Atom Wave: The Repeat Failures of Spaceflight

Atom Wave

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Repeat Failures of Spaceflight

Everything that has happened before will happen again. Take the Space Shuttle, Americas poster child of technical skill; and a bomb of a spacecraft built by committee. It all began back in 1969 at the end of the Apollo Program, when NASA proposed building a fully reusable spacecraft to replace the Saturn 5. It never did happen, but in the following years NASA, Congress, the Pentagon, and the Nixon Administration built a far inferior spacecraft than they could of. Consider one of the early proposals that used a Saturn 5 rocket first stage in place of the External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters that brought the Challenger and Columbia to grief.

Something like this could have stopped the Challenger from exploding in the first place, given as liquid rockets seldom fail catastrophically and can be shut down. Likewise, top mounted payloads are not susceptible to foam loss from boosters damaging thermal insulation.

Now NASA is building the Ares 1, essentially a shuttle solid rocket booster with a top mounted crew capsule and upper stage, potentially repeating all of the earlier mistakes and adding one new one. Early results show that the ride will be truly jaw breaking, maybe more than an astronaut can survive. Good job!


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