Space Update Episode 4: Shuttle Sadness

“supposedly regular” eh? In any case…


Discovery has been retired. It’s last mission it seem is a trip to the Smithsonian Institute. It’s a logical call since she’s the oldest and has been the most active orbiter, but it’s sad news just the same. As much as I am opposed to the retirement of the shuttles, the fact is Discovery and Atlantis are in need of major refurbishments. Personally I think they should get them, but at this time it seems to not be an option. Atlantis is due for one more mission prior to being sent to a museum (no decision yet as to which one). Endeavour also has one mission left (the now second last one), but she was refitted in 2005 so there’s no hurry to retire her.

My preference is to make two+ new orbiters with minimal upgrades (new computers, chairs… the kind of stuff that doesn’t require too much testing) and keep the fleet active for another 10+ years as is. During that time a new booster and launch method could be developed to reduce costs. (Electromagnetic rail boosters for example.) That tech could then be used on the next new shuttle and then we’d at last have a good system. To retire the shuttle now when it’s been so useful and has taught the world so much would be rather insane.

Dreaming I might be, but it’s not impossible; there are some proposals to extend the program for another five years to fill the gap. I’m not convinced five years would be enough, nor am I convinced that Atlantis will last that long without a major refit, but it could be a good start. The fact is Soyuz is the only other active vehicle, and it’s due for a replacement as well, and… it’s a lot smaller.

Space Shuttle vs Soyuz

As a final point, it’s important to note that even after being donated, NASA still can (and has) taken back things on display for use again.

…and in old news

X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Returned on the 3rd of December last year after over six months in orbit. No released details of her mission due, but there’s been plenty of speculations. My favorite is testing the ability to track from orbit hypersonic craft; the Hypersonic Test Vehicle 2 (also funded by DARPA) was launched with similar timing. A second X-37B launch occurred on the 5th of March using the second prototype. No details on this one either…

IKAROS Passed Venus on 8th of December last year, and thus its primary mission is now over. There is a similar mission in progress now called NanoSail-D2.

COTS Falcon 9 is making good progress; a second launch with the Dragon orbital capsule was a success. The next flight will involve a ISS approach, and possibly even a docking. This should be around the mid year mark. Taurus II has still yet to launch; it’s due to do so in the next few months.

Hayabusa Samples have been confirmed but not much analysis has been done at this stage as they are still working out the best way to transfer and test the particles.

Review: 2142 Breez 2.0 She’s gone (even more) butch

Set Index: Breez 2.0

Natalie Breez is back! I like the new canisters. I must admit though that I am surprised that TLG keep making them. I personally find them useful and still have all of mine, but I keep reading how people often throw them out. As a guess they’d add 10% to the cost which for many people would be better spent on extra parts.

Hmmm. Preston and Natalie combine… no I won’t go there.

Full parts list.

No pins. No axles. No gears. As a long term buyer of this type of LEGO it’s interesting… and good. It makes the line fresh. Even so, there are no spares in this set.

Having a custom printed part each set is smart. I think it would have been better without the name, but I suppose it has it’s advantages and disadvantages. It is more relevant for the theme, them being heroes and all.

At last it’s possible to get inside the head of a woman….!

The visor head/headband/face thing. It attaches top and bottom using the common HF tabs.

To me the rear is the highlight; it’s a classic! As Peppermint_M said to me…

“Yay, Masamune Shirow bunny ears!”

Each hero set uses the same head, which is hardly surprising. It’s a nice new mold though.

At the bottom is a well re-enforced ball joint receptacle…

…and the top has the HF tabs.

While I do like this head piece, I think it would have been better if the piece covered her head less. In fact, some of these pieces give me naughty knife-involving customisation thoughts…

I like the new head top, but I think TLG should have had at least one of the sets without it for variety reasons. The “goggle” part in particular is too dominant.

Same standard HF connection.

Finished! Her head is hard to pose; I think she looks odd if you can’t see the “eyes”.

Nope! Still didn’t manage it!

The new parts do give the figures a more fuller rear, but it still is a weak spot. Does her butt look big in this? No! (In fact at 75 grams she’s one of the lighter Heroes!)



If you want her eyes showing you’ll either need just the right angle or a really bright light, but aside from that very! 8/10

A quite good blend of parts, especially in regard to the amour pieces. 9/10

Err…. this is female? It’s an odd enough idea that they even have male/female, but I really wish TLG would make their female action figures look more distinctive. To my knowledge they’ve only done it once with 8761 Roodaka, who had hair, heels, earrings… and boobies! I’m not saying that boobies-make-the-girl, but I do think there should be some difference that seems feminine. The most perplexing thing is that the core piece is the wide shoulder version…. 5/10

She doesn’t look like a she. Bla bla bla 5/10

Sorry to say I’m a bit disappointed again with the female hero. 6/10

Take that Von!