Originally posted by OneNationUnder
I'm still wondering why the United States, a leader in Space Exploration, would let their Space Program lapse for 5 years, and, the 2012'ers can
argue that it has something to do with that, since the lapse starts shortly before and several after which. It is quite suspicious. Now we have to
pay others to hitch a ride or to launch certain cargo.
It REALLY seems like SOMETHING is coming and they know it, but keeping it to themselves. What major power would let their Space Program lapse? It's
Wait, are you actually suggesting that a political decision might be *gasp* absurd??!!
SAY IT ISN'T SO!
- Cancelling the X-20 DynaSoar was absurd (but Robert MacNamara failed to see the long-term benefits of a manned reusable spacecraft).
- Abandoning Apollo & the Saturn V was absurd - It basically threw away the debugged systems and manufacturing know-how invested in these systems (but
space exploration was very unpopular during the social upheaval of the '60s & '70s).
- Making a big shuttle your first reusable spacecraft was absurd - They should have started with a smaller, experimental vehicle - such as the X-20 -
worked the bugs out, and scaled-up (but a "big shuttle" created more jobs than a "small shuttle", so Nixon ordered the big one built).
- Short-budgeting the Shuttle was absurd. It delayed the program, driving up the overall cost, and introduced design compromises - such as a
non-reusable external tank, solid rocket boosters and fragile ceramic heat shields that compromised safety and reduced the economic viability of the
launch system (but politicians did not see any purpose beyond the jobs & prestige - they expected NASA to make it work and never mind the details).
Note that the gap between the last flight of the cancelled Apollo and the first flight of the Shuttle was six years. Sound familiar? We thought that
was absurd at the time.
- In the late '70s the Shuttle was expected to launch once a week (once a month for each orbiter) and be cheap enough, reliable enough and safe
enough that all expendable launchers (Atlas Titan, Delta, etc.) would be obsolete and superceded in favor of these four vehicles (reduced from five
due to budget cuts). This was... absurd.
- Flying the Shuttle for 30 years was absurd. Many projects for advanced reusable systems came along and were cancelled when the inadequate budgets
meant that they couldn't overcome inevitable development problems. See the NASP, DCX, X-34, X-35 & VentureStar to name a few.
Politicians don't understand engineering projects in general, and space exploration in particular. Their decisions regarding them are uniformly
uninformed, short-sighted and... Absurd.