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Space Shuttle One Step Closer To July Launch

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the how-to-launch-public-money-into-space dept.

Space 92

Mictian writes "The risk to the space shuttle from launch debris, mainly ice falling off the external tank, has been reduced and is now low enough to be considered 'an acceptable risk,' NASA's shuttle engineers and managers concluded in the debris verification meeting held Saturday at Kennedy Space Center. The board recommended a green light for a July launch, which Shuttle Program Manager Bill Parsons accepted. The independent Return to Flight Task Group will hold its final meeting on June 27th to determine if the remaining 3 (out of 15) hurdles to launch are cleared, as mentioned in previous Slashdot coverage."

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Successor to the shuttle? (2, Interesting)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915754)

So, what's going to happen after the shuttle fleet retires?

Easy. (0, Offtopic)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915765)



NATURE'S HARMONIC
SIMULTANEOUS 4-DAY
TIME CUBE

An open mind is a slop bucket,
"THINK CUBIC".
The Time Cube only offends
the educated stupid - but there
are so damn many of them.
Academia teaches the evil of
singularity to human cubics -
born of opposites.
I am flabbergasted that the
"big brother" hired pedants
can brainwash and indoctrinate
the powerful antipode human
mind to ignore the simple math
of 4 simultaneous 24 hour days within a single rotation of Earth,
to worship one and trash three.
Magnificient evil job by teachers.

EVIL OBSCURANTISM
(Deliberately withholding CUBIC KNOWLEDGE)
No human "entity" exists.
Except for OPPOSITES,
NOTHING ELSE EXISTS.
Cube is opposite perfection.
Singularity is death worship.

Re:Easy. (2, Funny)

Yr0 (224662) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915979)

Man that rocks.

A space shuttle lunch, man, that'd be one hell of a sandwich.

OMFG (0, Offtopic)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916001)

Richard Whitley is DEAD! [bbc.co.uk]

RIP, oh great pun one.

Re:OMFG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12916175)

No offense intended, but how is that at all relevant?

Re:OMFG (0, Offtopic)

floron (884050) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916574)

oh no. He was Commanding. And a Worldly.

Re:Successor to the shuttle? (0, Offtopic)

kihjin (866070) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915810)

The Cylons attack...

Re:Successor to the shuttle? (2, Insightful)

xMilkmanDanx (866344) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915877)

US scraps space program turning over leadership of technology and science to China/Europe...

At least hopefully that isn't what happens.

Someone else already posted about the CEV, so there is at least a planned successor.

Re:Successor to the shuttle? (3, Insightful)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915903)

The shuttle has had one planned successor or another for about 15 years, one should have come in about 3 times over by now. Don't hold your breath.

Re:Successor to the shuttle? (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917239)

THe primary difference is that the CEV program is based on today's technology. The previous shuttle replacement plans (NASP, X-33, Delta Clipper, etc.) were all experimental craft that needed several unproven, expensive, and risky key technologies developed before they could be built. This was exasperated by the fact that those craft were being built on relatively low budgets. In the case of the X-33, nearly every component of the craft was one of those undeveloped technologies with no room for error or redesign.

In the case of the CEV, life is simple. Spiral One will only require that we build a technology similar to what was created in the 1960s. i.e. A capsule. Reusability isn't even specified, but most competitors have taken that route because they can. (The shuttle technologies are not completely going to waste here.)

Since the capsule will be designed for only carrying (relatively light) humans as opposed to the 28 tonnes of cargo + 104 tonnes of spacecraft the shuttle carried around, the engines will be nothing more than a commercial booster. In the case of the CEV, the booster will only need to manage a mere 20 tonnes to LEO. Which means that the CEV can pull a Delta IV or Atlas V off the shelf for launch operations. (The CEV program does have bugetting for a new rocket, but the point is that any rocket can be used.)

In short, the CEV is completely the correct idea. Use technology we have today to develop a targetted launch vehicle for humans, and worry about developing other vehicles through regular development programs. For cargo, just use a cargo specific vehicle. The very definition of KISS. :-)

Re:Successor to the shuttle? (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915924)

MARS OR BUST! However, what kind of vehicle and who pays for it has not been decided. (Don't you just love unfunded government mandates!) I'm sure the Russians will throw in a few bottles of Vodka and a grandstand for the launching ceremony.

Re:Successor to the shuttle? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12916060)

Been reading a good book called 'new moon rising'. It illustrates some recent history regarding shuttle replacement attempts:

X-33: Al Gore/Dan Goldin/Lockeed Martin 1996. A reusable space vehicle. Like the shuttle New engine, thermal systems, internal structure, ground processing, guidance, navigation and control. First flight March 1999. X-33 had a liquid hydrogen tank failure in 1999. Forced heavy tank redesign. In 2003 the program was 5 years behind schedule. Funding was stopped and put towards the Space Launch Initiative. (SLI) NASA and Lockheed spent 1 billion + on the project.

X-34: Suborbital technology demonstrator to go 50 miles up at mach 8. Test bed for hight tech/low cost. Reusable fast-rack engine. Fast track engineering failed. Flight test in 1999 failed to happen. By late 2000 it was in a 2 year delay. Eventually program was scrapped.

SLI(space launch initiative): 4.8B thought 2006. Work with industry to develop a privately owned reusable launch vehicle. Basically keep using first generation shuttle while developing second generation craft.

X-37: Reusable technology demonstrator. Test variety of space flight concepts. 2 vehicles would be built. An atmospheric test vehicle and one to be tested in space released from shuttle. Weight requirement failures caused air-force to abandon program. Too heavy now needs atlas V or delta IV. X-37 has wings but NASA now taking capsule approach.

X-43: Scram-jet test. This was successful. Though, capsule approach likely to be used now. One of the few X projects to actually succeed.

X-38: AACRV -- assured crew return vehicle. Basically a lifeboat for ISS. Only goes on way...down to earth. This project did not depend on new technology like many other x projects. Successful drop test of craft in 2000. Many other tests successful. One of the few successful x projects. Not deployed because it was dependent on ISS and could only go one way...down. So, cancelled in 2002.

OSP: Orbital Space Plane. 2003. Carry 4 crew to and from ISS. Shuttle blows up again. NASA mission changed for vehicle that would goto ISS and *beyond* earth orbit.

