Just to remark that Google hasn't made any celebrations nor press release last september 13 in the FOURTH anniversary of "its" (huge FLOP and soon DELETED) """Google""" Lunar X Prize ... :) :) :)
article update September 20, 2011
The END of NASA (and the END of ghostNASA too)
Nearly SIX YEARS after my first article about the Space Shuttle on my website and FIVE YEARS after my first post on the first version of my ghostNASA blog, I've decided to stop (or rarely) post on both blogs, surely NOT because I've lost my interest for spacecrafts and spaceflights, nor because I've finished my ideas (I still have LOTS and TONS of ideas about rockets, spacecrafts, missions' architectures, space travels, etc.) but since I think that over six years of bad decisions, mistakes and billion$ burned for nothing, have substantially KILLED the american space program (that "WAS" the most important of the world) and put NASA to its END PATH or a VERY HEAVY RESIZE (as shown in the funny image below titled "Charles Bolden at the KSC after the Shuttle retirement").
After evaluating all facts only few very very optimistic (or very stupid) persons (excluding those that will make big profits in the coming years with the "commercial space" hoax) may really believe/hope that the US manned space program isn't dead this month with the last Shuttle flight, NOT because of the Shuttle retirement, itself, but for the TOTAL LACK of any credible alternative and strategy for the near (and far) future.
A clear sign of the NASA and KSC irreversible decline is the huge number of layoffs, direct consequence of the Shuttle retirement and of the deletion of the (very bad and incredibly expensive) Constellation program (not forgetting the long list of NASA officials that have voluntarily leaved the space agency to go in the commercial space sector or elsewhere) but, also the last 13,000 workers of the KSC seem really too many for a space center that has already lost (or will lose soon) great part of its role, so, it's pretty sure that several thousands of layoffs may come soon at KSC and in other NASA centers, leaving only the minimum number of employees and engineers needed to follow the small number of NASA projects and allowed by the NASA annual budget.
If you take a look at the NASA's launch schedule, you can find only four launches in this second half of 2011 (all very important and interesting for science) and only one launch in the (not yet updated, of course) 2012 list, all accomplished with very small rockets (the NuSTAR mission in 2012 with an air-launched Pegasus XL) then, nothing comparable with the Apollo and Shuttle missions!
As you know, the "commercial space" fans, businessmen, lobbyists, PRs and supporters (and many NASA officials) say (nearly every day) that the Shuttle missions "will be soon replaced by a wide choice of commercial rockets, capsules, space modules, etc." but, unfortunately, this is NOT TRUE, just watching their programs and timelines!
All that will fly from a very small launch pad of the KSC in the next years should be... a second Soyuz-class Dragon/Falcon-9 COTS test in late 2011... the last Dragon/Falcon-9 COTS test in 2012 and (if everything goes well without unexpected problems and delays) the first CARGO launch of a Dragon to the ISS in 2013 or 2014... then, probably (but NOT sure, in my opinion, as I explain below) just one-two cargo-Dragon launches per year (from 2014 to 2020) of the 12 planned in the CRS program for SpaceX to carry less than three tons of resupply to the ISS per mission.
And the KSC should not even manage, nor see, the launch of the eight (CRS program's) Cygnus/Taurus II, to be built (seems with some delays) and launched by Orbital Sciences from the Wallops Island's Flight Facility in Virginia.
Of course, also the Soyuz, Progress, ATV and HTV spacecrafts will never take off from KSC but from their launch bases in Russia, Japan and French Guinea.
Personally, I believe that NASA never will buy all the 20 missions of the CRS program, but just a few, for many good reasons, like... 1. the poor specs of the Dragon and Cygnus, greatly outperformed by the Progress (on low prices) and by the ATV and HTV that may carry huge payload and also big experiments and modules... 2. the too high price of each CRS mission that may reach a price-per-ton carried to LEO up to FIVE TIMES HIGHER the Space Shuttle costs... 3. the modest resupply need of the four-only american astronauts (two a time and six months each to be hosted on the ISS from 2014 to 2020) that can be easily and cheaply accomplished by few Progress or part of the ATV and HTV launched in the next years... 4. the few number of years between the day when the CRS vehicles will take service in 2014-15 and the 2020 when the ISS should be abandoned and burned in the atmosphere since too old.
In other words, the KSC and NASA in the next five-eight years should be like a Zombie, that will be "revived" few times per year for few hours, just to launch "something" with a small rocket, then, buried again in its tomb for the months to come... and, compared with the Apollo and Shuttle, each launch of the (Soyuz-like) cargo-Dragon from KSC, will be less "spectacular" and "exciting" than the launch of a model rocket... :|
Watch this LAST ghostNASA article in the next days/weeks, because I will explain you WHY the Orion+SLS and all new.space vehicles and companies CAN'T SAVE the US space program nor avoid the NASA death.
I've changed my decision, since, not only I will not upgrade this blog, but, I will not even upgrade this article, because I've no further time to lose talking about the decline of the US space agency and of the death of the US space program, so, it's useless that you visit again this blog. Goodbye and Good Luck.
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