.com] but you then should call the Russian pickup truck [russianspaceweb.com]

Re:"The mst complex machine ever built, blaah, bla (1)

jpswensen (986851) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657856)

I guess what I was trying to say (as indicated by the website links you gave), is that the *really* reliable and often-launched Russian specraft does not have the delta-V and cargo capabilities that the shuttle does. In aerospace there are always trade-offs. The websites you gave show that very clearly. The Russian "pickup-truck" hasn't been launched since 1988.

Re:"The mst complex machine ever built, blaah, bla (3, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657819)

I'm not sure they're trying to say that it's a good thing in and of itself that the shuttle is complex, but rather to point out (rightly) that it's impressive that it works right on a fairly consistant basis.

I would be the last person to argue that the shuttle isn't overly complex. Because of the dueling priorities between NASA and the Pentagon during its design phases combined with the basic nature of design-by-committee, it ended up trying to do too many things. The shuttle is one of my favorite cautionary examples to bring up during requirements meetings because of this.

That aside, it's a serious mistake to take KISS too far -- this is something I see over and over again. Once you start diking complexity out of anything, it's always tempting to keep going even to the point where it starts impacting your actual goals (a fact which, in my experience, you won't realize until you go into testing, at which point you get to try and tack it back in at the expense of timelines, vast amounts of money and the jobs of easily-blamed underlings).

But I guess that's the value of experience.

Re:"The mst complex machine ever built, blaah, bla (2, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657824)

Unnecessary complexity is your enemy in any mission critical system. I don't know if it's necessary, but the Shuttle is capable of doing a lot more than the Russian launch vehicles. Hubble and the International Space Station were possible only because of the Shuttle's capability to allow extended spacewalks, as well as the use of the Canadarm.

Just the same, the next generation of American spacecraft should be based on the SRB/ET system but with a robust reentry/crew vehicle, and not one covered in glass. At some point complexity isn't your enemy as much as common sense should be your friend.

The Russians have done a great job, but the technology to take the leap to Mars or back to the moon is not going to come from the Russians, if only due to the lack of funding. I hope the US gets back on track.

It was a great success. (1)

adamlazz (975798) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657643)

I watched the launch on CNN, and I have to say, it was very successful. Over the years, I probably haven't seen a cleaner launch than that. It still amazes me that the shuttle can hit such speeds after such a geat time in the air. RETURN HOME SAFELY, DISCOVERY!

Re:It was a great success. (1, Funny)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657812)

RETURN HOME SAFELY, DISCOVERY!

Your caps aren't big enough for it to hear/read.
Maybe try to add bold...

Re:It was a great success. (1)

adamlazz (975798) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657835)

Thanks for the tip. I really should have thought of that. How is Discovery ever going to hear me?

It's not the launch that matters anymore (3, Insightful)

MrNougat (927651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657647)

Granted, a launch is the controlled ignition of the largest bottle rocket ever made, and that's dangerous. But isn't the primary concern these days the foam breaking off of the fuel tank and damaging heat tiles, which don't matter until re-entry? Post again when it's touched down on earth safely, please.

Re:It's not the launch that matters anymore (4, Insightful)

enitime (964946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657723)

"But isn't the primary concern these days the foam breaking off of the fuel tank and damaging heat tiles, which don't matter until re-entry?"


Probably mostly because that's what went wrong most recently. One shuttle has been lost during take-off, one during re-entry. I think is small sigh of relief that all is well so far is justified.

Re:It's not the launch that matters anymore (2, Informative)

nametaken (610866) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657737)

Apparently foam did break off the shuttle on launch today, twice, but during time windows that are unlikely to cause damage to the shuttle. I guess when they can determine that, it's reasonable to call it a successful launch.

I suppose we'll know for sure after they've landed safely though.

