Hephaestus's Blog


New addition to the ISS
February 11, 2010, 11:54
Filed under: Space stuff

The space shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station at midnight on Wednesday to deliver a new module. The module,  called the Tranquility node, is 15 ft wide x 23 ft long. Inside Tranquility, there is a bathroom with a system to recycle urine into drinkable water and also a system for removing carbon dioxide from the air so that the astronauts can breathe. Attached to Tranquility is the Cupola, a dome-shaped extension with 7 windows for Earth observation. The Cupola offers a 360-degree outlook on space, which is new to the ISS. The other day, we heard an interview on NPR with an astronaut who was very excited about that.

NASA is going to retire the shuttle after 2010. In his budget, President Obama encouraged NASA to look forward and use private companies to build spacecraft to put astronauts into orbit. I was going to do this post on NASA’s Constellation program, but it was using old technology and went and got itself canceled earlier this week, so I don’t see much of a point. I’m  not sure whether or not I think that using private companies is a good idea. What’s your opinion on this and on Tranquility?

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5 Comments so far
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If I knew more about physics, engineering, material science, chemistry, combustion, construction, operations, security, metallurgy, aerodynamics, and accounting, I would totally start up a rocket company. And I would build one that looks like this.

In all seriousness, I’m optimistic that getting private companies into launch vehicles and ops is going to speed up our development of space and other planets, but I’m not much of an expert on the topic. If I wanted an expert opinion from futurists, I would ask these guys.

Comment by Hades

By the way, that cupola reminds me of something.

Comment by Hades

The space shuttle has been a real work-horse, but it was poorly designed for its eventual task – round-trip space pickup truck. If the next vehicle can have fewer design masters (the space shuttle was saddled with a lot of military requirements) it might be both cheaper and safer.

With the private companies starting up, maybe NASA will become more like the national highway administration.

Comment by Kvasir

Kvasir was created from the saliva of all the gods, making him the wisest of the Vanir, but was quickly murdered by Fjalar and Galar, two dwarf brothers, in their cavern.[ref]

Norse tradition is Awesome.

Comment by Hades

One word…Branson.

Comment by Zach




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