Human Space Flight (2)

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Mossie
Mossie

Challenger, Columbia and Apollo 1

 

By Michael Shrimpton

 

Well done to JS (was it not?) who referred to these three incidents of sabotage, each carried out of course by the DVD.  They are the world’s only intelligence agency with a section dedicated to aviation and spacecraft sabotage.  Almost inevitably, if an aircraft or spacecraft has been sabotaged, it will be either the DVD, or a sister agency, such as the Chinese SIS or MSS, working with them.
There is little point blaming NASA.  They are not an intelligence agency and they have had damn all help from Washington or the FBI.
Werner von Braun was DVD.  It was he who came up with the operational plan for sabotaging Apollo 1 and murdering Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.  He was in an ideal position to insist on pure oxygen for the cabin atmosphere, almost an open invitation to a fire.  The shortcircuit was fairly simple to arrange.  If you talk to astronauts – and I have – you will find that one of the things which NASA tended to do really well was the electrical bus.  NASA have always been safety-conscious.
The shuttle sabotage incidents were more complex.  The operation to bring each of the shuttles down commenced at least 18 months beforehand.  Eventually DVD political assets in Washington were able to get the Space Shuttle (Orbiter) program cancelled without a direct replacement.
The very important Constellation Program was also cancelled, leaving NASA dependent on Russian launch vehicles for the foreseeable future, although that nonsense was almost inevitable after the cancellation of the promising Lockheed X-33 spaceplane.  I am aware that the X-33 encountered some difficulties, but nothing the brilliant Skunk Works couldn’t handle.
The absurdity of the Constellation cancellation was commented upon at the Annapolis Conference.
Space or Starvation??
Whenever the subject of spending serious money on space is raised someone always pops up and says ‘what about the starving people here on Earth?’  What starving people?  There is no serious problem with starvation in the West, which is not to say that people don’t occasionally find themselves starving.  I was starving on Monday morning, after the measly breakfast they served up on British Airways on the flight home from Baltimore.
Admittedly I was slumming it in World Traveller Plus, but a croissant?  Bad enough to have French food on a British airplane, but I assumed that there were bacon and eggs to follow, plus a couple of rounds of toast and marmalade.  Boy, was I wrong!  British Airways claimed some years ago to have discovered the secret of making toast in a pressurized cabin, a real advance in aviation.  So what’s with the croissants?
The only country in the world where people are dying of starvation in real numbers is North Korea, where we are told that a rat is a delicacy (depends on how you cook it, I suppose).  No one in the United States is eating rat, although I do recall a Chinese restaurant in LA where the sweet and sour chicken looked a bit suspicious.
North Koreans are starving because of the policy choices of their government, for which the American government is not responsible.  South Korea has chosen a rational economic system and her people eat well.
Much of what passes for social problems in the US is down to illegal immigration.  No government is responsible for aliens illegally on its soil, save for limited obligations to protect them until they are removed.  We constantly hear statistics from liberals about ‘x million people in America’ not having health over, or jobs, or SUVs, or whatever. Rarely are these stats broken down into US Citizens, green card holders and aliens.
The Administration could easily fund a mission to Mars.  It chooses not to because its priorities lie in wasting money on welfare, subsidizing illegal immigration (which costs the US at least three times as much as the space program), encouraging narcotics trafficking by pursuing failed strategies (like supplying guns to Mexican

The Chrysler
The Chrysler

cartels) and ‘combatting’ global ‘warming’ when the planet is in a cooling phase.
Besides, as I pointed out last week, the technological spinoffs of space programs often mean they come for free, or at a much reduced cost.
The Laffer Curve
I was puzzled by one comment, which suggested that I was arguing for higher taxes.  I went back and reread my article, just to make sure that I had not sown confusion.  I had not.  You do not increase revenue by raising taxes.
The concept is known as the Laffer Curve, after the great economist Arthur Laffer.  If your tax rate is zero, you raise zero revenue.  If your tax rate is 100% such revenue as you do raise will be less than the cost of collecting it.  Arguments rage about the optimum tax rate for the highest earners, but it appears to lie between 20 and 35%.   That nice man Steve Forbes, into whom I once bumped (I was even on his Christmas card list for a while – he used to send out charming home-made cards with pictures of his family) argues for a flat tax of around 17.5%.  It is unlikely that you would get much more net revenue out of a tax rate of 35% than you would out of 17.5, when the growth stimulus of lower taxation is taken into account.
I wasn’t actually arguing for an increase in federal spending anyway – just wiser spending, on things that matter.  Like space, or defense.
Military Aviation Museum
I was right to dash off last Saturday to this outstanding aviation museum, at Virginia Beach Airport, on Princess Anne Road.  It’s not like the Smithsonian – the exhibits actually fly.  It is well worth a visit.
They have the world’s only airworthy De Havilland Mosquito.  I arrived shortly before they ran up her twin Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.  What a sound!!   The Mossie was restored in New Zealand, and they did a great job on her.  She looks brand-new.
The runway is grass, just over 5,000 ft.  They also have an outstanding collection of US Navy planes from World War II.  It’s been a long time since I saw an F4U Corsair and I’m not sure I’d ever seen an F4F Wildcat before.  They also have a TBM Avenger and a lovely old AD Skyraider.  She looks ready to strafe some more commies.  A Skyraider is not a small plane by the way, not with 3,350 cubic inches of motor.
The Ducks
I take on board the comment about tastier crabcake being available elsewhere in Kent Narrows, for humans, but what about the ducks?  Do they hand out free crackers for the aquatic wildlife?  I’m an Englishman remember, and we love animals.
Classic Movie of the Week
They showed The Bridges at Toko-Ri again this week.  This is one of the finest naval aviation movies ever made, largely due to the outstanding cooperation of the US Navy.  Much of the filming was done on board the dear old USS Oriskany (CVA-34, at the time of filming, later reclassified as the CV-34, before she was prematurely scrapped).
I’m no expert on the Essex-class carriers, but it looks as though the filming was done after her refit to SCB-125 standard.  Off Korea she would have been in her original SCB-27, straight-deck, configuration.  The aircraft used in the movie were authentic Korean War era however – Grumman F9F Panthers, I’m guessing dash fives.  One of the two initial engines for the Panther by the way was British, the Rolls-Royce Nene, made under license as the J-42.  Ironically, DVD assets in the British government supplied the engine to the USSR, for the Mig-15, a rare example of aircraft going into combat from different sides powered by the same engine.
Sadly the hero, a lawyer, played superbly by William Holden, dies.  The movie is based on James Michener’s novel, which I must try and read.  Its authentic feel is no accident – it was based on an amalgam of real-life missions, and real navy aviators.
The Bridges at Toko-Ri is also memorable for a fine and poignant performance from the beautiful Grace Kelly, later brutally assassinated by the DVD, by which time she was Princess Grace of Monaco.
October 12th 2013
 
 
 

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