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Of Space Shuttles and Pyramids
Shout Bits Blog ^ | 07/26/11 | Shout Bits

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 Egypt’s 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 US’s 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 US’s 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 Egypt’s 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 history’s eye. To whatever extent abandoning the Space Shuttle shifts US pride away from a symbol like the Space Shuttle, and toward the US’s unique purpose, all the better.


TOPICS: Politics
KEYWORDS: blogpimp; blogwhore; dumbblog; egypt; nasa; nationalism; pimpingmyblog; pimpmyblog; pyramids; science; spaceshuttle
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1 posted on 07/26/2011 9:30:34 AM PDT by Shout Bits
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To: Shout Bits

“The Pyramids served no purpose other than to demonstrate the power of Egypt’s 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 US’s 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.


2 posted on 07/26/2011 9:35:44 AM PDT by DonaldC (A nation cannot stand in the absence of religious principle.)
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To: Shout Bits; tx_eggman

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.


3 posted on 07/26/2011 9:36:07 AM PDT by SpinnerWebb (In 2012 you will awaken from your HOPEnosis and have no recollection of this... "Constitution")
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To: Shout Bits
and toward the US’s unique purpose,

WTF is our unique purpose???? So much stupidity in this article for the brain to comprehend.

4 posted on 07/26/2011 9:37:57 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Shout Bits

Congratulations, you have a rare talent. I usually reserve my desire to sling indignant epithets at liberals.


5 posted on 07/26/2011 9:41:53 AM PDT by douginthearmy
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To: dfwgator
The US’s unique purpose is to set an example of freedom for the world. Unique because nobody else has ever done it. Ever, over about 8,000 years of civilization.

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.

6 posted on 07/26/2011 9:44:45 AM PDT by Shout Bits
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To: SpinnerWebb
The US has the ability to destroy satellites using a few different methods. The Shuttle is not needed.
7 posted on 07/26/2011 9:45:56 AM PDT by Shout Bits
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To: Shout Bits
The US’s unique purpose is to set an example of freedom for the world. Unique because nobody else has ever done it. Ever, over about 8,000 years of civilization.

That once was the case, not so much now.

8 posted on 07/26/2011 9:47:47 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Shout Bits

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.


9 posted on 07/26/2011 9:53:42 AM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: Shout Bits
The Pyramids served no purpose other than to demonstrate the power of Egypt’s dictators, and they wasted the labor and talents of generations of men.

Really? Maybe you should do a little more research.

10 posted on 07/26/2011 9:56:56 AM PDT by numberonepal (Palin/West 2012)
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To: Shout Bits

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.


11 posted on 07/26/2011 9:57:44 AM PDT by CharlyFord (t)
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To: SpinnerWebb
We had the ability to go to orbit and pluck the military satellites of other countries literally out of thin air.

Not if they were booby-trapped!

12 posted on 07/26/2011 10:01:57 AM PDT by Tallguy (You can safely ignore anything that precedes the word "But"...)
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To: SpinnerWebb
Everyone discounts the military value of the shuttle program.

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.

13 posted on 07/26/2011 10:03:06 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: CharlyFord

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.


14 posted on 07/26/2011 10:06:43 AM PDT by Tallguy (You can safely ignore anything that precedes the word "But"...)
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To: discostu

You want to abandon ALL space enterprise?


15 posted on 07/26/2011 10:08:56 AM PDT by bvw
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To: numberonepal
They are just piles of stone. Nobody lived in them. They did not help grow food or defend against the Upper Nile.

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.

16 posted on 07/26/2011 10:09:25 AM PDT by Shout Bits
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To: bvw

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.


17 posted on 07/26/2011 10:10:31 AM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: Shout Bits

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.


18 posted on 07/26/2011 10:11:08 AM PDT by bvw
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To: bvw

Good Grief! Read the whole posting before you show your ass!


19 posted on 07/26/2011 10:12:31 AM PDT by Redleg Duke ("Madison, Wisconsin is 30 square miles surrounded by reality.", L. S. Dryfus)
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To: CharlyFord

Obama changed the objective to a Muslim outreach program. It failed at that, too.


20 posted on 07/26/2011 10:12:39 AM PDT by mbynack (Retired USAF SMSgt)
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To: discostu
Is this sarcasm too?
[The shuttles] 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.

21 posted on 07/26/2011 10:13:49 AM PDT by bvw
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To: douginthearmy

My goal is not to tell you what you want to hear.


22 posted on 07/26/2011 10:13:58 AM PDT by Shout Bits
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To: bvw

That’s not mine.


23 posted on 07/26/2011 10:15:44 AM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: Shout Bits

The article made that clear, but the disturbed hornets can’t read more than the statement that destroying the nest was a positive.


24 posted on 07/26/2011 10:20:03 AM PDT by bvw
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To: discostu

You should know whose it is, right?


25 posted on 07/26/2011 10:20:48 AM PDT by bvw
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To: Redleg Duke

You didn’t read the whole article either, did you?


