Monday, June 15, 2015

Kansas and the Cosmos, with a snake in the road

Hutchinson Cosmodrone today after a slightly damp pack up; last night's thunderstorm was very good for the crops, as my mother used to say with a tight smile.

The Cosmodrone had a very interesting collection of space artifacts and displays, with significantly more information about the Soviet program than I had seen before! (It wasn't unreported catastrophic missions, it was booster manufacturing management problems that caused them to delay their program.)   The recovered Mercury capsule from Gus Grissom's  suborbital flight was there,  first of three to sink under him; also present was a Vostok space capsule. Interesting to see the different engineering approaches to the same challenges.

Much of the facility focuses on the "Future Astronauts Training Program"  sponsored by the Cosmodrome's guiding agency in cooperation with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. It is an impressive effort to revive interest in manned space flight, but a less interesting -- and clearly gender biased --  curriculum.

A well designed display led us through the overconfidence that let the USSR come from behind to launch the first two orbital satellites, Eisenhower's decision to develop a non military boost vehicle under the Vanguard program, that program's  spectacular failures, and the fallback Explorer program which used the Army's Redstone missile.

Like the Internet, American success in developing orbital launch technology seems to depend on the balance of military focus on objectives and on corporate confidence in meeting financial goals while fulfilling those objectives.

Snake sighted on the road into our campsite near the Kanopolis Reservoir this evening, species not determined. That's one more than I wanted to see this year -- so far.

Since nothing interesting ever happens in Kansas, we are moving on to Colorado tomorrow.

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