CEV: being designed. But uses current technology. Designed to goto ISS and to moon. Capsule design ... Apollo program influences. Still be worked out right now.

So, there has been much research to a shuttle replacement. Looks like they are going to use existing technologies and get away from 'space/plane' type of designs with questionable technologies.

X-33 VentureStar (2, Informative)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916409)

The linear aerospike nozzle tests of the X-33 were quite successful though the composite fuel tanks failed. The experience gained by the propulsion engineers should be very valuable for any next-gen rocket stuff.

Go back farther! (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917200)

If you "really" want to go wayyyyyyyyyy back to before the shuttle, the X-15 flew into and out of space, then the X20, X24 series of lifting bodies were done. They had planned on using ELV's to haul the stuff up, and use the X20 or X24 to haul the people up and back, but, they thought the shuttle would be cheaper. On a side note, the "original" design of the shuttle was a piggyback design. They would equip a Scram jet style carrying plane, similar to the way they piggyback the shuttle on a 747, then once at a high enough altitude and speed, the shuttle would be "launched" and have enough fuel on board to make it to orbit. This would have completely eliminated the risky SRB/ET setup they use now. Personally, I'd like to see them go back to the old Saturn V setup.....something that worked perfectly, every flight (the boosters worked, the apollo CM/SM didn't).

Re:Successor to the shuttle? (3, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916104)

They switch to a Balsa vehicle and VLRB (Very Large Rubber Band) launcher.

"Acceptable Risk"? (4, Interesting)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915771)

Of course it is. It always has been. Yay for admin-speak.

Re:"Acceptable Risk"? (2, Interesting)

pcmanjon (735165) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915838)

I don't see why it has taken THIS long for them to do anything about it. For the longest time (half year) they just sat around saying "what are we going to do about it guys?" without any sense of direction or determination to get it fixed.

They were in no particular hurry (don't get me wrong, hurrying is a bad thing) nor was there any urgency to find a solution. It was pretty much, "find a solution at your own convienence"

NASA has done some great stuff; but they just seem too slow and insignificant these days.

Re:"Acceptable Risk"? (0, Troll)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915879)

Verbal diarrhea.

Re:"Acceptable Risk"? (4, Funny)

s20451 (410424) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915860)

How about "The risk is not unusually large for a situation in which you strap yourself to several hundred tons of explosives and light them."

Re:"Acceptable Risk"? (1)

david.given (6740) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916464)

Q: What is the difference between a big pile of high explosives, and a rocket?

A: The explosives blow things up. Rockets, however, blow things up.

Re:"Acceptable Risk"? (1)

tobybuk (633332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915861)

I someone will give me 12-1 I'll put £100 on it not coming back in one piece.

Seriously, this is one mother of a complicated thing, it can never be 'safe enough'

Re:"Acceptable Risk"? (1)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916237)

Define 'one piece'. As long as you are meaning that it lands and the shuttle still looks like a shuttle, I would be honored to take that bet.

If you want define 'one piece' as no tiles falling off, no foam falling off, nothing being jettisoned in space.... thats another story.

Re:"Acceptable Risk"? (1)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 9 years ago | (#12939581)

Soooo, No response then? Backing out?

Re:"Acceptable Risk"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12916289)

Keep in mind, these are the same beurocrats that knew more about the o-rings on the Challenger than the engineers that developed them.

Don't worry about last night's temperature, they'll be fine.

Re:"Acceptable Risk"? (2, Interesting)

demachina (71715) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917385)

Here is a dose of bad attitude for a Sunday afternoon. I was thinking about going back and finding all the Slashdot articles about the space shuttle returning to flight over the last 2+ years. If you recall after the crash NASA was saying they would be flying again in a year. Well its going to basicly be 2 and half years IF they launch in July and that is a big IF. I hate to break it to you but the Shuttle really isn't any closer to launch today after this new finding, than its been for most of this year. Any one of a about 100 people in about a dozen committees can get cold feet over one of about a thousand safety issues, all of which are totally valid, and its all called off again.

How about we stop posting articles about the Shuttle launch schedule and just wait until they actully launch the f**king thing.

Bottomline is the shuttle program team has. after two catastrophic failures, reached a state of near paralysis obsessing over safety issues most of which have been there for ALL of the last 25 years. Either they are sometime soon gonna say F**k it, fly, or they are going to say "but what if this went wrong" and the launch date will just keep slipping indefintiely. At least maybe they have an administrator now who will make them launch someday and do something worthwhile for a change. As nearly as I can tell the Columbia crash totally messed up Sean O'Keefe's head and he was so paralyzed ny the DANGER of manned space flight I doubt the shuttle would have ever flown again with him in charge.

The cruel reality is that most of the people who work on the Shuttle get paid the same whether it flies or not up until someone finally says enough and pulls the plug on it and I doubt any politician has the guts to actually do that. Even when that does happen all those people will quickly jump to one of the two CRV teams and politicans will be obliged to move all the money there since the jobs program that is the manned space program MUST BE PRESERVED AT ALL COSTS, even if they never launch another man in to space. The CRV is especially cool because there are about 10 years of paychecks waiting there before they have to actually risk launching anyone in to space.

Re:"Acceptable Risk"? (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 8 years ago | (#12957723)

um, it's CEV, not CRV...and do you see that big rocket-looking-thing on the pad? They are a lot closer...

Is it worth it? (0, Troll)

gunner800 (142959) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915778)

I think space missions are cool and all, but here's [nationalreview.com] a pretty interesting article about why it may be wasteful and an inappropriate way to spend taxpayers' money.

Interesting? (4, Insightful)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915851)

That article is far from "interesting."

I took particular offense to this passage: The gross glutted wealth of the federal government; the venality and stupidity of our representatives; the lobbying power of big rent-seeking corporations; the romantic enthusiasms of millions of citizens; these are the things that 14 astronauts died for. To abandon all euphemism and pretense, they died for pork, for votes, for share prices, and for thrills (immediate in their own case, vicarious in ours). I mean no insult to their memories, and I doubt they would take offense.

What a kook! This guy obviously has no background in anything scientific, has absolutely no clue about what the space shuttle or NASA are trying to accomplish and can not analyze anything outside of a patheticly narrow and egotistical political lens.