26 posted on 07/26/2011 10:23:07 AM PDT by bvw
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To: Tallguy
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.

The Shuttle was a continuation of the DYNASOAR project. The Mercury/Gemini/Apollo Project had to use proven ballistic missile technology to meet the time constraint of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Once that was accomplished, NASA went back to the original plan which was the Shuttle.

The Shuttle was not intended to be the heavy lift vehicle. It was the 'truck' that was supposed to haul things back and forth to low Earth orbit. We have not had a heavy lift vehicle since the Saturn 5 was terminated. That's the reason man has not traveled beyond Earth's gravity for 40 years.

27 posted on 07/26/2011 10:31:36 AM PDT by CharlyFord (t)
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To: Shout Bits
You have a fairly narrow and blinkered view of what the Shuttle was, what it accomplished, and how much it cost, in both lives and money. Its purpose was not to provide a public spectacle, as the Roman games, or as a religious monument, as the pyramids. It was designed to provide routine access to low Earth orbit, for a variety of purposes. It was never designed to explore the solar system or take people to Mars, so it is not appropriate to criticize it on that basis.

One could argue that less expensive techniques could deliver the same payloads, but not the same capabilities. The unique aspects of Shuttle -- its large mass (hence, stable platform in orbit) permitted satellite servicing missions that spacecraft before and after it could not accomplish (e.g., Hubble Telescope servicing). The Space Station could not have been built without it and from that program, we learned a lot about on-orbit assembly, complex satellite design, and maintenance of complex space systems. All of this legacy has now been thrown away by the current administration.

One last comment -- if you would learn to spell (e.g., "Pharaoh" not "pharo") and use words correctly (e.g., "a Shuttle launch was a majestic sight" not "a Shuttle launch was a majestic site") your blog postings might seem to have more credibility.

28 posted on 07/26/2011 10:33:32 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Rempublicam)
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To: Cincinatus

oops on the spelling.


29 posted on 07/26/2011 10:36:49 AM PDT by Shout Bits
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To: CharlyFord

Saw a picture of the DYNASOAR craft mated to a booster... can’t remember, probably an Atlas. Might have just been an artistic rendering now that I think of it.

Now they have a robotic craft that does the same thing but with far higher mission endurance, so the niche for a DYNASOAR type craft is that much smaller.


30 posted on 07/26/2011 10:37:24 AM PDT by Tallguy (You can safely ignore anything that precedes the word "But"...)
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To: discostu

my bad, discostu. I did not get the sarcasm.


31 posted on 07/26/2011 10:41:26 AM PDT by Shout Bits
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To: bvw

I do, I also know it has no bearing one what I said.

Anybody that can’t see how the shuttle helped space exploration is being willfully ignorant. Could we have had better tools? Yes. Could we have done more if our space program hadn’t been shunted almost entirely through the shuttle? Yes. Does that mean the shuttle was useless? Absolutely not.


32 posted on 07/26/2011 10:41:47 AM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: Shout Bits
The Shuttle program cost over $200bln, not to mention 14 lives, while giving little in return.

All of the interesting exploration and scientific inquiry of the past thirty years has been done by robots.

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 history’s eye.

You're an ignorant peasant.

33 posted on 07/26/2011 10:45:29 AM PDT by Penner
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To: SpinnerWebb
Everyone discounts the military value of the shuttle program.

It also gave us computers and technology that is currently being use in medical diagnostics.......among millions of other things. Hell, back in the early 80's, I had an ENT specialist shove a camera thing up my nose that was first developed by NASA in order to allow the astronauts to see behind computer banks in order to help diagnose equipment malfunctions and work on them.

As a side note, look at the technology currently being used in our cars which was first developed for car racing......turbo chargers, super chargers, etc., etc.....

34 posted on 07/26/2011 10:46:38 AM PDT by Hot Tabasco (You can't forfeit the game Chuck! If you go home you forfeit!)
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To: Shout Bits

>>Clearly a Shuttle launch was a majestic site<<

The launch of a shuttle was a majestic location?

Proofreading is your friend.


35 posted on 07/26/2011 10:49:47 AM PDT by MeganC (Are you better off than you were four years ago?)
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To: Shout Bits; douginthearmy

>> My goal is not to tell you what you want to hear. <<

Shout Bits, In general I like to hear actual facts and informed opinions so if your goal is not to do these things then I suppose you’ve succeeded.


36 posted on 07/26/2011 10:56:06 AM PDT by MeganC (Are you better off than you were four years ago?)
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To: CharlyFord

The Space Shuttle and International Space Station were never used for their original designed and intended purpose.


Could you expand on that................


37 posted on 07/26/2011 10:59:39 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( getting closer to the truth.................)
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To: discostu

That’s Olympic sprinter speed backing away from the thrust of your original post.


38 posted on 07/26/2011 11:03:56 AM PDT by bvw
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To: Shout Bits
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 Egypt’s dictators, and they wasted the labor and talents of generations of men.

