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Space Team Reunites for John Glenn's Friendship 7

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | more than 2 years ago

NASA 1

Hugh Pickens writes writes "An era begins to pass as only about 25 percent of today's American population were at least 5 years old when John Glenn climbed into the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule on Feb. 20, 1962 and became the first American to orbit the earth. This weekend John Glenn joined the proud, surviving veterans of NASA’s Project Mercury to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his historic orbital flight as Glenn and Scott Carpenter, the two surviving members of the original astronaut corps, thanked the retired Mercury workers, now in their 70s and 80s, who gathered with their spouses at the Kennedy Space Center to swap stories, pose for pictures and take a bow. “There are a lot more bald heads and gray heads in that group than others, but those are the people who did lay the foundation,” said 90-year-old Glenn. Norm Beckel Jr., a retired engineer who also was in the blockhouse that historic morning, said almost all the workers back then were in their 20s and fresh out of college. The managers were in their 30s. "I don’t know if I’d trust a 20-year-old today." Bob Schepp, 77, was reminded by the old launch equipment of how rudimentary everything was back then. “I wonder how we ever managed to launch anything in space with that kind of stuff,” said Schepp. “Everything is so digital now. But we were pioneers, and we made it all work.”"

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"Rudimentary" doesn't have to mean bad... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39094721)

Generally speaking, it seems that sophisticated and elaborate approaches don't really work out here (STS being probably the flagship example - it didn't really deliver any of its promises and premises, its basic concept was probably obsolete even before it seriously got onto drawing boards - with, say, automatic rendezvous and docking performed already in the 60s - but it devoured the funds; and the whole "spaceplane" idea was, a short decade after Mercury, pushed largely by such then young people ...perhaps partly due to some peculiar reasons [slashdot.org] ).
Maybe gradual refinements are a better approach... (and anyway, "rudimentary" doesn't really exclude ~"digital" - which can and is gradually incorporated into such)

R-7 rocket, the very first ICBM (not a very good ICBM, not very practical in this role - typically minimum day-long launch preparations after "go ahead" and likely longer, with their policy back then of storing warheads and rockets separately), turned out to be a fabulous launcher - notably of Sputnik, also early Luna, Venera & Mars probes. Or of Yuri Gagarin...

...and in fact, rockets from R-7 family [wikipedia.org] launched every Soviet or Russian manned mission (and many other satellites - it is "the most reliable ... most frequently used launch vehicle in the world" [esa.int] & among least expensive ones; with a new launch complex just inaugurated in Guiana, a century of service seems well within its grasp).
Also an example of how NOT "everything is so digital now" - the still most commonly used versions of Soyuz (also those used in every manned mission) have old style, analogue guidance systems.

Yes, ~"but R-7 is from 'other' space agency" and such - well, maybe not quite: after all, US astronauts launch exclusively on Soyuz now... (plus "rudimentary" & as basic as possible approach has its revival, it will be what puts next humans into orbit on US-based launch)
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