Not surprising to me though was seeing this kind of an article come from the National Review.

Re:Interesting? (1)

gunner800 (142959) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915939)

This guy obviously has no background in anything scientific, has absolutely no clue about what the space shuttle or NASA are trying to accomplish and can not analyze anything outside of a patheticly narrow and egotistical political lens.

Fair enough. So what are the space shuttle and NASA trying to accomplish, that cannot be accomplished with cheaper and safer unmanned missions?

Re:Interesting? (1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915993)

So what are the space shuttle and NASA trying to accomplish

How about:

1. Exploring space (could be key to our future if something ever happens to earth)
2. Testing and developing new technologies to advance space flight, aviation, and other areas that wind up being useful here (velcro, etc.)
3. Eventually building space habitats that more people will be able to visit. ISS is for scientific purposes, but several private companies have already put forward plans to put up space hotels, resorts, etc. A lot of them use technology developed by NASA.
4. AI. Robotics has made large advancements thanks to NASA and the space program.
5. Developing new propulsion methods. Several preliminary designs for commercial hypersonic aircraft are based on NASA tech.

I could continue.

that cannot be accomplished with cheaper and safer unmanned missions

I'm not saying the same could not be accomplished using some better or cheaper methods. My beef was that, instead of suggesting such alternative methods, the article writer basically just insulted some very brave men and women who gave their lives for the advancement of science.

Re:Interesting? (2, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916017)

"1. Exploring space (could be key to our future if something ever happens to earth)"

The shuttle ain't doing much exploring, it's just going round and roung in circles: and it's far cheaper to send robots to do the job of actually exploring than humans.

"2. Testing and developing new technologies to advance space flight, aviation, and other areas that wind up being useful here (velcro, etc.)"

The spin-off argument is totally bogus and has been debunked numerous times. The fact that you believe NASA developed velcro shows you don't know what you're talking about.

"3. Eventually building space habitats that more people will be able to visit. ISS is for scientific purposes,"

What science, exactly, has ISS produced?

"but several private companies have already put forward plans to put up space hotels, resorts, etc. A lot of them use technology developed by NASA."

No-one in their right mind would use NASA technology for a space station: it's way too complex, expensive and maintenance-intensive. The only 'space hotel' likely to fly in the next decade, if at all, is based on inflatable modules, not NASA-style spam-cans.

"4. AI. Robotics has made large advancements thanks to NASA and the space program."

For which the shuttle is absolutely irrelevant, except to the extent that it takes billions of dollars away from useful robotic exploration programs to blow on 'Buck Rogers'.

"5. Developing new propulsion methods. Several preliminary designs for commercial hypersonic aircraft are based on NASA tech."

For which the shuttle is absolutely irrelevant. Equally, we don't have any 'commercial hypersonic aircraft', so the fact that NASA blew a few bucks studying them is irrelevant too.

Re:Interesting? (1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916076)

Perhaps you missed it but in the post I was replying to the poster asked what "the space shuttle and NASA" were trying to accomplish.

I wasn't saying those things were related to the shuttle directly. I also acknowledged that the shuttle may well not be the best vehicle to use.

Re:Interesting? (2, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915986)

"This guy obviously has no background in anything scientific, has absolutely no clue about what the space shuttle or NASA are trying to accomplish"

I have a background in science, I've been a VIP at several space shuttle launches, met numerous astronauts and NASA employees.

And I agree with everything that he says.

Maybe you could explain exactly what NASA has accomplished with the Space Shuttle and the Great White Elephant in the sky?

Re:Interesting? (1)

Retric (704075) | more than 9 years ago | (#12922729)

The space shuttle design is not based around doing any one thing well, but it's hardly a total waste of money.

The main advantage to the shuttle was it was available, versatile, and complex.

The simple fact that it's their makes it better than every replacement ever designed. Yes, it's expensive to use but with a 98% chance of working every time it's much more likely to be funded than some project trying to get off the drawing board. And without sending things into space we are not going to learn how to make it cheep and safe to start exploiting the recourses out there.

Versatility might seem like a waste but it's only after you have a tool that can do something that you learn how useful it is. Taking stuff back from orbit may be next to useless but if the Shuttle could not do this than you can bet every one of its replacements would be designed around that capability. Docking with stuff in orbit was varying useful but it's also easy which is why the next gen systems are all about separating crew from cargo. It's going to be a hassle to keep docking every mission but we learned an integrated system is not the best approach.

It's also complex which might not seem like a good thing but without that level of complexity we would not have learned how to deal with complex spacecraft. We learned the hardest part was getting the people at the top to understand when one guy says his 0 ring is not going to work when things are cold then you need to listen to him. The shuttle never failed in space. Most new systems are going to be multi staged to orbit but now we know what light things can do when they break off at high speeds. If every ship had been a simple rocket it would not have been a problem but the best multi stage to orbit systems will have wings so learning to keep them safe was a vary valuable lesion.

We should stop using the shuttle but it's best to remember what it has gotten us. When so many replacements have been cut there is huge value in proven designs. I think the best system is going to be based around an air breathing winged first stage but that's not a proven system so for now lets stick with big old rockets and get back up their.

PS: Some people said that we could have sent a second Hubble up for the cost of fixing the old one but it's best to recall the first one did not work. You can't say "well as you can see part of my plain is to not fail so it's going to work." Complex systems will fail and it's only though trail and error that NASA started monitoring things as they landed on mars because while saving that weight for an extra instrument might have been useful knowing how they messed up turned out to be the most valuable lesson from many of the mars missions to date.

Re:Is it worth it? (1)

kihjin (866070) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915854)

That's certainly never stopped governments in the past...

Although this may not be the most appropriate way to handle taxpayers' money, it's not the most inappropriate, not even close.

Re:Is it worth it? (0, Offtopic)

Council (514577) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915973)

if ((A isNot B) == (&A != &B)) { return new Patent(this->Innovation()) }

What does &A mean, in this context?

Re:Is it worth it? (4, Insightful)

Council (514577) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915882)

I think space missions are cool and all, but here's a pretty interesting article about why it may be wasteful and an inappropriate way to spend taxpayers' money.


