I Hate This Phrase

No, NASA is not “hitching a ride” from the Russians. “Hitching a ride” implies that we are getting it for free. We are paying for taxi services, and because they are a monopoly provider, we are paying too much. But the problem isn’t buying rides, it’s that we’re paying too much for them, and not purchasing them from American providers. This is something that could be fixed within three years, but the Congress is cutting the funding to do so so that it can build a giant (in both size and cost) unneeded rocket that won’t fly for at least a decade.

[Update a couple minutes later]

I should note that the headline is probably not Ken Chang’s fault — copy editors come up with headlines. But I do think he should have pointed out that the same Dragon capsule that could start delivering cargo to ISS next year could also be delivering crew in the next three or four years.

7 thoughts on “I Hate This Phrase”

  1. Using cargo Dragon capsules as escape pods would do a lot to reduce the US dependence on the Russians.. as would any other alternate escape pod – especially a purpose built one with a less limited on-orbit lifetime.

  2. “Hitching a ride” has the bonus of sense of urgency to it. How often do people get up and say “I’m going to hitch a ride today” instead of “I’m out of gas…need to hitch a ride”

  3. The term “Hitch” (a ride) apparently comes from hitching a sled to a moving vehicle (1880) and “hitchhike” appeared in 1921, shortly followed by hitchhiking and hitchhiker. I suppose the original meaning almost perfectly described a skateboard messenger pooning a bimbo box in Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash.”

    Hitchhiking would be “Hey, mind if we stick a Dragon capsule on top of your SLS when it goes on its test launch? Seems a shame to let that free ride go to waste.”

    I would like our situation to a refugee trapped at a river crossing getting gouged by a bloodsucking ferryman who senses that we’re desperate, rich, and out of options.

  4. Why not just call it “Commercial Crew Phase I” and refer to it as a commercial purchase since Russia has actually sold seats to private tourists, something none of the American “commercial” crew providers have done 🙂

    In this light is shows that all NASA trying to do with CCDev is follow a “Buy American” strategy.

  5. I just got through watching Soyuz launch in a driving snowstorm, and it was a flawless launch. For a couple minutes before liftoff, I could hear the snow hitting the outdoor mike and the wind blowing. Not the sort of sounds I’m used to hearing during a launch. Then again, most of the launches I’ve watched were in Florida.

    (I was watching live video from a Russian website, and a couple hours before launch, the pad crew was wielding snow shovels on the launch pad.)

    Like everybody else, I’m looking forward to Dragon, but in the meantime I think it’s nice to see American astronauts riding on Russian spacecraft. I’m old enough to remember the intense rivalry of the space race, and the sheer novelty of seeing a Russian launch live for the first time with ASTP in 1975.

    Today there were American and Russian flags flying side by side near the launch pad. Not to get all maudlin or anything, but after spending several decades wondering if and when we were going to nuke each other, that was pretty darn cool.

  6. Using cargo Dragon capsules as escape pods would do a lot to reduce the US dependence on the Russians.. as would any other alternate escape pod – especially a purpose built one with a less limited on-orbit lifetime.

    Cargo Dragon is unsuitable as an escape pod. The active side of the CBM interface is on the station side and it requires the assistance of the SSRMS to unberth. It is therefore useless for departure from an unmanned or unpowered ISS, two of the major scenarios you’d want an escape pod for.

    1. Once a problem is identified as you have what prevents fixing it? The point remains that a Dragon with the proper docking mechanism could be in use tomorrow.

      I would welcome Russians on a joint mars mission as long as a private ownership settlement charter is in place. People from any country would embrace individual liberty and freedom if given a choice. Absolute property ownership (no taxation required or desired, contracts are sufficient) is the basis of that freedom.

      It really pisses me off when I see an assumption that government control is needed for what could be financed as a private venture. Nobody owns the rocks in space. A reasonable claim is totally enforceable in law.

Comments are closed.