DailyDirt: Who Wants To Go To Space?

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Reusable rocket technology has been a 'holy grail' of sorts for space exploration. Building reusable components is supposed to make space travel more affordable, but the Space Shuttle is the prime example of how that's not necessarily true, as it cost over an order of magnitude more than originally planned. Still, it should be possible to make reusable rockets that are cheaper to operate, and some private companies are figuring out how to do it. SpaceX hasn't quite gotten reusable rockets perfected yet (though, it has done it more than a few times with its Grasshopper vehicle). And depending on how you define a "rocket" -- Virgin Galactic & Scaled Composites have also developed reusable space vehicles. After you've finished checking out those links, check out this holiday gift guide for some awesome deals at the Techdirt deals store.
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Filed Under: elon musk, grasshopper, jeff bezos, jules verne, kennedy space center, konstantin tsiolkovsky, new shepard, re-usable rockets, robert goddard, rockets, space, space exploration, suborbital, william leitch
Companies: blue origin, nasa, spacex

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2015 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: Re: the space shuttle was a boondoggle!

    The decisions behind the choice of the space shuttle -- like the vast majority of government projects -- were much more political than rational. For instance, the companies building ICBMs, which used solid instead of liquid rocket engines, were naturally eager to extend their technology (and bank accounts) to accomodate the shuttle. Basically, the Pentagon trumped NASA. The space shuttle, already a flawed concept from the start, turned out to be a Frankenstein monster cobbled together from pieces of influencial military contractors who all wanted their hand in the till.

    It was only after the Challenger Shuttle blew up that the "powers that be" realized that, unlike conventional rockets, there was no separate escape pod and no way to incorporate one, other than scrapping the whole thing and re-designing the shuttle from the ground up. And when it became painfully obvious that the cost to repair and re-launch existing satellites (which was the primary selling point of the shuttle in the first place) was more expensive than simply replacing the satellites whenever they broke or fell to Earth, then the whole rationale the space shuttle program was based on was essentially a massive fraud. Just like the Iraq war, the space shuttle was another huge waste of taxpayer money that should never have happened.

    The decision to abandon the space shuttle and instead base the US space program on surplus (and dirt-cheap) Russian rockets was one of the very few common-sense, cost-saving desisions that ever came out of Washington. But once again, politics is now in the process of overruling that logic.

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