the happenings of the last weekend and having read about all the things NASA
have been wibbling on about in the last few months and also knowing how awful
NASA has become in managing spacecraft design I’ve had a few thoughts on
what I think should happen…
Firstly, as a stop-gap the shuttle has to keep flying, it’s the only thing
we have which can do the tasks necessary in human spaceflight currently.
Secondly, the US government should request bids from all over the world for
two separate launch vehicles., a space taxi and a space truck. The former
would be manned, the later would be human habitable in space but would not
be manned during the acsent or decent stages. All vehicles should be able
to be flown unpiloted and the space taxis should be able to dock with each
other and be able to stay on standby for long periods of time (rescue missions).
Any design should be concidered, however radical and all parts of the spacecraft
should be designed to be reusable and have longevity built in.
Now, here are the contraversial bits:-
(1) All consortia must supply at their own cost one fully operational prototype
to NASA for a comparative “Rain Hill Trials” of all vehicles. (The Rain Hill
Trials were a comparative test of different designs of steam locomotive in
1829, Stephenson’s engine “Rocket” won.)
During the design and build stages of the vehicles full access to all NASA
staff and fecilities would be free of charge so as to offset development
(2) All designs will be fully disclosed to the public and competitors. Many eyes will help see flaws in the design.
(3) NASA may decide to buy a production run of any one or more of the designs after the trials.
(4) Once designed, the consortia may sell the vehicles to anyone in the world
who wants to buy them only restricted by export regulations inposed by the
(5) Crew safety is paramount. Options for safe crew recovery from all possible
situations should be catered for. (eg. Hardened crew quarters during decent
which have their own secondary heat shielding and are capable of sustaining
life in such an incident as that which played out on Saturday.)