Bill Whittle’s After Burner: A Great Future Behind Us

Bill Whittle bids farewell to Endeavor and the Space Shuttle program. How did the United States go from being a leader in space exploration to having no way to send a man to the cosmos?

Consider this an open thread.

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  • DebbyX

    I don’t know how anyone could of cheered the site of that. To me it look like a funeral procession in the sky.

    Just too sad. America is better than that!

    • WordsFailMe

      My question is- Is the United States ready to send a man who was boosted to the Presidency by racists, Islamist and communist back to Chicago.

      And then, will there be enough will and momentum to dig the Islamist, racist and communist ma****s out of what is left of our beautiful nation?

      • I worry that America the plane is outa gas and we are going down. Whether or not we crash into the side of a mountain, into a forest or if we somehow manage to dead stick onto a long runway, there is no stopping the decent from the heights we had achieved. Perhaps we need to start thinking about how to gather the right people and resources into some kind of Galt’s gulch and how to rebuild after the lights go out. If we patriots work hard and are smart on the way down maybe the crash doesn’t have to be fatal and we will have more to work with after the crash.

        ps, I think I heard that plane analogy on Becks radio program in 2008.

      • Pyrran

        WFM, if we can put a man on the moon, I’m pretty sure we can put a man in Chicago and the good news is, it won’t be a long time before it happens!

    • I agree Debby. But the saddest part for me is that Obama decided the last orbitor would reside in Long Beach – not Houston at the Johnson Space Center where these were controled from, but Long Beach. Why didn’t Houston get the last one, they voted Republican.

      • I agree with the Houston thing, however, they do already have the other three on the east coast. Maybe they actually thought about the people on the west coast. Weird.

    • sDee

      It is but not for the vehicle – for what built it.

      There was a time we’d take little notice of mothballing a current generation of space craft because we were just too damn busy building the next.

  • “Museum, Mausoleum..” Forward dear leader style.

    “Mark my words”. Excellently said Bill Whittle.

  • Army_Pilot1967

    Right on, Bill Whittle. Lack of a viable space program is part of obama’s tarnished legacy, nothing to be proud of for sure. I recall that obama wanted NASA to concentrate on making nice with muslim countries??? Then and there I realized how screwed-up the imposter in the White House happened to be. We’ve got to vote that loser outta office or he’ll reduce this country to the likes of a backwards third-world country or worse!!!!

  • Bill makes me believe that there is a Reagan out there. He just doesn’t want to be President.

  • Technology transfer to the Russians…..probably the Chinese too.

    • freenca

      It’s all part of his planned redistribution. Wealth, technology, and lots more too, IMO!

  • Don’t worry Bill this is only temporary, SpaceX is acomin full speed ahead and we’ll have space faring capability again soon enough.

  • pairadimes

    Bill, I watched the other end of that flight, when it originated here in Houston. You are an absolutely indispensable part of the dialog taking place today on America’s future. Please keep the throttles firewalled and Afterburner on!

  • The Shuttle program had been planned to expire actually in 2010 (I think) by Bush. However, he stipulated that there be in it’s place a smaller version for people to travel back and forth to the station and a separate heavy lifter just for the big stuff. Unfortuantely, those funds were canceled by the Obama adminisration.

    • sDee

      In the summer of 2009, just weeks after Obama cancelled the manned space program (cutting about $1 Billion), just about the same amount ($900 Million), was transferred to the State Dept and sent to Hamas by Clinton. The Director of NASA was then missioned with an muslim outreach program.

      It was not about budget cutting, it was about undercutting our strength.

      Does anyone remember the new Missile Defense Agency logo that Obama had commissioned then?

      • pgdn

        Very interesting indeed. Can you please provide some links on the hamas transaction?

  • freenca

    A cousin sent photos last week as it flew over his house. WOW just WOW!
    We have to recapture that dream!

  • You would think that we would want to keep at least one spacecraft in outer space just for defense and military purposes, to defend this country. Now we don’t even have that. This is a sad day indeed.