Re:It's not the launch that matters anymore (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657814)

Granted, a launch is the controlled ignition of the largest bottle rocket ever made, and that's dangerous. But isn't the primary concern these days the foam breaking off of the fuel tank and damaging heat tiles, which don't matter until re-entry?
Well, we've had two catastrophic failures, and one of them was at launch. The launches are supposed to be safe now, but they were also supposed to be safe before Challenger blew up.
Post again when it's touched down on earth safely, please.
No, post again when you have a vehicle with an acceptable failure rate. This vehicle has failed repeatedly, and twice killed it crew in the process. If you're serious about space travel, you shouldn't be cheering on this abortion of a space vehicle. You should be lobbying for funding for something that works.

worse than a bottle rocket (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657979)

The SRB fuel is very similar to a fertilizer bomb. Rockets of very similar composition have been known to detonate.

Rocket: aluminum powder fuel, powerful per-chlorate oxidizer, a tiny bit of iron catalyst, and a binder.

Bomb: aluminum/magnesium/diesel fuel, weaker nitrate oxidizer

The bomb needs a teaspoon of primary explosive to get it going... unless you are unlucky, as the residents of a Texas harbor town found out with the largest non-nuclear explosion.

I have to wonder, what if NASA gets unlucky? At the very least, I think the launch complex would be gone. The launch control buildings would be in mighty bad shape, even at two miles away, if the SRBs detonated.

The launch went great (5, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657654)

Lets hope the LANDING goes just as well.

A sad commentary (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657811)

"The launch went great"... so friggin what! After over 20 years of shuttle flying, a successful launch should be routine and not a newsworthy event.

It's not successful yet. (4, Insightful)

localroger (258128) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657671)

It's successful when it lands and the astronauts step back onto terra firma. Especially, as other comenters have already mentioned, given how swimmingly the last Columbia mission was going until the last few minutes.

Re:It's not successful yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657789)

From TFA:

Columbia was struck on launch by a large piece of insulation foam that punctured a hole in its left wing and left it open to the destructive superheated gases of re-entry.

So, no, Columbia was damaged on launch. That said, there's still plenty of room for things to go wrong.

It was a loud one ! (4, Interesting)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657678)

watched it live from my front yard in Titusville - the wind was perfect and it was the loudest launch I have heard in a long time - my garage door was rattling for a good 5 or 6 minutes - perfect launch for the 4th of July !!

Re:It was a loud one ! (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657715)

> watched it live from my front yard in Titusville - the wind was perfect and it was the loudest launch I have heard in a long time - my garage door was rattling for a good 5 or 6 minutes - perfect launch for the 4th of July !!

As long as Slashdot's a good 4 hours behind the times, let's get this outa the way too.

--- BEGIN INTERCEPTED TRANSMISSION ---
"Meh. Running Imperialist Lackey Dogs!
Their shuttle pales in comparison to the People's Glorious Three-Part Fireworks Display that Dear Leader has orchestrated downrange of Pyongyang!"

--- END INTERCEPTED TRANSMISSION ---

Perfect finish to the Fourth, indeed, even if I didn't get to see the Shuttle launch and didn't have a need to know what happened to the non-decoy part of Kim's little fireworks show :)

Nice try, Kim. No cigar. You still so ronery.

Yeah, it was safe... (5, Interesting)

caluml (551744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657679)

Yeah, it was a safe take-off. Apart from the 5 objects that fell off during the launch [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:Yeah, it was safe... (3, Informative)

Volanin (935080) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657703)

Very good explanation from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

There were reports on the BBC from NASA officials that four pieces of foam had broken off the fuel tank during take off, but these breakages were not considered to be too important, as they occured outside the "time window" of foam break off anticipated by NASA. If, for some reason, the Shuttle cannot safely return to Earth immediately, the astronauts can try to fix any damage using the machinery in the Shuttle, and, if this were to fail, the astronauts would be able to stay on the ISS for up to 80 days. In preparation for such an occurence, the SRB's and External tank for Atlantis are coupled inside the VAB; the Orbiter available for launch within 50 days.

Re:Yeah, it was safe... (3, Interesting)

Helvick (657730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657733)

And the rather large piece of debris spotted by the crew [spaceflightnow.com] - possible piece of insulating blanket from the orbiter itself 5-6 feet long.

