NASA’s ambition in 1971 was to build a fully reusable Space Shuttle which it could operate much as an airline operates its airplanes. The typical fully reusable Shuttle design in play in 1971 included a large Booster and a smaller Orbiter (image at top of post), each of which would carry a crew.
The Booster’s rocket motors would ignite on the launch pad, drawing liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen propellants from integral internal tanks. At the edge of space, its propellants depleted, the Booster would release the Orbiter. It then would turn around, reenter the dense part of Earth’s atmosphere, deploy air-breathing jet engines, and fly under power to a runway at its launch site. Because it would return to its launch site, NASA dubbed it the “Flyback Booster.” It would then taxi or be towed to a hanger for minimal refurbishment and preparation for its next launch.
The Space Shuttle Orbiter, meanwhile, would arc up and away from the Booster. After achieving a safe separation distance, it would ignite its rocket motors to place itself into Earth orbit. After accomplishing its mission, it would fire its motors to slow down and reenter Earth’s atmosphere, where it would deploy jet engines and fly under power to a runway landing. As in the case of the Booster, the Orbiter would need minimal refurbishment before it was launched again.
Unlike an expendable launcher – for example, the Saturn V moon rocket - a fully reusable Space Shuttle would not discard spent parts downrange of its launch site as it climbed to Earth orbit. This meant that, in theory, any place that could host an airport might become a Space Shuttle launch and landing site.
NASA managers felt no need for a new launch and landing site; they already had two at their disposal. They planned to launch and land the Space Shuttle at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Florida’s east coast and Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California. Nevertheless, for a time in 1971-1972, a NASA board reviewed some 150 candidate Shuttle launch and landing sites in 40 of the 50 U.S. states. A few were NASA-selected candidates, but most were put forward by members of Congress, state and local politicians, and even private individuals.
The Space Shuttle Launch and Recovery Site Review Board, as it was known, was chaired by Floyd Thompson, a former director of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The Board got its start on 26 April 1971, when Dale Myers, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, charged it with determining whether any of the candidate sites could host a single new Shuttle launch and landing site as versatile as KSC and VAFB were together. The consolidation scheme aimed to trim Shuttle cost by eliminating redundancy.
I seriously love looking at these unused space shuttle concept designs. A lot of them are actually less weird than the final design they ultimately went with.
This movie. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed watching this movie.
The ridiculousness of it’s “future-tech” mired in stuff that, by now, is out-dated makes it seem like a modern version of those 50’s movies about the future, where spaceships were controlled by punch-card operated computers or those old magazines showing us how we would all live on distant planets inside state-of-the art colonies filled with computers the size of a truck.
Electric warfare of the future in
One of the abandoned, broken modular homes in Sanjhih, Taiwan. These bizarre looking homes are actually part of an abandoned resort project. They are referred to by Taiwanese locals as the ‘UFO houses’.
Original 1960 Martin Aero Space poster for a Prototype Rocket by Paul Rossi
Soviet retrofuturism 1965
The original premiere cut of Metropolis eventually disappeared, and a quarter of the original film was long believed to be lost forever. However on July 1st 2008, film experts in Berlin announced that a 16 mm reduction negative of the original cut of the film had been discovered in the archives of the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Along with additional footage found in New Zealand, a long restoration process began. The fully restored film was finally shown on large screens in Berlin and Frankfurt simultaneously on February 12th 2010
I used to like Metropolis a lot. Or at least the idea of it. Stumbling across H G Wells’ awesome, scathing review of it kind of ruined it for me a little bit, because… I think he’s kind of right on every point. (Seriously, read the review and try not to go “OH SNAP” every paragraph.) We tend to lump all the stuff from that period of time together if we don’t examine it too closely, because a lot of it seems on the surface to portray the same kinds of ideas. But decades had passed between the time when Wells was writing things like The Time Machine and The Sleeper Awakes, and when Metropolis was made. A world war had been fought, and the world was increasingly mechanized and industrialized, and the consequences of these events on society were becoming more well understood. Wells seems to be of the opinion that Metropolis was something like the 1920s equivalent of Avatar or Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen — a clumsy, heavy-handed story propped up by flashy special effects and driven by a cheesy, forced-feeling morality lesson that didn’t even make any logical sense when dissected.
…Be that as it may, I’ve always thought Brigitte Helm’s crazy-eyed “Evil Maria face” (example: right column, third row) was surprisingly erotic. Somehow, while the original Maria is kind of unremarkable, when the (physically identical) Evil Maria makes that face she manages to be totally hot to me in some way I’ve never been able to accurately put into words.
Northrop-Loral F-19A Specter stealth fighter concept art. Loral ad in Aviation Week & Space Technology, November 7, 1983.
Maserati Boomerang concept car.
Oh, the past…
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