  • 911Infidel

    Open thread? Goodie. For those not yet familiar with Jamie Glazov or Michael Coren here’s your chance to meet them:

  • sDee

    My first job out of college was on Space Shuttle. What an amazing time. I had the great fortune to work in the shadow of scientists, designers, technicians and engineers whose genius had dominated the skies of WWII, put the first satellite in orbit, the first man in orbit, the first man on the moon. There was no problem they could not solve, no challenge they would not seize.

    The pathetic excuses for leaders who are now at the helm of America have no clue of greatness, the complexity, the sweat, dedication, sacrifice, and genius it takes to accomplish these things. They can build nothing, they can only cannibalize.

    It is bittersweet for me. There was never a time since I was old enough to ride a bike that my father was not telling me with great excitement, about the next spacecraft or missile my great nation was building. Until now.

  • 911Infidel
  • NJK

    By letting someone do it.

  • 911Infidel
  • 911Infidel
  • For some reason, the “smart” kids today seem to think that Social Media is A) new, B) technology. They look down their noses on guys with slide rules who solved low and high Earth orbit physics problems involving propulsion, materials, payloads, and keeping pilots alive.

    The technology involved in social media is nothing more than miniaturization of the same technology used to make transistor radios and microwave antennas back in the 1960’s. The only real advances, in terms of hard engineering and science have come in materials, especially components used in video displays, long-term data storage, and fabrication processes (it’s the fabrication process, and some materials research, that gets to miniaturization, so I don’t list that separately). Well, none of that is directly integrated into Social Media. (You can run Social Media on an old PC-model Unix box; just not very effectively due to speed problems.) The rest is simply programming, and you don’t need much education to do that. (Most of us got our start programming before there WAS any education for it, so I know what I’m saying.)

    Don’t get me wrong, I love this stuff. I like to have as much of it as I can get. But a nerd in the 1960’s knew things that the internet geniuses of today will never even guess about. These were guys who worked in places where stuff blew up, and smoke in the lab was a hazard they barely noticed.

    It’s kind of funny, too that a lot of that old-school engineering is now done within the military. Not for inventing new things, but for keeping old stuff running.

    The guy who invented the blue LED. He’s cool.

    Facebook Apps, smartphone Apps. There are thousands and thousands of them. By definition, it doesn’t take a genius to develop stuff like that. Even I can do it.

    I want to see a program that allows for the danger factor. Not one that makes elimination of all danger it’s highest priority.

    Would you volunteer to ride on a rocket to Mars if you knew there was a 50/50 chance you wouldn’t make it there or back? I sure as h*ll would, if I knew it was built by the kind of guys that used to make rockets here in the USA.

    • Yo K-Bob! Wonderful post. I got something you’d like. I have an old FujiFilm DLT backup tape (yes, the big ones that stored a whopping 2 Gigs LOL!) that I use now as a coaster at my home computer. Ah, the good old days of real Unix systems administration where you have towers of backup tapes to change out every week.

      • Hah! I had stacks of that stuff laying around at one point. Those old Iomega “Zip” drives, a tape backup thingy, and a wobbling tower of external hard drives going back to the 140Megaybte range.

        I had to take a sledgehammer to some of them, and I found out that hedge shears worked pretty good on the old Zip drive cartridges.

        I hated tape backup. Most obnoxious thing I ever had to deal with, outside of plumbing disasters.

    • SierraBear

      Extended manned space missions beyond LEO (low earth orbit) will not become a practical reality until the problems associated with deep space radiation exposure are resolved.

      • Agreed. But the people who were working on that problem—for the Mars expedition—have stopped. The project was shelved, and many left NASA because of it.

  • 911Infidel
  • 911Infidel
  • 12grace

    This is tragic.

  • My open thread topic is a tale of two graphs.

