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Mike Burdick
02-24-2011, 11:08 PM
Discovery's last launch today...

http://l.yimg.com/a/p/us/news/editorial/1/3f/13f94e25c23bf7a9420b57ee6b92cb05.jpeg

Discovery is the oldest of NASA's three surviving space shuttles and the first to be decommissioned this year. Two missions remain, first by Atlantis and then Endeavor, to end the 30-year program.

If you would like to see Discovery reflected as a bright light, here's a link that will help you find it in your area...

http://spaceflight1.nasa.gov/realdata/tracking/

It's especially interesting to see it when it is either approaching or departing the space station!

.

Mike Burdick
02-24-2011, 11:27 PM
Has anyone here actually witnessed a shuttle launch in person or, for that matter, witnessed any space launch?

38_Cal
02-24-2011, 11:36 PM
Never seen a launch, but when I was in the Navy I pulled watch duty on the Apollo 15 command module when it was stored in my squadron's hangar for a few days after the mission before being returned to Houston. Surprising how small it is!

David

Mike Burdick
02-25-2011, 12:00 AM
David,

That's pretty neat! Were you able to get a close up view of it or were you kept at a distance?

38_Cal
02-25-2011, 12:54 AM
It was roped off, and I was only able to get to within about ten feet from it. Don't think that anyone complained about pulling duty for those few days!

David

isaac338
02-25-2011, 01:01 AM
I saw the Apollo 11 CM at the Smithsonian in Washington.. pretty awesome stuff.

Pete F
02-25-2011, 01:18 AM
Not personally, but my dad did when he had an experiment that went up in a shuttle mission. He still has it (minus the cameras) in a display case in my brother's old bedroom - it's a cylindrical shape about 4' long by 2' around. Pretty cool to spend the night in a room with something that has been in orbit.

We see launches from Vandenberg here pretty regularly, but it is from about 20 miles away.

-Pete

Metalmelter
02-25-2011, 09:24 AM
When I was in Naval boot camp in Orlando around November 1981 they had a launch. Forget what shuttle it was that lifted off but from Orlando to Kennedy it's a distance and the entire company went outside to watch. The smoke trail from the rockets exhaust was very small in the distance and seemed insignificant - BUT what surprised me the most was how much the ground shook. I'm not kidding when I say the ground literally shook. You could feel it in in your legs. You need something quite powerful to do that. That's something I'll never forget ;)

Peter.
02-25-2011, 11:00 AM
We booked a holiday to Florida to coincide with a shuttle launch. I was gutted when it was postponed, should like to have witnessed that :(

Weston Bye
02-25-2011, 12:38 PM
Two events of advanced technology brought me to near tears.

The first was upon encountering a massive steam locomotive, the pinnacle of technology for its time, on static display in the Henry Ford Museum.

The second was watching the first shuttle launch, again, the pinnacle of space technology for the time.

In retrospect, I have come to be dissapointed in the shuttle program. Railroad locomotive design continued to advance, while there is nothing coming to replace the NASA space locomotive. It is, except with great effort, only capable of low Earth orbit - a shuttle bus or short-haul freight carrier. Apparently it is very expensive, even with reusable components, as NASA has had no money to spare for any other manned space program. While I have considerable admiration for the Mars robotlet program, I doubt that the United States could put a man on the moon again within 20 years.

I had the opportunity to examine the Mercury and Apollo capsules on display at the Air Force museum in Dayton Ohio. The Mercury capsule had some panels replaced with plexiglas, so that some of the electronics were visible. I was astonished to see technology and wiring practices similar to the antiquated system I maintained on the RA-5C Vigilante aircraft while in the Navy.

In further retrospect, I am more greatly impressed with the Apollo program and what was accomplished than with the Shuttle program.

wierdscience
02-25-2011, 01:56 PM
It cost a few bucks for sure,but I think the benifits were worth it.The Hubble telescope for starters wouldn't have been possible with out the Shuttle program and few can argue the impact it has had to science.

The real shocker for me were the Mercury capsules.Those guys went into orbit strapped to a rocket in what amounted to a pressurized Datsun B210:eek: :eek:

mike os
02-25-2011, 02:28 PM
the thing that amazes me the most is that they are all too short sighted to have a replacement .... even on the drawing board :( :(

Deja Vu
02-25-2011, 02:46 PM
the thing that amazes me the most is that they are all too short sighted to have a replacement .... even on the drawing board :( :(

I think you mean that NASA is short changed, don't you?
Or were you taking about the providers of funding?

