No more HP-41C, no more shuttle...


At risk of somebody saying it's off-topic, want to bring up HP-41C and the space shuttle.

This is actually a fair topic for this board, because one of the crowning proofs of the superiority of old-HP was the use of HP-41C in orbit...... and there are very sharp 'space' people who visit this chat board .......

Well OK what's going on, this last week was a really bleak funeralistic week for space-faring peoples.

Thanks to some really useless 'vision' from the presidential podium last week, we aren't going to have a space shuttle anymore..... we are going to replace it with....... nothing ...... and today's headlines

*no joke*

is that we aren't going to have a Hubble space telescope anymore !!!

All of this because of our formerly illustrious President Bush coming up with some baloney scheme to put a man on mars, w/o the slightest battle plan of how to do it ?

So as of last week, are now a nation that

* cannot construct an HP-41C
* cannot place a man into orbit
* cannot maintain an orbiting telescope
* does not have a space shuttle or cargo/service/personnel

capability into space

Now I know that this is a little beyond just HP-41C but isn't this malaise all tied together..... did Carly Fiorina give President Bush some coaching ?

Some of the sharpest 'space-faring' people are on this chat board..... what are we gonna do about this funeralistic last week for space, ostensibly under a banner of coming up with a bold new plan, and good news? Where is the online petition ? Since when do you let the Hubble burn up in orbit... in exchange for putting a man on the moon..... when you aren't serious about the latter anyway?


Norm, very well said (IMHO, at least).

Suppose you have to enter a space ship (a shuttle, or of any other kind) which relies on a modern computer, with any release of MS Windows as its operating system... Imagine only the situation: "This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down" in any of the mission critical moments.

I would feel much better if there is any of the old HPs onboard instead of such a Windows machine, regardless of someone might say its reduced capabilities, etc. etc.

In one of the posts below (the "quarrel" about banned calculators by the US Professional Engineers Examination Board, or similar) the contribution of a naval officer (who is/was serving on nuclear submarines) supported this approach, as I understood. In critical situations he needs skilled personell and not too complicated but reliable tools (even less then a calculator), in order to solve a problem.

So, in a space ship a reliable calculator and "a grain of salt" should be a good enough replacement for any complex but unreliable tool. Am I wrong?


I can only hope that someone wealthy and slightly nuts will buy the Hubble, and hire other space programs to get repairs done, at least until a decent replacement is built.

In the long run, someone will build a better Hubble using low-gravity manufacturing techniques. But until then, it's a shame to lose it.


All space Flight Computers use embedded OS AFAIK



This Message was deleted. This empty message preserves the threading when a post with followup(s) is deleted.


Who is the biggest NASA contractor? United Space Alliance.

Which is a joint venture between which major space contractors? Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

And who is the Chairman of Boeing? Lew Platt.

Who is a previous chairman, CEO, and chairman of..? HP.

Maybe a new calculator will fall out of this deal ;^)


I offer online counseling for paranoid people with bloomy outlook ... $250/hr


PS: Vienna Rules!


Dislike Bush's plan for space if you must, but most space-loving people are glad to have a chance to ditch the shuttle! The thing is terribly expensive to operate and has already killed 2 crews. A manned orbiter with a 2% fatality rate is rather high.

Hubble will die because NASA does not want to put another shuttle in an orbit where it cannot reach the ISS, in case of similar tile damage like the type that killed Columbia. As such, you can't go back to Hubble. It is unfortunate to me (I like Hubble), but the risk to crews is now considered too high, using the shuttle.

And, as of last week, nothing has changed from a month ago. The shuttle is still there, but not ready to fly again.

I only hope that Bush's ideas are given a chance by congress.

The ISS and shuttle have absorbed a HUGE amount of NASA's budget. To move forward, back to the moon with a permanent base, and go to Mars before some of us die is a good thing.

The 41c has been gone for nearly 15 years. Life moves on.


To those of you who care to listen, Gene is correct in almost everything he said. (Not just Wright!).

The Hubble replacement is already in work.

The Shuttle was on its way out anyway. Better to start a replacement now than wait until we've used them up, one by one...

As Gene said, life moves on. We should take advantage of the recent combination of space-related events to do the same.


re: "The Hubble replacement is already in work."

