Earlier this week, NASA conducted Ascent Abort 2, a critical milestone in the development of the Orion spacecraft to ensure the future safety of astronauts onboard. The day prior, the agency hosted influencers and bloggers for a press event under the NASA SOCIAL program — and Take Back the Sky was invited along for the ride.
The morning started with short briefings in the very same media broadcasting facilities that news anchors used to report live on the Apollo missions back in the day. That big clock from the movies is even in view.
Houston, we’ve gone legit.
Two engineers who have worked on preparing the (simulated) craft for this test fielded questions about the very, very short-lived flight that would take place. The purpose of this test flight was to literally abort during ascent, that is, after liftoff on the way up. The Orion’s dedicated escape thrusters would fire, yanking it up, away and clear of the rocket as it continues on its way to space — or more likely the ocean, I guess, given that this is an abort. Either way, it’s crucial to test-fire the system to ensure that, before any astronauts fly onboard, that the Big Red Button will work if they have to press it.
Here at Take Back the Sky, we’ve made no attempt to disguise the fact that we support and advocate independent spaceflight by private individuals – I think that gets called a “bias” these days. It has never had anything to do with politics. We just feel that pursuing a future like the kind depicted in Firefly and Serenity where any ordinary Joe can fly wherever they want in a ship of their own is worthy and noble.
The media likes to make a great deal of noise and bluster about recent advances in spaceflight and tries to get mileage out of it by depicting it as a David-and-Goliath battle between large companies set in their ways and smaller, scrappy upstarts driven by ideals. It’s a portrayal that is not without merit, for sure – a valid argument could be made that our progress out in the black has stagnated in large part due to complacency in the industry and its relationship with government as a contractor.
So, it’s no surprise that, when a company like SpaceX shakes things up and challenges others to adapt, it makes headlines. I mean, for the love of Shepherd Book, they’ve actually made space cool again. People by and large have been starving for something new, for things to pick back up again, and it’s only natural that SpaceX and other “New Space” companies garner attention for their impressive achievements.
It’s occurred to me recently, though, that in our excitement and newfound optimism for the future, it becomes very, very easy to dismiss or even disparage the accomplishments that still continue to be made by NASA and “legacy” companies, such as the Orion spacecraft – and that’s not because I started working for Lockheed-Martin. Speaking of which – Continue Reading
After years of iterating designs on the drawing board, hard work on the factory floor, and combating the naysayers and haters, the Crew Dragon, the first private orbital spacecraft (Virgin Galactic’s bird is a suborbital craft, and yes, the Orion also had an unmanned test flight as the first government-commissioned craft since the space shuttle) will launch from Kennedy Space Center in the United States in the early morning hours of Saturday, the 2nd of March. Continue Reading