Shane - 8/3/2005 12:20 PM
There probably is no better technology offered at this time regarding the troublsome foam blocks and insulation.
Probably true, so why keep trying the same thing.
"Only a fool tries the same thing over and over again and expects a different result" -don't know who said it
What I'm saying is that we need fundamentally rethink the manner in which we travel to space. Shuttle development began at least 30 years ago. I'd like to think that since then we've come up with better materials, better ideas, and better designs. I think the success of Space Ship One indicates a need to look at other alternative designs and ways of getting into space. Space Ship One is the essence of simplicity. Throw some rubber and nitrous oxide in a cylinder and attach it to a carbon fiber ship and you're in space. No fly by wire, no booster rockets, no crappy ceramic tiles that have fallen off every shuttle flight since the beginning. Is there a way to reenter the atmosphere at slower speed so that we can reduce the level of heat shielding required? Is it necessary to reenter the atmosphere at 12,000mph?
(Sorry: answered my own question here "Why active braking cannot be solely relied upon
Of course, some active braking is required in order to enter the atmosphere, until then no atmospheric drag is available. In theory, it would be imaginable to accomplish all or practically all the deceleration by active, powered braking, by firing the craft's rocket engine in the opposite direction. This however would require a large amount of fuel, this fuel would have had to be lifted into orbit in the first place and therefore the size of the orbiting space craft relative to the launch vehicle would have to be much smaller, unless the spacecraft were refuelled in orbit. Thus, the only currently known and feasible way of decelerating from orbital speeds is mainly through aerobraking.")
Now I understand that SS1 only went suborbital, but can you imagine what they could have done with NASA's budget? Why haven't we looked at carrying the craft up with a plane instead of firing off from the ground? Hell, its not like the initial flight tests weren't off the back of a 747. It seems like NASA is now just another bureacracy that can only slove problems with bigger, more complicated, and more expensive solutions. To me it seems as though the innovative and entrepeneurial aspect of NASA no longer exists. They are still operating under the 1960's paradigm of space flight. We've seen that alternative ideas hold promise, why don't we explore them rather than bandaiding and gerry rigging an old solution that never lived up to its promise.