As my wife (a co-investigator on the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph) points out, the replacement (the Webb telescope) is (was?) being designed to be launched with the Shuttle! It is a MAJOR reconfiguration to change launch vehicles for these things. The successor to the shuttle is not planned (and the actual date for NASA projects ALWAYS lags the planned date, usually by many years) to be operational until 2014.

Looks like when Hubble goes splash, no more nice space pictures (although the X-ray images from Chandra are neat) for a long time.

Write your Congressperson and tell them that the HST should be kept alive. It has produced more real science than the Space Station ever will (IMHO). The Space Station is an international welfare project for aerospace companies and engineers, and has managed to stay alive only because pieces of it are built in every congressional district.


I fully suspect they'll get the Webb up there and running using old fashioned "stove pipe" rocketry, ala the Saturn V or the like. After all, it can't weigh more than Sky Lab did.

Recall they still have the pad and the crawler to take it there, along with the technology and probably the tooling to build more S Vs. Remember the V had a perfect launch record. Something NASA hasn't had since.



Recall they still have the pad and the crawler to take it there, along with the technology and probably the tooling to build more S Vs. Remember the V had a perfect launch record. Something NASA hasn't had since.
They may still have the crawler and the pad locations, but Pad 39A & 39B which were used for the Saturn V's are now being used for Shuttle launches and the gantry towers were reduced in size by half to accommodate the Shuttle. The Shuttle is just half the height of the Saturn V's


"The Shuttle is just half the height of the Saturn V's"

Now the question is: are you full or half nut guys?

The Saturn V (Yorke) was replaced by ARMstrong 9

Is the Die (Hard) about half the size? At least the payload is bigger...

Back to the Future: (Part I) Let's talk about calculators or are they OT?



Let's talk about calculators or are they OT?
This whole NASA/shuttle/Hubble thread is no more off-topic here than all the 49G/G+ stuff, and for me at least, it's a lot more interesting than anything involving the 49...


Oh, it's not all that OT,

if a Shuttle routinely lofted an HP-41C into orbit,

then talking about Shuttle should be okay,

and even talking about Hubble, its finest cargo.

Granted its about hashed to death here. Appreciated

all the comments. I know that some very

sharp 'space-faring' people frequent this chat board...

who know a lot about past & current space programs

think how important HP classics were in the engineering

of the Shuttle in the 1970's !!

Here is a one-hour read, and its in defense of the Shuttle

It clearly shows that Ron Dittermore and Linda Ham, having

no technical comprehension whatsoever, overrode

all the engineering wisdom of the organization, and sent

our national treasure to its unnecessary demise.

Why they don't even suffer a skipped paycheck is beyond me.

One other thing that is a real national treasure, this

link to NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day" :

It's such a good resource, I've been clicking every

last one of them ! Higher-Res downloads available, just

click on your favorite picture:


This thread may have begin with 41 on board, but most of it is NOT calc related, thus "OT".

<One other thing that is a real national treasure, this
link to NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day">

I would prefer "HP Classic Picture of the Day"!

[VPN] (-;


Calculator picture for today






Hmmm... can it be that I've already seen this somewhere?





I must say, the more I look at it, the more elegant it seems.....




Gene Wright wrote:
> Dislike Bush's plan for space if you must, but most space-loving people
> are glad to have a chance to ditch the shuttle!

If you actually read the speech President Bush made, you will understand that "ditching the Shuttle" it the last thing in his mind. He said that the US will fulfill its commitments to the Space Station. This means that the Shuttle rather than being grounded will be used to ferry components and supplies. What is ditched is the Orbital Space Plan (OSP) which was supposed to be a lifeboat for ISS.

Another thing that you have to understand that the president pledged only one extra billion dollars over the next five years to cover everything else (shuttle replacement, mission to the Moon, etc.).

So what *will* happen to Hubble? They can't just leave it there, since eventually it will reenter Earth and crash at a location that cannot be predicted in advance (remember Skylab?). So the US will have to develop a vehicle to rendezvous with Hubble and attach a reentry booster that will allow NASA to control the reentry (and hence the crash site).

