Say goodbye to the ISS

R. A. Hettinga rah at
Mon Feb 3 18:17:12 PST 2003

Hash: SHA1

At 9:42 PM +0000 on 1/19/03, Malcolm Carlock wrote:

> I must admit it also seems very strange that the shuttle couldn't
> have been examined while docked to the ISS.

It wasn't docked there.

It was in a completely different orbit, and higher up to boot. That's
why it came over the Western United States on landing, instead of
over, I believe, places like Cancun and the Gulf of Mexico.

It's also why people were saying they would have been SOL no matter
what happened, and why, if you're conspiracy- -- and bloody- --
minded, it's easy to imagine that someone higher up in NASA figured
that they were, "heh, cooked, anyway", and decided to stand back and
see if a miracle happened. Of course, that probably didn't happen
(invoking Pournelle's Law), and, besides, if they *were* that
bloody-minded, they would have left it *up* there for an eventual
repair and body-recovery mission, sometime in the future. [If you
don't think they wouldn't have, "memorial" or not, remember that two
people *died* in the Columbia already, in the wrong place, the cargo
bay, at the wrong time, while they were pressurizing it with nitrogen
during a mock-launch rehearsal before its inaugural launch.]

Flying another shuttle to them while people were still alive would
have been impossible, of course, so much for a reusable "space-truck"
on a rapid turnaround, and, even if it wasn't, I don't think they
even have an airlock aboard, and, given the cost of the gold-plated
one on the ISS, they probably can't afford one on the ground, either.

In other words, when you fly on Uncle's Nickle, you pays the tax
payer's money, and you takes your chances.

Of course, if we'd actually *privatized* space (not had a
single-payer HillarySpace program, which is the case now, even though
most of the shuttle program is currently "privatized" -- in the same
way that the California power market is "privatized"), like back in
the Nixon administration sometime, when he drew a red-line through
NASA's budget the first time because it was leftover Kennedy-cruft
that was embarrassing him politically, and made stuff like liquid
rocket fuel legal to own (wasn't it someone here, or elsewhere, who
said maybe we should sue to make very-high-powered rocketry a
constitutional right under second amendment? :-)), among other
things, there probably would have been *50* re-entries, or maybe 100,
today -- and just that many launches. Today's crash, if it had
happened at all, would have been lost in the radar clutter, to be
completely brutal about it, and it would have been buried in the
place where articles about 7 dead marines at Quantico -- or, more
likely 7 dead skiers in the Bugaboos -- go.

Oh, well. Maybe China will finally collapse already and some
entrepreneur in New Shanghai establish a colony in the Belt someday.

Too bad I'll be too old to learn Chinese when it happens.

Who gave up on any illusions of there ever being an American private
space industry in his lifetime -- or any career plans in that regard
- -- shortly after the Challenger blew up and a bunch of government
employees cancelled *all* manned space flight indefinitely. Same
shit, different decade...

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R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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