Mike Burdick
02-25-2011, 03:17 PM
the thing that amazes me the most is that they are all too short sighted to have a replacement .... even on the drawing board :( :(

Well, not necessarily...

http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/newshuttle/images/X43.jpg

From a Nasa press release dated November 16, 2004...


NASA's X-43A research vehicle screamed into the record books again Tuesday [11/15/04], demonstrating an air-breathing engine can fly at nearly 10 times the speed of sound. Preliminary data from the scramjet-powered research vehicle show its revolutionary engine worked successfully at nearly Mach 9.8, or 7,000 mph, as it flew at about 110,000 feet.....

http://www.nasa.gov/missions/research/x43_schedule.html

Weston Bye
02-25-2011, 03:22 PM
About 10,000 mph too slow to reach escape velocity.

Sad to say, nobody had the presence of mind to preserve the information developed in the moon program. Today, we could not duplicate that effort without a lot of reinvention.

I regret that we, the U.S., will probably not put another man on the moon or any other planet in my lifetime. I would be happy to be proven wrong.

justanengineer
02-25-2011, 03:35 PM
I witnessed a shuttle liftoff when I was only about 5 years old in the 1980's, but still remember it rather clearly as that, and trips to the Smithsonian among other museums, were what inspired most of my childhood imagination and made me the eccentric dreamer I am today. Having interviewed for a job working on the Orion project as it was being cancelled (reason I didnt get it), I can agree with the disappointment of others on the bureaucracy of government and their shortsightedness.

On a personal note...One of the things I am most grateful for is that I have parents who made a major point of educating, and not just entertaining, their children. Thanks mom and dad.

Mike Burdick
02-25-2011, 03:37 PM
The X43A is the first demonstrator vehicle in NASA's "Hyper-X" series of experimental hypersonic ground and flight test vehicles, the X-43A will demonstrate "air-breathing" engine technologies for future hypersonic aircraft and/or reusable space launch vehicles. Although these crafts cannot achieve escape velocity they do demonstrate that NASA has not been sitting on their hands.

macona
02-25-2011, 03:48 PM
About 10,000 mph too slow to reach escape velocity.

Sad to say, nobody had the presence of mind to preserve the information developed in the moon program. Today, we could not duplicate that effort without a lot of reinvention.

I regret that we, the U.S., will probably not put another man on the moon or any other planet in my lifetime. I would be happy to be proven wrong.

A whole lot of that original tech would never be used again so being reinvented with new technology is just a matter of course.

I have no doubt they could go to the moon again, but the gvmt has to waste money elsewhere. The mystique of space has worn off on the public.

danlb
02-25-2011, 04:23 PM
The sad thing about losing the knowledge of the moon shot era is the loss of the design reasoning and criteria. As noted, we will have to re-engineer to use modern technology.

It would be easier to recreate it if we could look at why the original technology was designed the way it was. In many businesses it's called 'Key Learnings'. You don't need to make the same mistakes if you have a record of what the mistakes were and WHY they were considered mistakes.

Dan

lazlo
02-25-2011, 04:57 PM
Has anyone here actually witnessed a shuttle launch in person or, for that matter, witnessed any space launch?

We (my Wife, 2 kids, and the grandparents) were at the Kennedy Space Center for the 2009 nighttime launch of Discovery.
Like most visitors, we watched from the parking lot: the closest you can get to pad 39 is a small VIP grand stand at the Apollo museum, and even then you're about a mile away.

The launch was sometime around 1:30 in the morning, and it was a major PITA with two young children, but my (then 5 year old) daughter and I were thrilled to see the launch!

KiloBravo
02-25-2011, 05:28 PM
We (my Wife, 2 kids, and the grandparents) were at the Kennedy Space Center for the 2009 nighttime launch of Discovery.
Like most visitors, we watched from the parking lot: the closest you can get to pad 39 is a small VIP grand stand at the Apollo museum, and even then you're about a mile away.

The launch was sometime around 1:30 in the morning, and it was a major PITA with two young children, but my (then 5 year old) daughter and I were thrilled to see the launch!

I was shark fishing one night off the Miss Cape Canaveral and the shuttle was supposed to launch that night around 2 AM. I think we were about 30 miles or so from the launch pad. I was also very disappointed. They postponed it and I never got another chance to see one.

v860rich
02-25-2011, 10:24 PM
I've been in Fla for since Feb 3rd for various racing events.
Yesterday we were on the Atlantic coast side of the state, headed for US1 in bumper to bumper traffic, wondering what the hangup was. Come to find out they were headed to the beach to see the launch.