Re:Yeah, it was safe... (3, Informative)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657839)

Which if you read your link was reported harmless....it was a piece of ice.

I missed it! (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657686)

I missed it because I was at work :( So sad. Ah well - I did feel the tiny earthquake that occured two hours later, that was neat. :)

Debris... (2, Informative)

GFree (853379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657688)

...possibly foam insulation has been seen falling off the shuttle during launch.

Hmm. I forget whether this is classified as "normal" or serious for a shuttle.

Re:Debris... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657842)

It's like a used car... it's normal in that condition..

Or like a used girl, it's.. well.. be careful!

Now, do you compare a phallic shaped craft to a car of a girl...

I gotta give NASA one thing... (4, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657694)

Even given how outdated, expensive, failure-prone and downright dangerous the Space Shuttle is, they're still pretty goddamn sweet looking when they lift off.

I hope to Christ they get through these last few shuttle missions without a problem and manage to stick the remaining three in museums where they belong.

Re:I gotta give NASA one thing... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657907)

My father has 8mm film of a saturn 5 launch. Those made the shuttle launch look pretty darn pitiful.

No disrespect to the shuttle and it's crew, but we have launched a far greater rocket into space, and those were far more dangerous than flying on 20 shuttle launch and return missions. It was a miracle that no Saturn 5 rockets had a mishap and took out most of the cape.

Re:I gotta give NASA one thing... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657963)

Doesn't the absence of Saturn V accidents imply that it was more reliable than the Shuttle?

More to look forward too (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657939)

Even given how outdated, expensive, failure-prone and downright dangerous the Space Shuttle is, they're still pretty goddamn sweet looking when they lift off.

Agreed. The video footage during ascent is amazing.

The planned Ares V [nasa.gov] should continue the tradition of spectacular launches. It will use 2 shuttle-derived 5 segment solid rocket boosters and 5 (!) RS-68 [boeing.com] H2/O2 engines that burn even more colorfully [spaceflightnow.com] than the shuttle SSMEs. Should be a great show at night.

This is great and all but (5, Insightful)

Kazzahdrane (882423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657734)

I wish space exploration was advancing faster. It seems sad that in this, the 21st century, the world's superpowers are still spending vast sums of money on killing other humans, instead of seeing what's beyond our own back yard. It's a really geeky thing to say I know, but I often wish I'd been born a few centuries later, and had the chance to live the Star Trek life. A lifetime of exploring space sounds great to me.

On a more serious note, I've often thought of manned deep space exploration as a bit of a Catch 22. I think it's the sort of thing that could really bring humanity together and encourage us to look past our differences and work together towards a common goal - but then I also think that we couldn't achieve a united deep space exploration programme until humanity learned to work together ans set aside our petty squabbles.

I'm holding out for a discovery of some kind that will shunt the human race into a new era of enlightenment, but I doubt I'll see it in my lifetime.

Re:This is great and all but (1)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657765)

On a more serious note, I've often thought of manned deep space exploration as a bit of a Catch 22. I think it's the sort of thing that could really bring humanity together and encourage us to look past our differences and work together towards a common goal - but then I also think that we couldn't achieve a united deep space exploration programme until humanity learned to work together ans set aside our petty squabbles.

There's no reason to think so. Discovery of Americas and colonization of Asia and Africa didn't result in peace and cooperation among the European nations. Quite contrary, many European wars fought between 16. and early 20. century were a direct result of colonization related conflicts. Personally, while I enjoy space opera as a genre, I'd rather NOT see wars between space colonies.

Re:This is great and all but (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657911)

Personally, while I enjoy space opera as a genre, I'd rather NOT see wars between space colonies.

Given history and a lot of the space opera/scifi I've read, war between space colonies would be unlikely. MUCH more likely would be war between Space Colonies and Earth where earth gets a couple a great big rocks droped on it from above.

