Monday, August 08, 2005
Discovery's return: I've got the coverage of the space shuttle Discovery's return on the TV and the whole thing strikes me as odd. (Their first landing window is officially a no-go -- they'll orbit the Earth again.) The first space shuttle took flight in 1981, when I was 9-years-old. I don't think we even had our first home computer yet, an Apple IIe clone (which Apple sued out of existence). The shuttle was made with 1970s technology -- and we stopped innovating decades ago.
Whe I was covering Vandenberg AFB, NASA chief Dan Goldin had challenged the aerospace industry to come up with a low-cost, easy-to-maintain, efficient rocket motor. After all was said and done, all they came up with was a 20-year-old Russian design.
If you bought your automobile anytime later than the early '90s, then that car has more computing power under the hood than the shuttle.
MSNBC has former astronoaut and Discovery commander Capt. Rick Hauck on to talk about the landing he looks old. The shuttle should've been retired a decade ago.
Aerospace technology, at least that done by NASA, is a quagmire. There's no discernable innovation. Too much effort is being put in to making what should be a museum relic spaceworthy.
I don't know if the space elevator is the answer, but I do know that the shuttle no longer is.