Once again NASA will have to raid its real science programs to maintain the Shuttle, finish the ISS, get rid of Hubble, re-invent an Apollo-style capsule and essentially get back to where it was in 1978 (a space station dying in orbit, no big launch vehicles, no Shuttle).

To make matters worse, I doubt that any money will be left to do something ambitious like returning to the moon.

Veli-Pekka Nousiainen joked that they should move production to China. This hurts so much because it is true. If the United States really wanted to carry out such a limited plan, they would save a bundle if they subcontracted the Russians and Chinese to carry it out.

But then the US administration would not get to distribute one more billion to the military-industrial complex.

Very disappointed.



I'm not particularly defending the idea of a Mars mission, but since you are trying to find a way to link the demise of the HP-41 to President Bush (also guilty of causing all the poverty in the world, causing Muslim extremism, single-handedly wrecking our economy, and even managing to annoy the normally extremely-easy-to-please French government), I'd like to know - what was Kennedy's "battle plan" when he announced the goal of reaching the moon by the end of the decade in the 1960's? Sure he had the equations all worked out on some pre-41C technology in a way that poor Bush could never hope to master. The amazing thing to me is that, following successful voyages to the moon over 30 years ago, we haven't gone beyond 10 - 300 miles from the surface. The shuttle is progress?? Other than ferrying up satellites (which is probably better done by private enterprise) and doing experiments sent in by Mrs. Jones third grade class in Fargo, North Dakota :). Actually, I'm being too sarcastic there. I know a that lot of scientific good has come from the shuttle program, and in particular the Hubble which was enabled by the shuttle. I am just amazed at the people who still want to tie everything they don't like about life to <something> George Bush did. At least they are somewhat amusing to watch.


Well said Don.

I'm an old enough fogey to remember that when JFK announced the goal of a man on the moon by the end of the 60's (almost 43 years ago BTW in the Summer of 1961)no one, NASA included, had the foggiest idea of how we would do it. It got done.

I can also recall listening live that July Sunday as Armstrong called out several "501" (I think it was 501) alarms in the onboard computers during the descent to the lunar surface. Like any responsible and talented individual, he took over manually. The results were fine.

The Hubble will expire of it's own accord by 2008 at the latest, having served well and added immeasurably to our body of knowledge concerning the cosmos. Well done.

Its replacement, the James C. Webb scope, is in the making as this is written, designed with the potential to out perform the Hubble by a factor of 8 to 10.

The common thread here? Political leaders, scientific talent, and skilled personal all took up the challange. Not worrying a bit about those who sniped at their heels.
Thankfully most skilled and dedicated people pay little or no attention those folk.



There is a surprising amount of optimism around here,

people not too worried about losing the shuttle.

Hmmm, some guy doesn't like his '82 Buick, the only car he can afford, so he decides he will get rid of it, in order to have...... nothing ? OK makes sense to me.

Gene not making sense, he says the orbiter killed 2 flight crews. Excuse, MBA's and management killed 2 flight crews. Engineering clearly prophesied both problems, management refused to listen. Something about what they are taught when earning that MBA degree.....

Replacement in-works for Hubble? Really? Has it got a 4 meter mirror not a 2 meter mirror ?

Folks, you can't get rid of the old stuff, until you have new stuff that's better.

Agree'd, whoever said it, ISS is a boondoggle. Bunch of insects and frogs in cages at zero-G, do a $20 million dollar study to see if floating them around cuts their sex drive.... yah impressed.

Prioritization is that you keep the old stuff you got, even if you have to fix it, until you have something better.

I am a rabid Bush supporter....... until last week. If he wanted to play "Kennedy" he could have announced bold ambitions to immediately replace the shuttle with a cargo-carrying space-plane that is superior. I heard no such thing...... just the sound of the wallets opening up, anticipating some special new corporate welfare checks.

*** The reason we were able to go to the moon in the 1961 to 1969 effort, is that the country, the citizens, and the business leaders were honest. Now, with the new attitude being the mad dash for the cash, the "Enron" style of fraud and dishonesty will prevent our being able to go to the moon, much less mars.

If somebody thought their ears heard that we were going to the moon, your brain should have told you better. Bush just delivered another scam-job, to corporate welfare beneficiaries at Martin Marietta, Lockheed Martin, and what little is left of Boeing !!