    The First graph:

    We all know that the media is so far embedded up Obama’s posterior that they can tell us to the moment the exact polyp count. So it will come as no surprise that an article at Business Insider has managed to come up with a graph that seems to make it look like Obama has had a great record on the economy. Just look at the desperation in this graph. First, you can see from a chart at NPR (you have to select “Federal”) that the number of federal jobs has increased under Obama, provided you factor out the massive number of temporary census workers in 2010, and also the massive loss in Postal workers (down nearly 40% from the number in 2000) due to the fact that the Post Office cannot compete with private industry.

    And by the way, at least Postal Workers have real jobs, unlike the jobs being filled by Obama’s cronies in rank after rank of bureaus and boards. Had, I should say, for a lot of them.

    So, in other words, even before Obamacare kicks in, and even with massive jobs in government lost due to dismal postal performance, federal jobs are increasing. After 2012 is over, they will “necessarily skyrocket” thanks to the huge numbers of IRS and Death Panel workers needed. You can also see that the private industry “recovery” they are touting in that first graph is led by Healthcare and Education jobs. Both are increasingly “government” jobs, especially if we don’t repeal Obamacare. You can see from the NPR chart that critical “infrastructure” jobs are still totally hosed by the S*OAMF’s crimes against the economy.

    The Second graph:

    Doug Ross brings us this graph (by way of Cafe Hayek), also based on the FRED dataset. All you need to know about Obama’s “recovery” is that it’s the worst one in living memory, possibly even in US history (but no one ever want’s to go back past the Great Depression for those data). You can see that the jobs have simply lain right where Obama dumped them, for SEVERAL YEARS!. The sharper ones out there will see that this is a graph based on a ratio: Civilian Employment : Population. So is that a trick? No, it actually shows how much worse the jobs market is than simply showing various unemployment factors.

    See, it’s kind of mean to expect the S*OAMF to not only create more jobs, but to do it faster than population growth. How unfair is that? Well, it’s so unfair that you have to go back to 1960 to find a similar situation. When you also consider that we’ve been in a period of slow population growth (bad economies tend to do that), it looks even worse for Obama.

    Conclusion: Steevy (the regular commenter at AoSHQ, who seems to have invented the phrase, “Barack Obama is a Stuttering Cluster**** Of A Miserable Failure) was right.

  • BikerHoop

    Open thread hijack.

    Tomorrow, Saturday, Sept 29, there is going to be a rally for Paul Ryan in his home town of Janesville, Wisconsin. I’ve been watching the local paper (I live in a neighboring town) and as of today’s issue, there has been absolutely no mention of the rally. The town has always been strongly liberal and I’m convinced this is the reason.

    The way I see it? The paper will send photogs to the rally and then publish the pictures of the “small rally” and taunt that “Ryan can’t even get a decent turn-out in his home town”. That would catch the eye of the MSM who would take it and run with it. The MSM would then exponentially increase the amount of coverage this “small rally” received and ensure their spin is on every newscast for the next week.

    Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am!

    Ryan laughed at and demonized… Republicans lambasted for not supporting their VP candidate… Romney campaign castigated… MSM has another thing to laugh at GOP about… fresh fodder for all the pundits to make jokes about… all in one shot.

    All because some cheesy little liberal newspaper thought they could play with the big boys and used their own subscribers and towns people to get a little national recognition. Sad, ain’t it?

    Oh yeah, just so you know… I WILL be at the rally, right down front.

  • Bill Whittle, we are your biggest fans, so I know you are scanning this post. I graduated from Penn State in 1994 with a bachelors in Aerospace Engineering. In my senior year, I was asked to videotape a guest speaker for the 50th anniversary of the Aeronautics major at Penn State (later changed to Aerospace). One of the alumni was astronaut Guion “Guy” Bluford, Jr.

    We all were in awe of him and his story, but while everyone else in my class brought meaningless pieces of paper to get his autograph, I brought my Spaceflight Dynamics text book, only that would be fitting a man of his stature. And I didn’t even joint he crowd to get his autograph. I was packing up the video camera and caught up with him after the crowd dissipated and our current professors were about to take the alumni to dinner.

