Orracle and Family

Orracle and Family

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We Tried?

I am deviating from my recent flurry of posts on health and wellness to comment on a story today in the papers about the Space Shuttle program.

The headline was suggesting the epitaph for the program.....


Are they serious? The story refers to the shuttles as a failure to deliver cheaper space travel with a reusable vehicle. The program cost $196 billion originating back in the late 70's. First of all, let's compare that to the Federal Stimulus package that was going to save our nation. That cost us $787 billion and promised to keep the unemployment rate below 8% if I remember correctly. It saved a bunch of union jobs and for a good long while now, the jobless rate has been over 9%. I consider the stimulus a MAJOR fail. If my numbers are wrong on the percentages, I am sure The Rube will correct me. Back to the shuttle story...

There were 134 shuttle missions. I looked up the cost of the Apollo Saturn V rockets per launch (non reuseable) and loosely adjusted for inflation, it actually was cheaper at $111 billion which surprised me. Then again, the technology was a little less considering a calculator or cell phone today had more computing power than the computer on the Apollo missions. Furthermore, the Saturn V and capsule limited each mission to 3 people with little room to do experiments and studies. I think the shuttles were VERY good in that regard.

Lastly, they touted the shuttles as having cost 14 lives. Yes, it is sad. I think it is a miracle that only 3 men died on Apollo spacecraft (Apollo 1 fire in a test on the ground). I have read countless books by Gene Krantz and others of the early NASA days and they fully admitted that many of their decisions were by the seat of their pants. They were highly skilled and brilliant people but don't discount being lucky.

Every astronaut knows that they are strapping themselves to a controlled bomb. Given the opportunity and risk, they all go ahead to have that chance. Space travel is not trivial even with as many missions as there have been.

So, to the Space Shuttle program, I wish you well. I think you were a success. We cheer the triumphs and remember those that died doing what they loved. I have seen it launch from Orlando and once from Titusville. It rips on your soul as you watch that magnificent fireball reach into the sky. That is not failure in my book.

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The ORRacle!

The ORRacle!