Re:This is great and all but (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657918)

the world's superpowers are still spending vast sums of money on killing other humans, instead of seeing what's beyond our own back yard.

it will not stop until people stop accepting people like Bush as a leader.

People dont care about grand thinker ideas. they care about getting a Bigger SUV, bigger house and bigger TV for their bedroom. Oh and they like to wave a flag once in a while to make believethey are "patriotic".

Remember money = power.

you dont get money without stepping on people.

Re:This is great and all but (1)

fozzy1015 (264592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657967)

I wish space exploration was advancing faster. It seems sad that in this, the 21st century, the world's superpowers are still spending vast sums of money on killing other humans, instead of seeing what's beyond our own back yard. It's a really geeky thing to say I know, but I often wish I'd been born a few centuries later, and had the chance to live the Star Trek life. A lifetime of exploring space sounds great to me.

I know, it's a little frustrating when you realize how far apart things are in space. That, matched with the political pressure to constantly cut funding to NASA means you're going to get a lot of skepticism of space flight in general. It's not cheap, it's not easy. We've done orbital flights plenty of times, even put a space station up there. We were lucky to have a moon that was pretty close and we were able to land there. Past the moon though, everything is a lot farther apart. The next step would be a manned mission to Mars but the hurdles and amount of funding required to overcome them are so great that not many politicians think it's a wise place to spend money.

Although I understand people having problems with how much we spend on keeping the ISS functional, there is one very important reason of having it. So we can study the long term effects of weightlessness on people. Any sort of manned mission to another planet is going to have to face and overcome this problem, unless an spacecraft is made to generate it artificially.

Thank God... (3, Funny)

InfinityWpi (175421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657740)

I can only imagine the bad-taste jokes that would have happened if there has been an accident.

"Why doesn't NASA have 4th of July BBQs anymore?"
"They can't convince any of the astronauts to show up."

"New from TNT Fireworks: The Discovery! The biggest bang for your bucks! Fits any space-exploration budget!"

MY PIECE OF S**T CAR (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657743)

Every time I go to the grocery store in my piece of **** car, to buy some beer and smokes, I too leave with a thunderous blast and cloud of smoke, rattling my own garage door for 5 minutes... and I'm guaranteed on every trip that at least 5 objects fall off my car as well.

In fact, everyone knows in my neighborhood I'm about to do a launnch, because I have to run an air compressor to pump up the bald back tires... they gather in lawn chairs to watch and kids on bicycles patrol the streets like F15's to make sure my air space is clear.

If I tune the radio just right I can pick up Rush Limbaugh, which is as close as I get to mission control.

Once it caught on fire, and darn near well exploded. I had to pop the hood right quick and jump on there and take a good p*** on the fuel rail which was on fire... took everything I got to put that one out. That was Grocery Trip number 13. I guess it was jinxed by the number. I hear Ron Howards planning on making a movie short about that trip. I had to patch up the fuel rail with some duck tape and used condoms I found behind the back seat.

You know, buck for buck, I believe the American public gets more drama and excitement out of my car then they do some old space shuttle. With the front end alignment being as shot out as it is, I know it gives me plenty of excitement on the turnpike, jumping all over as it does

Re:MY PIECE OF S**T CAR (1)

mlow82 (889294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657941)

Once it caught on fire, and darn near well exploded. I had to pop the hood right quick and jump on there and take a good p*** on the fuel rail which was on fire...
I hope you missed the wires connecting the battery! That is the last way anyone wants to be electrocuted.

Kaboom! (3, Funny)

ArtfulDodger75 (943980) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657749)

Where's the kaboom? There was supposed to be an Earth shattering kaboom!

Re:Kaboom! (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657949)

Up here in Daytona Beach, it was at about 1444 EDT.

