Sorry, I can't get excited about NASA's 'new' 1960's Mercury/Gemini/Apollo Space Program v2.0
I'm an old fart who clearly remembers the birth of the space race way back in 1957. The single event that changed our world forever occurred when Russia successfully launched Sputnik 1, the world's very first satellite into orbit. America was completely caught off guard and thus the space race was born. The name Sputnik immediately went viral overnight. Soon, unmanned, then manned, orbital missions followed, again led by Russia. The space race was moving forward at breakneck speeds. JFK's throwing down the gauntlet speech in 1962 proclaiming that America would put a man on the moon in that decade, and did, was a fantastic period of amazing technological achievements by brilliant scientists and engineers and designers using archaic 'slip sticks' (slide rules) and drafting tables. Not only were there no personal computers in those days, there were no electronic handheld calculators. In spite of these challenges NASA did indeed put a man on the moon by 1969. OK, back to the future...
FFS, now I almost feel like Sherman, and we've slipped into Mr. Peabody's WABAC time machine and crash landed back in the early 1960s again. So in this, the 21st century, with ever more powerful super computers and advanced technology we're back to using 1960ish space capsules perched on top of incredibly expensive disposable rockets AND having to fish the soggy space capsules out of the salty brine again. WTF?! It's almost 2015 and we're suddenly back to square 1 again. I just can't believe how absurd this whole mess is.
I always felt like NASA lost the plot decades ago when it promptly abandoned human space exploration way back in 1972 after the (mostly) successful Apollo moon missions and instead concentrated on Earth-orbiting missions resulting in the long running Space Shuttle program. Sure much was learned, but at the cost of not advancing human space exploration.
So now we have the ridiculous Orion program. What an effing joke! We have had the technology to go to Mars decades ago - post Apollo. This can only mean that NASA seems to be employing the same quality of brainless twits, aka, 'scientists', that have infested the medical research 'industry'... you know... the ones who haven't found a cure for anything in the last 50 years. But...hey... they have mastered the art of treating, not curing illnesses, so you and I pay and pay and pay and... OOPS, that's a rant for another day.
OK, here are some interesting tidbits about Orion:
1. From Wikipedia: "Astronauts were deliberately left off the flight to test the heat shield, parachutes, jettisoning components, and on-board computers before committing a crew. As a result, instead of standard seats, cockpit displays, and life-support equipment, the craft was filled with sentimental toys and memorabilia..." OMG, how can anyone respond to this line of thinking? So they didn't think it was important to test the life-support equipment in actual flight conditions. This is effing beyond insane... unless they're not really planning on launching any manned missions!
2. From Wikipedia: "Astronauts may fly on the Orion by 2021." OUCH, so there won't be a manned mission until 2021 at the earliest?! The destination hasn't even been decided yet. [rolls eyes]
3. Here's the biggy... From qz.com:
"The US government has a spacecraft again—but don’t believe the Mars hype"
"The problem is that Orion is neither fish nor fowl: It was originally conceived as part of a program to replace the Space Shuttle as a transportation to low-earth orbit, but that program was cancelled for cost-overruns and replaced with commercial contracts. Orion was revamped as a vehicle for exploration beyond low-earth orbit, but it actually isn’t big enough to allow people to make the three-year trip to Mars—that will require an additional craft, the as-yet-undesigned habitation module. Then there’s the issue of building a lander to get everything down to the surface of the red planet."
"This spacecraft has cost $60 billion to develop so far and likely won’t fly again until 2018."
"And even if Orion is the spacecraft that will take people to Mars, that won’t happen for 20 years. Why then use technology that is decades old, and rockets that are even older?"
"That’s why [former NASA deputy administrator Lori] Garver have been critical of this project, which she says is more about placating contractors and members of Congress than accomplishing scientific goals."
OK, the bottom line for all you younger guys and gals out there who think this Orion program is so wonderful, we older folks, who were around to witness the absolutely extraordinary space programs of the 1960s-1970s, just shake our heads as we know it for what it really is... a gazillion dollar pork barrel project, courtesy of American taxpayers.