from the urls-we-dig-up dept
When the Soviets launched Sputnik 1 in 1957, the US launched a satellite and put together its own space agency less than a year later. In the past week, NASA has commemorated the loss of its astronauts in the Challenger and Columbia disasters, as well as the men who died in Apollo 1. There’s a new generation of kids who have only seen SpaceX and Soyuz take stuff into low earth orbit (plus maybe a successful Orion test) — and a few other private companies reaching the edge of space. Robots have been doing an excellent job of exploring mars and other destinations in our solar system, but we shouldn’t forget about manned space exploration entirely.
- The Columbia space shuttle disaster might have been averted with a second space shuttle launch to dock with it and rescue the astronauts. A rescue mission would have involved a complex space walk and several unknown risks, but plans were drawn up — and that’s why subsequent shuttle launches had a second shuttle on standby. (But the rescuing shuttle would still have the same problem of a potentially damaged wing, too…) [url]
- The Challenger explosion was predicted by a handful of NASA engineers who argued against launching the shuttle because they had data that indicated the o-rings wouldn’t seal properly under the cold weather conditions. Bob Ebeling still blames himself, but hindsight is always clearer — and it wasn’t Ebeling’s decision to launch. [url]
- NASA has lost 24 pilots and astronauts in space launches and test flights. Manned space exploration is still a NASA priority, and spaceflight will always be an inherently risky venture — especially as it pushes technology to ever more distant places. [url]