Anniversary Post: Orion Spacecraft

Orion SpacecraftOn this day last year, the first test flight of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV) took place. Using it, we should be able to go beyond low Earth orbit to, say, the Moon. Indeed, its next test will be an uncrewed trip around the Moon by the end of 2018. And then, some time around 2022, we plan to send four astronauts into orbit around the Moon. And then a few years later, the first crewed trip to an asteroid.

Now you all know me: I love the robotic space program. I’m not that keen on people going up in space because I’m risk adverse. But this is pretty cool. And if people are going to be orbiting the planet… Plus, the potential for the exploration of asteroids really is great, because it is our first real efforts to address the potential catastrophe of an asteroid striking the Earth. On the other hand, given how well humans seem to be doing in creating their own catastrophes, maybe it is unnecessary. Still: it is worth doing.

Also: the cost of the mission is estimated to be less than $3 billion. That’s roughly 50 times less than colonizing the Moon — much less Mars. But I know how all of you are really excited about colonizing Mars, so listen up: Orion is an important step in that too. It seems to me that Orion is about the most exciting thing happening in crewed space exploration. It’s a bit of a return to the Apollo days.

On the other hand, Donald Trump will probably destroy the world before we ever reach an asteroid. Here’s hoping I’m wrong!

16 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: Orion Spacecraft

  1. I hope they send just women up there. Women cost less and are way more likely to not fall for the evil computer’s tricks. Okay I made that last part up.

    This is exciting news because of all the reasons I have previously blathered on about. If we switch over to spending $200 billion in discretionary funds to NASA we could start mining asteroids, build a moon base, attract the attention of aliens and then have a interstellar war. Wait. Dang, never mind.

    Although I think you are being slightly too cynical about the election.

      • It is always easy to be so. You have so much evidence in your favor.

        However-as you can see, we are still able to reach for the stars.

        • I’ve been trying to get around to writing a comment on The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman. It’s my theory that most people in high places do stupid things because social forces are driving them. High priests didn’t continue human sacrifices because they actually thought they worked, for example. But even with reaching for the stars, remember that our society invested in it because of the Cold War. I would be shocked if humans survive another 50,000 years. Intelligence seems to be fatal trait.

          • Even if we started to show off to the Russians “Look at how awesome we are compared to you!” We don’t have to keep going and yet we are.

            As for why humans in high places make errors like say WWI-mental illness plays a part. An unwillingness to be kind at the right time. Ability to set aside your pain and good old fashion belligerence. What appears to be a strangely masculine only desire to fight with other men. All of which can be recognized and dealt with. In fact they have been.

            We have gone from entire blocks of nations fighting with each other to small skirmishes between proxies. It is absolutely horrible for the people stuck in the crossfire. However…the big thing that was obvious with the last attack on Paris was not the fact it happened but that France said “and yet, we welcome the refugees.” Easy to forget in the hyperventilating by the right wing in this country. France could have easily locked the door and said no. They didn’t.

            Humanity is pretty awful but we are not always awful.

            • Tomorrow I have an article on this. It is mostly my continuing to work through it. I’m not sure I buy it. But the idea is humans as individuals are generally okay and that it is our group nature that is awful. Of course, I wrote about that today too. Like I said: working through it.

              • *pat pat*

                It is hard to believe humans are decent when you have endless streams of screeching howlers on TV talking about how awful everything is. SCOTUS rejected a challenge to a city’s banning of AKs and ARs. Yay!

                • Interesting. I don’t follow this stuff so I don’t know who active the Supreme Court has been in this kind of thing.

                  • I do out of mostly idle interest in the legal world. Most of the cases at the federal level have next to no impact on my work.

                    • Yeah, most of us focus far too much on the federal level. It’s at the local level where most things take place. And regarding conservatives, that’s where they should be focused. If there is a place where the government is abusing people, it’s at that level.

                      Anyway, I’ve been trying to get my video camera back because I want to put together a presentation for the city council here. There is a big intersection here that I walk through all the time that is ridiculously dangerous because of the way that the lights are set up (and that most drivers are jerks). This is the one political thing over the last ten years that I figure I could actually have some impact on. In fact, I think my videos will freak them out, because if a pedestrian dies after I show them the video, it would cost the city plenty. Anyway, if I get to it, I’m sure I will talk about it here. What part of my life don’t I? I’m making potato soup tonight. Just to keep you up to date. ;-)

                    • What would I do with my life if I didn’t know what much better food you are eating for dinner than me?

                      How come you cannot use your cell phone? I would think it has video capability. Of course if I was there I could lend you my gopro and snicker madly at it being stuck on your head since it makes anyone wearing it look like a dork. :-)

                    • Actually, my plan is to use a tripod and hide it behind a bush. I will thankfully not be walking around with a camera on my head. Although it might make for some interesting alternative footage.

                    • Yeah, I’ve thought about that. But it is on the edge of a parking lot. But I don’t want to get arrested!

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