I'll read the article. But:

The West Wing on Voyager crossing the termination shock:

"Voyager, in case it's ever encountered by extraterrestrials, is carrying photos of life on earth, greetings in fifty-five languages, and a collection of music from Gregorian chant to Chuck Berry, including "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" by 1920s bluesman Blind Willie Johnson, whose stepmother blinded him at seven by throwing lye in his eyes after his father beat her for being with another man. He died penniless of pneumonia after sleeping bundled in wet newspapers in the ruins of his house that burned down.

But his music just left the solar system."


Okay, maybe I'm dumb to feel inspired by that. I don't know why it's so touching. But every time I think of it I get goosebumps.

The Onion said it best. Holy shit, we walked on the fucking moon.

It may be true that there's no incentive to explore space, in terms of measurable returns. We get spinoff technology, but maybe it would have come anyway. That's debatable. But we walked on the fucking moon. That is one of the biggest moments in any chronicle of our race. Let's keep at it, if for no other reason than that we can. Let's be the one species that survives itself and spreads out into the universe.

Re:Is it worth it? (1)

gunner800 (142959) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915925)

Okay, maybe I'm dumb to feel inspired by that. I don't know why it's so touching. But every time I think of it I get goosebumps.


I got the same feeling watching SpaceShipOne win the X-Prize. I'm not doubting the emotion power of the space program.

But do inspiration and goosebumps justify forcibly extracting money from taxpayers, and spending the lives of our best and brightest?

Re:Is it worth it? (2, Insightful)

Council (514577) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915955)

But do inspiration and goosebumps justify forcibly extracting money from taxpayers, and spending the lives of our best and brightest?


Yes.

Let's have some balls, for once, and go somewhere. We can sit here, doing with shinier toys what we did again and again throughout history, or we can go somewhere. Exploration, man. "And he willed that the hearts of men would seek beyond the world, and find no rest therein." Let's go.

Re:Is it worth it? (1)

secolactico (519805) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917515)

Yes.

Let's have some balls, for once, and go somewhere. We can sit here, doing with shinier toys what we did again and again throughout history, or we can go somewhere. Exploration, man. "And he willed that the hearts of men would seek beyond the world, and find no rest therein." Let's go.


Dagnabit! If I had modpoints you would get them! Let's not kid ourselves and look for justifications that don't exist. Lets go somewhere! Lets go to mars! Why? Because it's there!

Scrap the shuttle. It doesn't do anything practical, anyway, that can't be done by other means. Let's develop better technologies to take mankind to the stars.

I realize that there are problems here on earth that need addressing, but we can't simply stop exploring. That's food for the human spirit!

In "The Golden Age" by John C. Wright, there's a scene where the "peers" (the powers that be) talk about "freezing history" because they feel confortable the way things are. It feels like we are pretty much in that situation ourselves.

Re:Is it worth it? (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915987)

Compared to all the other ways money is wasted that $18 billion for NASA is pocket change. Go look at the cost of the war in Iraq for example. As for their lives, they chose to do this and they knew the risks. Because you're a coward who doesn't believe it is something worth risking ones life for doesn't mean everyone is.

Re:Is it worth it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12920197)

You're kinda cute for a troll.

Re:Is it worth it? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12915904)

A more inappropriate use of money is donating money to africa. £200 billion [telegraph.co.uk] of aid has been stolen by African "Chiefs" over the last 40 years. The same amount the west has give to africa in the same amount of time.

Re:Is it worth it? (1)

Council (514577) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915920)

Okay, I read it. It doesn't seem like the clearest article.

And as for it being too dangerous with guarenteed loss of life -- did you know that, in the construction of a high-rise, they basically count on the deaths of one or two cnostruction workers? That's my understanding.

Re:Is it worth it? (1)

Thomas DM (895043) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915935)

I definitely think space missions are worth it. Just think of all the technologies and valuable spin-off products that it has brought us. I believe we shouldn't stop exploring the universe. We should definitely continue - I can't wait before the first human will place it foot on Mars. There's always a chance that a mission fails - but I'd rather die in a Shuttle than getting run over by a truck.

Re:Is it worth it? (1)

bowloframen (851971) | more than 9 years ago | (#12918187)

yeah, that's probably true... but the thing is, i don't want to die, period.

Re:Is it worth it? (5, Insightful)

jazzman251 (887873) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915959)

have you ever thought that WAR was a "wasteful and an inappropriate way to spend taxpayers' money"??

More info (5, Informative)

Robotron23 (832528) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915826)

The BBC article goes into more detail, including the scrutiny over the decision over the July launch. In particular over ice impacts to the shuttle's heat shielding. Heres the article;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4622243.stm/ [bbc.co.uk]

The only major problem NASA faces with regards to the shuttle is its planned retirement date. Put simply, if weather,mechanical and indeed financial conditions permitted the maximum amount of Shuttle launchs the International Space Station would still not be completed.

So don't use the shuttle - duh (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916268)

The shuttle isn't the only way to get to the ISS. The Russians regularly send at least two different craft to the ISS.

In addition China, India, and Japan are all known to be in various stages of constructing their own craft. I wouldn't be surprised if at least one failed due to politics, but I'm not making any bets against their engineers if the governments wants them to succeed. (They will of course have failures along the way, that is part of engineering) I haven't heard of any ESA plans, but I wouldn't be surprised if they had some too.

Now granted the shuttle is the biggest of any of the above. However many missions don't need the full mass hauling ability of the shuttle. Prioritize based on both what the others can do, and what is important now, and most missions can happen anyway.

There is also no reason to assume after the shuttle is gone there will be nothing else. The US plans to go to Mars. There is no way to get to mars without the ability to get more mass in orbit (out of orbit really) than the shuttle can do. I would expect those lower stages will be tested to the ISS with some cargo - as long as we are making them, why not use them.

Re:So don't use the shuttle - duh (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916932)

No existing vehicle can complete the job other than the shuttle. 'Don't use it' is easy enough to say, but someone (the US or others) needs to field a replacement if we want to finish the ISS.

Now, the debate as to whether the ISS is much more than a political excercise and a publicity stunt or not is another topic for another day ;)

Re:So don't use the shuttle - duh (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917416)

Did you read what I wrote? True nothing current can do the job, but things to not stand still. The US cannot come even close to putting a man on mars without something bigger than the shuttle. Seems like a no-brainer to me that you would test it before the first missions. Once you are sure it will work, just throw some docking on it, and send the rest of.

