Elon Musk, not exactly a stranger to launch failures, is planning to fly a couple of billionaire tourists around the moon in Q4 2018, just 19-22 months from now.
NASA is being pressured into – and is apparently considering – turning the first all-up SLS test flight, unmanned in current plans, into not just a manned mission but one around the moon.
What could possibly go wrong?
The Apollo programme put men on board only after six comprehensive test flights, four with Saturn IBs and two all-up Saturn V stacks, and ten component test flights before that using Saturn I. Wernher von Braun didn’t even want to do the first all-up test of a Saturn V stack when they did, preferring to proceed even more methodically and carefully. There were many problems and many fixes after each of those flights, some of which were detailed in the excellent six-part “Moon Machines” series, the Saturn episode of which is below.
I often complain that we haven’t done anything of real substance in manned space travel since Apollo 17 returned in December 1972, not once leaving low Earth orbit in forty-five years, but this two-pronged plan to knowingly, purposefully, needlessly put lives at extreme risk is not what I want to see. If carried through, neither of these is likely to end well. I won’t say I told you so; I will mourn.
It may be oversimplifying and slightly facetious to say this, but there is no one left at NASA who remembers how to get to the moon.
All six episodes of “Moon Machines” are in this playlist.
[…] missed this news a couple weeks ago: After three months of study, NASA has rejected the utterly idiotic idea of attempting to put astronauts around the moon on the very first test flight of the Space Launch […]
[…] surprise, there will be no slaughtering of tourists around the moon in Q4 2018 as originally stated early last year. That’s a sensible thing. Besides, nobody but the worst of humanity would want to see the […]