Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Selling The Family Silver

The US space agency NASA is clearing out the pantry...
selling off space suppers and heat tiles from its now-retired shuttles. The astronaut food's ready to rocket, just add water and warm up. And the tiles (which protected shuttles from re-entry heat) could make good fireside hearths... US$23.40 for a pack of tiles, US$28 for a three-pack of Space Foods. So
Don't forget milk on the way home!
Don't forget milk on the way home!
how much for a complete launch system then?
The shuttle programme wrapped up last July after three decades. Russia’s now the only nation that can fly folk to the International Space Station (ISS), until US private industry (or Richard Branson) can whip up another option in the coming years. And a Russian ISS cargo delivery costs US$50-60 million! But in August a Russky rocket failed to reach orbit and crashed, grounding the problem-plagued programme for checks.
“Moscow, ve haf a problem.”
So NASA’s garage sale could prove useful. After all, each shuttle had about 21,000 heat tiles, so do the maths: 21,000 x US$23.40 x the number of shuttles they'll dismantle = just enough for some duct tape to hold the Soyuz rockets together!
…or perhaps the coffee bill for the endless gripe sessions of the US Senate Committee on Science, Space, and Technology!
Armstrong today
Just last week, Neil Armstrong (first man on the moon, Apollo 11, 1969) told the committee that the end of the space shuttles leaves the US human spaceflight programme in a "lamentably embarrassing" state, with no US access to and from the ISS for an unpredictable time: “For a country that invested so much for so long to achieve a leadership position in space...this is unacceptable."
Thoughts echoed by Eugene Cernan (commander of Apollo 17, last man to walk the Big Cheese in 1972): "Get the shuttle out of the garage and put it back in service. It's in the prime of its life, how could we just put it away?"
President Obama canceled the moon programme and told NASA to focus on getting men to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030. Cernan thinks that’s a "mission to nowhere" (tell that to Bruce Willis! ) and urged NASA to return to the Moon.
Armstrong: "A lead, however expensively won, once lost is nearly impossible to regain."
It would raise a cynical snort if, should the Yanks ever return to the moon, they're invited to yum cha at the Chinese base - yum cha with NASA food!
PS: 29 Sept.2011 - China has successfully launched its first space lab...

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