Good News/Bad News in Space

Good News – NASA’s Next Generation Crew Vehicle is in Testing!

Good News, Bad News, in Space?

While starting to research a post lamenting the sad state of affairs with regard to US Manned Spaceflight I stumbled upon a bit of good news. So instead of a standalone bad news post, this turned into a good news/bad news post. Let’s start with the bad news, to get it out of the way.

US Needs Russia for Transport to ISS

Since the demise of the US Space Shuttle program, the United States has relied on the Russians to provide transportation of our astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The latest trip is ferried our Sunita Williams as a result of a successful docking of the Soyuz capsule with the ISS as reported by Fox News.

As a child of the space age, I grew up in an era when American exceptionalism, including, if not led by our accomplishments is space, was embraced and celebrated. Not so much now, when in America, starting with the office of president our past accomplishments almost seem a source of shame, and are downplayed and even used as cause for apology to the world. Regardless it galls me that we find ourselves as a space-faring nation having to depend on the Russians for transport.

I guess it could be worse; I suppose that absent a Russian program we could enlist the services of the Chinese? How does that sound to you?

Good News – Orion is in the Pipeline

In contrast with that gloomy outlook, witness the other side of the coin – progress is being made on the Orion program. According to the story on NASA’s website:

“A C-17 plane dropped a test version of Orion from an altitude of 25,000 feet above the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in southwestern Arizona. This test was the second to use an Orion craft that mimics the full size and shape of the spacecraft. Orion’s drogue chutes were deployed between 15,000 feet and 20,000 feet, followed by the pilot parachutes, which deployed the main landing parachutes. Orion descended about 25 feet per second, well below its maximum designed touchdown speed, when it landed on the desert floor.”

Despite our current dependence for astronautic ferrying, developments in the Orion program are hopeful signs that US standing in space will improve. Whether such progress will be sufficient to keep pace with other nations who are advancing in space, such as the Chinese in particular is up for debate.

Given how important space capabilities are to our national defense, I remain skeptical as to its sufficiency; what do you think?

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