View Full Version : NASA's Nerds

2008-Nov-16, 03:29 AM
Designers at NASA. (http://www.core77.com/blog/featured_items/designing_for_space_core77_visits_nasas_industrial _design_team_by_glen_jackson_taylor_11565.asp)
The HDC office is reasonably sized yet looks crowded with shelves packed full of ring binders, manuals and stacks of printouts everywhere. Like any government office, the furniture seems to have been pilfered from decades of previous workers and has all the hallmarks of an institution. Nevertheless, the HDC office is regarded as one of the most fun studios in the building, with intriguing scale mock-ups everywhere, walls covered in high-concept sketches, inspirational clippings and my favorite item—a poster illustrating the basic striking points on the human body. There is some obvious reference material like Gundam, Syd Mead and Star Wars. The influence NASA's endeavors have had on Hollywood and sci-fi runs deep, but it is well reciprocated. "So many people here are inspired by Star Wars, you'll go to a meeting and someone will say, 'let's make it like that like thing in Return of the Jedi.' There really is a direct connect between science fiction and what we do here," says Evan.There's even a full-scale replica of the ISS there. I'd have figured that they would have done just parts of it.

John Jaksich
2008-Nov-16, 06:16 AM
Designers at NASA. (http://www.core77.com/blog/featured_items/designing_for_space_core77_visits_nasas_industrial _design_team_by_glen_jackson_taylor_11565.asp)Ther e's even a full-scale replica of the ISS there. I'd have figured that they would have done just parts of it.

It may be fine to dream about how to design and inspire future generations of designers---but this frightens me very much...in my opinion NASA is not in a position to dawdle over how to look like a "Star Wars" movie...outer space is very unforgiving...this seems like a prime candidate for cost overruns; as well, a nightmarish "mythical" man-month. I can envision the first movie depiction of the subsequent launch into outer space: "To boldly--but ergonomically breathe in the brown ozone of space!" :confused:

2008-Nov-16, 06:31 AM
But we have no idea what they were talking about making look like it was in RotJ. It might have been a control panel, for all we know. Nor is taking inspiration from Star Wars or anywhere else, necessarily a bad idea. The guys who came up with the 3.5 floppy and the CD were both inspired by Star Trek.

If you want a source for cost overruns, look to Congress constantly changing the rules on NASA, or folks at NASA feeling they have to cram more stuff into something in order in ensure that they have a budget next year. One of the reasons NASA didn't test the Hubble before sending it up (and thus discovering that there was a flaw in the mirror) was that they weren't given the money to do this, so they were forced to spend more money to go up and repair the thing.

John Jaksich
2008-Nov-16, 07:34 AM
I don't mean to come across in a negative fashion--but my experience tells me that "necessity is the mother of all invention"---most of the unmanned probes that I have heard of during the past 20 or so years are connected to the University system...be it the Messenger spacecraft or the Stardust probe. Thinking back to Challenger, Apollo I and many of the mis-fortunate Mars probes -- their problems surfaced from design failures: the heat tiles on the Shuttle perform a life-saving function; their design and manufacture comes at a "low-bidder" contract. If we were so emphatic about the lives of our astronauts we would not subject them to the "low-bidder" contracts but make every possible assurance of safety. Apollo I was one of the worst disasters in space-faring history...again the evidence showed that fundamental flaws in the wiring and the impossibility of escape from the launch pad proved too costly...my point is: once the fundamentals are assured---then it may be possible to give the brave men and women some amenities of home.

2008-Nov-16, 07:46 AM
You do realize that "low bidder" contracts are how everything is done, don't you? Private sector and government. Next, the Challenger disaster stemmed from NASA ignoring the safety rules which were written when the shuttle was being developed (the same with Columbia). The Apollo 1 fire came from a lack of understanding of what such a highly oxygenated environment could do (there was 18+ PSI of oxygen inside the capsule at the time of the fire). As for the overall design of the shuttle, that was dictated by the constraints forced upon NASA by the Nixon Administration, and the shuttles were intended to be little more than "proof of concept" vehicles, with improved versions taking their place once the fleet had worked the kinks out of the designs. That never happened.

As for the Mars probe failures, at least one of which was caused by a simple goof of one group using metric and the other using imperial measurements. Note also, that NASA has had a much higher success rate with its probes than the Soviets/Russians have had, and NASA has seen fit to put Marvin the Martian, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig on their probes.

You are, quite simply, reading way too much into one quote, from a much larger article, which discusses the struggle the designers have to get people to recognize the "human" element of the missions, and not simply worry about the technology.

John Jaksich
2008-Nov-16, 08:03 AM
Again...no negativity implied: I am well aware of how the problems that I mentioned arose--I am in favor of space exploration...manned and unmanned...that is why I participate or at least try to(?)---if we can not agree at least we can agree to disagree in an agreeable fashion.

You get what you pay for....

Author: unknown

2008-Nov-16, 05:28 PM
Glad to see that Star Wars is loved by Those Most Awesome Ones. Their love of Star Trek has been well documented, but it's nice to know they also like my favorite.

2008-Nov-18, 12:06 PM
Cool article, thanks for sharing!