Online Broadcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15657768)

Watched the online broadcast, looks like everything went without a hitch.

http://www.uncoverip.com/ [uncoverip.com]

Beautiful naked-eye sight (4, Informative)

product byproduct (628318) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657773)

Since the shuttle is going to dock with the ISS, make sure you check on Heavens-Above [heavens-above.com] for ISS and STS-121 sightings from your city in the next few days. The best time is just before they dock (or right after they separate) because then you see two small dots in the sky racing in close formation.

worth defending (4, Insightful)

Inspector Lopez (466767) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657846)

In an era in which a larger world can be frustrated by other actions of the United States, take some comfort in physicist Robert Wilson's testimony to Congress in 1969 to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, when he was asked to explain why the United States should fund a very expensive atom smasher. Wilson had already explained that the atom smasher wouldn't do much at all for the defense of the United States, but Wilson continued,
It has only to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of men, our love of culture. It has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.

There are seven people on board that rocket today, they are smarter than you or I, and harder working, and they have seen 14 others go to their deaths on the same craft.

So: let's all do something to make ourselves worth defending, okay?

Disappointed..... (4, Insightful)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657857)

Listen: SPACEFLIGHT IS DANGEROUS!!!! If you wait until everything is 100 percent safe, you will never leave the ground. I am glad someone at NASA had the balls to risk it. We have impotant work to do in space that will need humans. If we are ever to have colonies on the Mars or the Moon we have to risk it. It's just the same as Lewis and Clark, Christopher Columbus and John Cabot. If noone in Europe ever came here, none of us would be here to celebrate Independence Day. I am proud to be a American even if the American's on Slashdot aren't.

More space missions (1)

BRUTICUS (325520) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657910)

I think it's time to realize that the human race is in the middle of a race right now. A race between our technology rescuing us from ourselves and our technology dooming us.

The only way we can win is to attempt to save ourselves. Begin settling elsewhere on the moon, on mars in space stations. We should be thinking for the HERD right now. We have a natural responsibility to defend ourselves, our familes, our herd, our species and something else. LIFE IN GENERAL. If we destroy our Earth the brand of life we know to be inhabitting it will be gone forever.

I say it's about time we consider the consequences to our technology and prepare for what may lie ahead.

NASA's MP4 video file of the space shuttle launch! (4, Informative)

antdude (79039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657932)

Click here [nasa.gov] to download the 16.3 MB MP4 video file. It is about 3 minutes and 22 seconds long. Awesome stuff.

404 error... Try this download link. (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657938)

Oops. Looks like it was renamed. Try this one [nasa.gov] .

Video link with full audio and ET jettison (1)

fozzy1015 (264592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657945)

http://www.emergencyemail.org/nasawang3.asp [emergencyemail.org]

One video on NASA's site shows the complete launch but no audio. The other shows just the first part of the launch but with audio(including the cool sound of the orbiter engines ingiting).

The most complex machine? (2, Interesting)

nullset (39850) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657952)

Why does NASA insist that the shuttle is the most complex machine humans have built?

The shuttles are decades old...surely someone somewhere has built some much more complex machines....

So, what's more complex than the shuttle?

Re:The most complex machine? (4, Funny)

jc42 (318812) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657980)

Some time last year, I saw the same claim made for Windows Vista.

Of course, since then, they've cut back on major new features. So maybe now it isn't the most complex thing that humans have ever built.

But there are many ways to define complexity. Someone at MS (or one of their detractors) is probably right now working on a definition that will restore the claim.

The dangers of going into space (2, Insightful)

biggomez777 (948763) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657976)

I've seen a lot of of comments about the dangers of going into space, and I wonder when crossed the line from being safety conscious to being just paranoid. This is an inherently dangerous job, performed by people who are more than aware of the risks involved. There comes a point where you just have to depend that everyone has done their job, and pray for the best. This decision isn't made by the engineers on the ground, or the public, but by those in the shuttle agreeing to go up. 5 things fell off the shuttle? So what. What about things falling off the shuttle BEFORE a piece destroyed one? My bets say that it happened, and nothing happened. There's a line, and we've crossed it.

Don't we have the technology to.. (1)

ytana999 (829905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15657982)

keep foam from falling off? It doesn't seem to be rocket science. Do we need a breakthrough in glue technology? Can't they screw them on?
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