Sunday, June 10, 2012


The passing of an era: Friday June 1 the mockup Shuttle Explorer, which had previously been displayed at Kennedy Space Center, arrived by barge to be displayed at Space Center Houston. From the patio at Outrigger's Grill and Bar I photographed Explorer passing under the Kemah bridge into Clear Lake. Explorer's destination was the Clear Lake dock South of Johnson Space Center, which once saw Saturn V stages arrive. Thousands of people lined Clear Lake to see Explorer arrive. Friday afternoon became a Shuttlebration for the arriving mockup. Sunday June 3 Explorer travelled by road past the JSC main gate to its final home at Space Center Houston. That's JSC Building 4 in the background. Houston was quite disappointed not to receive a flying Shuttle for display. The greater disappointment is that they are being retired with millions of useful miles left in them.


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Of course, Enterprise was never going into orbit. It was estimated cheaper to build a new orbiter from scratch.

On a cost basis, the Shuttle was really quite expensive. We really should have retired it when we decided not to fix the design after Columbia.

Now that SpaceX has gotten to the ISS with a capsule, it's mostly a matter of putting people in it. Then we'll have much of the capability that the Shuttle gave us. And it's much cheaper. That should give us more flights. It should also be pointed out that SpaceX has put their capsule into orbit, and come back down, without putting a crew in any danger, and more than once. This is a higher standard of safety than we enjoyed with the Shuttle, or even Apollo.

Almost makes one believe in "faster, cheaper, better".

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