Congress, NASA, White House

Another bid to extend the shuttle (and more)

House legislation to extend the space shuttle program beyond its planned retirement this year may be joined by more a comprehensive Senate bill in the near future. At the symposium “Human Spaceflight and the Future of Space Science”, held yesterday in Washington by USRA and GWU’s Space Policy Institute, Jeff Bingham of the Senate Commerce Committee held up a working draft of a proposed bill titled the “Human Spaceflight Capability Assurance and Enhancement Act”. Because the bill hasn’t been introduced yet, he could not reveal its exact contents, but did say he what believed “should” be in the bill.

At the core of the bill is ensuring the utilization and success of the International Space Station. Part of that means extending operations of the ISS to “at least” 2020, he said; the bill should include provisions instructing NASA to study what’s needed in terms of new or replacement equipment, and the requirements for transporting cargo up to and down from the station. That alone is hardly controversial: there’s a growing consensus that NASA will plan to continue operations of the ISS beyond 2015 in any new human spaceflight plan.

How to continue to support the station, though, particularly during the gap between the shuttle’s retirement and the introduction of Ares/Orion or commercial vehicles? “There is only one answer,” he said. “It will not surprise you to know that we believe that answer is to keep flying the shuttle.” No other US vehicle, government or commercial, would be ready to service the station before 2015 (at least for crews; commercial cargo vehicles are forecast to be flying well before then.) Any legislation should authorize funding for continuing shuttle flights until a suitable US-built replacement vehicle enters service, he said.

The bill should not stop at extending the shuttle, though. “We believe very strongly that commercial industry, the space launch industry, is vitally important, and it’s time, we’re at the point, where we should be moving in that direction,” he said. Such legislation should authorize additional funding to accelerate development of commercial crew vehicles. It would also endorse use of Ares 1/Orion to support the station, although he didn’t provide specifics about any language on that system the bill should contain. Other aspects of the bill should focus on ensuring utilization of the US components of the station as a national laboratory (a designation made in a prior NASA authorization bill) and getting more users of the facility from outside of NASA.

A major challenge for the bill—outside of the technical and programmatic issues of whether it’s possible at this late stage to keep flying the shuttle beyond 2010—is turning any authorized funding into real appropriations. Bingham said some leadership on this has to come from the White House by requesting funding that’s in line with authorized levels, something that has not happened in the past. “The reason appropriators have not been able to increase funding levels to the kind of levels we had in our authorization bills is because they were never requested by the White House,” he said.

“The Bush Administration, I think, completely neglected space after the event on January 14th,” he said, referring to President Bush’s speech six years ago yesterday unveiling the Vision for Space Exploration. “That was it; it was turned over to OMB and mismanaged.” He sad he’s concerned that the same will be true in the current administration since the same people “at the mid-level of the bureaucracy” within OMB are still there. “I’m not optimistic that what we’re going to see with the budget is going to be very inspiring.”

30 comments to Another bid to extend the shuttle (and more)

  • NASA Fan

    I think the only way to extend the Shuttle is to fly one mission per year for the next 5 years, as there is only 5 flight left, and no additional ET’s, and other components available to add flights.

    Also, since when do appropriators need the permission to add funding in their bills not asked for by the WH

    This is a bad idea (extending the Shuttle) and highlights the reactive nature of our dysfunctional democracy.

    Surely folks are worried about losing jobs when the Shuttle stops flying, but it is not like folks didn’t know this day was coming.

    Everyone seems to win with this bill (STS huggers, ISS huggers, Ares-1 and commercial space), which means its a loser for the taxpayer.

  • CharlesTheSpaceGuy

    The only way to extend the life of the Shuttle is to greatly slow down the launch rate. With that decision – what is the readiness of the team which suddenly flies a lot more simulated missions than real ones? Can we maintain a team that only flies once per year – and has to maintain oversight of a complex vehicle like the Shuttle??