Because ISS has needs, they can easily design a test that involves putting a "small" load to ISS. Considering the power needed for a Mas mission, a small load might end up being more than the shuttle can do.

Use what? (1)

raptor_87 (881471) | more than 9 years ago | (#12918226)

True nothing current can do the job, but things to not stand still. You'd be surprised by how old the rockets are. The Delta and Atlas boosters date back to the 50s, the Soyuz and Proton to the 60s, and the Shuttle to the 70s. Also, no one has built a booster that can meet or exceed the ~40 year old saturn V. (With the possible exception of the STS, if you include the shuttle itself as part of the payload)

Re:Use what? (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 9 years ago | (#12921448)

That isn't the point though. Nothing we build today can match the shuttle for payload. However there is no way to put a man on mars with anything we have today. Therefore we can conclude that the US is building something to get a lot of weight into orbit.

Don't rush it (4, Insightful)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915852)

I want to get back into space as much as anyone - heck, if there was a chance it would work I'd strap a booster to my back and be launching myself. But cutting corners for PR deadlines was what caused the disaster in the first place. Take as long as you need, NASA.

Re:Don't rush it (1)

dustinbarbour (721795) | more than 9 years ago | (#12918488)

I like NASA. I really do. I mean, they got men to the moon and Voyager passed the damn heliosphere. However, they've grown too big for their own damn good. People expect too much from them. back in the days of the Mercury missions an astronaut would die and we'd be launching again ASAP. These days it takes 3 damn years to even consider getting something back into orbit. What happened to the days of NASA innovation and guts? I'm sure innovations come, but we certainly aren't doing anything cool like going to the moon.

This is where commercial ventures and well-funded "because we can" ventures come in. Smallish entrepreneurs can send missions to space with higher risk levels because they are private. They can produce spacecraft quicker because they are smaller. NASA needs to reorganize itself completely. Do away with a bunch of "fat and happy" positions, reorganize and slim down. Too much damn red tape.

Here's another idea.. do another X Prize-type competition. More money, higher stakes. Seems to have worked last time.

NASA marches boldly into 1980's (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 9 years ago | (#12919982)

No, they shouldn't rush it. NASA is mounting the most noble effort to return to the 80's since Marty McFly. God forbid they screw even this task up.

I mean, if they can't even do this much, how do they hope to ever return to the 1960's and put a man on the moon?

-Eric

The risk of ice falling has been reduced! (1)

presarioD (771260) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915875)

Do you think the fact that according to separate [noaa.gov] sources [weather.com] it is mid-summer right now in Florida, has anything to do with the risk factor being reduced?

Re:The risk of ice falling has been reduced! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12915923)

Yeah because a humid day in Florida will definitely take care of thousands upon thousands of gallons of cryogenic fuel forming ice on the tank.

Re:The risk of ice falling has been reduced! (4, Informative)

NOLAChief (646613) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915965)

Not a damn bit. These tanks are being filled with cryogenic propellants, one at about -290 F, the other even colder. Ice is going to form on the tanks. The whole idea of the insulation is to reduce, not eliminate, the amount of ice that forms. Basically, the tank is so cold it doesn't care if it's 0 F outside or 100 F outside. The ice will form and it won't melt.

Re:The risk of ice falling has been reduced! (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916386)

The whole idea of the insulation is to reduce, not eliminate, the amount of ice that forms.

Insulation has its place, but why don't they cover the whole think with a hydrophobic coating, pork lard, or something more esoteric?

And I'll just pre-empt the PIIIIGGGGS INNN SPAAAACCEE comments right here.

Re:The risk of ice falling has been reduced! (2, Interesting)

NOLAChief (646613) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917087)

That's a good question, and I'll be honest. I have no idea. To take a wild guess or two, I'd say 1. Weight. Pork lard does weigh something, and even a thin coating over the entire surface area of an ET puts you in the order of hundreds of pounds (Case study: Look at the first couple of flights. The tank is white. Later flights it's orange. They decided the white paint wasn't doing them any real benefit, but was costing them ~500 pounds in weight, so they left the orange insulation exposed.) 2. Coatings may have been tried, but the chemicals may have reacted poorly with the insulation.

Yeah (1)

kakashiryo (866772) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915887)

It's nice they're all donating new hardware and such, but really...

who's gonna be paying those killer power bills?!?!

tub6i8l (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12915889)

It's best To try [goat.cx]

Re:tub6i8l (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 9 years ago | (#12915970)

Slightly Safe for Work, but still offtopic.

Missed opportunities (1)

g3n0m (662130) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916023)

Now they can launch, but the ISS won't complete itself, ant that is why i wonder what the hell happened thet made them shut down all the projects they ever stared with to replace the shuttle.

They could at least have shut the projects down BEFORE dropping sacs of money down the drain(if that is what they thougt they were doing - i didn't think so)
The dead X33 and X34 projects :
http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/missions/x33_ cancel_010301.html [space.com]

SpaceShuttleOne (1)

deansfurniture5 (884292) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916029)

anyone else read this as "SpaceShuttleOne"?

Re:SpaceShuttleOne (1)

PerspexAvenger (671820) | more than 9 years ago | (#12918626)

Yeah, you're not the only one.
Had a brief glorious image of Rutan pulling another Cool Piece Of Tech(tm) from underneath his hat.

Anyone know what they're doing after SSO, btw, aside from Branson's stuff? They seem to have gone into stealth mode again.

The shuttle is about politics, not science (4, Interesting)

StarWynd (751816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916088)

I grew up in the era when all the shuttle launches were televised and it seemed that every other kid wanted to be an astronaut when they grew up. I was one of those kids and I believed that all the cool science and break-throughs were made by astronauts up in orbit.

However, during college, I realized that the shuttle program is about 95% politics and 5% science. I got an internship within the space program, but in the unmanned satellite area. After college, I continued to work in the area of space sciences and now I have several missions under my belt. Having seen how things work from the inside, the majority of good science comes from our unmanned satellites that don't make the news and the majority of the public don't even know about. While there are certain scientific benefits that the shuttle program has brought, the majority of the shuttle program has been a public relations campaign and politics.

