The shuttle is a hooptie
. I actually had the idea for that incredibly bad p-shop before I read that post, but it fits too well to pass up. I just wish I could find cinder blocks to put under it. Also at that link is a helpful description of every car I've ever owned.
The shuttle we're sending into space today is running on technology that would embrass your Atari 2600. The thing is an antique. We're sending people into the most hostile environment imaginable in a piece of machinery older than what most of us drive to the grocery store.
Personally, I have no problem giving any funding necessary to the space program. For me, the mountain-climbing explination of "Just because it's there" is good enough. But beyond that, research funded by the space program has resulted in many, many uses in the civilian sector. Scientific applications and materials developed by the space program are used daily in many items.
The number of problems with this flight is ridiculous. One news story described the ceramic plates covering the shuttle for the heat on re-entry as "very delicate". What? They can, apparently, be cracked by a piece of foam coming off the gas tank launcher.
Why can't we solve this problem? Here's an idea: coat the entire shuttle in Kevlar. It'll burn off in re-entry, but until then it will protect the delicate re-entry plates from extraterrestrial foam
, for chrissakes.
I try not to offer my opinion on stuff that is way beyond my comprehension, and I am certainly no aerospace phycisist. But it is obvious, by any measure, that it's time to update the shuttle. Astronauts should not be spending their time checking the caulking between the tiles that will seperate them from ten gazillion degree tempratures while they fall through the Earth's atmosphere.
This is America. We spend a billion dollars a day on Cheetos. I think we can afford to build a space shuttle that I wouldn't be embrassed to drive to my local Wal-Mart.