Engineering New and Old Technology

Date: Sun Feb 02 2003 - 04:56:32 PST

An addendum to the comments about 1960s, 1970s technology
in the space shuttle -
While its true that the platform was designed in that era, the avionics and control systems in the STS fleet is circa 1998.
In every engineering project I've ever worked on, a substantial number of subassemblies, even if built new, use old designs. It's unnecessary and simply too expensive to reinvent the wheel in technologies that have not signifigantly advanced. Airframe design is mature, and a huge undertaking; it needs not be replaced unless the mission has. On this point, then perhaps we can complain about budget. But remember the 747 was designed in the same era, and that platform, albeit now an "electric boat", is still in heavy service, retrofitted with modern engines and electronics, technologies that have moved ahead.

Bugs are still being found in the Intel 8086 processor,(the original PC chip); while flight engineering requires precision modeling, by its nature it is channeling large amounts of energy, and so is given to the statistics of entropy.
In such a setting, the courage of our astronauts can not be understated.

Class dismissed / KB
Owner of M-series technology

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