Last shuttle mission could be delayed until fall of 2011


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If Congress does end up appropriating money for that last extra shuttle mission, NASA managers are considering delaying it as long as possible, until the fall of 2011. Key quote:

[Shuttle Program Manager John] Shannon said if the shuttle is retired prematurely, the ISS will not be properly supplied.

In other words, Congress and the President should never have retired the shuttle in the first place, at least not until a replacement was ready to go.

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6 comments

  • Chris Kirkendall

    It never made any sense whatsoever to retire the Shuttle program until we have something operational to replace it. Hopefully SpaceX’s upcoming launch of the Falcon 9 launcher w/ Dragon crew /cargo craft in early Nov will put them on track to begin re-supplying the ISS in the not-too-distant future, with other interesting missions down the road. It’s been 40 years since the moon landing – it’s about time we started venturing beyond LEO again. Unfortunately, we probably won’t get much help from the current regime…

  • California here we come

    And people think they want the government more involved in their lives when the government can’t even do anything right such as the space program, as it was once known as. They screw everything up. It’s called CYA throughout government. There are no real leaders in government, just lackies nowdays. Where are the real leaders gone?

  • Kelly Starks

    Yeah, the obvious truth tends not to stay hidden for long.

    ISS was designed to be built and serviced by something with the capabilities of the shuttle — and nothing with anything like those capabilities is on the horizon.

    Ironically, NASA was eager to get rid of Shuttle, because it was to capable – to close to making space routine and to accessible. No such threat from Ares, or SpaceX, etc.

  • Oh please Kelly. Launching a space truck three times per year, with a good chance that it won’t make it there in one piece is not “accessible”.

    Instead of blowing billions on fielding a heavy lift stack to life a medium lift cargo – and incidentally keep jobs in districts – NASA should be flying every medium lift vehicle available as regularly as possible. They’d spend less money to achieve so much more.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Oh please Kelly. Launching a space truck three times per year, with a good chance that it won’t
    > make it there in one piece is not “accessible”.

    Actually shuttles not only flown more then anything else, with the highest flight rate per year — it also has the highest safety standard of any launcher. All that while partly completed, adn saddled with the bloted government staffing.

    To Griffen and NASA that was far to often, and made space to routine to amaze folks. Worse the RLV replacements offered by the big aero firms would cut costs per flight at least by a factor of 10, and worse – cut labor costs per flight by a factor of a thousand. A SERIOUS threat to NASA’s political support.

    So NASA proposed Constellation. Just building constellation would (in constant year dollars) rival the total apollo program. 2.5 times as much as it cost to develop the shuttles – 20 times what the DC-X based shuttles were projected to cost.

    Per launch cost of Constellation was projected to be 7 to maybe 10 times as much as shuttle.

    You forget – NASA doesn’t spend money to fly missions – it flies missions to spend the money – to justify the expenditures in the congressionally desired districts.

  • Kelly Starks

    Had a second thought. In a sad what if sort of way.

    The companies operating the shuttles for NASA, tried repeatedly to get NASA to let them run them, themselves. Without the gov civil service overhead and bureaucratic mismanagement NASA’s become infamous for. They figured they could cut costs and servicing time by at least a factor of 3, and increase safety. Or alternately increase flight rates with the same expenditures. Potentially to offer commercial flights on the side and pay NASA back for use of there equipment.

    Those were ridiculously stupid offers, with no upside for NASA. Followed by another offer to buy the shuttles after NASA phases out the program and operate them only as commercial craft. Again HUGE downside for NASA and Washington — very likely the first thing the commercial shuttle program would do, is do all the low cost upgrades the proposed for decades to drop costs by a factor of 10 or more and increase flight rates dramatically (NIGHTMARE SCENARIO for NASA and DC) — but if some political stars had aligned to get it through….

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