If it really is so much better than I observed, somebody please explain what we will be taking our "Hubble" style pictures thru after..... this is entirely equivalent to ancient Rome burning the libraries. If others don't see it that way, I'm sure you can have a nice Toga party while the Hubble burns up in orbit


I'm sorry, but the claptrap we continue to hear from one individual here is getting to be too much.

NASA management has decided NOT to fly the shuttle to Hubble because if the problem that killed the Columbia crew occurs again, they cannot fix it from that orbit.

Only missions that can dock with the ISS will be flown, to protect the lives of the crew.

Sounds like an engineer wants to gamble this time with the lives of the shuttle crew by exposing them to needless danger.

It's all about trying to be rational. Some should try it more often.

Perhaps he lost a job to an MBA sometime in the past. He certainly spews enough hate at them.

Myself, I try not to hate anyone, even engineers. Have many who are friends of mine. Funny how THEY don't hate me either.

Perhaps it's not engineers or MBAs but individuals with hate problems?

Enough said.


I should not have used the word "nutty" and "claptrap".

I do find it quite inconsistent, however, that someone who believes that "MBAs" and "administrators" killed the Columbia crew, not engineers, would be UPSET when those MBAs and Administrators (and I'm sure quite a few engineers) would decide to cancel a mission to the Hubble which would have no safe haven to effect repairs.

That would cause the engineer(s) wanting to continue the mission to be putting the lives of a shuttle crew in danger while the MBAs and adminstrators want to protect them.

That is very inconsistent.

But again, my apologies for allowing the continual assaults against MBAs, etc., to get under my skin. Perhaps they will stop? Perhaps an apology to MBAs will be forthcoming?




what you need to do, is click on the blue highlighted name
at the top of the posting. That gets you a direct line to me, by use of email, and i can help with the confusing aspects w/o boring all these sharp technical people.
Also, if you supply your email address in the posting, I can click in the same way, and I probably would go direct, rather than bore all these other people.

Until then Gene, about our illustrious space shuttle, which you are proclaiming 'dangerous':

All U gotta do, is prevent the accident from reoccurring... right?

There was a piece of ice-encrusted FOAM hit the wing...... if you prevent that from happening in future....... the shuttle becomes SAFE! Even a 41C could be flow on it yet again !!!

can't have ice-ball hit wing..... must prevent foam from disintegrating.... think think think..... gears turning inside head.... light bulb comes on above head, uh oh it flickered out, etc etc)


I always admired the U.S. Space program, and read all material I could obtain, visited many times the Cape and Houston places (as far as a foreign visitor without "real business here" can get), etc. Please don't take this comment as a critique, as it is not.

The success in fulfilling Kennedy challenge ("We choose to go to the Moon, and to do (those) other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard...") have to do with very particular circumstances of the time, which may no longer be present.

Due to such circumstances (from the Cold War climate to Kennedy tragic death), the U.S. people, their leaders, the contractors, the astronauts, etc. choose to accept many efforts, decisions, budgets, and risks; some of which may have appeared not so acceptable had they looked with today eyes.

Today "security" (risk aversion) is mandatory in politics, economy, and so on.

Someone says that, in 1961, they didn't know how to do it, but, notwithstanding, they succeded. I think they knew what it takes, and that's a big part of "how to".

In Kennedy words, again: "For this challenge is one we are willing to accept, we are not willing to pospone, and we intend to win". "Willing" is the key word.

I refer anyone interested to the many great books available, and documents at the NASA History web site.

I may recommend Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff", Heppenheimer's "Countdown", Kranz's "Failure is not an option", Kraft's "Flight", Pellegrino's "Chariots for Apollo", and of course Lovell's "Apollo 13" (a.k.a. "Lost Moon").

PS: As an engineer, I am not in favor of extreme risk aversion, nor in favor of risky dreams or merely political goals.

Scientifically analyzed risks, properly disclosed and discussed, can be accepted; after working as much as possible to reduce them to a non-zero minimum. Alas, this seems not to be the current mood.

Comments welcome!


In the 20th century, there two remarkably successful projects undertaken by the US, which posed huge technological challenges but succeeded in the end and produced knowledge and technology we still use today. These were the Manhattan Project and the Moon Shot.