So because of them I did see the launch. Not a very big deal.

Just another waste of time and money!!!!!

THANX RICH

Guido
02-26-2011, 12:26 AM
http://i126.photobucket.com/albums/p86/Guido_album/deltaheavy4.jpg

Delta Heavy IV, 1-20-11, Vandenberg AFB. Standing in front yard and could feel the vibes, but views blocked by low clouds.

http://i126.photobucket.com/albums/p86/Guido_album/VoyagerAircraftAtNASM-common.jpg

Rutan's Voyager, watched late 1986 landing at Edwards upon completion of round the world flight. Plane now in National Air/Space Museum.

http://i126.photobucket.com/albums/p86/Guido_album/WhiteKnightCarriesSSO_12.jpg

White Knight and Space Ship I above Mojave. Watched takeoff, lift to 30K ft, release and rocket burn to space edge then free fall/glide back to runway. Won the Ansari prize that day.

--G

darryl
02-26-2011, 01:25 AM
I was living in a one bedroom trailer with two other people when Buzz and Neil launched on their historic mission to land on the moon. We either got up early or stayed up late to watch the launch. My one friend had his fingers on the tv screen, pushing upwards on the rocket flame yelling GO BABY GO! I'm sure his enthusiasm added at least 50 pounds of thrust to the launch vehicle :) I don't know if we'll ever have that level of excitement again.

mike os
02-26-2011, 04:24 AM
I think you mean that NASA is short changed, don't you?
Or were you taking about the providers of funding?

yes the senior management,,,,,, ie not nasa ;)

so as I understand it we spend billions building a space station that we now only have one way of getting too...... from russia

still on the bright side, the chinese will probably be along in a couple of years with their version of the shuttle...........

Lew Hartswick
02-26-2011, 10:07 AM
Never saw a launch but did watch a landing at the cape a few years
ago.
...lew...

JeffKranz
02-26-2011, 03:13 PM
I went to Florida for the first space shuttle launch. I planned to stay in Florida for one week in the event of a delay. The original schedule date for lift off we left Orlando at 2:00am for the 7:00am launch. It took us almost 4 hours to get there - traffic was really bad. We had special passes to get us close (had relation in that worked at Nasa - Lets see if anyone can figure it out). I think at T-9 minutes the launch was postponed for three days. It took us about 5 hours to get off the base to head back to the hotel. Three days later, either less people were going or traffic was more organized. I had three 35mm camera's ready for pictures and two of them had motor drives on them.

When the engines were fired, the cameras were going. I was out of film before the shuttle cleared the tower. Then I switched to the manual 35mm camera and captured the roll maneuver and I was out of film. I must say that that was one of the most impressive thing I saw or felt in my life. Goose bumps still show up when I think about it. It will be a real sad day when shuttle program ends. Our space program is in serious trouble with little funding and direction.

Just thinking about it, I actually have a signed 8x10 of the shuttle on the launch pad and personally signed by both Astronauts of the first launch hanging up in my loft.

Jeff Kranz

Hint - "Failure is not an option"

Mike Burdick
02-26-2011, 04:06 PM
... We had special passes to get us close (had relation in that worked at Nasa - Lets see if anyone can figure it out). ...
Jeff,

When I first saw your name I kind of wondered... then when you mentioned you had connections at NASA, I knew for sure!

Eugene Francis "Gene" Kranz, retired NASA Flight Director and manager. Kranz served as a Flight Director, the successor to NASA founding Flight Director Chris Kraft, during the Gemini and Apollo programs, and is best known for his role in directing the successful Mission Control team efforts to save the crew of Apollo 13.

Alistair Hosie
02-26-2011, 04:08 PM
Has anyone here actually witnessed a shuttle launch in person or, for that matter, witnessed any space launch?
Yes I have In Florida on an early evening when it was just beginning to get dark they set off a launch from Nasa J F K and my wife Children and I saw it head off into the night sky a sight we shall never forget.Man those astronauts are brave men and women whatever you think of the space programme.I couldn't do it for a million dollars yet there are those willing to pay ten times that to try it.strange world.Alistair

rohart
02-26-2011, 05:08 PM
No action, but I got myself a taste of history. When I was staying in Paris for three months in 1966, before I went to university, John Glenn was touring with the Mercury capsule, and delivering some lectures, probably at the American Embassy.

I had a good look at the capsule, and I went to one of his lectures - or so my memory tells me.

The oxygen fire that took Grissom and his colleagues was a tragic setback. Those were, and are, brave men.