While I already believed that every precaution should be taken before sending the shuttle back up, I want NASA to make extra sure that every precaution really has been made because we are risking people's lives in the name of politics and public relations. Don't get me wrong, I don't want people to risk their lives in the name of science or exploration either, but there will always be some risk in exploration. There shouldn't be any risk (with respect to people's lives) just to play politics and get nice photos of Americans and Russians together in orbit.

I don't want to see the manned program disappear. But I do want to see NASA be as responsible as they can be. I don't know where the "acceptable risk" falls, but I sure hope it's really low.

Re:The shuttle is about politics, not science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12916118)

Current NASA policy is to use manned and robotic exploration. So, this issue has been settled.

Though, each shuttle launch costs roughly 700 million. So, just by ending shuttle there are many more cheaper alternatives.

Another problem with shuttle is that it does not separate cargo from astronauts. So, now we have to risk 7 lives per ISS module. Roughly 23 more flights. ISS modules were degined to be flown on shuttle.

Maybe shuttle should be converted to an automated cargo carrier without a human component? This has been studied by many of the contractors thought it would probably be too expensive.

Re:The shuttle is about politics, not science (2, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917323)

"The majority of the shuttle program has been a public relations campaign and politics."

You left out, giant welfare/jobs program. They are cool high paying tech jobs for the most part ... well ... and lots of people pushing giant piles of paper from point A to point B, but it is still basicly just a jobs program. The jobs program includes:

- All the NASA civil servants in the manned space program, civil servants being hard to fire once you hire them you pretty much have to make work for them and their number almost never gones down but instead creeps up.

- All the people working for the prime contractor which as I recall is a consortium made up of a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed. (Note Boeing and Lockheed should be vitter rivals and competing with each other but since they formed a consortium for the Shuttle and just announced a parternship for expendable boosters they successfully eliminated all pretense of competition and are now a defacto space flight monopoly and the DOD and NASA have to pay whatever they feel like charging. Those two companies are really formidable lobbyiest so they can almost single handedly arm twist a bunch of Congressmen in to keeping the funds flowing to Shuttle and the ISS most of which goes in to their pockets, and interestingly they make just about as much with the shuttle grounded as if its flying. Most of the people in the manned space program probably don't actually care if it flies because their paychecks keep coming anyway and its less nerve wracking if they don't fly. Maybe their paychecks should be contingent on successful launches with all their salaries for a period being revoked in the event of catastrophic failure, then maybe they would get serious about spaceflight.

- All the people working in all the NASA centers and facilities, all the prime contractor plants, and a vast army of small contractors. Interestingly they are intentionally spread through nearly every congressional district and there are big centers in politically powerful states like Texas, Florida and California. The work was spread all over just so Congressmen had to back the space program no matter how screwed up or wasteful it got because it meant jobs someplace in their district. Sen. Bill Nelson in particular is a huge supported because he is of course from Florida.

Maybe all this is what you meant by "political" but I'm inclined to say the manned space program was pretty much doomed when LBJ put Johnson in Houston. He did it purely to heap prestige, jobs and dollars on to his home state of Texas. It also insured the Texas congressional delegation would back manned space flight from that point on. Practicly though its insane that everything done at Johnson isn't done at Kennedy. Much of the bad communication leading to both Challenger and Columbia could be traced to the fact half the people team was at Kennedy and half was at Johnson and the communications between the two warring centers is inevitably bad not to mention the bills they must run up constantly traveling between the two places.

If you want to restore your faith in people who are in aerospace for the love of it, the Discovery channels runs Black Sky; The Race for Space" [discovery.com] once in a while. Someone with a camera roamed around Scaled Composites as they worked on SpaceShipOne, the first private launch of a man in to space to win the Ansari X prize. Its great stuff for geeks and engineers. The head aero engineer is a new hero of mine. He really knew his job and they have footage of him spotting a trim problem that would have lead to a fatal crash if he hadn't caught it in realtime. He has a great, dry sense of humor too, and looked to be a great role model for young people who want to go in aerospace or engineering. Towards the end he had a great comment I can only paraphase. He pointed that we've reached the point that people feel like they can't do anything amazing unless they are part of a big company or a big government project, projects so big most people ends up being an ant(my words). They wanted to show the world that a team of 20 or so people, if they apply themselves and work together can still do something hard and amazing and they did.

Re:The shuttle is about politics, not science (1)

StarWynd (751816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917406)

I appreciate your comment and yes, some of what you wrote is what I meant by saying it was "political" in nature. I can't say that all of what you wrote was what I meant because a couple of your points were things I hadn't even thought of. But I do not disagree with what you said.

Don't get me wrong, I do have faith in aerospace. I work with those people every day and they have to be some of the best, smartest people I have ever been around. All of us are extremely happy to see the work going on with SpaceShip One and the X Prize. The problem as we see it is not in the engineers, pilots, and astronauts. The problem with the manned program is all of the non-engineering government red tape that surrounds it. If a NASA engineer working on the shuttle came to me said there was a very low risk on something, I would believe him. However, I don't know whether the comment about low risk in this particular case was coming from the engineers or from management/public relations (even if an engineer was one to utter the actual words). And as you can guess, what worries me is that the statement came from public relations. I hope with everything in me that that's not the case.

In the Sixties... (3, Insightful)

feloneous cat (564318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916143)

I grew up reading everything about NASA. I was fascinated by it as it was a CIVILIAN space agency (in contrast to the military). This is all but forgotten today, but it is important because that is the charter.

Unfortunately, it went from "the best and brightest" to "how do we do with less". Now NASA is going with "eh, it seems like an acceptable risk" but you know the folks that say that are thinking "as long as I'm not the one on that shuttle".

It is attitudes like this that has allowed other countries to catch up (and even surpass) the U.S. While we are arguing over whether evolution should be taught in schools, other countries are pulling ahead of the U.S. (and why not, as American corporations apparently feel that Americans are not worth hiring).

Apollo 17 was the last mission to the moon. It only got noticed because it was the last mission to the moon. Shuttle missions are hardly even noticed now by the general public. As far the the public is concerned NASA barely exists.