At the same time the Egyptians were building those useless Pyramids in North Africa, there were tribes in Central Africa doing important stuff. You know, like practicing free love, sitting around the campfire singing Kumbaya, and being good socialists. You do remember reading about those tribes in Central Africa. Right?? What was their name??

You've seen the travel brochures where people from all around the world travel to Central Africa to see the campfire sites (and sing Kumbaya). And the archeologists, they've never wasted their time and resources documenting the useless Pyramids. The archeologists have spent their time researching, writing books about, and building museums to display the artifacts of those important Central African cultures. Right??

A thousand years from now, if human civilization still exist, which do you think the people will remember about the U.S., Lyndon Johnson's Great Society Program or the Apollo Moon landings???

It's obvious that you are the product of a public school system somewhere.

39 posted on 07/26/2011 11:06:21 AM PDT by CharlyFord (t)
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To: bvw

Nope, I didn’t back away from anything. That’s just the non-sarcastic version of the original post for the reading impaired. Both are saying the same thing, just the second time around was simple enough for you to understand.


40 posted on 07/26/2011 11:06:21 AM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: discostu
Space exploration is the only thing that really matters. Anybody that doesn’t think that is thinking short term.

I think the point of the article here is that for the cost of the manned shuttle program, and manned space flight in general, we could have and can do exponentially more space exploration and research using unmanned technology.

The space shuttle was fun to watch, and there was a huge benefit as far as national prestige. But you can't argue that we have advanced the ball as far as we could have by other means.
41 posted on 07/26/2011 11:07:10 AM PDT by rottndog (Be Prepared for what's coming AFTER America....)
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To: Shout Bits

To facilitate the discussion let me throw out some facts.

We are stuck in this solar system for the foreseeable future.
The only habitual place within the solar system is Earth.
There is nothing we currently know of in the solar system that isn’t also available on Earth.

It is also a fact that there is serious debate between scientist about whether robot explorers might actually be superior to humans in exploring our neighborhood.


42 posted on 07/26/2011 11:09:42 AM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA

habitual = habitable.


43 posted on 07/26/2011 11:11:32 AM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA

habitual = habitable.


44 posted on 07/26/2011 11:12:05 AM PDT by DManA
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To: rottndog

There’s been a lot of unmanned exploration during the shuttle era. Given the fact that the shuttle was the cheap option, and actually had a lower budget than the original cheap option that was presented to Nixon, it accomplished a lot. It kept the Hubble going, helped build the space station, tons of science happened up there. Yes we could have advanced the ball further, but that option was removed when Nixon decided the space program was a Kennedy thing and pushed them to the cheapest way to continue. Trying to cast it as a complete failure and total waste of money is just plain silly.


45 posted on 07/26/2011 11:13:39 AM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: mbynack
Obama changed the objective to a Muslim outreach program. It failed at that, too.

Don't be too quick to call that one a failure. As bad as it hurts to think about it, OBoy may get reelected. He's got millions of taxpayer's dollars to spend on the 2012 election.

If he does win, the Muslim outreach thing may be the only task NASA has left.

46 posted on 07/26/2011 11:16:59 AM PDT by CharlyFord (t)
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To: DManA

The problem with robot explorers is they don’t encourage speed. All our unmanned craft are “fire and forget for a couple of years (decades even)”. While they get good information it’s very slow. When we send people out we go faster, because we don’t want to stick people on a 7 year one way trip. In the long run we have to get a sustainable population of people out of the solar system, sending people around our neighborhood is a better step on that path than sending robots.


47 posted on 07/26/2011 11:17:38 AM PDT by discostu (keep on keeping on)
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To: discostu

Your boosters have split apart at the o-rings.

It’s tough to check the self-destructive tendencies one has, before they do major damage. THAT was one BIG problem of NASA, in general, and more specifically, in the Shuttle Program. Scientist Feynman pointed that out very clearly after the Challenger disaster.

NASA excelled in one area. PR. Public relations.

Of course the Shuttle was deficient in all technology and technology management areas, compared to other technologies developed in the same time frame. But one area the program excelled in, besides providing a massive jobs and crony-tech political rain-making ability, was selling itself as a Grand Heroic Purpose.


48 posted on 07/26/2011 11:20:38 AM PDT by bvw
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To: CharlyFord
It's obvious

There was a post like a spin out on the black ice of an emotionally driven response.

49 posted on 07/26/2011 11:23:38 AM PDT by bvw
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To: discostu

Not saying it was a total waste of money or a complete failure...of course we learned from it, and gained technology wise in the process. The question is was the amount of gain worth the money spent? I personally don’t think so.

BTW, the whole concept of the shuttle’s value as a ‘reusable’ platform is very silly, given the cost to return it back to ‘flight ready’ status after a mission. That albatross had to be stripped down and almost completely rebuilt every time it flew. Not efficient at all.

The shuttle had its’ place, and did have some value. But it was obsolete very soon after it started flying. It should have been more transitional, and should not have lasted as long as it did.


50 posted on 07/26/2011 11:28:29 AM PDT by rottndog (Be Prepared for what's coming AFTER America....)
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