The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Delighted to See the Capsule Returning to Crewed Spaceflight

Apollo capsule atop its Saturn V rocket as shown on this original press kit ...
For those of us who were kids in the 1960s and 1970s, the shape of real outer space adventure, of manned spaceflight out farther than humanity had gone before, was the capsule. First the small capsules of Mercury and Gemini, and finally the bigger Apollo capsule carrying three astronauts to the moon and back ... along with the spider-like LEM lunar lander. Of course, the Apollo blasted off on top of the mighty Saturn V rocket, the single most powerful craft of its kind. It was a joy watching one of those lumber off the launch pad and head for space.

After that, we had three decades of low earth orbit airplane-shaped spaceships that embodied the next generation's shape of space adventure ... although at much lower altitudes. For that generation, Sierra Nevada is building the Dream Catcher to take crews back to the International Space Station in shuttle-like style (although at a smaller scale).

The last capsule got us to the moon. The next one ... farther,
just where, only time and our national backbone will tell!
Image courtesy of NASA

For us older, more grizzled space fans, it's a joy to see Lockheed Martin's Orion space capsule being tested. It's the next generation capsule, larger, capable of longer duration flight, and destined to take crews farther than ever before. Along with it, SpaceX is developing the crew capable version of the Dragon capsule, which takes the enterprise a little farther, providing us with the very science fiction like landing on a pad on pillars of flame rather than in the ocean on parachutes like Apollo did and Orion will.
The shape of things to come ... Orion ... Image courtesy of NASA/Bill Stafford

... Dragon ... Image courtesy of NASA
Of course, all the while, our robotic explorers are beckoning to us from much further afield ...
Will there come a day when humans look back upon Earth from Saturn themselves?
What shape will that spacecraft take? Earth is the brightest dot below the rings to the right.
Photo courtesy of  NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
For more on Cassini at Saturn, see:
To see what the next two years will bring for Orion and Dragon, see:

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