Wed, Aug 16, 2006
Learning The Lessons From Apollo
We've all heard that those who don't learn from the past are
doomed to repeat it... but what about those who take lessons from
the past for the projects of today? Well, that's essentially what
scientists at NASA are doing, as they finalize the design for
America's next lunar rocket... and they're not ashamed to say
In fact, the Associated Press reports NASA scientists are not
just reviewing old designs, or searching out used parts in some
government warehouse -- they're going to museums, where some of
NASA's relics from the program that landed men on the moon nearly
40 years ago are now displayed.
And furthermore, Marshall Space Flight Center manager Jim Snoddy
says the approach is reaping real benefits... with his team
incorporating elements of the Saturn 5 rocket's vintage third-stage
J-2 motor in the design of the next-generation rocket's J-2X
"We've gone back to the days of simplicity. You can get more
complicated, but why bother?" Snoddy said.
Others have borrowed old Apollo-program operations manuals...
snapped pictures of an unused Apollo-era lunar lander... all in an
effort to 'get their hands on' the technology of yesterday, that
will play a role in tomorrow's return to the moon.
"We're not inventing rocket engines. This is an evolution," NASA
associate administrator Scott Horowitz said on a recent visit to
Marshall. "You get the benefits of the heritage, but you also get
the benefits of new technology to help drive down costs."
That will likely mean a six-man Ares capsule that looks an awful
lot like an Apollo spacecraft on steroids... and a lunar lander
that, like it's predecessor, will feature gangly spider-like
landing legs. Hey, if it works... why mess with it?
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