newshound2 at digitalmars.com
Wed Dec 19 16:24:05 PST 2012
On 12/19/2012 4:09 PM, Rob T wrote:
> As always the answer is never as simple as it seems (just as it is with bytecode
> if I'm to attempt to stay on topic). One of subgoals of the space shuttle was
> for it to be able to return not just people back, but also to capture and return
> back to earth an orbiting payload. It also carnied along instrumentation such as
> the Canadarm, a very expensive device that you normally would not want to throw
> away. The arm was used for deploying the payload and also for performing repair
> work. It is hard to imagine a throw away rocket booster approach meeting all of
> these design goals, and I'm leaving out other abilities you cannot get from a
> simple return capsule approach.
I find it hard to believe that the Canadarm cost more than wings, landing gear,
a custom 747, etc. (That custom 747 probably cost a cool billion all by itself.)
Secondly, the cost of the Canadarm consists of two parts: engineering design,
and construction. Once the design is done, the incremental construction cost of
making multiple ones is way, way, way cheaper.
As for returning an orbiting payload, has that ever happened? And still, one
could launch a shell with a heatshield and parachute on it, put that payload
into the shell, and drop it into the atmosphere.
I can see needing to return spy satellites with their film canisters, but film
is hopelessly obsolete now, and I can't see any such satellites these days.
The shuttle concept was so expensive that it severely stunted what we could do
in space, and finally sank the whole manned space program.
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