Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mars or Bust - A mess from Rolling Stone

It's hard to say where this article from 'Rolling Stone' goes wrong. Well, no. The second sentence gives you a clue that Benjamin Wallace-Wells either has a terrible editor or has no idea what he is talking about.
The spaceship that will launch six astronauts to Mars is a single, spare room just fifteen feet wide. Known as the Crew Exploration Vehicle ...

Sounds horrible. Except the CEV is destined to lift missions to orbit for exploration on the Moon. One imagines he was shown CEV as an example of how they'd lift crew to the vehicle that will take them to Mars and he just wasn't paying attention.
The simulators for the space station and shuttle are the same ones the astronauts used twenty years ago, full-size mock-ups that look -- with all their curved white parts -- like something Darth Vader would walk through. The instrument panels resemble those on a small plane, only with more screens. And when the astronauts practice weightlessness, they do it, wearing space suits, in what is basically a twenty-foot-deep swimming pool.
It is possible that the simulators for Shuttle and ISS are the same because the vehicles have not changed in gross detail. I do know that NASA ordered an anti-gravity machine to simulate weightlessness but it was canceled by a penny-pinching Clinton administration.
If one gear freezes or the navigation system slides off course, the astronauts could end up stranded on a planet 35 million miles from home.
Unless they have backups. And backups for the backups. Perhaps they are just going to wing it like a guy determined to see how far he can drive while the gas gauge reads 'E'.
And if there is any interstellar sex, or even an unrequited crush, the situation could spiral out of control. This point was underlined last year, when a male cosmonaut on the space station tried to kiss a female Canadian colleague. She, quite literally, ran the other way. Mission Control had to remotely lock the door to the Canadian's quarters so the Russian couldn't get in, and wait for everyone's tempers to cool.
Oh my - sexual titillation for the RS reader. Who will have no way of knowing the story is (tip to James Oberg) bogus.  Or indeed that the entire article is bogus from tip to tail.

Krep. Krep from the first sentence to the end. Why in the name of Mike, Ned and all that is holy is RS slagging on NASA - the one agency in the federal government that does good, and puts more back into the economy than it consumes? What next, RS, going to write a slag-fest on Mother Teresa?

Bring back P.J. O'Rourke you bastards.
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