Tuesday, April 12, 2011

50 years, 30 years, and New York City?!

Happy Yuri's day (or Yuri's Night, if your city has a party).  Seattle used to have a party, and it was a pretty good one the first year, but sources I know at the Museum now tell me it's a real sore point when this comes up.  But maybe nobody would be in a party mood tonight after the news this morning.  So...50 year ago today, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space.  Ok, there is some conspiracy about him actually being the second in space, but first to survive the trip, but I'm not going there.  I haven's seen it yet, but there is a movie that was released today (First Orbit) about the flight.  Click the video below to see it all on Youtube.
Today is also the 30th anniversary of the first flight of the space shuttle on April 12, 1981.  John Young and Bob Crippen had a lot of guts (or some other sturdy male parts) to fly this totally unflown spacecraft manned for the first time it went into space.  They did have ejection seats, but they probably knew from looking behind them, they only had a few seconds to use them.  Otherwise, they would have probably popped out and been cooked to a couple of blackened husks in the SRB exhaust trailing about 600 feet behind the shuttle.  Even the Russians flew their Buran unmanned for the first try.  This may have been the last big gusty move of pilots in the early 80s.  Would a new spacecraft be launched be launched today with a crew on board the first flight?  Probably not.  Everyone is too scared to take any risk anymore.  Someone might get hurt, killed, or at least tangled into a nasty lawsuit.  Don't take risks anymore, exploration isn't that important. *Ugh!*
Finally, today we learned what museums around the country are going to get a space shuttle after they retire.  It was a total surprise, since museums that were picked just didn't make any sense.  Ok, KSC and Smithsonian, were pretty much expected.  California Science Center in Los Angeles gets Endeavour.  Uh... when did they say they were in the running for one?  Not a peep out of them, and they get one?  I read that they kept their request very quiet not to raise a bunch of excitement.
Then there is Enterprise, the parting gift shuttle for the leftover museum (we all wanted space flown hardware right?).  I was expecting and hoping that Seattle would at least get Enterprise if not a "real" space flown shuttle.  Then New York City was announced.  WHAT?!   I figured that they had even less chance then the Evergreen Museum in McMinville, Oregon, in the middle of the wheat field.  I do remember reading that the winning museum had to have fairly easy access to a runway that the 747 could operate on to deliver the goods.
...a sufficiently long enough runway on which to land the 747 that will carry the Shuttles to their ultimate destinations.
So, since Captain Sully landed an airbus on the Hudson, that qualifies the Intrepid Museum to barge the shuttle up the river and plop it on a dock surrounded by water?
Now look at the location of the museum in LA.  How do they plan on getting that thing from LAX (assuming they deliver it there) to the museum?  Close the freeway and tow it over there?  I just don't see how they met the requirements for the runway.  Again, Boeing field in Seattle would have been a better choice. 
If one of the shuttles went to Houston, and the other to Dayton I would have shrugged and said "We gave it a good try here in Seattle, but that was kind of expected.  Bummer!"
The shuttle ending up in New York is more of an insult.  Why have two shuttles only a couple hundred miles apart?  Have one in Seattle, then each corner of the country would have had a shuttle to amaze, wonder and inspire the future generations.   So much for sharing the shuttle with the whole country.  I guess we don't matter out here in the "wild west".  
Seattle will get the full sized, wingless, training mock-up.  At least there is word that we'll be able to go inside this, but it's still just a big model.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I cannot even begin to try to understand the placement choices for the retiring shuttles. It galls me to no end! I know that Seattle would have been a perfect fit, meeting all the requirements and then some. Too bad it has nothing to do with logic and reason it is just about politics. Thanks for the slap in the face Bolden! And yes - it is the Wild West out here, plus we got all those volcanoes and dinosaurs running around too...Ugh!