Wednesday, August 03, 2005

SCREWING WITH INTERSTELLAR FLIGHT

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Background courtesy of Michael Sherick at APOD

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

We were at Dr. Matloff's brownstone, discussing a design for a proposed Interstellar multigenerational flight module for an upcoming meeting at Princeton. I believe Dr. Forward was the drunkest of us all and we were at this point, late, drinking and laughing more and more so I couldn't hold my pencil anymore.

He reclined upon the comfy couch and started flipping the side flippers of the corkscrew which was very similar to the one in my cartoon here. Suddenly, he sat up and said, "Make it look like this!"

Alas and alack! I didn't have electronic cameras nor Adobe Photoshop though we did have a very early PC in the downstairs office. So I hand sketched the corkscrew and then painted a picture of the craft which got everyone laughing who knew the joke about its unimmaculate incarnation.

So, today, NASA releases a picture of the latest post-shuttle shuttle:fFrom Space.com:
NASA has decided that its next launch vehicle for getting humans into space will be based on the space shuttle system, including its main engines, solid rocket boosters and external tank. There will be one big difference, though, instead of riding along the side of the new rocket, astronauts in the future will be riding on top on top of their next launcher -- above any debris that might fall off.

Speaking to reporters via telephone July 29, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin said the agency's plans are the result of an intensive Exploration Systems Architecture Study he ordered in late April to plot NASA's return to the moon by 2020. That study will be publicly unveiled in "a few weeks," Griffin said.

Sources with detailed knowledge of the study results said NASA will need to spend $5 billion to develop the crew launcher, a price tag that includes the solid rocket booster-based vehicle itself, a new upper stage and all necessary launch infrastructure.

The Crew Exploration Vehicle, which NASA hopes to field around 2011, is expected to cost another $5 billion to develop and would be designed both to service the space station and to carry astronauts to lunar orbit. A heavy-lift launcher capable of delivering 125 metric tons of cargo to low Earth orbit would be finished after the smaller crew launch vehicle, according to NASA's plan, and would also cost in the neighborhood of $5 billion to develop.
What were they on? If we were drunk, well....or maybe they heard the word "booster" and immediately the artist thought, "shot." A good thing the artist didn't think "shot" and then drew a gun. Heh.

It looks like the model for this was picked up on the Lower East Side near the bridge. Or maybe the person went to a dentist and saw close up, this being stuck into the roof of the mouth..we don't want to go there, do we?

I much prefer the wine corkscrew, myself. I don't like needles...grrr. Eeek.

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