Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ever More Lost In Space

Fair is foul, and foul is fair. ~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth

A little more than a year ago, I wrote about the failed launch of the SpaceX joke Falcon I. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and a one heckuva comedian, proceeded to lable the launch as a success because this one got off the ground. Not into orbit, mind you, as it was supposed to , but into the air, which was a considerable improvement over the first attempt which bought the farm about a kilometer from the launch site. That launch failed because of an error a second-year engineering student wouldn't make - corrosion between dissimilar metals.

The "successful" flight turned into a pinwheel for reasons which were never accurately determined as far as I know. Despite that lack of cause (or perhaps because of it), Mr. Musk proudly declared that his 0-for-two missile was now operational. Evidently, the hacks pretending to manage NASA these days decided that, if it was good enough for Elon, it was good enough for them, because they have awarded SpaceX an indefinite contract for launch services.

Dave Barry couldn't make this stuff up.

Let's see ... the Shuttle is going out of service in 2010, and its replacement is nowhere in sight. Oh, NASA says it will be ready to go in 2015, but given the history of the gestation of spacefaring projects, 2020 might be a more reasonable target. To fill the gap, I guess, the sturdy old Soyuz will be used to ferry astronauts back and forth between planet Earth and the tinkertoy that is the ISS. That is, the Soyuz will be used until one of them pancakes the next time it comes down in a ballistic trajectory for reasons unknown.

At that point, presumably, the occupants of the ISS will be looking to hitch-hike a ride from the nearest passing UFO.

And now NASA is handing out launch contracts to companies that don't even have a working launch vehicle.

What manner of vision is this?