    He looked through my book and smiled. He showed the book to his colleagues, made some nice comments, said “Now I know one student who won’t lose my autograph!”, laughed (who can infect anyone with laughter with the smallest grin), and signed my text book under which he listed all his missions.

    His stories were awesome. Here are two I remember from his speech you won’t find in a search result:

    1. He could not understand why astronauts would get into these sleeping bags that were strapped tight to the shuttle so they would not move while sleeping. He said, “We’re in space! Enjoy it!” He did. He tethered one of his shoe laces to a drawer handle and floated while sleeping, gently bumping into various parts of the shuttle. That’s how you experience space!

    2. A student asked him what was the scariest part of space flight. He quickly said the reentry. Now he could have left it like that – an obvious and boring answer – but that’s not Guy’s style. He looked through his overhead projector sheets (projectors were still used then :-), found a picture (I figured later that he had expected that question), and put it on the projector. It was the picture of a small window from the inside of the shuttle that was bright red and looked like ripples of red water were flowing over it. Then his eyes got big, his voice dropped, and he said, “You don’t understand. That is not a picture of flames during reentry. That is a picture of AIR MELTING.” Carbon plasma flowing over the window, not water. “But all in all it was fun!” We all laughed (well, I couldn’t, since I was running the camera and was not allowed to make noises).

    Where are the stories of space travel now? Where are the cool nerds we can admire for doing something really great?

    I share your anger, Bill, I really do. God bless.

  • detectivedick

    Since this is an Open Thread, I found another Obama supporter for your viewing pleasure.

    Sorry Bill, Thanks for the great post!

  • Earthforce1

    Without going into details, this hits very close to home. I don’t know where to start….

    It’s not so much that the shuttles are being retired, which was an eventuality, it is that there are no real plans for the future. We had Constellation, which had its problems, but at least was a step in the right direction. Which was new space craft for Lunar and possibly Mars visits.

    Since Constellation came out of the Bush era and Obama couldn’t have any of that so it was canceled. Now we are left with fragments of a space program with no real goals or guidance and a lapdog of a NASA administrator (Bolden).

    Recently Bolden supposedly promoted to the president the idea of building a space station beyond the orbit of the Moon. Of course with the new large rocket that was part of Constellation (Ares V) being cancelled, we have no way of launching anything that heavy. Its like trying to run a marathon after you’ve cut off your feet.

    I’m starting to ramble as I could go on for pages….

    • detectivedick

      You are not rambling…Obama just spent 1.6 BILLION for free cell phones for his base. It is a matter of pride and priority.

      • NYGino

        Space shuttles don’t vote.

  • Why should the US government spend money to send people into space? Bill Whittle supports socialism. Socialism without much reward. Why don’t you just give everyone food stamps if you like government waste and hate the private sector so much?

  • aintthispeachy

    Sure we lost the new moon mission,…. but hey!!!! we gained a new office of Muslim outreach to highlight the accomplishments and innovation of Muslim aviators. Does throwing rocks at the moon count?

  • Coming Apart

    Whittle is so correct and this reminded me of a speech on space and culture with extreme wisdom by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson! One of my favorite speeches of all time!

  • NYGino

    It will be quite embarrassing to our nations dysfunctional education system when and if we try to crank up our space program again and realize we have to import engineers from other countries.

    • SouthernForester

      Not trying to be a smart a#$, but we did that the first time too. Wernher von Braun and 500 of his scientists surrendered to the allies, after they developed the V-1 and V-2 Rockets the Nazi’s used. We were well on the way to developing them ourselves, but their knowledge and experience was indispensable to our program and gave it the boost it needed. Pardon the rocket pun.

      But I understand where you are coming from and I agree with you and Whittle. The SCOAMF is trashing our country.

  • SierraBear

    One of the objectives for the second Obama term is a collaboration with Foster Gamble in which a new era is ushered in employing the “code” to provide endless free energy for the planet and whisk us off to distant worlds.

  • Sunnny1

    This is a perfect example of the heartbreak we feel in every arena. I was blessed to be at NASA and see Armstrong descending the steps as my family ascended. Now we watch him ascend as our nation descends.

