Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shuttle Successors?


An odd phenomenon is going on across the space nerd community at the moment, a fascinating and funny and sad mixture of joyful experiences from the final Shuttle launch and severe worry about the future.

Amid the flurry, I keep wanting to write a post about my... feelings surrounding the current state of the space program, but so far it's been less emotionally taxing to focus on photographs, spacetweeps and related events.

If go and get all opinionated, I run the risk of realizing the biting political cartoons published of late are a little too scary-accurate:

Space Shuttle Cartoon

Space Shuttle Toon

Cheerful, huh? And now hot on the heels of the biting American political rhetoric, the chief of Roskosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency), Vladimir Popovkin, was quoted as saying, "The shuttles turned out to be expensive toys which havent justified the investment made in them."

So what guarantee do we have that the Shuttle's possible successors will be cost-effective, efficient, well-managed, safe and successful in the long-term for science, for manned space-flight and for the overall betterment of humanity? Well, none really.

But quite a few companies have thrown their hats into the ring for a good try:

Space Shuttle Successors
BBC News picked the "Top 5" heirs to the Space Shuttle, short of someone shop-lifting a Russian Buran and considering it a fixer-upper.

CST-100 by The Boeing Company

Dragon Capsule by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation ("SpaceX")

Dream Chaser by Sierra Nevada Corporation

Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) by Lockheed Martin Corporation

Secret (?) Space vehicle by Blue Origin LLC

And so I shall wrap up this month's Space Shuttle blog theme with some confirmations of the successes, sadness for the end and hope for the future. Time will tell if any of these crew and/or cargo potentials will become the Next Big Thing. Perhaps some other dark horse of the CCDEV (NASA's Commercial Crew Development Program) will come forward?

Whatever happens... some of us will be supportive, but ever impatient with the pace of development...
Space Shuttle Turtle