August 18, 2008

The Stupidest Fucking Spacecraft Landing Idea Yet: the "Pit Stop". This article proposes an unusual way to land objects from orbit and probes returning from deep space. In this concept, the landing capsule, carefully steered by GPS in its plunge to earth, would aim for the opening of a deep vertical shaft set into the ground. The capsule would dive into this hole while still falling at terminal velocity. Yeah. That'll work.

What the fuck is wrong with parachutes and ocean splash-downs?

  • I'll keep posting this boring science shit until you post something more interesting. It's a big internet, there's lots to put up. This site only lives if you breathe posts into it.
  • Rockets crashing into giant holes in the ground? What's bring about that? Zzzzzzooooooooommmmmmmkapow!
  • DOnt you wish we could edit our posts? ;) If we could I would go back and change all my submissions into midget clown porn.
  • Like a “smart bomb” the vehicle would aim for an exact spot on the earth’s surface. Amazing how he touches on the very heart of the problem, yet fails to recognize it. The other problem being sending an object down a narrowing tube at terminal velocity, and the thing just getting, you know, jammed in place with its astromen a kilometre down.
  • Not only is there a problem in aiming for the hole, you'd have to aim for the exact centre of the hole as well, to create and maintain that air cushion. Being the teeny, tiniest bit off would lead to a slight grazing of the wall, sending the thing spinning uncontrollably. Not to mention that there's always the possibility of an unplanned ballistic reentry, in which case, if you're aiming for a tube in the desert, everyone is pretty much fucked.
  • After reading this article, why do I keep thinking of prom night?
  • This sounds like a scene from There Will Be Blood where yet another doomed miner is at the bottom of the shaft walking around in muck. Then, kaboom -- a spaceship at terminal velocity crashes down on him. Then they nonchalantly show the mine being rebuilt.
  • Assuming you could get the navigation right, and thread the ship right down the middle of the hole, wouldn't the air at the bottom of the shaft get very very hot? Gay-Lussac's Pressure-temperature law and so on?
  • There's a Gay joke in there somewhere -- hot shafts, down the middle of the hole, and all that -- but dammit if I know what it is.
  • You;d be able to figure it out if there was more Canadian pr0n on the telly.
  • Why gay? Doesn't straight sex involve penetrating a hole? Ooh what a giveaway, Cap!
  • Why Gay? Because it's GAY-Lussac's law. I could have gone looking for a joke based on a loose sack, too.
  • This sounds nifty and all, but I have to agree with Hank. Parachutes are economical, tested, already available, and have a proven track record. They are also far less technologically demanding to implement. They also don't require us to drill big-ass holes in the ground.
  • heh. you said "ass".
  • I thought the point of the article was to propose an idea - an alternative to the "soft landing" method (i.e., parachutes); while economical and proven, it does place limitations on spacecraft due to the weight penalty. I don't know a whole lot about this stuff, but I'm not about to casually dismiss a former NASA engineer with many years of experience. Besides, there's somthing exciting about watching a hot probe aim for a deep hole.
  • Oh, certainly there are other options. You can slow down the spacecraft before it hits, or you can lessen the impact, or both. Aiming for a tube to rely on air pressure seems incredibly risky compared to, say, covering the southern half of New Mexico in cotton candy on a foundation of pillows and trampolines.
  • The technology required to precisely aim a rapidly falling object into a deep hole (which itself would need amazing engineering to dig and maintain), would be better applied to just remotely landing the object like a glider, a la the Space Shuttle.
  • could they get Luke Skywalker to pilot the craft?
  • What's wrong with trampolines?
  • Reason number 1,417.4 why I love Captain Renault: He is the only person I know who would propose a spaceship land in a field of cotton candy. <3