Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Journey to the Moon - humans or no humans

When Apollo 8 first set out on that awe-inspiring journey to the moon an entire nation watched. The New York Times called the men ‘the Columbus’s of Space’.

Here on the Earth assignations were a thing, there were wars, racial riots, a couple years earlier – the Cuban Missile Crisis and basically chaos. It was the perfect time for Americans to tune out and tune in. It was the proper time to route for the impossible now made possible by America.

Now – facing a whole new set of chaos here on Earth, NASA may be instructed by Trump to place Astronauts on the first real flight of the massive SLS system.

NASA is currently reviewing it, looking at the details and wondering what the changes needed would be. The actual mission before taking into consideration a live crew was sending the spacecraft Orion into a distant lunar retrograde orbit, basically a challenging trajectory to test maneuvers and the environment of space expected on future missions to deep space. If humans are sent along, it will likely by change to an eight-day mission with a multi-translunar injection with a free return trajectory.

What does this mean? It means moving up a test of the abort procedures. What else? The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) (based on the second stage of a rocket) will need to be human-rated. The Delta rocket was never meant to be used in human flight and was only to be a stop-gap until the final stage of the SLS was developed. This was actually underway but put on hold last February.

One might think this is unprecedented by it has been done before. Humans have been placed on what previously had been slated as an unmanned test - the Shuttle for instance.

Still, tests are meant to push to the limit, in this case, push to the limit without human lives at risk so that those limits are better understood when human lives are present.

Odd thing is it may actually come down to if the ‘test’ works or not. Likely it will become the new & improved reality show for the decade but will it pass the test as well as all future tests?

Speaking solely of the fact that the general populous has not cared one iota for what is going on with NASA and/or space, it would be cool for all to be gathered in the living room to watch a launch again! 

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