The Government would not provide for the Apollo 11 Astronauts’ Families in the event of their Deaths

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 1st, 2012

Week in Review

President Obama told small business owners, the people who built their businesses, that they didn’t build their businesses.  His defenders say he was taken out of context.  That he was talking about the roads and bridges that made their success possible.  But he also said that these small business owners weren’t smarter than other people.  And that there were a lot of smart people.  Implying that these small owners either just had dumb luck.  Or it was the road and bridges that made everything possible.  For government is the great prime mover.  And the great nurturer.  Everything good happens because of good government.

They love to point to the space program.  Putting the first man on the moon.  How it was government that made that happen.  Even though private companies built it.  North American Aviation built the command/service module.  Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation built the Lunar Module.  Boeing, North American Aviation and Douglas Aircraft Company built the Saturn V launch vehicle.  NASA contracted this work out.  And paid these private contractors with our tax dollars.  But these private companies built it.  Interesting, the actual government part, the astronauts, the people the government hired, train and paid was also the government’s least impressive part.

This was where the government did not nurture very well.   Where the government truly failed to provide.  For our brave astronauts.  Who were doing something so dangerous that they couldn’t afford the cost of the life insurance policies to take care of their families.  Not on their meager government salaries (they were meager back then).  In case something went wrong.  So with the government choosing NOT to help their families in case something went wrong these brave men did what they could should their mission serving their country end in their deaths (see Neil Armstrong Couldn’t Afford Life Insurance, So He Used a Creative Way to Provide for His Family If He Died by Robert Johnson, Business Insider, posted 8/31/2012 on Yahoo! Finance).

After all the danger, glory, and fame it’s easy to forget that at the end of the day astronauts are federal employees subject to the same General Schedule (GS) pay scale as everyone from typists to CIA agents.

Unfortunately, a federal salary wasn’t enough for Apollo 11 astronauts to purchase life insurance…

So about a month before they were set to go to the moon, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin were locked into a Plexiglas room together and got busy providing for their families the only way they could — they signed hundreds of autographs.

In what would become a common practice, the guys signed their names on envelopes emblazoned with various space-related images. The ‘covers’ would, of course, become intensely valuable should the trio perish on the mission. They’re now often referred to as ” Apollo Insurance Covers.”

And to ensure the covers would hold maximum value, the crew put stamps on them, and sent them in a package to a friend, who dumped them all in the mail so they would be postmarked July 16, 1969 — the day of the mission’s success — or its failure.

The government didn’t build it.  And they paid our astronauts poorly.  Refusing even to take care of their families if the government killed them in their space program.  Yet this is the example the Left likes to point to about how great and wonderful the government is.  What a disservice to the private contractors that actually built it.  And those brave astronauts who flew in what they built.  No.  Government should be ashamed of itself for making these brave astronauts sign collectibles that would only gain sufficient value if they died on the job.  Their celebrity in death would have been the only way they could have provided for their families.  Because the government wouldn’t.  How sad.  And macabre.  And this is what the government points proudly to today as a government success?  Cold, cruel detachment?  No, this was not government’s finest hour.  It may have been NASA’s.  The private contractors.  And the astronauts.  But it wasn’t government’s.  Because the government didn’t build it.

God bless Neil Armstrong.  May his spirit soar through space.  Back to where he first set foot on the moon.  Where he can look upon the earth and see it as so few have seen it before.  And smile.  Like it was 1969 once again.

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Dragon docks at ISS after Flawless Launch by Private Company SpaceX

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 3rd, 2012

Week in Review

Space.  The final frontier.  Once the purview of government space programs.  Now in the hands of the private sector (see ‘Feels a bit like a sci-fi film set’: ISS astronaut reacts to entering the SpaceX Dragon by Associated Press posted 5/29/2012 on the Daily Mail).

As the ISS crew floated into the Dragon on Saturday – a day after its heralded arrival as the world’s first commercial supply ship – one astronaut took to his blog to describe the historic milestone…

‘This is the first time that a commercial spacecraft has flown to the ISS and docked with the Station. You could say a new era of spaceflight has begun. Soon private companies will take people to and from space.’

Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Pettit said it reminded him of the cargo capability of his pickup truck back home in Houston.

