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posted by martyb on Tuesday July 25 2017, @10:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the this-is-progress? dept.

Let's just throw this old thing at the Moon and call it a day:

A cargo container that was built to fly on NASA's space shuttles is being repurposed as a prototype for a deep space habitat.

Lockheed Martin announced it will refurbish the Donatello multi-purpose logistics module (MLPM), transforming from it from its original, unrealized role as a supply conveyor for the International Space Station to a test and training model of a living area for astronauts working beyond Earth orbit. The work is being done under a public-private partnership between the aerospace corporation and NASA.

"We are excited to work with NASA to repurpose a historic piece of flight hardware," said Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin's program manager for the deep space habitat contract, in a statement.

Donatello was one of three MPLMs that was designed to fly in the space shuttle payload bay to transfer cargo to the station. Built by the Italian Space Agency under a contract with NASA, two modules, Leonardo and Raffaello, flew on 12 shuttle missions between 2001 and 2011.

Also at Popular Mechanics.

Previously: NASA and International Partners Planning Orbital Lunar Outpost
NASA Eyeing Mini Space Station in Lunar Orbit as Stepping Stone to Mars

Related: Moon Base Could Cost Just $10 Billion Due to New Technologies
Should We Skip Mars for Now and Go to the Moon Again?
Cislunar 1000 Vision - Commercializing Space
Forget Mars, Colonize Titan
Japan Planning to Put a Man on the Moon Around 2030


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 26 2017, @03:45PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 26 2017, @03:45PM (#544685)

    Diversity is irrelevant, but competition is definitely a great thing. And there is competition. While SpaceX is the most mature company actually producing viable products, Blue Origin, Orbital Sciences, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Virgin Galactic are right behind them. One of these days Jeff Bezos may even start making rockets instead of making claims about making rockets on his website. In any case, SpaceX is holding onto their position for reasons beyond a lack of competition.

    Failure is, within reason, a good thing. If companies aren't failing then they aren't pushing the boundaries. This applies a million times over in an industry lock rocketry where we're still operating at a very primitive level with very complex systems that have a million ways to fail. Complete intolerance for failure is arguably a big part of the reason why the current space industry has seen, at best, moderate evolutionary gains compared to where we were 50 years ago. It's probably even the reason that NASA continues to push the SLS today. They know it's a terrible project that's unlikely to go anywhere, but it's 'something.' What if NASA spoke up against the SLS and congress decided to substantially cut their funding? They'd be left to rely on outcry from and increasingly apathetic electorate, being fed information from an increasingly corrupt media, to pressure congress into doing the right thing. They're afraid to fail, so instead of that they'll sit around twiddling their thumbs and go for low cost, low risk, low reward missions while spending the lion's share of their funding as a giant congressional district handout. People need to stop being so willing to accept mediocrity as a 'compromise.'

  • (Score: 2) by turgid on Wednesday July 26 2017, @04:24PM

    by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 26 2017, @04:24PM (#544708) Journal

    Diversity is irrelevant

    No, it's very relevant. In the nuclear industry, for example, they rely on (at least) redundancy, diversity and segregation for safety i.e. more than one, different makes and designs and physical barriers.

    Diversity is useful in business as well because it provides more choice to the customer, but also because it reduces the tendency to stagnate if everyone's using essentially the same design to the point where the only innovations are tiny. For example, everyone's more or less using stick rockets today.

    Failure is, within reason, a good thing.

    Yes, fail early, fail often. We call it Agile. It's a good thing when you are in control of your parameters, you have a good Design of Experiment so that you are measuring the right things and can feed back the information into your development cycle to make the next iteration more reliable.

    Complete intolerance for failure is arguably a big part of the reason why the current space industry has seen, at best, moderate evolutionary gains compared to where we were 50 years ago.

    I beg to differ. It's not fear of failure. It's lack of motivation. Going around in circles in LEO isn't terribly exciting but getting there needs to be made cheap and reliable. What is needed is proper leadership, ambitious goals, proper funding, commitment to follow through to completion etc. This isn't a problem of Private vs. Public, just one of vision. Elon Musk wants to go to Mars. A lot of us do, it's just that he has the personal wealth to make it happen. He's a very shrewd and lucky man but he is not a god or a superhero.

    It's probably even the reason that NASA continues to push the SLS today. They know it's a terrible project that's unlikely to go anywhere, but it's 'something.'

    I suspect the reason NASA continues to push SLS is because they keep getting kicked around by successive presidents for partisan reasons and are desperate to cling to something and see it through to a working product. I'd do exactly the same in their position.

    People need to stop being so willing to accept mediocrity as a 'compromise.'

    Indeed they do, and mediocrity comes in many forms. I've seen a lot of it now, Vision and leadership are the lacking ingredients in most industries.

  • (Score: 2) by turgid on Wednesday July 26 2017, @04:31PM

    by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 26 2017, @04:31PM (#544714) Journal

    This is diversity [theregister.co.uk] in launcher technology. [space.com].

    The stick rockets are the VHS video recorders of access to space. Virgin Galactic seems to be stuck on primitive agricultural technology.