April 23, 2008

The root of the problem......Grrrlz in teh capsuel

That wayward Soyuz capsule ferrying crew from the International Space Station entered the atmosphere HATCH END FIRST burning off the radio antennas and pointing the heat shield and retro rockets in the wrong direction!

Holy crap!

Despite the harrowing entry, the capsule somehow did not incinerate on reentry (w00t!) but landed hundreds of miles off course with no working radios and had a very rough landing.

Fortunately, all three crewmembers, American Peggy Whitson, Korean Yi So-yeon, and Russian Yuri Malenchenko were safe.

But then there is this... (HT Rand Simberg)

The Russians chastised the crew for not radioing...(I refer you to the 'melted off antennas' bit) and....as a precaution to ensure that this sort of thing never happens again...

" "You know in Russia, there are certain bad omens about this sort of thing, but thank God that everything worked out successfully,'' he said. "Of course in the future, we will work somehow to ensure that the number of women will not surpass'the number of men.  "

Saydowhahuh?

So the problems have been identified as Peggy Whitson, who was the first female commander of the ISS and currently has the American record for number of cumulative hours in space and Yi So-yeon who is the first Korean in Space.


Oh good....I was worried they'd waste money on something silly like the attitude control system or GPS...but that was no doubt my cynical nature talking.





An accurate representation of what female astronauts reentering the atmosphere do not look like.
      
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April 12, 2008

47 Years



47 years ago a human being first entered Earth orbit.

In 8 years the human race went from one low furtive orbit to landing on another celestial body. The difference between the low orbits of Vostok and Mercury and what  was required to get to the moon was vast. The difference in energy between getting to the Moon and getting to Mars, Ceres, or any of the other worlds this side of Jupiter is actually quite small. The solar system was open planets and moons beckoned and the future seemed to have arrived!

Now, 47 years after one man wen where no one had ever gone before we have, instead of SIX FLAGS ON THE MOON...six flags...on the moon. surrounded by the footprints of the only twelve to walk on its surface.

47 years later we do send several people a year into space. They are confined to low earth orbit just as Gagarin was. there are plans to return, but it is pointed out that it will take more than a decade more to do what was done in 8 years from scratch 39 years ago.

  In 1968, Hollywood imagined the year 2001 to be one of casual space travel with huge moon cities, massive Space stations and the ability to send people as far afield as Jupiter. Given the rate of progress to that point this was seen as utterly reasonable. And yet....


The reason often given is that we have too many problems here.

That was the reason given by the bureaucrats of the Ming Dynasty when they decommissioned  Zheng Hu's treasure fleet  which had massively stimulated trade commerce and cultural exchange. The results of that unenlightened decision were rather unfortunate for the nation whose bureaucrats made it but it consolidated their power in the short span of their petty, venal lives so they no doubt thought it was a wise move.

A rather more eloquent set of refutations for this sad attempt at an argument can be found here.



 With that in mind, tonight we reject these visionless Mandarins as people all over the world celebrate the first instance of a human leaving out atmosphere and entering orbit.

  As an added bonus, he future has been long in coming, but its finally getting here.

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