Saturday, July 23, 2011

Spaceplanes: Seven Decades, One Infographic, and a Hopeful Lemming

"Space Planes: Evolution of the Winged Spaceship (Infographic)"
Karl Tate, (July 5, 2011)

See how engineers turned the dream of winged spaceship into reality with NASA's space shuttle in this infographic.
Source All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

It's a pretty good one-stop look at the last seven decades of spaceplane development.

There's the usual stuff about the American military 'admitting' that the X-37B spaceplane exists. It's (almost) true. Sort of. I've posted a sort of reality check about the X-37B. Several times. Including this:I got the memo, about the death of Disco and passing of the '60s: but not everyone seems to have read their copy. And that's another topic.

Space Shuttle, Hype, and Hope

The Space Shuttle wasn't the sort of airliner-to-orbit that we'd hoped for. On the other hand, it carried modules of the International Space Station (ISS) up, ferried people to and from the ISS, launched satellites: and carried the occasional repair crew. Remember the Hubble fix?

Until folks started building working models of today's spaceships, there was some optimism. Maybe even excessive optimism. ("Future Space," Tales of Future Past, David S. Zondy)

On the whole, though, the Lemming thinks excessive optimism is easier to stand - than the 'and we're all gonna die' attitude that's been fashionable for a while. Yet another topic.

As outfits like Bigelow Aerospace add to the ISS - and set up other orbital destinations - there's going to be a market for anyone with a practical, safe, surface-to-orbit ferry service. Which probably means that Skylon, Dream Chaser, some other spaceplane - or maybe something like the scuttled Delta Clipper - will be the 21st century's DC-3.

Or maybe swarms of killer bees will make nuclear power plants explode, paving the way for killer robots, mutant frogs, and homicidal computers to kill the survivors of biological warfare, global warming, and the coming ice age. ("Science Fiction in the Movies: 'The Satan Bug' to 'The Matrix'," Drifting at the Edge of Time and Space (January 26, 2010)) That's not likely, though: in the Lemming's opinion.

Related posts:Also:What's next?

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