04 July 2006

STS-121 is in the air!

Congratulations to the crew of Discovery on their successful launch, NASA's first launch on the Fourth of July.

And HUGE congratulations to Mike Fossum '80, former member of the Corps of Cadets and the first Aggie in space!



(On a personal note, I'm always amazed that people are able to cheer at takeoff...I can't relax at all until main engine cutoff and external tank separation, and can't relax completely until landing.)

(By the way, there are good opportunities to see both Discovery and the ISS over the next few days. Check out NASA's Sighting Information page to see when they'll be visible in your area.)

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just love this shit.



Gene Krantz.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Monty said...

Did you read the news that they finally named the new human-rated lifters? They're called Ares (because they'll eventually be going to Mars...subtle).

Now the only question is if they'll actually build them before Congress cuts the program.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Peel said...

Of course I heard about that. My understanding, though, is that the CLVs (which is what the Ares rockets are) are just for getting people to LEO, at which point the CEV takes over.

P.S., Dave in Texas, that's spelled Kranz.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous steve_in_hb said...

O/T

I thought you'd like this Mrs. Peel. Safe for work.

http://www.collegehumor.com/pictures/1696095/

11:58 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Peel said...

sweet :-)

6:19 PM  
Blogger Monty said...

CLV = Crew Launch Vehicle
CEV = Crew Exploration Vehicle

My understanding (maybe flawed) was that the same basic architecture will be used for both Moon and Mars missions. However, the CSM (Crew Service Module) will be modified for the longer-term Mars trip. The Ares V lifter will probably need to be beefed up too, in order to give the craft the required Delta-V to get into a Mars Transfer Orbit.

I have a feeling that the CEV will probably change quite a bit in response to challenges we run into in sending it to the moon. That's why I favor a trip to the moon first; an engineering shake-out cruise to a body 250K miles away instead of many millions of miles away.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Peel said...

My (admittedly pedantic) point was that it isn't entirely accurate to say the Ares lifters themselves are going to Mars, particularly not the Ares I. I think it's more accurate to say that they get what's going to Mars off the Earth.

And, unless I'm mistaken, the CEV itself won't have launch capability and will be for LEO manuevering.

If you read the article closely, it appears to bear out my understanding of the situation, especially in the last two paragraphs (emphasis added):

"The crew exploration vehicle, which will succeed the space shuttle as NASA's spacecraft for human space exploration, will be named later. This vehicle will be carried into space by Ares I, which uses a single five-segment solid rocket booster, a derivative of the space shuttle's solid rocket booster, for the first stage. A liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen J-2X engine derived from the J-2 engine used on Apollo's second stage will power the crew exploration vehicle's second stage. The Ares I can lift more than 55,000 pounds to low Earth orbit.

Ares V, a heavy lift launch vehicle, will use five RS-68 liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engines mounted below a larger version of the space shuttle's external tank, and two five-segment solid propellant rocket boosters for the first stage. The upper stage will use the same J-2X engine as the Ares I. The Ares V can lift more than 286,000 pounds to low Earth orbit and stands approximately 360 feet tall. This versatile system will be used to carry cargo and the components into orbit needed to go to the moon and later to Mars."

The last sentence is clumsily written, but I'm pretty sure that "needed to go to the moon" (which should be "Moon" according to the NASA Style Guide) is supposed to modify "cargo and the components," not "orbit." I would think if it were modifying "orbit," the sentence would read "the orbit."

Maybe not, I dunno. It's late.

Also, I don't know what Scott Horowitz is smoking, but a pseudonym is a fictitious name. How is Ares a fictitious name for Mars? Hell, Odin's a god of war, too. So does Odin get to be another "pseudonym" for Mars? Granted, the Greek word is the source of several words such as areology (which is NOT the study of nipples, steve_in_hb), but even so.

Ok, I'm going to bed now.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Monty said...

This thread is probably long-dead, but I'll add some thoughts here. (Thanks for the long post, by the way -- it clarified some things.)

First: I'm glad to see they're going with the RS68 engines instead of the Shuttle main engines. They'll cost less than half as much apiece, and are probably more reliable over the long run.

Second: I like the Ares moniker for the lifters. The whole program I think is called Constellation. Kind of like how Apollo was the name of the original moon program. I like it.

Third: I hope and pray that we do this solo. No more international "partners". Part of the reason the space station is such a waste is that it ended up being pretty much a jobs program for the Russians rather than a science and research vessel. We should take some lessons from that fiasco.

Fourth: We need to work quickly. If we don't reach a "point of no return" with this project, the next Democratic Congress will cancel it as sure as hell (it's a Bush program, ergo evil). Plus the Dems have never been particularly pro-space -- Mondale was gung-ho to kill the Apollo effort, and managed to cancel about five missions.

7:59 AM  

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