That's no moon, that's a space station!NASA, which means FAIL in the Moon Man language, has announced the doomed zillion-dollar replacement for the rust-bucket death-trap space shuttles that haven't yet blown up won't be ready until at least September of 2014, which means "never" in the Moon Man language.

Four decades ago, when Lyndon Johnson was president, NASA began work on the American space shuttle -- basically a World War II glider covered in shoddily-attached ceramic bathroom tiles and bits of packaging foam. The first functional shuttle, Columbia, finally got to Low Earth Orbit in 1981, and other than occassionally explode, that's all the space shuttles ever did. This was the bold follow-up to the Apollo program, which put people on the Moon. We were supposed to have mining colonies in the asteroid belt by now, and Four Seasons resorts on Mars.

But no, America had another destiny in the 1970s: to suck forever. So we got the Space Shuttle, with the first one named for a gay '60s teevee show about an America that actually explored the universe on spaceships. Ha ha, but our Enterprise was basically a large, dumb carry-on strapped to a regular old 747. It couldn't even go into Low Earth Orbit, let alone go where no man has gone before or whatever. (The Columbia, as we said, was the first one to actually get out of the atmosphere. Later, it blew up too.)

So, in the magical era of space exploration known as the 1960s, when a basic computer would fill a warehouse and could only count to nine, we went from manned space capsules spinning around the world to manned spaceships flying to the Moon and back to manned spaceships landing on the Moon and exploring and collecting shit and driving a Dune Buggy around and playing motherfucking golf on the Moon, like men, to a 30+ year program of flying dumb space shuttles in circles around the Earth while "astronauts" do science experiments for 2nd graders.

Now, with the kind of five-decades-ago policy style that has defined his presidency, George W. Bush is pushing something called the "Orion," which is basically the Apollo program again, but now the capsule has a "camping toilet" so the crew doesn't have to wear shitty diapers for a week, like the babies of meth addicts. Otherwise, it's Apollo, with more seats. Probably bigger seats, too, for America's new fat astronauts.

And what is this dumb half-century-old technology supposed to do? Initially, nothing more than what the useless space shuttles did: Maybe manage to get into Low Earth Orbit and drop off some stuff from CostCo to whatever lonesome drunken Russian is aboard our brave flying double-wide, the International Space Station. And today, NASA sadly announced it wouldn't be able to get this simple space capsule into space, on a common rocket, like we used to do all the goddamned time, any sooner than September of 2014.

And then, eleven years from now, the Orion is supposed to do what Apollo did in 1969: land on the moon, with people, and bring those people home. Here are some things that didn't even exist yet, in July 1969, when we first went to the Moon using the same technology Orion will supposedly use in 2019:

  • Computer floppy drives, which have been obsolete for a decade now.
  • The VCR, which has been obsolete for a decade now.
  • The video game PONG, which has been obsolete for a quarter-century now.
  • The Walkman portable cassette-tape player, which has been obsolete for twenty years now.
  • The dot-matrix printer, which has been obsolete for 15 years now.
  • Etc.

Meanwhile, over at the Mojave Spaceport and at a half-dozen other private spacecraft test sites, they're building space planes today that will be selling tourist seats next year and going to other planets before the next NASA tinker toy is ever rolled out for its first aborted launch, the end.

Space shuttle replacement delayed until 2014 [The Register]

NASA Worries About Design Flaws [Red Orbit]


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