|Barbara and Cheryl and the Orion test
capsule parked on its trailer
at the Texas History Museum in Austin.
They'd already started a presentation in the theater in the museum when we got there. They were showing the video below. Afterwards they answered questions. I didn't catch the names of the two men who were answering questions. I'm assuming they were both engineers based on the way they spoke. One was an Ops guy from Edwards Air Force Base and the other one must've been on the design side of the project.
There were a lot of people there with very restless children. Some kids asked questions that make me think they are way more into the big picture than the tedious details. It kind of threw off the men with microphones. "Are we going to be able to ride in this to another galaxy?" asked a shrill voice behind me.
Blank stare. "No." Pause to analyze if he should keep talking. Decides to dive in and try to explain distance and fuel capacity and finally gives up and talks about telescopes.
|They just parked the trailer in the street and put a tent over it. There's a ladder so you can go peek in.
There appear to be no windows in this thing at all. You know what else doesn't have windows? The Tardis.
I also never got to ask what happens to the space suits. Surely they aren't going to have the suits in the part of the vehicle that they jettison to burn up on reentry. Is there room in there to stow four suits and power to keep the batteries charged and everything? And there's room to get into them? Who will help the last guy? I've never seen anybody put one of those on without somebody not wearing gloves to help them. Somebody asked about doing EVA from this capsule. They said there is no airlock so basically everybody suits up then they depressurize the whole thing. They used to suit up on earth and wear that thing the whole time. They can't be doing that. Surely not. Anyway, I guess it doesn't matter for quite some time.
A woman in the audience asked if they were moving NASA to California now that the shuttle program was over and they were shutting down Texas and Florida. The speaker looked more flummoxed than he did about going to another galaxy. Huh? They just bring this one thing from assembly in California and now you think they're shutting down Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers? No! He didn't really explain it to her, but I think what she didn't understand is that they're laying off a bunch of people from the shuttle program, but they still need the facilities and expertise of SOMEBODY. They CAN'T close down. I guess considering what the NASA budget is some people have a hard time imagining how they can even keep the air conditioning on.
The whole thing leaves me feeling sort of uncomfortable. People are worried about the wrong thing. They think it's too expensive to send people to Mars. OK, but we still have to do all this other stuff. It's barely costing anything. To hook some rockets to a crew module boilerplate and shoot it a mile in the air to collect acoustics data and test the parachutes is a useful thing to do even if you don't ever go to Mars in it. We have to keep these people employed. We need to keep the instrumentation calibrated and be sure there are people around who know how to use it. They have to keep making things and testing them. They're designing this crew module to have a 30 year useful life. Well that doesn't mean you just don't design anything else until 2030. I hope that's not what it means. Please don't let it mean that.
|Here's one of Cheryl's pictures. I may be pointing to a window.
They would have taped over it for transport. I couldn't see it from where I was.
Here's another image showing windows. They go all out on the resolution on these renderings!