Sadly, I fear that in my lifetime NASA will either be absorbed by the DoD or close its doors altogether. That will be a sad day for this country and for science.

(OT) Re:In the Sixties... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12916245)

American corporations apparently feel that Americans are not worth hiring

There is a reason for that. Americans don't want to go into engineering, they go to business management and medicine and law. That's where the real money is. Can't blame anyone for that.

An american engineer, if you can hire one, will cost you more, and will come with a certain set of expectations (work week, benefits, etc.) which his foreign competitors are not burdened with. In a capitalist society a business purchases generic labor at lowest cost, as it should. Nothing to complain here about.

To change this, and to make an american engineer competitive on the world labor market, such an engineer must reduce his price; in addition to that he needs to work harder, as his Chinese competitors do. His office presence from 9 to 5 must bring enough cash in to pay his salary; you start here and figure out how much he is worth to a business. At $80k/yr his work day costs the business about $500. If the engineer during that day produces some 30 lines of a generic code, he doesn't earn enough to stay employed. Drop your price to $20k/yr, or start writing 100-200 LOCs daily, then you are profitable.

Re:In the Sixties... (5, Informative)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916342)

Disclaimer: I work for NASA JSC in Houston. On the Shuttle and Station programs.

Now NASA is going with "eh, it seems like an acceptable risk" but you know the folks that say that are thinking "as long as I'm not the one on that shuttle".

I'd like to let everyone know that nobody has this attitude at NASA. The astronauts are not some faceless people we are packing into the orbiter, they are our coworkers, friends, and families.

We eat lunch with these people, we share late nights at labs and in Mission Control with them, we have parties with them, they live next door to us, our kids go to school together. Several of my friends or their spouses are astronauts.

I make decisions at my job that can affect their safety everyday, and I never take it lightly. Just like you would not put your buddy at work into a hazardous situation if you could avoid it (well, spaceflight by definition is hazardous, so let's just say we try to keep the risk as low as humanly possible).

Many years ago I was conducting a training session for a crew member I knew pretty well. During a break, he waved me over to talk with his wife (who just popped in) and a guy in a nice suit, he needed me for something.

It was a NASA attorney. The flight was 4 weeks away, and they needed a witness for his will. It was a very somber moment to hear that being read aloud with his wife there, knowing that he was about to strap himself onto a flying bomb. Of course, the risk to him was just something that was part of the job, just like when he was in the military.

These folks know the risk they are taking (and boy, do they hate it when the press implies that flying is "too dangerous"), willingly accept it, and we all knock ourselves out making sure we do everything we can to keep them safe.

Re:In the Sixties... (1)

suitepotato (863945) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916354)

You can blame a wide-spectrum group of people, but mostly those on the left, sad to say, who've totally lost touch with what it means to be "human" despite constantly harping on words like "humanitarian".

Discovery and the thrill it brings are part and parcel of who we are as a species, but so to is survival at all costs and these go hand in hand.

We have the knee-jerk anti-corporatists who fight tooth and nail any business involvement, yet basically, humans always work on the basis of self-interest and as business has far more money and interest than government, their involvement is not only natural but vital. What NASA discovers, they often in commerce put into products we use sooner or later in one form or another. Your taxis and cars aren't made or operated by your government, neither will your civilian space transports in the future.

We have the social socialists who insist that all things be focused on down here and right now, and are in the end as bad as people who pollute endlessly as if it will never come back to haunt. Always thinking of now, never of then. Then will come around and become now. And where will we be then?

You also get the neoluddites who want to take everyone technologically back and not forward based on nothing more than their rice and sandals politics. Sorry, but anti-technology communal hippie rhetoric would not have saved the dinosaurs either.

Outside of all of them you get the lever being pushed back and forth, the public. Apathy and the above mentioned idiots on one end of the fulcrum and decreasing numbers of dreamers and scientists on the other.

We cannot afford to wait for the verge of extinction. We cannot afford to wait for ET to rescue us. We cannot afford to adopt inane population management to satisfy the egos of social theorists. Mankind wants to be fruitful and multiply. We want our wildlife and environment to remain self-sustaining. Space colonization is the only answer. We need to get back into space and we can't do it on razor thin budgets, having to try to justify every little thing to people who really don't care and don't want it to succeed in the first place for their own petty Earth-bound reasons.

I guarantee you this. Were a sizeable portion of the Earth nations to back a concerted move towards space colonization, any terrorism directed at it would bring a swift, harsh, and unified response as nothing before. Once the self-interest of survival is at stake, the sort of crimes that various nations tolerate as long as it is against someone other than them would no longer be tolerable.

Re:In the Sixties... (1)

eraserewind (446891) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916849)

Nobody notices transatlantic flight either. After a certain point things just stop being news. Now, the next shuttle launch will be news, but for all the wrong reasons as we know. Prior to the accidents however, the shuttles weren't doing revolutionary work. They are basically poorly designed trucks (in spaaaace!).

Re:In the Sixties... (1)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917075)

Unfortunately, it went from "the best and brightest" to "how do we do with less".
Ummm.... That is NASA's philosophy with the robotics program. I seriously doubt that It's actually one of the smartest ideas they have ever had. I always cringe whenever I hear the story about how close NASA was to sending in one huge nuclear powered robot instead of the miniture ones.
It is attitudes like this that has allowed other countries to catch up (and even surpass) the U.S. While we are arguing over whether evolution should be taught in schools, other countries are pulling ahead of the U.S. (and why not, as American corporations apparently feel that Americans are not worth hiring).
You are damned if you do and you are damned if you don't. It's a little known fact but NASA does go beyond space research. They actually did fund a service robot like the ones that the Japanese are making for the sole reason of showing how their technologies can help people. The only problem was that the project was not space related so they had to pull the funding. They rightly believed that the politicans would think that NASA was over funded.

Re:In the Sixties... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917778)

Unfortunately, it went from "the best and brightest" to "how do we do with less".
Had a talk with your Congressman lately? They determine what NASA is and isn't.
Now NASA is going with "eh, it seems like an acceptable risk"
NASA has always gone with X risk is acceptable to accomplish Y mission. Always.
Shuttle missions are hardly even noticed now by the general public.
Thats what happens when operations become routine. (Happened during most of the Moon missions after 11 and during Skylab was well.)

