Space Shuttle Lamentations

Greetings all, time to rant a bit

So I was trawling around the 'net today just to see what popped up and I found myself on NASA's website.  An article caught my attention entitled "What's Next for Nasa."  If you're like me, you lamented the end of the space program and began to wonder if your country would actually be the first to land on a not-Earth planet in the near future, or if this signaled the end for the larger pursuit of that which had the potential to unite us all (Space Exploration, in case you missed my meaning.  I've been playing a lot of Star Trek Online recently, so I guess I'm in a Roddenbery style "space will be awesome" mindset).

What really got my excitement going about this article was the mention that NASA is pursuing technologies meant to land us on Mars and other locations in the solar system.   If this is true, and if the sacrifice of the shuttle program without as versatile an alternative ready to go leads us to trekking around our little speck of a corner of the galaxy, then it was worth it.  If it doesn't, I'm going to be sorely dissappointed.

Pictured below is a prototype of the "new" space craft that will be ferrying us to the International Space Station, "The Multipurpose Crew Vehicle."

Photo Courtesy NASA

It's just not as impressive as the space shuttle, is it?  It lacks majesty and look of its predecessor, doesn't it?  I used to look at the space shuttle and go, "wow, we're really on our way.  Pretty soon we'll be flying around like Han Solo."  This craft, serviceable though it may be, just doesn't say that to me.  This one screams "we haven't come very far since the Apollo project, have we..."

I guess I shouldn't be so glum.  We still have the ISS, which is pretty bad-ass in itself because we can all say that "space stations are real" now.  It's just that nothing quite says "nation on the rise" like a functioning, take off and landing, space vehicle.  I really hope one is coming sooner rather than later, because the MPCV is just a let down.

I'll part on some of the concept art for vehicles that I think would've been way cooler than the one above: (all images courtesy NASA's generous image policy)

Boeing's X-37
Lockheed Martin's X-34
McDonnell-Douglas X-33
There are even more designs available on the web that look like they could kick some serious space-butt.  (For example,, try searching for XCOR's Lynx on Google images.)
Yet despite all the potential, we're left with a forty year old design for a cone shaped pod barely big enough to stretch your legs in.

We better have that infra-solar vehicle ASAP, or there will be impotent rage...

I'm just sayin'.


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