Apollo 11 - 40th Anniversary today!

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Post Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:24 pm

Apollo 11 - 40th Anniversary today!

The first Moon landing took place on July 20th, 1969.

There is an interesting editorial about this 40th anniversary by Patrick Collins at Spacefuture.com

http://www.spacefuture.com/journal/jour ... pollo_40th

The quotation below gives an idea of the general tone of the piece:

How many people could possibly have guessed, as Neil and Buzz walked on the Moon in 1969, that 40 years and a few months later Americans would no longer even be able to get to orbit?! Actually, I'm surprised that more Americans aren't enraged! How can they sit quietly while Nasa, far from leading humans' exploitation of space, actually unmakes the country's space flight capability?!


Is that a fair assessment of the situation?

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Post Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:19 pm

Re: Apollo 11 - 40th Anniversary today!

Is it true that there will be a period when the US has no launch capability? I know the Shuttle is due to be retired soon, but when ? And wehn does the replacement come into service?
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Post Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:58 pm

Re: Apollo 11 - 40th Anniversary today!

Hello Spaced, welcome to the forum, and sorry for my slow reply.

I read that the Space Shuttle was due to be retired next year, ie 2010, but that they (NASA? The US Govt?) are debating delaying its retirement for a year or two. NASA are developing a replacement spacecraft called Orion, but this won't be ready until about 2015, which does indeed suggest a bit of a gap.

I suppose one question is what craft will resupply the International Space Station during that period. Presumably the Russians will take care of that?
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Post Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:27 pm

Re: Apollo 11 - 40th Anniversary today!

Incidentally, I remember my parents sitting me down in front of the television to watch one of the Apollo launches. I'm not sure if it was Apollo 11 or one of the later ones. I remember being a bit bored waiting for takeoff - the preparations for the countdown seemed to last forever with lots of long shots of the Saturn V on the launchpad, with little commentary. I suppose as a small child I didn't yet have much of a sense of the momentousness of the occasion. :mrgreen:
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Post Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:07 pm

Re: Apollo 11 - 40th Anniversary today!

RickLewis wrote:I read that the Space Shuttle was due to be retired next year, ie 2010, but that they (NASA? The US Govt?) are debating delaying its retirement for a year or two. NASA are developing a replacement spacecraft called Orion, but this won't be ready until about 2015, which does indeed suggest a bit of a gap.

I suppose one question is what craft will resupply the International Space Station during that period. Presumably the Russians will take care of that?

Good luck with this forum. But with respect, I think the above suggests you are totally missing the most important current development in space travel.

In January this year, NASA signed contracts to resupply the ISS during the gap you mention. The contracts were not with the Russians but with two PRIVATE U.S. space companies. (SpaceX and Orbital) This will be the first time that NASA has contracted private companies not just to build this or that spacecraft component, but to carry out entire space missions using privately-developed launch systems. So rather than this being some sort of depressing nadir in space capability as Patrick Collins suggests, I really think it is the moment when private space companies really come of age. It's great!

In the end, government space agencies, funded by untold billions of taxpayers' dollars, will only take space exploration so far. To go beyond that we need the private sector and the incentive of commercial competition, and we are finally seeing that coming to fruition now! :D
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Post Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:19 pm

Re: Apollo 11 - 40th Anniversary today!

I was just looking for some sort of news story to support what I said in my last post. Funnily enough, the one I found says that a third private company, PlanetSpace inc, also tendered for the NASA contract to supply the ISS, but lost out. Now they are making an official protest against that decision! Ah well, welcome to the new age in space!

Anyway, the story does contain a lot of interesting detail about the plans to resupply the space station during the gap between the Shuttle and Orion. Here's the link:

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/01/ ... selection/
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Post Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:47 pm

Re: Apollo 11 - 40th Anniversary today!

You're right that I've obviously been missing out on some astonishing developments. Frankly I'm amazed. :o

I'm still reading the detail of the story you linked. Two questions:

1) Are these contracts for the launch of cargo only, or of crew as well?
2) Have these two companies (SpaceX and Orbital) actually both demonstrated working launch systems yet, or is that still to come?
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Post Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:36 pm

Re: Apollo 11 - 40th Anniversary today!

1) Both I think, but I'm not totally certain. The answer must be in the news story I linked? I know SpaceX is planning to carry people in its Falcon 9 spacecraft, but don't know if this is in the NASA contract.
2) The companies have both successfully launched craft before now. Oribital has been launching satellites for years. I don't think either has yet demonstrated the launch systems they propose for use on the NASA contract bt I could be wrong.

In haste...

In that thread you started of links to private lauch companies, I've just posted links to the SpaceX and Oribital websites:

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=3

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Post Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:15 pm

Re: Apollo 11 - 40th Anniversary today!

Darth (kevin?) thanks for the links and information. So it does seem at least that the USA will still have a space launch capacity - a privately operate one. At risk of sounding negative, I just visited the websites of those two companies, and it looks to me like their launch vehicles look very much like conventional rockets. I thought we had moved on from that to re-usable spacecraft like the Shuttle landing on a runways. Isn't it a step backwards to abandon the Shuttle and go to these rockets, regardles of who owns them?
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Post Fri Sep 11, 2009 12:43 pm

Re: Apollo 11 - 40th Anniversary today!

Spaced wrote:Darth (kevin?) thanks for the links and information. So it does seem at least that the USA will still have a space launch capacity - a privately operate one. At risk of sounding negative, I just visited the websites of those two companies, and it looks to me like their launch vehicles look very much like conventional rockets. I thought we had moved on from that to re-usable spacecraft like the Shuttle landing on a runways. Isn't it a step backwards to abandon the Shuttle and go to these rockets, regardles of who owns them?

Seems like a fair point to me. NASA's own replacement for the Shuttle, Orion, will be launched by a conventional rocket as far as I understand. Here is the Wikipedia entry about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_(spacecraft)

It says that the Orion spacecraft itself will be reusable up to ten times, but I'm not clear if the two-stage rocket which launches it (which is called Aries 1) will be reusable at all. And Orion won't of course land on a runway but will come down on parachutes. Here is a concept image of an Aries 1 launch (Does "concept image" mean somebody made this in Photoshop? :) )
Image


(p.s. Spaced - you are of course right about that old test thread! I'll delete it now).
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