Category Archives: Space History

The Rashomon Of Apollo And Shuttle

Stephen Smith has a lengthy review of John Logsdon’s latest book.

As he notes, the dual myths of Kennedy as space visionary and Nixon as space villain don’t stand up to any sort of realistic historical scrutiny. In fact, with Apollo, Kennedy set us up for decades of failure, in terms of making spaceflight economically realistic.

Yuri’s Night

If you’re in LA, this is the place to be.

Don’t go in hopes of seeing me. I can’t see spending money to be tortured with awful, loud music. But if you’re into that sort of thing, and what passes for dancing in this society, knock yourself out.

No, this has nothing to do with me being old (though I do seem, unaccountably, to be aging). I’ve never been into clubbing, or awful, loud music. The twenty-year-old me wouldn’t have gone, either.

The High Cost Of Space Access

Roger Launius has a brief history of the Shuttle, but this number is outdated:

The best expendable launch vehicles (ELV) still cost about $10,000 per pound from Earth to orbit.

As I commented over there (it’s awaiting moderation), Falcon 9 delivers ~30,000 lbs to LEO for ~$60M. That’s $2000/lb. Price, not cost. Falcon Heavy will roughly halve that. If they can reuse cores, they’ll drop the price further.

Space Anniversaries

Yesterday was the 48th anniversary of the loss of three astronauts on the launch pad, in preparation for the Apollo missions. A child of the space age, I remember it particularly well, because it occurred the day before my twelth birthday. A little over nineteen years later, on my actual birthday, Challenger was lost. I recollected it on the sixteenth anniversary of the event.

Today is the twenty-ninth anniversary of that tragedy, and while I commemorate it, I also celebrate the completion of my sixtieth trip around the sun, over eight thousand miles from home. I’m in Israel to attend a conference named after Ilan Ramon, an Israeli hero who died a dozen years ago on February 1st, when Columbia disintegrated in the skies over east Texas. That anniversary coming up with Sunday, by which time I’ll be home, if all goes according to plan, to celebrate with friends and family, but also grieve for the losses. Yet as I point out in my book, such losses are inevitable, and necessary, perhaps even at a faster rate than once per generation, if we wish to accomplish much greater things than we have in space over the past six decades since my birth.