But I'm in two minds about how much we should spend on human space research. Sure, we benefit from geostationary orbits, from orbiting surveillance satellites and from research into asteroid defence. But handling and protecting mother earth from ourselves, and ourselves from mother earth, needs a lot more funds than we currently devote to it.

sansbury
02-27-2011, 01:34 AM
In retrospect, I have come to be dissapointed in the shuttle program. Railroad locomotive design continued to advance, while there is nothing coming to replace the NASA space locomotive.

The problem isn't a lack of imagination or money, it's politics.

NASA's main role today is to funnel large amounts of money to the cabal of legacy aerospace companies, led mainly by Boeing. Recently there was a push to have NASA open the bidding for launch services to a wider range of bidders like SpaceX, Blue Origin, etc.

Many of these are meeting milestones spending a small fraction of what Big Aerospace would to do the same. There is a lot of promise there to significantly reduce costs and rebuild a competitive market, not one where you get two bids: One from Boeing that has Lockheed doing 30% of the work, and one from Lockheed that has Boeing doing 30% of the work.

Naturally, it got shot down. Boeing has basically become a crown corporation and extracts monopoly pricing in return. Look at the recent USAF tanker acquisition: Boeing greased the acquisitions officer at the Pentagon (earning her a jail sentence), which should have disqualified their bid (they got that rule bent, of course), and presented an inferior plane at higher price, and *still* got the deal.

To be sure, NASA and Boeing have some very talented engineers and tradesmen who know how to build and operate spacecraft, but the political system around it has gone way past incestuous.

Rustybolt
02-27-2011, 09:15 AM
Sans.
The part I like is that private money money is beibg spent on R&D and not taxpayer funds.

lazlo
02-27-2011, 09:55 AM
I regret that we, the U.S., will probably not put another man on the moon or any other planet in my lifetime. I would be happy to be proven wrong.
A whole lot of that original tech would never be used again so being reinvented with new technology is just a matter of course.

I have no doubt they could go to the moon again, but the gvmt has to waste money elsewhere. The mystique of space has worn off on the public.

Agree completely. Our generation has simply lost interest in spending their tax dollars on space exploration. I'm morbidly curious how long that will last -- we'll always have wars and Wall Street disasters -- 300 years from now will politicians still be arguing about funding bills to go to Mars :rolleyes:

The Shuttle really needs to be retired -- it's ancient! The Space Shuttle program started in 1968 -- Richard Nixon signed the appropriation bill in '69!

I showed my daughter the HD live feed from Discover on the NASA channel a couple of weeks ago, and she was puzzled by the picture of the cockpit. She was expecting a space ship :)


"Daddy, what are those curved green fish tank looking things?"

"Those are CRT's sweetie -- they didn't have flat panels back then."

"But it's only green -- didn't they have colors back then?"

:D

The flight controllers ("modernized" in the 90's) are built on 386's, the main engine controllers are the size of military duffle bags. The rad-hard electronics on the Mars Rovers are lightyears ahead, and they're 10 years old...

http://www.aviationexplorer.com/cockpit_photos/space_shuttle_cockpit.jpg

mlucek
02-28-2011, 06:56 PM
Two events of advanced technology brought me to near tears.

The first was upon encountering a massive steam locomotive, the pinnacle of technology for its time, on static display in the Henry Ford Museum.
That Allegheny steam locomotive is DAMN IMPRESSIVE ! I think I spent at least 1-1/2 hours wandering all around it. I've got some videos of it in operation too. I was also just in the neck of the woods where these magnificent beasts used to run in western Maryland, Penn. and W. VA.


http://www.thehenryford.org/images/allegheny.jpg

C & O Allegheny #1601
Lima Locomotive 2-6-6-6


Allegheny Locomotive

Built in 1941 and weighing in at 600 tons, this was one of the largest steam-powered locomotives ever built. Designed for pulling huge coal trains over the Allegheny mountains of West Virginia, this locomotive could reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. This powerful behemoth is the centerpiece of our trains collection and a visitor landmark in Henry Ford Museum. The cab of the Allegheny locomotive is now open for public viewing.

Great info on these ladies :

http://www.steamlocomotive.com/allegheny/

There's another Allegheny at the B & O RR Museum in Baltimore (more drooling :P) Got to see that one too last fall !

Mike

Weston Bye
02-28-2011, 07:46 PM
Thanks for that Mike. I had forgotten the particulars of the locomotive, as it was some 30 years or more since I saw it. I am still impressed.