June 20, 2006
CEV Update

Aviation Week and Space Technology is carrying this detailed report on how the Crew Exploration Vehicle's cockpit design is coming along. The article includes a detailed comparison between what NASA wants to happen with the CEV and how similar things work on the Space Shuttle and how they worked on Apollo and earlier programs. The notes on how the pilot interface will be configured in particular really highlight just how old the Shuttle's design really is. 100 pounds of paper manuals!

I've been following AvWeek's coverage of NASA for (good lord) nearly 20 years now, and to me at least NASA looks very serious this time around. This is completely unlike the Delta Clipper and X-33 days of the 80s and 90s, when the relatively optimistic editors of AvWeek could barely muster enthusiasm, and frequently bashed the agency for mis-steps and goof-ups. The subsequent failures of those and other programs to me seemed to reinforce the view that NASA was ossified beyond repair. The brilliant success of SpaceShipOne promised hope, but when it came to going to the moon it was definitely a long-term one.

Now NASA seems to be in flux for the first time in decades. While classic agency bureaucracy seems to have definitely not left the building (witness the description of how the NASA design team has to submit questions to the two competing contractors), compared to earlier initiatives the impression seems to be one of a kicked over anthill.

After dozens of false starts, failed promises, and deep disappointments over the years, I can barely believe it. By God, we may actually be going back to the moon after all!

Posted by scott at June 20, 2006 09:36 AM

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We have to pay for New Orleans and Iraq first
But it is a wonderful idea to start space exploration again. I still remember the days of the might Saturn V most people under 30 have never even heard of it.

Posted by: Pat on July 5, 2006 04:15 AM

New Orleans could have helped pay for itself, but the recently re elected Mayor Nagin turned down an offer by one contractor to pay the city $5 million for the flooded cars still littering their streets, so that the city could instead spend $23 million on a different contractor to remove the cars... only to have the contractor they hired take the money and declare bankruptcy, so now the state is offering a third contractor $33 million to do the job.

But then, it's not the government's responsibility to save money, now is it?

Posted by: Tatterdemalian on July 5, 2006 09:48 AM
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