  • CharlesTheSpaceGuy

    Wish I could edit comments here… My previous remark also applies to the assembly/checkout/launch team as much as any other part of the integrated team. Didn’t want to slight them.

  • Bill White

    Shuttle extension requires maintenance of 4 segment RSRM production capability, right? I’ve read rumors suggesting ATK may be close to scrapping that capability. Same with ET fabrication capability at Michoud and SSME processing.

    This merely reinforces previous observations that shuttle extension best coordinates with the Jupiter HLV in the 1xx configuration:


    1 standard ET
    2 4 segment RSRM
    3 or 4 SSME

    to maximize commonality with the current Orbiter stack.

    Phase 2 can see stretched tanks and 5 segment RSRM.

    Leveraged with depots, a Jupiter 130 or Jupiter 140 could also support lunar campaigns rather easily.

  • jml

    In addition to just stretching out the planned manifest, there is still one practical shuttle extension capability remaining, known as “bounding case one”. This would add two or three ISS resupply flights after STS-135 and STS-133, stretching out the end of the program to 2012 or beyond. The partially built ET-139 and ET-140 sitting at MAF would need to be completed for this extension. Tank domes for these two ETs were completed before the required ET tooling was mothballed – all that is required is a go ahead notice to LM from NASA with enough lead time to finish assembling the tanks. A third additional mission could potentially be accomplished using the non-SLWT ET-94. Reports are that enough 4-seg STS SRB segments have already been cast by ATK to support these missions, and the current inventory of 17 Block 2 SSMEs would be sufficient.

    Of course there are plenty of other components required that would require lead time to ready. But with these main components already in existing inventory, a decision to not use them would seem a lot like the 1970’s decision to not fly the last two Saturn Vs.

  • Robert G. Oler

    The biggest thing affecting this “bill” is not anything associated with space policy (in my view)…it is going to be the state of The Congress after next Tuesday’s special election in MA.

    If Scott Brown wins: and that has to be viewed as a distinct possibility ever since David Gergen set him up for a debate home run (griN)…how that will be interpreted by all members of the House and those in teh SEnate up for reelection in 10…is that the color of the state no longer matters…IE Dems are vulnerable in blue and the GOP is vulnerable in red.

    That is precisely how every political shop going up in 10 will interpret it…

    at that point, in my view, it will be impossible to judge the “mass” of where The Congress is heading because they will essentially be every person for themselves, with Obama losing effective (if he ever had it) control of the Congress. With Reid vulnerable that might extend to both houses leadership.

    My view is that most of the save the shuttle bills will be overcome by the events of closing down shuttle production needed to keep the thing flying…

    At that point the centerpiece of space policy (aside from all the other political currents) will, again in my view be trying to make sure the space station somehow stays operational. Everything I have heard off the record from folks at JSC is that this will get very difficult without the shuttle (and I can imagine that they are correct)…including little things like well water (I would be curious if any of the “insiders” on the board have any comment on that).

    who this benefits in my view is SpaceX. They are the only ones who are close to a rocket/spacecraft combination…

    But that is the space policy considerations. They will shape events but not govern them.

    As I noted earlier if it becomes “every political person for themselves” I dont have a clue what the Dem and GOP leadership will figure out is their respective caucus path to political salvation and if they can summon a collective “mass”. For instance does deficit cutting take priority or what…

    In my view the flip side, a Brown loss, no matter how close is the key to resuming business as normal (whatever that is…) The closeness of it will be interpreted as a Coakly (spell) bad campaign effort.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    this poll (from a “red leaning” pollster) should illustrate some of the difficulties particularly if “order” in the Congress breaks down

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense

    Hmmm. So basically we do every thing? Shuttle, Ares, Orion and commercial. Wow! Come on, how realistic is that? Even better: Ares/Orion would support the ISS while at the same time we develop commercial capabilities that are far less expensive??? And considering the schedule, commercial would be fielded first while Ares/Orion would come much later at a much higher cost… Another great bill.