‘The smell inside smells like a brand new car,’ Pettit reported. The compartment was brilliantly white and, he noted; clean, no dirt or other particles appeared to be floating around…

The California-based SpaceX – formally Space Exploration Technologies Corp. – is the first private company to send a vessel to the space station.

NASA is handing over orbital delivery work to American business in order to focus on bigger and better objectives, such as getting astronauts to asteroids and Mars.

The space agency hopes astronaut ferry trips will follow soon; SpaceX contends its Dragons could be carrying space station astronauts up and down within three or four years…

Until now, only major governments have launched cargo ships to the space station. Russia, Japan and Europe will keep providing supplies, and Russia will continue to sell rocket rides to U.S. astronauts until SpaceX or other companies are ready to take over. Several American companies are competing for the honor.

I guess the International Space Station (ISS) has lost that new car smell.  And based on his description of the Dragon commercial spacecraft I’m guessing the Russian supply spacecrafts are not quite reminiscent of opening the door on a new car.  Or very clean.

Yeah, that’s why NASA is handing over the mundane work of resupplying the ISS to American business.  So they can focus on bigger and better things.  Right.  Perhaps they should let American business handle that, too.  For as amazing as the Space Shuttle was it was an abject failure.  The reusable shuttle was supposed to earn money.  That’s why they made it reusable.  It was going to be like a truck on the highway.  Zipping all over the place and delivering revenue-earning cargo.  But they could never fly the thing enough in a year to turn a profit.  And it was just too costly per mission.  It was a black hole in the federal budget.  That’s why they retired it without having anything to replace it.  Relying on the Russians to keep the ISS in orbit.  Who were using the same rocket platform they were using when we were using the Saturn V to put men on the moon.  Because that technology still works.  And costs less to put them up into orbit than it did launching a Space Shuttle.

This is a testament to the power of capitalism.  Where a person can dream.  Pour money into that dream.  And reap the benefits of success.  The space program has now been handed off to capitalism.  And the private sector.  Thanks to the success of SpaceX.  Who may have a better chance than NASA these days of boldly going where no person has gone before.

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A Titanium Ball falls from a Failed Satellite Launch atop a Soyuz-2 Rocket and Plummets through Man’s Roof

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 31st, 2011

Week in Review

Man escapes death from being struck with by a piece of living history (see Man Miraculously Saves His Life As Satellite Fragment Crashes Into His House by Jesus Diaz posted 12/25/2011 on Gizmodo).

Andrei Krivorukov got a wonderful Christmas gift: his very own life. He saved it after a titanium ball from a Russian communication satellite crashed right into his house, escaping death by just a few feet.

The Russian satellite was a Meridian, which is used for civilian and military communications. It was destroyed when a Soyuz-2 rocket exploded in midair, just a few minutes after its launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome—a Russian spaceport, located 500 miles north of Moscow…

It’s a weird accident not only because of this Christmas miracle: the Soyuz has an excellent track record. It’s a tried-and-true vehicle with hundreds of successful missions since the 1960s, when it was designed by OKB-1 and manufactured at State Aviation Plant No. 1 in Samara, Russia. Its first flight was in 1966. The variant that launched today only has had one failure and one partial failure.

The Soyuz is tried and true.  From the days of putting the first man into space to shuttling people and supplies to the orbiting International Space Station.  It’s a true workhorse of the space program.  And the only one.  For the American Space Shuttle Program is now retired.  And it was shorter lived, more costly and suffered more failures than the Soyuz.  Never being able to live up to its initial design.  Not only to make space travel cheap but profitable.  Something it never did.  Being one of the most costly space systems of all time.

Yes, the Shuttle could retrieve satellites from space.  Something the Soyuz couldn’t do.  But it came at a cost.  And by cost I mean a big, heaping price tag.  It would have been cheaper and more cost effective to have continued with disposable booster systems.  Like the Soviets did.  And the Russians still are.  Sending new satellites in orbit to replace broken ones instead of trying to fix them.

Yes, the Shuttle was a magnificent piece of engineering.  But here we are.  Over 40 years have passed since Neil Armstrong first stepped onto the moon and we are still locked in Earth’s orbit.  One wonders where we might have gone had we not poured so much money into Space Shuttle.

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