Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Penultimate Shuttle Endeavour, STS 130, Flight

The shuttle stands proud on the pad. Gently lit, steely and strong. Pulsating with potential energy, one of the most forceful inventions of man. She breathes deep, looks around and considers her fate.

This is the second to last flight of this shuttle. It will fly once more and then NASA will shut it all down. Some speculate that NASA is lost. That the cancellation of constellation is a shock instead of a practical retraction from the heady days of the bush era (one of the few we've actually recieved). I mean who isn't happy to be rid of an idea which revived the passion and furvor of early 1950s design styles ?
I am glad its gone. I look forward to the future; spacex, virgin, bigleow, with nasa subsidizing and funding development at home and around the globe. Hopefully, soon we will have a group mission to the moon a truly international crew and mandate. Personally I think NASA should focus on R&D, funding and subsidizing private operations until the industry can stand up on its own. Very similar things happened with almost every large industry in canada and they have been, on the whole, successful by any international standard. In america where the economy and government are somewhat more open than Canada, I think it makes sense to support the private sector. It has built itself up to a viable entity and the government should sanction and support it.

Endeavour has a great history. The shuttle has docked with MIR and the ISS both. It has played a major role in the history of human spaceflight. With functions ranging from the launching of satellites to the assembly of the ISS Endeavour will ever be remembered as a reliable and dependable unit.

The delivery of the eye node is a big step forward. It will allow a VFR overview of operaions. this can be used for flight control and construction supervision or supervision of walks, etc. more still it may also function as a testbed for tourists of short duration. People who can stop in for a day or two take a look sit in the command area, Chat with their friends online and return home. The command area makes it feel much more comfortable. It also makes it look much cooler.

I think they should put the shuttles to use. I know one or two should be taken away to museums, but I would love to see one left in space, either for later activation or to be anchored to the ISS and used as an auditorium or a huge addition of space. I am sure it could work and it would be a nice, cost effective addition. I think we should consider the further use of the shuttles in a less traditional role.

But on the whole, I think Obamas people get it. They can do alot, they can invest in the schools and research today that can really change tomorrow. I dont think we need a date and direction. If we can make an engine to travel to different star systems, then why goto the moon only, if we can only go two or three times our current speed, Mars will be most viable. But I do like the idea of an international moon mission, not primarily american anymore. It would look good for america to woo other nations into a more formal international space development agency.

I guess we will have to wait and see. Even this launch is currently red... only a couple hours left... maybe global cooperation for the peaceful and effective exploration of space is a bit much to hope for. Maybe not.

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