  • Of course, only 31% of the American people support the $100 billion a year US presence in Iraq but that certainly has stopped Congress from funding that adventure.

    Once people realize than the US has no access to space while the Chinese are sending humans into space and setting up military space stations, people are going to ask what happened to the space shuttle.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ January 15th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Once people realize than the US has no access to space while the Chinese are sending humans into space and setting up military space stations, people are going to ask what happened to the space shuttle…

    what are they going to do on their “military space station”?

    actually I bet the approval rating or Iraq spending is more then 31 percent…

    Robert G. Oler

  • The Chinese have already said that they believe that the militarization of space is inevitable. This appears to have surprised the Obama administration which believes that China and the US should simply get along:-) I’m pretty sure China would agree to this temporarily if the US handed over more of our space technology to them maybe in some cooperative space venture.

    But this would only be temporary. I think the Chinese ruling oligarchy believes that China’s economic growth will eventually allow them to pretty much dominate the US economy and derive political influence over what they believe is a corporate controlled US political system.

    China is also rapidly building up its submarine fleet in order to neutralize any US efforts to protect Taiwan in case they decide to invade Taiwan. But for some reason, the US keeps asking China why they are rapidly building up their naval fleet? They’re a fascist state! And fascist states tend to act fascistically!

    China may need to blind our satellites in space just in case a naval conflict emerges over Taiwan. However, I believe most people in China’s ruling oligarchy believe that in the long run the China can intimidate the US into not defending Taiwan.

  • common sense

    Wow what can I say? Marcel Williams you seem to know a lot that the US Govt. does not already know.

    What if China eventually decides to stay in LEO or even cancel their own HSF program? Who will replace them in your frantic pursuit of people on the Moon now? India? But they are our friends are they not?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams you need to catch your breath.

    First off about space.

    Space is already militarized…we did it along with the “Soviets” so it wouldnt come as much of a surprise to “us” if the PRC came along and did it as well. We have EXTENSIVE reccee, communications, control platforms whirling around in orbit all dedicated to things military…

    If by militarize you mean “active weapon systems”…well we will see. So far I have not seen any evidence that the “REds” are capable of that much less by using human spaceflight (certainly not by a trivial type space station) and defiantly not by going back to the Moon.

    You seemed to imply that if the Reds got a space station of some sort the American people would be worried. I do not understand why with ISS whirling around you think that.

    As for subs…having subs and being good at operating them is another thing. It would take less then 1/2 of a day for US attack subs to nuetralize anything that the Reds would put in the straits of TAiwan…

    and really I dont see them (the Reds) fighting us.

    to get the American people genned up about going back to the Moon…you will need far more.

    nice try

    Robert G. Oler

  • @ common sense

    US and Japanese concern about China’s rapid naval build up and their militarization of space is common knowledge is often discussed in the media. The fact that the ruling fascist oligarchy in China will tend to do what’s in their own best interest is of course– common sense!

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    The Chinese ruling oligarchy is simply doing what’s in their own best interest. They view America as a declining power and believe that China will eventually be the top economic power on Earth. And the US appears to be doing everything possible to make this happen! Having no manned space flight capability for nearly a decade will symbolize to the rest of the world that the glory days of the US are coming to an end while the new age of the Middle Kingdom is on the rise.

  • NASA Fan

    There is a new poll out showing 50% of the American public favors cutting space exploration:

    I bet if they were asked “do you favor a human tended moon base” you’d get a whopping 90% replying : “NO!”

    Obama is going to ‘punt’ HSF down the road, with a wrinkle of a surprise that makes it sound like he’s not. IMHO. Don’t look for your ‘moon base pony’ in the new direction.

    The era of NASA led big government exploration programs is over.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams

    first off it is not going to be a decade. What is ending is NASA dominated human spaceflight.