As someone wrote, it took the resources of one of the richest nations and the best scientific minds on Earth to build the first nuclear weapons. Sending a man to the Moon was much the same. There was a common thing in both projects, aside from the initial drive provided by an important person (Einstein's letter to Roosevelt, Kennedy's speech in 1961,) the pressure of a competitor (Nazi Germany getting the bomb first, the Soviets beating the US in going to the Moon,) the limited initial knowledge (Hahn's discoveries and Szilard's ideas about fission and critical mass, the then-suborbital-only US flights,) and son on; it was the will to do it. At the core of both projects was the resolve to bring the initial ideas, limited as they were, to a practical completion that achieved the stated objective.

Sadly, there has been nothing like it ever since. The Apollo project was terminated by Nixon: Apollo 18 was built but cancelled and now serves as an exhibit in Houston, and Apollos 19 and 20 did not go beyond the project stage; the hopes for a continued presence on the Moon died with Apollos 19 and 20, and NASA had to make up with the Apollo hardware program (I don't remember the exact name) for the next decade. The arms race triggered by the first nuclear weapons and the Cold War is another story: it caused the collapse of the Soviet empire, among other things, and what will come next is still hard to tell. Calculators and modern computers as we know them, nuclear energy, modern physics and materials are just a few things that came from both projects and found their way into today's life.

Today, most of the companies that built the Apollo hardware do not exist anymore and the generation that went to the Moon with it is retired. Many high technology jobs and industries have made a one-way trip to Asia. There is an obsession with short-term performance (and high profit) instead of lasting value and long-term goals (which frustrates most of us, because it affected HP so badly.) Not the best circumstances for such a challenge, apparently.

However, it would be good to go back to the Moon and then to Mars as Bush promised, but it takes more than a nice speech to do it. Ronald Reagan made a similar speech promising a space station in 1985, but then came the Challenger disaster and the end of the Cold War; the proposed space station eventually transformed into the ISS, still in construction at the time this is written.

If there is enough funding, political will and support to NASA and its efforts as a result of this promise, it will become a success. Now that would be good for a nation that has focused a little too much on short-term stuff. The US badly needs such a challenge. Otherwise, it will be another nice speech that will fail to materialize, much like Reagan's.

My two cents.


P. S.: Andrés, if you enjoyed the books you listed about the Moonshot, you may find these two books about the Manhattan Project by Richard Rhodes interesting: "The Making of the Bomb" and "Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb."


Juan: Thank you for your comment, in fact I have read the two books by Richard Rhodes mentioned by you, both are really interesting and very well documented.

I think there is a third book by Rhodes about the same theme, but I had no success in finding it.


Hello Andres, Juan, and other OT posters:

The singular best movie about the atomic bomb is called "Trinity and Beyond" and was made around 1999. The film producer, Peter Kuran, went thru all the old footage and used the best possible restoration methods. Put this DVD thru a nice home theater system (progressive scan and a 4' screen OK, 8' best of all) and you will just be blown away (no pun intended) by what you see.

Mr. Peter Kuran also made about 4 minor variants of his movie, which although similar, are also collectible if your interest is high enough.



Thank you for the suggestion! Best regards.


I was reminded a few days ago that Bush Sr. made the same commitment during his reign. Apparently it did not even make it to the drawing board due to lack of funds. I also believe that technology has decreased the cost in real terms.

Being from the antipodies it is not my place to judge your venerable leader, I simply make these statements as observations. Personally I will be one of the first to celebrate if you manage to pull this off - and in addition - I am of the opinion that if anybody can do it the US can - it only takes the will to achieve the desired end.



The Hubble was set for replacement so the decision to not support it with a depleted shuttle is a mute point.

The shuttle technology is far too costly since it is based on obselete equipment. How could they justify keeping it running at the risk level it encurs?

There will not be support for a shuttle type replacement that would likely exceed anyones desire for budjet outlays just to reach a sattelite based space station.

Russia has shown that the most economical path to space is with the old fashioned capsule approach.

Yeah it would be nice not to have cost limitations or profit needs, but political realities impose themselves...


"The shuttle technology is far too costly since it is based on obselete equipment."

The production should be moved to China...(-;


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