August 31, 2006

Space Shuttle News - Waiting on Pins and Needles

NASA will announce today who will be awarded the contract for their next fleet of space shuttles, this time around known as CEV's. At 4:00 today, a press conference will inform the public whether Lockheed Martin or a partnership of Northrop Grumman and Boeing will get the job, which is worth over $18 billion over the next ten years.

Last week it was unintentionally announced that the new project is called Orion, the fuss over which made me laugh, because I'm so cool that I already knew the project's name. Yes, I am a giant nerd for all things space-related, but also, one of my cousins is an engineer who works for one of the firms in the running for the next generation of shuttles, and we've had several chats recently about spacey-type things. (Yes, he is now officially my new favorite cousin. The one with the condo at Lake Point Tower is OUT! Sorry, chump.)

Ultrageeks will recall that Orion was also the name of a never-quite-realized plan, conceived by Stanislaw Ulam and Cornelius Everett in the late 1950's, and further explored by notables like Freeman Dyson, to use nuclear pulse energy to propel spacecraft over longer distances.

And, of course, it was a plot-hinging McGuffin in that crappy space movie that starred Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. ("There is a galaxy in Orion's Belt.")

Anyway, cross your fingers for my cousin and his company.

(EDIT: Dangit! The contract went to Lockheed Martin. Sorry, little cuz.)

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