    Why? A plethora of reasons and it is a good thing

    The next space race, and I believe that there is one going is going to be which financial and economic model can do something useful with human space flight and the infrastructure that exist now.

    The US returning to human spaceflight with commercial space leading the way will show to the American people and the world, that the US is going to resume its leadership of free enterprise.

    As for the Chinese. I think that they are a paper dragon in the process of imploding…think Enron.

    Robert G. Oler

  • @NASA Fan

    I’m against exploration as the primary purpose of our space program. If all you want to do is explore then robots can do it a lot cheaper. And people, especially women, just don’t see the purpose of these space adventures. And neither do I.

    Space colonization, commercialization, and industrialization should have been at the core of NASA’s manned space program. But if tax payers only see their money spent for the adventures of an elite few then its going to be hard to maintain public support.

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    If we had waited for fee enterprise to finally put a satellite into orbit, we’d probably still be waiting!

    Private commercial manned space ventures will only succeed if private industry finally invest some serious money in such ventures. But what they’re currently calling manned space commercialization is really just a welfare program for these private companies using tax payer dollars to take astronauts to another wasteful government program called the ISS.

    And there’s no guarantee that US commercial companies will lead the way in space. It could be Russian (the first to carry space tourist), Japanese, Chinese, or European companies that end up dominating private commercial space flights in the future since they’re not afraid to use both government and private resources to get things done. 11 new nuclear reactors went under construction last year on this planet, 9 were in China– none were in the US.

  • NASA Fan

    @ Marcel

    You are making a distinction between ‘exploration’ , which you say is a waste of time, as you suggest most Americans would as well, and ‘Space colonization, commercialization, and industrialization ‘ which you opine is worthwhile.

    I bet the American public in the poll I refer to is not making that distinction, and if you asked them ‘do you support NASA’s efforts at “Space colonization, commercialization, and industrialization” the results of the poll would be unchanged.

    I am with you that COTS to ISS is corporate welfare; i.e. Space X is getting what, $1.5B, to resupply the ISS? I know Elon has plunked al ot of his own PayPal earnings into Space X; but he doesn’t go near the ISS with Dragon without that nice check from the Government.

    It is enough horse hockey that the U.S is going to pay the Russians our tax dollars to bring up U.S astronauts; I can’t image NASA being allowed to spend U.S taxpayer money on ESA, or Indian, or Chinese unmanned re-supply to the ISS. Then again, if NASA is tight for cash, they can always barter away their share of ISS on orbit resources in exchange for internationals to ferry cargo to the ISS; this is an indirect cash payment of US resources that goes overseas.

    What a mess this all is.

  • @ NASA Fan

    I’m strongly in favor of unmanned space exploration. And I have no objections to manned space exploration as long is its not the main priority of the manned space program. The political attractiveness of space colonization, commercialization, and industrialization depends on the plan and how its promoted to the public.

    Humans are natural colonizers. We first emerged in tropical Africa and eventually radiated into some extremely hostile environments in Eurasia, Australasia, and the Americas– surviving during long periods of global warming and global cooling over the last 2.6 million years.

    Now we live on an over crowded planet of nearly 7 billion people on a world that just 10,000 years ago only contained about 10 or 20 million hunter-gatherers. Two nations (US & Russia) currently have the power of life and death over the entire planet with the push of a button– but before the end of the century, countries like China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and Japan could easily join that club. We also live on a world of limited economic resources where continued human population growth is rapidly pushing other species into extinction.

    Already, our meager investment in the New Frontier has dramatically changed our lives with satellite technology that has created a world wide $100 billion a year telecommunications industry. Yet we live in a solar system that is so incomprehensibly rich in natural resources that if we divided this wealth amongst every individual on Earth, each individual’s share would come out to be more than $100 billion. And we also possess the technological know how to exploit these resources to eventually create our own Earth-like worlds all over the solar system– enough to potentially accommodate quadrillions of people if we had too!

