Friday, 8 July 2011

The Space Shuttled

Today, the last Space Shuttle flight was launched, and a lot of people are mourning.

Well, I’m not among them.

The Shuttle isn’t, contrary to much uninformed opinion, the Greatest Thing Ever Built, or a testimony to American prowess. It’s also not as though no other nation had the technology to construct a space shuttle. So why didn’t they?

Here’s why: the Shuttle was always a propaganda device, a ridiculously uneconomical ego trip.

The reason no other nation built a working shuttle was simply because it was so expensive. The USSR constructed one, the Buran, used it on a test flight, safely recovered it, considered the costs and abandoned it. The vast majority of space launches, both manned and unmanned, during the Shuttle era remained disposable rockets like the European Space Agency’s Ariane and the Russian, Chinese, Indian and Japanese space programmes.

Nor is the Shuttle anything like safe. Compared to disposable spaceships, the Shuttle has a woeful safety record; recall how the Challenger was destroyed by a fuel pipeline leak and the Columbia by a couple of loose tiles, and how every launch since has had people at NASA in palpitations.

Notice that while the Shuttle has been deep-sixed, the old Russian Soyuz continues as the backbone of the manned space programme, and will for the forseeable future. With non-military NASA budgets dropping by the day, I for one won’t hold my breath about a successor anytime soon, not unless it’s capable of bombing innocent nations halfway round the planet from up in orbit.

Unsafe and horrendously expensive, not to forget merely a political statement, good riddance, Shuttle. 

I for one won’t miss you.


  1. Yeah; the Shuttle was probably the Yugo of space flight, bred with an Edsel Citation for 'bling' factor and bulk - I've seen a Shuttle close-up, and the thing looks (as was said about the Yugo) as if large parts of it were assembled at gunpoint.

    Problem is, it's all we had - for thirty years. I saw the first launch on TV (having called in sick from a shit-job to do so) - and today, I can't say I watched the last one - it was an anticlimax.

    Not much reason to watch millions of dollars shot into the sky when one in five workers in this country can't find a job.

    Not much reason to celebrate. The last 'Mission Accomplished' speech is too raw in my mind for any of that nonsense.

    Nope. Time to close the door on such luxuries; at least, until said time as we can clean our own self-befouled nest here at home....

  2. I agree with you but maybe they found something BIG out there something we are not supposed to know about..

  3. They found me. Aren't I enough to keep the space program going?? :P

  4. great blog mate! :o)

    Here's to the future eh?

    Nessie (from Multiply)

    (I tracked you down! LOL)


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