  • Under the child-king’s watch…..our space agency has gone from “exploring space”… “muslim outreach”.

    I remember as a kid in grade school, being so proud of the Apollo missions….drawing pictures of the lunar landing module from the Saturn V program on my notebooks.

    I guess today I’d have to draw the prophet………oh wait….

  • dontdrinkthecoolaid

    NASA is now a muslim outreach program. Yippee!!! errrr…ugh….umm….aahh….hmmm….doesn’t quite sound or feel the same, does it?

  • A_Truism

    Ooooeeeee, Bill is angry. And rightly so. We’re supposedly living in the most technologically advanced age in history – but it’s our grandparents generation that saw a man walk the moon?

    I hope all Americans will exercise their full rights as American citizens to see their country restored to glory (in God).

  • joedoakes202

    We’re not gonna take it . . . Twisted Sister . . .

    October 7, 2011

    Dear President Obama AKA (He who thinks he is King of the pond):

    It ought to be apparent to even you by this point that your dictatorial decisions have absolutely pi$$ed off the 2/3’s of this country, that make it work, day in, and day out. The shock coming to you on November 6, 2012 will be so great in fact I believe that the artifice that you put up with the help of a pair of teleprompters, and a left wing media, that straps on knee pads and lip gloss before they ask you questions, will be so complete that breathing may be difficult. It goes without saying that in the past, these elections, in the grand scheme of things were meaningless, as soon as the public was satiated, and bent over the desk, the politicians got right back to $crewing us.

    This time it’s different. We are going to roll back much of what you liberals have accomplished with such force, and speed you are not going to know what hit you. We do not care anymore about you, and your squawking. If you want to live in a rat hole, and have a government that would rather you were aborted, feed you, fine; all the while being led by a Senator who drowned people in his car, and being lectured to by anchors that performed hit and runs, with or without their socks on, and then get gigs on CNN, that’s fine too. Not us. We are not going to take it anymore, we’ve had it. You can only kick a dog so much before he turns around and bites you, and on November 6, 2012 we are going to bite, and hang on until you politicians listen to us, and do what we want done.

    We will remember how you treated us while we strove to compromise with you. We will remember how you divided, and continue to divide this nation, from it’s historical allies and, races, religions, and economic classes. We will not work for bipartisanship with people who want to destroy the very foundations that our fractured society rests upon. No Sir! We will work to radically simplify everything from the tax code, which wastes so much precious time and wealth, that ought to be used for growth and production. We will work to cut wasteful bureaucracies, and regulations, that only serve to benefit those faceless people who work without accountability, and are overcompensated for what they do. We will force a decision on fighting for one side of the same Muslim/Arab coin against the other. Is this a fight we need to win the old fashioned way – bomb the crap out of them. Or get the hell out. We will keep our promises to those that depend on entitlement programs, and then reduce it’s burden on future generations by no longer socializing failures to save, and invest for their own futures. We will support space exploration, and end the madness that is NASA’s current chief Bolden’s suicide mission for Muslim outreach. Why you numb nuts fired Griffin is incomprehensible to me, the man would have led us to the moon and back by now, and left a base on it for the next generation of American explorers to build upon!

    We can do all of this. We just need 2/3 of both houses of Congress, and a Conservative President. Don’t tell me we can’t do that. Don’t tell me that we can find candidates that are some how unable to win against a socialist pinko commie wrapped in a label that says “Democrat.”


    We can, and we will lead the charge to begin to balance this nations books, provide economic opportunity, and fill it with those willing to create, and work, to fill those jobs, and properly defend this nation, whether it is in Texas from Narco-Drug dealers, or the Jihad Johnny’s of the world, or the Communist Chinese who want a piece of the world without paying for it. Who ever tells you we can’t doesn’t understand the core of what it is to be an American.

    “Where right, we’re free, we’ll fight, yea you’ll see, we’re not gonna take it anymore!”


    Joe Doakes