    Yet, we choose to live in poverty on this planet and on the verge of extinction because we continue to believe the dangerous myth that the Earth is all there really is!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams

    I am trying to sort out what your point is.

    OK I get the point that you think the world is going to somehow become unihabitable and that we have to have off world colonies that can survive on their own.

    Given any realistic time line in the next 100 years that is in my view an unrealistic expectation to start with and in my view the circumstances which generate that expectation (ie the Earth becoming unihabitable) is pretty wild as well.

    You are free to continue to hold them, I think that they have as much validity as Dick Cheney’s various other “possibilities” that are as improbable as “me” becoming the King of The United States.

    What is some profitable discussion in my view is the proper mix of government to private industry involvement in any human spaceflight activity. I agree with you that if we had waited for commercial industry to launch the FIRST satellite we might have waited some…but in the US at least it came about at the right point in public private development.

    In a system such as the US (ie Free Enterprise) the role of government in developing products is to develop infrastructure that commercial companies can take advantage of. It is very unlikely that a private company would have launched the GPS system for instance.

    But the industr(ies) that have spawned up around that infrastructure in the US alone far outweigh the investment of money (and indeed in taxes far pay back that investment) that the taxpayer put and still put into the system. The GPS system is following the same (pun not intended but I like it) “road” as the interstate highways did. Infrastructure.

    The trick, which some space advocates (and I think this includes you) seem to miss is that not all space vehicles are created the same. As long as one looks at ISS as a space vehicle I think you are looking at it the same as NASA does. And in fact I suggest that you are looking at ISS no different then NASA would “the Moon”. People who dont like ISS say all it does is “go around in circles”…yeah but so does the Moon. NASA views ISS and the Moon or Planet Vulcan if they could get to it as nothing more then a “project” which keeps the cash coming.

    A more sophisticated analysis thinks of ISS as infrastructure. A place on which the US taxpayer has invested substantial funds to develop infrastructure different then the GPS system or the Interstate highway system…ONLY in that right now there is really no ability for private industry in the US to take advantage of that infrastructure.

    You label commercial access to space (SpaceX etc) as corporate welfare. Wow if that is the case I am curious what you would label government run government operated infrastructure (such as NASA going back to the Moon) which has zero ability for real private enterprise to take advantage of?

    CAS is in my view no different then infrastructure development similar to the Air Mail act in the early part of the last century.

    Musk has put in (Unlike most NASA contractors) a substantial part of his own money to develop a product which can take advantage of the ISS infrastructure and EXPAND it as private industry does in The Republic.

    If that cannot work, if that cannot follow the same path as Syncom did going to the private launched com satellites of today (and Sycom had government/private money in it) then there is no future for humans in space, much less your colonies which are self sufficient.

    Again, what is your point?

    Robert G. Oler

  • @ Robert G. Oler

    Yes, it is possible that a thermonuclear war could make the world uninhabitable for humans. And it almost happened during the Cuban missile crisis back in 1962.

    And who would have predicted the rise of Hitler and his attempts to conquer other country and exterminate so called inferior races. Who would have predicted the rise of Communism and its attempts to spread it all over the world. And who would have predicted the rise of international Islamic terrorism. So we have no idea what kind of nutty religions or regimes will arise on Earth during the next 100 or 200 years. I’m not predicting the end of the world but a much more dangerous world– if we continue to course that we’re currently on of restricting our civilization solely to the Earth.

    Trying to create a private manned commercial space launch industry based on revenues from government contracts is simply a bad idea. First of all, NASA should not have to be dependent on some private company in order to access orbit. That’s like the US military depending on Blackwater to transport them to the battle field. This would be a totally unnecessary middle man. Secondly, if the tax payers suddenly decided that they no longer wanted to fund the ISS program then these space corporations would be immediately put out of business.

