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Discovery is off to space...


Ruso

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Well looks like this might be the last trip for the shuttle. Nasa has grounded all future flights of the shuttle as being not safe after debris flew off the tank.

Believe it or not, the current design as based on cost cutting decisions made by the Nixon administration.

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Boeing has been designing a replacement for quite a while now. I love NASA and have wanted to be an astronaut since I was 2 but I do believe it is time to retire the old fleet and brign in something that will help maintain space dominence for decades to come.

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You know, what I dont get about all of this is that for 20 years, NASA has been launching shuttles. With only 2 accidents out of the entire 20 years, that is an excellent track record. Certainly the deaths involved were a tragedy, but if you are an astronaut going up, surely you have the knowledge that there is some risk in being strapped to a rocket, and going to live for a few weeks in the most hostile envornment that exists for humans. Does anyone else think they might be taking too many precautionary measures and too much time? How safe can they expect that much highly explosive fuel strapped to a rocket to be?

Meanwhile, Russia is still launching the good ol' Soyuz rockets and China is racing to catch up with both of us.

The shuttle fleet is scheduled to be retired in 5 years, and the shuttles themselves have not flown near as many missions as they had planned... It may be that long before they decide its safe to fly again. <_<

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A direct replacement for the shuttle would be a big mistake. If they wanted to fix the shuttle now, all they have to do is go to Russia and get the Buran. It is a technically superior platform and does not suffer from the fatal flaws that are inherit to the USA shuttle. NASA pride stops them from doing this as the Russians offered all this technology to them in the past.

The shuttle failed to meet any of its original design objectives as it never became the low cost flight platform that it was promised to be and they never even came close to the 1000 launches/year that was originally promised. The USA went back to doing most launches via expendable rockets and the Russians even abandoned the technically superior Buran because it was simply too expensive.

The shuttle and space station have been an albatross that have sucked the life out of the manned space program for decades and is one of the reasons the most of the public isn't that interested in what NASA does these days. There certainly isn't the general public excitement that was there when we were going to the Moon and were planning manned trips to Mars and beyond.

The sad thing is that during the long period from the days of the Moon program and when the shuttle was originally designed, we have lost much of the technical ability to design very large rockets and propulsion systems needed for manned flight. All of the technical expertise has retired and even passed away and these skills were not passed on to the following generation. One can only wonder when the USA will ever manage to put another person onto the Moon.

Look closely, it isn't the shuttle and that isn't an external fuel tank

baikal11.jpg

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As far as the picture is concerned I'm assuming that's a Russian model. Before the cold war was over the Soviet Union had come up with something that amazingly looked almost exactly like our shuttles. I'm sure some Soviet spy was able to get the info and they tried it out as well. They never really stuck with it though.

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I didn't realize it was s upposed to be 1000 launces/year! Not coming close to that is an undertatement.

The Buran's downfall was the crumbling Soviet government. I did some research on this, and it does appear to be a superior design.

Check out this link for more info on the Buran

But the US government would not allow such a thing. Mostly becuase it was Russian, but also, it lost 5 heat tiles on its return flight. Just look at how they react to 1 chunk of foam.... [/sarcasm]

I would argue that we still have the ability to design large rockets. We still use unmanned rockets to put satellites into orbit, and surely they still have the schematics for these things in an archive somewhere.

One solution to the shuttle program is to cut it to space flight only. Removing the need to strap people to tons of explosives makes it a lot safer. This can be done using a space elevator.

Here is anoyher image of the Buran.

burpad80.jpg

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Did the Buran ever go into space, or was the from photo some kind of test flight?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It did one test flight with two orbits, then it landed. All of this was autmated, and in harsher conditions that we allow for our shuttle to take off or land in.

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He3 or deuterium (Helium with 3 electrons) is needed for nuclear fusion. It is believed to be found in abundance below the surface of the moon.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Careful now. He3 and Deuterium (He2) are slightly different elements...I'm sure you know that but your post kinda combines them.

He3 is actually littered on the surface itself and no major deep strip mining would even be needed. Just top soil sifting of sorts.

By the way, do not let the term nucelar fusion scare you off. Common Fusion is volatile but that's only because of the elements currently in use. He3 fusion is extremely safe by comparison.

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