Re: Re. (...) Economic Role of Manned Space Stations
Wed, 21 Jul 1999 00:51:11 EDT

>>I was talking about using a _preexisting_ space technology. Note the word

>I really don't understand what you're talking about here: first you say you
>were, as I implied, talking about using the preexisting shuttle, then you
>say that actually you'd have to alter it substantially.

Not necessarily all that substantially, and I think it could be done more cheaply than you think, if we were in need of a moonship in a hurry.

>>Obviously the shuttle, as is, is not an ideal interplanetary
>>craft, but there are a number of modifications that could make it worth a
>>lunar flight.

>And, previously you said:
>>>a retrofitted Shuttle would make an ideal vehicle for shipping
>>>hardware to the Moon

>Ok, you rip off the wings, you rip off the tail, you replace the life support
>system with something which can operate for longer, you throw away the SSMEs
>and replace them with something like RL-10s, you fill the cargo bay with
>tanks, you rip out the wheels and install landing legs, you fit more engines


The wings become superfluous. You strap on some fuel tanks, refit the cargo pay for enhanced life support and fly the thing into lunar orbit and back. It never lands; you have a lander ready to go in the cargo bay. I never said this was elegant, only that it was workable. Interestingly, there's a new book out called "Return to the Moon," in which (from reading the jacket) a shuttle (!) is hijacked to the Moon. This discussion was never meant to be more than an exerise in feasibility. And the bottom line is: it's doable. I consider it an option worth looking into, especially in an era that's not particularly interested in building spacecraft from scratch.

>And in your universe, this is "an ideal vehicle for shipping hardware to the
>Moon." Right.

Not ideal, but workable in a pinch.

>>And don't call me a Mars Face "believer." I don't "believe" anything about
>>the Mars Face; I _think_ that it deserves more attention.

>Look, the 'Mars Face' is a rock, and a pretty dull and ordinary rock at

If it is a mere rock, and I'm perfectly willing to accept that, it's a wondrous landform that suggests the presence of a very-near primeval ocean, hydothermal activity and a host of other geological mechanisms--all in the same mile-long mesa. It's definitely a hot piece of scientific real estate, by any geological standards.

>The only reason it's getting the slightest bit of attention is because
>in the early low-resolution photos it looked a little bit like a face
>because of the low resolution and the lighting angle and the foo freaks
>on that as support for their bizarre beliefs. If we'd seen it first in the
>current high-resolution photos no-one would have given it the slightest
>thought. The Mars Smiley Face and the Io Rubber Chicken are far more
>convincing than anything Hoagland and his followers have come up with.

"Freaks"..."followers"..."bizarre beliefs"...

I've noted a persistent inability to deal with the Martian oddities in terms other than the lunatic fringe. This is very familiar, from the most cursory examination of the history of scientific inquiry. Just because something has been featured in the tabloid press doesn't mean it's not real--only that the tabloid press is using a tissue of reality to sell a ludicrous final cloth of lies to the gullible.

Everyone who's posted on this subject automatically assumes the "Face" is a false unknown created and perpetuated by one Richard Hoagland. This is a myth. The Face was first brought to attention by NASA itself, though it quickly explained it as a "trick of light and shadow" without consulting the other existing image in their files (which, as it turned out, confirmed a facial resemblance at a radically different sun-angle).

The controversy was revived by a paper called "Unsual Martian Surface Features" by Vincent DiPeitro and Gregory Molenaar. Hoagland is actually sort of a latecomer.

--Mac Tonnies