    So far, the most viable model for commercial manned space flight appears to be space tourism combined with utilizing the same launch vehicles for placing commercial satellites into orbit. This is the way the Russians are doing it. And this is the direction US space companies need to go, IMO. If the French end up man rating the Ariane rocket for the Orion, then the European Space Agency could end up in the space tourism business. A man rated Japanese H2B rocket might also be able to carry an Orion into orbit. A US Delta 4 heavy could also be man rated for an Orion.

    What US private commercial companies need is not government contracts. What they need is a reliable rocket! Space X has potential. But all they seem to be doing is attempting to imitate what NASA and Russia already did way back in the 1960s. And Space X is far behind behind Russia, Europe, Japan, China, the Sea Launch consortium, and of course the US government in their space launch technology and capability.

    What NASA, the Air Force, and US private industry should be doing is getting together to develop the simplest, safest, and cheapest man rated liquid rocket vehicle possible that would be mutually beneficial for NASA, the Air Force, and private industry to operate. The US needs to develop the rocket equivalent of a DC-3 that can easily be mass produced, fueled, and launched into orbit.

    Once private has a viable space craft and manned space flight capability, then they could afford to take some chances by attempting to develop some novel space flight technologies. But this is really no time for amateur rocket clubs in the US to be attempt to develop what the US and other governments already developed decades ago, IMO!

  • Robert G. Oler

    Marcel F. Williams

    I find almost nothing to agree with in your post.

    The history of the world is full of generation after generation having to deal with events that their predecessors could not predict nor understand nor have the ability to fix. Things “evolve” in world affairs. Generations from now might marvel at the MAD generation between the two superpowers but it worked perfectly fine.

    I am sure that there are “dark days” ahead on the road where there are minor nuclear powers, even ones who we might not like the stability of their governments, or the cut of them…but I have no doubt that we will deal with that situation in a fairly efficient or at least satisfactory manner.

    To argue that unpredictable events make it necessary to colonize other planets is nuts. If were to colonize other worlds it is just as likely, indeed more so that the unpredictable events on those worlds will snuff out that colony.

    moving on.

    “NASA should not have to be dependent on some private company in order to access orbit. That’s like the US military depending on Blackwater to transport them to the battle field.”

    LOL. the US military takes almost NONE of its troops to the battlefield on its own assets. For all the now millions of people who have cycled in and out of hte Iraq the vast majority have flown on commercial assets. The US military has specific assets once deployed to take troops to battle but these are dicated by the essence of the battlefield requirements. NASA faces no such requirements.

    The third part of your post is equally flawed.

    The Russians are successful in space tourism simply because the “dollar” there buys things far out of proportion to its value in western economies. In other words if a millionare pays 10 million to the Russians they can buy far more with that 10 million to keep their program afloat then a western launch organization could.

    Space tourism as a market is advocated by space advocates simply because 1) most are not very sophisticated and 2) most space advocates “want to go”.

    In my view the first “money maker” for private launch firms is going to be providing a service that the government needs. That is in turn going to grow infrastructure that can branch that same service out to other groups.

    The government needed Syncom (GEO communications) because the military needed more bandwidth. That allowed the heavy lifting to be done and eventually the concept branched out.

    In my view the first service after up/down mass to ISS that is coming is private groups building and then servicing for the US military large just barely sub geo platforms. Platforms that give 1 meter or better resolution anytime the military needs it, large comm platforms, and other assets.

    SpaceX is not an amateur rocket club.

    nice try.

    Robert G. Oler

  • vulture4

    Why didn’t all these politicos who now want to save the shuttle say anything five years ago???? A new Apollo program provides no practical benefits and is unaffordable. I don’t know if we can extend Shuttle, though we should keep it flying until we have something better.

    Without lunar flight, which is unaffordable and provides no practical benefits, Constellation is limited to LEO transport. In this role it has fewer capabilties than Shuttle and costs much more than Falcon/Dragon. If we have to jettison one current project, this would be it.

    But unfortunately the ASAP panel report has just been released and seems intended to strike back at both SpaceX and Shuttle, putting us back to square one.

