NASA is replacing the shuttle. The Orion Spacecraft was announced by accident today. They were originally going to announce it August 31, but an astronaut used a non-secure feed when he made the pre-recorded announcement.
I have never thought the shuttle a good idea. It’s too big and too fragile. I think a smaller vehicle, more like a conventional airplane, would be better.
NASA, however, is going back to an Apollo looking device and will be using it for a long term moon base – I hope they call it Luna City.
The new craft is scheduled to launch in 2010.
Heinlein said: Once you get to earth orbit, you’re halfway to anywhere in the solar system.
But Von Braun said: Our two greatest problems are gravity and paper work. We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.
There are numerous novels and short stories from the late 40s and early 5os that were inspired by a series of articles Willie Ley did for Astounding Stories. Ley was present when the army tested the captured V2 rockets. He was impressed with the fact that they worked, for the most part. It was obvious that these rockets, with a little tweaking, could make it into space.
Heinlein and others wrote about private companies that seized upon this technology and went out to visit the moon and explore the solar system. I don’t know why this never happened. The technology is not that hard. I guess that there was no obvious profit in it. We had to wait for the X-Prize to fullfill the Science Fictional meme.
NASA is now in competition from China, Japan, Great Britain, India and a bunch of consortiums. I wonder if the private sector will talk about anything other than serving tourism?
I have been looking for a while for a job with a space company – one that is directly involved in private exploration of space. You would think that one would need a good programmer with a SF viewpoint and background in Math. I haven’t found anything, yet. I have applied to NASA a few times and a NASA job is about the only job that I would take a major cut in pay and move for – so far no luck.