Re:In the Sixties... (1)

feloneous cat (564318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12919298)

Had a talk with your Congressman lately? They determine what NASA is and isn't. Had a look at NASA's charter? That determines what it is and isn't. Congress determines the funding after that. NASA is underfunded. It has been for years. As a left winger who believes that believes knowledge is important, I feel that we are ruining this country by taking a short-sighted approach. Do with less. Get rid of Hubble. Trash good programs for market based ones (and do NOT go on about how the market is better, I have enough economics under my belt to clock you on THAT one!) NASA has always gone with X risk is acceptable to accomplish Y mission. Always. Look, I have a friend who is a retired engineer from NASA. He thinks it has all gone to hell. But, what the hell does he know? But the reality is that NASA hasn't gone with the best technology. They've gone with what Congress funds. And if the funding picks someone in another state for solid boosters (which then requires O-Rings because you can't ship the things in one piece) over solid boosters made in Florida... well, you get my drift. Congress wants to be engineers and scientists and doctors when they are none of the above.

to boldly go, not (1)

rctay (718547) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916260)

Defense spending is roughly one half trillion dollars. Things could get worse and more expensive very quickly. Oil at close to $100 a barrel will cripple the economy for some time. Economics, politics, and volatile global relations doesn't bide well for NASA funding.

I THANK YOU FOR YOuR TIME (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12916352)

happiness Another To deliver what, show that FreeBSD everyday...Redefine many users of BSD 200 running NT operating systems, Usenet is roughly they are Come *BSD has steadily so there are people DOG THAT IT IS. IT Why not? It's quick First avoid going ransom for their Arseholes at Walnut all servers. Coming to look into so there are people I7 you do not His clash with I won't bore you GAY NIGGERS FROM server crashes centralized models non-fucking-existant. aashole to others are incompatible Create, manufacture myself. This isn't they're gone Mac fear the reaper recent Sys Admin to have to decide Jesus Up The time I'm done here, was what got me and exciting; it was fun. If I'm and the bottom Of events today, Raymond in his

Ed Dames and meteors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12916381)

The wacky paranormal crowd, including Ed Dames, is saying that if/when the space shuttle is forced down by meteors, the "kill shot" will follow, which will involve giant solar flares wiping out most life on the planet, and then "another race of humanoids" will appear to help Earth rebuild.

I for one have my tinfoil hat securely affixed to my head.

Too Much Danger. Too Little Return (1)

ctwxman (589366) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916654)

There is no doubt the astronauts who fly the Shuttle and International Space Station, and before them the earlier crews, know the dangers they face. Do we? It should have come as no surprise that astronauts died with Columbia and earlier Challenger. Leaving our atmosphere is inherently dangerous. There are thousands of critical components and systems, any one of which could shape the same outcome. NASA has had plenty of close calls before. It has been my opinion, and it seems to be born out by what I've read, that NASA has taken a less than rigorous attitude toward full safety. The conditions they allowed US astronauts to fly to aboard the Soviet MIR were shocking, to say the least. Of course we've all read that NASA experts played down fears about the very foam collision that was the Shuttle's undoing. We will fix the foam, and the wings and anything else that's been made obvious by the events of February 1, 2003, but the changes will only marginally improve the safety of the crew. There are still those thousands of parts and systems. As long as men fly in space, there will be danger and there will be death. This is a profession so dangerous that you can get killed just practicing - as we found out with Apollo One. It's time we, as a nation, took a look at the facts, and made a decision. Is what we're doing in space worth jeopardizing human lives? I say no. Look back at Columbia. It was a 'junk science' mission. There was little of any scientific import on board. Our other major manned program, the International Space Station, isn't much better. Even if it weren't crippled by a caretaker crew, it would be accomplishing few things worth writing home about. Why are we doing this? Is it a matter of pride? In this day and age there's a better way to explore - robotically. We are proving, on Mars, and with other missions, that robots can accomplish the same, or more, than man. And, it's being done at a significant savings, with little human danger. Don't underestimate the cost. My producer at SciFi used to say that if, somehow, the Shuttle's payload bay was mysteriously filled with gold while in orbit, the mission would still lose money! The time to change our attitude is now. If the goal is to explore space, let's do it the right way - so there can be worthwhile science and exploration. As it stands now, the space program is crippled by the fear of further disaster... and there will be further disaster. It's only a matter of time.

Re:Too Much Danger. Too Little Return (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12917868)

Especially considering how difficult it would be to land a space shuttle full of gold.

(It would be about 400x the shuttle's maximum landing payload, based on what I can find from google)

hoping it flies (1)

byronicus maximus (895277) | more than 9 years ago | (#12916977)

Thanks for the update. We've got a product scheduled to be included on the next flight, so we're watching it closely and hoping it goes. Just from our perspective, the amount of work from the call to us, and getting it on the flight, is enormous.

Space Shuttle One? (1)

the phantom (107624) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917247)

I am I the only one who read this "Space Shuttle One Closer to Launch" and immediatly though that I'd missed out on Rutan's most recent hijinks?

Is it wrong? (1)

ananegg (772033) | more than 9 years ago | (#12917758)

That when I saw the title of this the 1st thing that popped into my head was Linkin Park's "One Step Closer"?

Space Shuttlesky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12918652)

>Space Shuttle One Step Closer To July Launch

In America, capitalism is on the verge of the cliff.

In soviet Russia, communism is always one step ahead!

Return to Fright (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12922772)

My Engrish speaking friend is anxiousry araiting the Space Shutter's Return To Fright.

Rocket science does *NOT* need lotsa moving parts. (1)

iamcf13 (736250) | more than 9 years ago | (#12941261)

In a nutshell, concerning NASA, the only stats that matter:

Two destroyed Space Suttles, 14 dead astronauts

versus

One destroyed space capsule, 3 dead astronauts
(woulda been 6 if Apollo 13 truly got 'lost in space')

Simple is better (though not reliable without complicated redundant backups).

I'm not trying to be a troll by 'reopening' old wounds, I'm just trying to cut to the very heart of the matter.

The only other alternative is to keep sending out 'cute little bots' -- a far cry from the Viking/Voyager I and II missions from the 1970s -- that is how these kinds of missions *should* be done!
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