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Comments:

  • overlake [David Bennett]
  • 09/08/2004 12:25PM
This morning a group of us flew out from Salt Lake City to the Wells, Nevada Airport in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Genesis re-entry at the predicted maximum brightness. At the appointed time we scanned the northwest horizon looking for the approach of Genesis...nothing. We looked overhead, to the west, southwest, and south. Absolutely no visual sign of the re-entry. As we were about to give up hope, we did hear a sonic boom towards the southwest, but no indication of a fireball or smoke-train. After a moment we called someone who was watcing the NASA feed and found out that the capsule had crash landed without deploying its chute near Granite Peak in Dugway. We can only hope there is some data they can retrieve from the samples despite the impact.<br>

Other than the Mar's Rover's, NASA has managed to crash just about everything the last few years... Two Mars probes, Discovery... Don't count Cassini as a success as it was launched almost 8 years ago. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. A parachute and mid-air catch for a $260 million space probe? Come on! I mean maybe on the next return mission they can send it with balloons and a clown that can fill them with helium right before landing. I know, I know... space travel is difficult. But if this is the best they can come up with as a means of safe return on a such an important scientific mission... well you can kiss Hubble's sweet a** good-bye!<br><br>Paul Atkinson <br>
  • mclemens [Mike Clemens]
  • 09/08/2004 01:07PM
Let's pray Huygens parachutes do better.

  • stosz [scott mathews]
  • 09/08/2004 02:58PM
Oh boy...NOW you've got me going. Siddown and let me try to spin this for all the cynics out there. <br><br>I couldn't begin without announcing that I was one of the many engineers who worked on Genesis, including the Sample Return Capsule...we'll see what went wrong. So, I suppose in some degree you can blame me. To say the least, it is personally crushing to see pictures of that fresh crater in Utah, but I have also learned to see the bright side.<br><br>Let me tell you that very little was left to chance in the Genesis project, and the tiny amount that was (so that there were "three nines" of reliability instead of four) was carefully traded against what could be delivered using untried methods vs. the know-how on hand. To get Genesis designed and built in the time allotted, send it to where it had to go on a (puny) Delta II rocket and back again on a direct entry trajectory -- even if only to wind up as a "lawn dart" in the Utah dirt -- is nothing short of remarkable. Believe me kids, there is a LOT of success here, but it's too hard for your average customer to fathom this (especially when they're brainwashed into believing the war in Iraq is a "Mission Accomplished").<br><br>If for the past 25 years NASA were not hamstrung by the inane budgets favoring politicized boondoggles like the Shuttle, ISS, and now it seems, manned Mars missions, a whole lot more science and real discovery could've been done. Sure, manned missions stoke the pioneering human spirit, and like most people I get a visceral charge out of seeing humans working off the Earth. But manned spaceflight has always delivered very little for an obsene expenditure of money. NASA should be commended for doing so much with the so little that is left over for real deep space exploration. <br><br>What's more, Genesis was spawned out of the (now retired) "Better-Faster-Cheaper" philosophy, whereby lots of slimmed down missions could be launched quickly and economically without "putting all the eggs into one basket." It was technologically accepted that this would result in a higher number of failures. However, through multiplicity a calculated percentage of the overall science would still be achieved. This is a simple "bang for the buck" approach during a time when things looked far worse for NASA than they even do now. (I'm surpised that a nation of Wal-Marters and Sam's Clubbers don't eat this up) <br><br>Believe it or not, $260M is pretty damn cheap for a spacecraft that has still delivered a lot, and with the wreckage -- however sad --fortunately in hand we WILL find out and learn from what went wrong. This is a big change from the Viking days, which was a fantastic accomplishment and unqualified success. But a staggering amount of money ($billions) was put on the line, all or nothing. <br><br>What NASA failed to understand before going ahead with the BFC approach is that the taxpaying public cannot stomach ANY failures, even when they fall within the formulated bounds of what is to be expected for systems that push way beyond the state-of-the-art envelope. Americans hate losers.<br><br>Deep space is the most unforgiving of environments, and "routine" space exploration will not happen in our lifetimes. We should all look at the glass as half full.<br><br>Congratulations to NASA and the Genesis Team, for meeting the challenge! You get another chance with Stardust, so hang in there.<br><br>P.S. Cassini reached Saturn precisely when it was expected to, following an eight year journey that employed an ingeneously designed trajectory utilizing FIVE planetary gravity assists so more science could be stuffed on board in place of more propellant.<br><br>There, I'm done now. <br><br><br><br>


  • deccles [David Eccles]
  • 09/10/2004 03:36PM
When a golf ball lands in a bunker and stays where it lands, it forms a concentric circle. We call it a fried egg. Guess the nasa engineers were thinking about their last round of 18. It's too bad really. What a waste of 260 million.