Monday, 12 March 2012

Mercury observatory

NASA has long had a waste not, want not philosophy and loves reusing leftover equipment.  Skylab is the best example of this; a space station cobbled together from bits of Apollo hardware.  But the habit set in early with this charming little orbital observatory built into an old Mercury capsule.

It's a wonder that the shuttles ever made it to a museum.

1 comment:

eon said...

I think the difference was between ballistic and aerodynamic recovery. An automatic system can handle a ballistic reentry and parachute landing very well; an oriented- angle semi-ballistic/aerodynamic reentry plus crossrange glide to controlled touchdown and rollout is a bit iffier.

Of course, the real reason the Mercury OAO never got built was purely PR. Sending a manned capsule up unmanned later on would be perceived as either (a) a denigration of the manned missions or (b) proof that the manned flights weren't necessary to begin with- in the minds of the average NASA PIO and administrator. Both of whom could expect to end up in front of a Senate committee for even suggesting something like this- in the age of Proxmire, at that.

No, reality would have no part in the debate; anymore than it does these days.