The Inside of a Space Shuttle Flight Deck, The End of an Era

The Space Shuttle Discovery and its seven-memb...

Image via Wikipedia

America’s manned space missions are close to complete hiatus. This is a sad time for many, who like me, dreamed we’d be sending men to Mars the way we did with the Moon.  People think we haven’t done anything since getting to the Moon, and that really couldn’t be further from the truth. Many great technologies have come to us from the space program from the simple cordless power drill to the ubiquitous smoke detector.

A relatively small number of people have ever seen a space shuttle up close. Even smaller a number have seen inside one.  Take a look at all 360° in every direction of the flight deck of space shuttle Discovery.

My dad, a big space junkie, sent me this link. What I told him was what I’ll tell you. I’m glad we’re retiring the space shuttle program. I’m just very sad we don’t have a replacement program.

Look at how old the electronics in the flight deck look. Minus the rare upgrade–not overhaul, but upgrade–you’re looking at 30+ year-old technology.  We’ve had more technological achievements in the past 30 years than in possibly any other 30 year period in the history of the planet.

My dad seems to think with the bloat that NASA has become swollen with over the past 50 years, the only manned space flights we’ll see in the near future will be private space exploration. Have to agree with him on that. Most taxpayers see NASA as a big waste of money. I’ll save the politics for another time and place, but that is the prevailing theory across our land.

Space Shuttle Program: 1981-2011

Messing Up the Clean – Why Can’t BP Get It Right?

It’s been almost a month since an oil rig about 50 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and resulted in what has since promised to become one of the greatest ecological disasters of all time.  Within 2 days of the explosion, an oil slick approximately 5 square miles appeared in the Gulf.  At the time, it wasn’t known if that was residual oil from the fire on the rig or if there was a leak.  Within a few days, it’s confirmed that there is an active leak with initial guesstimates by the Coast Guard put the oil gushing out at about 1000 barrels a day; it was then upped to 5000 per day.  That number has since been revised to upwards of 70,000, but BP won’t allow scientists to use special equipment in an effort to better estimate that number.

By the end of April, over 100,000 gallons of chemical dispersant are used to prevent the oil from reaching shore.  This in itself is a problem.  In most circles, chemical dispersant is seen as a necessary evil: something that keeps lots of oil from reaching shores, yet something that’s chemical makeup is unknown to the public.  Because dispersant is not known to the public, it’s safety is a question.  In fact,  one such dispersant being used, Corexit, is banned in Britain.   Corexit was used in the ’89 clean up of the Exxon Valdez and has been linked to health problems in humans and development problems in wildlife.

Dispersants, as the name implies, Continue reading

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