Recycling a launch pad -- into pipe
July 18, 2011

One of the Space Shuttle launch pads is being recycled into new cast iron pipe:

Metals are routinely recycled into new materials, and even though it may be a sad moment from a historical perspective that the launch pad is being scrapped, nothing can be done about that -- it's a matter of what the nation's space priorities are. But when a news anchor turns up his nose at what the metal will be used to do in the future, he shouldn't. First off, water and sewer lines may not be very glamorous, but they're among the most essential building blocks of a civilized society. He's welcome to go off and dig his own latrine if he thinks otherwise.

Secondly, it's good to see American metals being recycled successfully here. Chinese manufacturers of cast iron have been putting serious pressure on domestic suppliers, and some of those Chinese manufacturers have been putting inferior cast iron into the products they've been selling to the United States. Quality control on those imported cast iron products may be so bad that it puts projects at risk of catastrophic failure. So, while turning launch pads into water mains may sound inglorious, it's quite likely the right thing for America.

July 2011
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last revised July 2011