Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
  A mixed bag of successes and technical difficulties for NASA
There's been quite a bit of space news this month, which is always good for those of us who thing being in space is a good thing; but its been somewhat mixed. The astronauts from the space station made it back down without getting lost in the Russian mountains, and the new crew is hanging out, hoping for the space shuttle to show up soon. The space shuttle is coming along, though NASA just changed the safety protocol, and is catching some flack for it.

hubble The Hubble continues to put out facinating pictures, while celebrating its 15th year in space, much to the consternation of the higher ups in the NASA administration that want to kill it. Fifteen years is pretty long for a satellite, though it could probably go another five with regular service. The funny thing is, that if the space shuttle hadn't blown up; the Hubble might have gotten one more fueling up, but it was destined for the scrap heap soon after that anyways. The James Webb Space Telescope is currently scheduled for deployment in 2009 with a lightweight beryllium mirror six times larger than the Hubble. Since part of its focus is more infrared observations, they're going to park this one way out at the second Lagrange point (about a million miles off). Guess the shuttle isn't going to be used to make service calls to this one.

Anyway, to top it all off, NASA also messed up the DART mission (Demonstration for Autonomous Rendezvous Technology), which is especially embarrassing, because here we're not doing any new investigation, we're just playing catch-up with the Russians who can automatically dock spacecraft together on a regular basis. After a 24 hour flight out to a derilict satellite (MUBLCOM), DART was supposed to maneuver within five meters of the other object on its own. While still 100 meters away, the flight was scrubbed when officials discovered the craft was already out of gas, but that wasn't the end of the bad news. Either because they decided to go home early (having nothing to do), or maybe because they couldn't steer any more, the DART craft apparently wandered over on its own and bumped the other satellite.

To you and me, this is just one more minor screwup in a long line of screwups (space can be like that), but to the people who have worked on this thing for the last several years, this is certainly a bigger disaster. We don't think much of the people who staked their professional reputations on the design and engineering goals of the mission, fighting for the funds year after year, gathering the teams together to build and assemble the satellite, and then pack it all together in the rocket, ship it off and see it launched. As someone who has put years into various projects that have occasionally crashed and burned, I feel for those guys.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home
Life in the middle of nowhere, remote programming to try and support it, startups, children, and some tinkering when I get a chance.

January 2004 / February 2004 / March 2004 / April 2004 / May 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / August 2008 / February 2009 / August 2009 / February 2010 / February 2011 / March 2011 / October 2011 / March 2012 / July 2013 / August 2013 / September 2013 / October 2013 / November 2013 / December 2013 / December 2014 / February 2015 / March 2015 / July 2016 / September 2016 / December 2016 / April 2017 / June 2017 / July 2018 /

Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
Land and Hold Short
The life of a pilot.

The best of?
Jan '04
The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

Mar '04
Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

May '04
Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

Powered by Blogger