  • […] Another bid to extend the shuttle (and more) – Space Politics […]

  • Phil Albee

    Aligning human spaceflight programs with U.S. national priorities, is not difficult, and the Shuttles shouldn’t be mothballed.

    Everyone’s missing something important: I have yet to see any talk of the economic and national security risks associated with China or Russia mining Helium 3 from the moon, in the absence of U.S. presence, in light of the current race for the moon.

    The argument will be H3 will be used for peaceful use of clean nuclear power generation, but means Earth will have a far more deadly dual-use nuclear technology to try to control.

    H3 will enable far more compact and powerful nuclear bombs. Not much need for China, or rogue countries to come up with more capable rockets to deliver nuclear warheads to us or our allies, once H3 is used for fusion reaction bombs.

    There’s an alternative that would provide electricity to Earth at a cost far lower than today’s rates, using existing technology, not using nuclear energy, that would make nuclear power generation far too expensive, thereby eliminating the feasibility of any dual-use nuclear technology. It’s called the Lunar Solar Power System, as promulgated by Dr. David Criswell.


    World Energy Council, 18th Congress, (includes detailed analysis/comparison with all other alternatives)

    China isn’t going to the moon for vanity’s sake.

    China’s power needs outstrip its ability to supply present use and growth – and their options on earth are limited. There’s legitimate need for them to be looking to the moon options. In addition, this week, Google turned over information to the U.S. government, implicating the Chinese government in the hacking of U.S. Financial, Chemical, Technology, and Mobile Communication companies, as well as the theft of Google’s own intellectual property.

    It’s pretty clear that China’s control of resources on the moon would be a huge economic and security threat.

    It should be clear that keeping the Shuttle program in place is of major U.S. economic and national security importance. Couldn’t the shuttle program be used to leverage the ISS, in cooperation with our ISS partners, to reach the moon and implement a Lunar Solar Power System? Alternatively, couldn’t the U.S. use the Shuttle within an exclusive national program, as a payload and assembly asset to transfer equipment, supplies and personnel to and from low earth orbit, with moon missions launched from low-earth orbit to the moon?

    Either way, it’s apparent the economic benefits to participants in the LSP program will be significant, and ongoing.

    The alignment of this particular human spaceflight program with U.S. priorities is obvious – and I think the media must begin to do its job to inform the public of what is at stake. The shuttles must not be grounded.

    Phil Albee

  • kirk

    space shuttle should add flight sts 135 atlantis next april 12,2011 for 30 years! also memory name add columbia and challenger put on by shuttle window ” atlantis” add memory columbia and challenger for sts 135 flight!! let rally else!!

  • […] to keep the shuttle flying beyond this year. However, the bill’s provisions are similar to what Jeff Bingham suggested it would contain back in January, focusing not just on the shuttle but other needs to ensure optimum US access to and utilization of […]

  • xJPLer

    So far no one has touched on what really spawned the shuttle in the first place and this need remains. The primary concern that drove the creation of the space shuttle was not the need to bring anything into space but the need to bring something safely back. Because the US, our allies, and our enemies have the capability to place nuclear weapons in low earth orbit, we must have a way to bring them back down again safely. That was the underlying, and unpublished motivation for this vehicle.

    If you have such a vehicle you must keep crews trained to accomplish this task. The ISS is to give the shuttle something to do to keep the vehicle ready. NASA tried to use it for launching satellites to attempt some return on the investment but his proved to be impractical.

    Retiring the shuttle is betting on nobody putting a nuke in orbit either on purpose or by accident. If we do not retrieve a LEO nuke it will come down on it’s own anyway in a much less controlled fashion.

    I worked at JPL for 10 years on various spacecraft teams and have always resented the cost of the shuttle as a black hole all the NASA money went into. The Voyager mission from concept to date has cost less than one shuttle launch. My first supervisor at JPL was on the original concept teams and is the one that told me of the underlying mission.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>