Re: OT - Last Flight Out

Message posted by Mark Lincoln on July 09, 2011 at 19:38:35 PST:

To make deep space flight possible we would require a great increase in specific impulse, improvement in mass fraction, much better radiation protection, and the ability to negate the effects of no gravity upon human beings.

Development of specific impulse has been limited by chemistry and metallurgy since the early 1960s.

Mass fraction might be improved upon, but the failure of the X-33 to achieve sufficient weight reduction and a hydrogen tank which would not collapse leave little room for hope.

Radiation is a problem which physics and biology seem to deem insoluble

The problem of keeping a body designed by 1-G evolution alive after long exposure to zero-g remains without any practical solution.

The biggest argument against manned space flight is that we can now automate any activity of a human whether within or without the atmosphere without paying any of the penalty of putting them there.

Watching Werner Von Braun on Disneyland in the mid-1950s was enchanting. Watching Gagarin and Shepherd go into space was exciting and seeing man walk on the moon was the dream of my youth.

Somewhere along the line between Gagarin and Apollo 11 I studied engineering and understood that the world ran on money, and only that which could pay it's price eventually prevailed.

The ultimate practical speed of trains was for a long time 109 mph. Eventually it was bettered by over twice as fast, but that seems the practical limit and even then cannot exist without substantial subsidy.

The ultimate practical speed of automobiles is far less.

No one has designed a production airliner as fast as the Convair 990 in a long time, and the Concorde was only able to exist with massive governmental subsidies.

I wish that there was some role in space that a man could do better than a machine. We could argue, 50 years ago, that vacuum tube computers and the automation of the time left a need for humans in space. Then we did not understand just how limited humans in space would be. Or how costly it would be to send them there. Nor could we have understood how much better and cheaper it would be to automate any experiment desired.

The Space Transportation System did do one thing better than any other. It proved that it was a mistake. That the only purpose it could serve was justifying itself by building the space station, which was only justified by the need to justify the existence of the STS.

The great dream of my childhood turned out to be a folly.

Sic Gloria Tranist Mundi.

In Reply to: Re: OT - Last Flight Out posted by Mark Lincoln on July 09, 2011 at 9:44:12 PST:


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