Skip to comments.Of Space Shuttles and Pyramids
Posted on 07/26/2011 9:30:30 AM PDT by Shout Bits
The final Space Shuttle mission ended last week, amidst calls for Washington to cut spending. The Shuttle program cost over $200bln, not to mention 14 lives, while giving little in return. Clearly a Shuttle launch was a majestic site; no one had ever assembled a machine so complicated that had to perform perfectly. Still, at over $400 million per pop, these are expensive warm-fuzzy moments.
The Shuttles accomplishments were few. They launched satellites that could have been delivered to orbit cheaper by unmanned rockets. They built a space station that replaced an existing station both of which served no purpose that unmanned experiments cannot fulfill.
Similarly, the Shuttles failures were many. Due to basic design flaws, they twice failed, killing all on board. Their reusable design philosophy held back engineering advances for decades. The next generation of space vehicles starkly resembles the Apollo modules. Because of the political investment in a space plane, it will take forty years to return to the Apollo solution that was first and best. Imagine if the Shuttle engineers had spent the past forty years perfecting the capsule rather than patching a design that quickly proved to be deeply flawed.
All of the interesting exploration and scientific inquiry of the past thirty years has been done by robots. Pork barrel pols could have directed similar funding to unmanned missions with the same political benefits. Even professed fiscal conservatives loved the Shuttles, but why? Nationalism drives governments to create spectacles of their power, even if they are a waste of money.
Perhaps the greatest display of waste in the name of a nationalistic pride is the Egyptian Pyramids. The Pyramids served no purpose other than to demonstrate the power of Egypts dictators, and they wasted the labor and talents of generations of men. Likewise, the US does not need a manned space program; it serves no purpose other than to pump nationalist pride. Without the Shuttle, the talents of thousands of the USs best minds can now be put to better purposes.
Spectacles of power do not befit the US, because at its finest, it is not a nation of nationalism. Placing a few men on the Moon pales in comparison to the USs great accomplishments. The US invented the free individual, teaching the world that The People can rule their government, the inverse of thousands of years history; the US doubled life expectancy through its medical innovations; the US eliminated starvation throughout the world, except where dictators like Stalin and Mao murder their own people; the average American lives a life of greater comfort than did Egypts pharos. None of these accomplishments involved a central plan. None of these accomplishments came with a grandiose spectacle of government might. These accomplishments are a testament to freedom and the power of the individual, and they are inherently not nationalistic because they are open to anyone who will have them.
NASA claimed the last Shuttle launch as a symbol of a great nation. No doubt a few pharos made the same claims about their Pyramids, but that is the mindset of a central power. When the final book is written about the US, the Moon landings and NASA will surely be mentioned, but the bulk of the history will be wonderment at how a few powerless colonies transformed the world in the blink of historys eye. To whatever extent abandoning the Space Shuttle shifts US pride away from a symbol like the Space Shuttle, and toward the USs unique purpose, all the better.
“The Pyramids served no purpose other than to demonstrate the power of Egypts dictators, and they wasted the labor and talents of generations of men. Likewise, the US does not need a manned space program; it serves no purpose other than to pump nationalist pride. Without the Shuttle, the talents of thousands of the USs best minds can now be put to better purposes.”
The shuttle may not have been the best avenue for manned spaceflight, but I can’t agree with any of the above.
Everyone discounts the military value of the shuttle program.
We had the ability to go to orbit and pluck the military satellites of other countries literally out of thin air.
We could, at will, blind an enemy and make their sat guided weaponry useless.
Unfortunately, this ability is now past tense.
WTF is our unique purpose???? So much stupidity in this article for the brain to comprehend.
Congratulations, you have a rare talent. I usually reserve my desire to sling indignant epithets at liberals.
Pres. Reagan said the US was a city on a hill, which is a metaphor for this purpose.
I guess the article was too stupid for that to have been made clear.
That once was the case, not so much now.
Yeah let’s abandon all space exploration, that way when the earth inevitably becomes uninhabitable (next ice age, large rock, polar reversal, sun turns off, all of these things WILL happen at some point) we’re all still stuck here and the entire epoch of human history will have been completely pointless.
Space exploration is the only thing that really matters. Anybody that doesn’t think that is thinking short term.
Really? Maybe you should do a little more research.
The Space Shuttle and International Space Station were never used for their original designed and intended purpose. The Carter Administration scaled back the program and changed its purpose and use. So, for whatever shortcoming you find in the accomplishments of the Shuttle program, take it up with the libs.
Not if they were booby-trapped!
While you make some good points, the USAF doesn't care for the
manned space program. In fact, they were quite pleased when
Challenger gave them an excuse to not use the
shuttle for polar launches.
I remember people 30 years ago blaming the military for how
expensive the shuttle was (DOD requirements...) at the time.
OTOH, back when Art Bell was around, I'd normally discount
Hoagland, but he did tell an anecdote about von Braun when
the shuttle was approved by Congress.
While vB was happy for the funding to continue, he was dismayed
that it was for the worst design compromise in terms of
safety, as the Challenger/Columbia disasters proved.
(And Jack Garn's hands aren't clean either)
Any way, I wouldn't be surprised if new satellites are booby-trapped for self-destruction in some way.
The USAF had a project named DYNASOAR that would have allowed for a reusable lifting-body for reentry. It was superseded by NASA rockets of the Mercury/Gemini projects.
Perhaps the way to go is to revive the concept of a small lifting-body for manned access to low-earth orbit, while cargo went atop conventional, unmanned systems? It would come down to cost... and I’d guess that a capsule is just cheaper & safer.
You want to abandon ALL space enterprise?
They served to empower the Pharaoh through the phony religion that claimed he was a god.
What research am I missing? Surely you are not talking about space aliens or pyramid power? That is silly.
That was sarcasm, hence the mentioning of the inevitability of the destruction of earth, and the second para about space exploration being the only thing that actually matters.
Hits on all points, Shout Bits. The screeching you hear is from he crowd of out-of-work buggy whip manufacturers, and those who still use them.
Good Grief! Read the whole posting before you show your ass!
Obama changed the objective to a Muslim outreach program. It failed at that, too.
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