Re: SPACE: space shuttle

Spike Jones (
Tue, 10 Aug 1999 23:48:05 -0700

> wrote: <snip>... The flexible
> joint between the fuel element and the nozzle must encompass some truly
> amazing materials science, . . . these monkey-men certainly are clever . . .

Greg, heres a spin that you may not have heard. A lot of us space guys agree our space shuttle is really an ugly solution to the problem of getting to space. I have uttered blasphemies against it myself, but lets look at it for just one minute. When we really examine the space shuttle, we must give credit were it is due. That is one hell of a sophisticated collection of hardware. It is amazing in a lotta ways.

My first vehicle was a Ford pickup truck. I gave 600 dollars for it in 1977. It was ugly, used ancient technology when it was assembled in 1967, was expensive to operate, but when you look at it piece by piece, it too contained an impressive collection of technology. Could we start right now, all of us extropians, and build from scratch a vehicle comparable to a 67 Ford? I think the attempt would give us new respect.

Likewise with the space shuttle. Certainly has its shortcomings, 60s vintage technology, (magnetic core memory on the computers, fer cryin out loud, still!) expensive to operate, and yet, well, we have it. It does carry stuff to orbit, and like my old truck, it works about 99% of the time.

I was interested in the recent thread on taking the beast to the moon. OK, whereas the shuttle cant do that (any more than my 67 Ford could beat a corvette) the shuttle *could* be used to lift a bunch of stuff that *could* be used to assemble a decent moon bound craft in LEO. That thread from a few months ago (that got me thrown into a large number of kill files, from which I have yet to emerge {8-[... ) about sending a single tiny woman to Mars was based on the notion of using the shuttle to lift the stuff for on-orbit assembly. That idea seems much more worthwhile than the space station.

Greg, thanks for reminding me of Estes rockets. I had a ball with those things while growing up. {8-] spike