NASA mulls early retirement for space shuttle

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acid_frost

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NASA mulls early retirement for space shuttle<br /><br />Preliminary studies look at off-loading station building to rockets<br /><br />HOUSTON - Even as NASA gears up for the space shuttle's return to flight next year, officials at the space agency are quietly studying the possibility of cutting back its number of missions and retiring the spacecraft years ahead of schedule, MSNBC.com has learned. <br /><br />With the shuttle's main objective being the completion of the international space station, such an early retirement would mean either transferring major station assembly and supply jobs to expendable rockets and/or dropping some station components entirely. <br /><br />Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6357772/<br /><br />Acid
 
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acid_frost

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Nasa is talking about scraping the shuttle program and allow rockets to finish the Space Station. Many that i have spoken to have said that iam wrong and that it wont happen, though i guess i might be right. <br /><br />The shuttle fleet is a dieing dinosaur that is a never ending money pit that the tax payes are tired of fitting the bill on. I for one think that this is an realistic direction in ending the shuttle early and going with rockets are realistic.<br /><br />Iam not saying just dump the shuttle, but use it for the larger pieces that cant be place on a rocket. <br /><br />I also think it is time for NASA to put its pride to its side and ask China to come into the loop and help and also join the international team for the space station. As this article has pointed out that i think NASA needs to loosen its grip with having to burden this endeavor alone. Some might say that we arent along though it would seem that we are. <br /><br />Acid <br />
 
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elguapoguano

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When the study comes back and says that putting together the remaining pieces of the ISS is not feasable without long delays involving developing automatic docking systems on both ISS and the pieces that will attach(which NASA has no experience), propulsion systems to get the pieces in the right orbital plane, and building specialized payload fairings for the rocket to carry the parts...... you'll see we were right... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#ff0000"><u><em>Don't let your sig line incite a gay thread ;>)</em></u></font> </div>
 
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SpaceKiwi

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IIRC both SG and najaB have discussed elsewhere that transferring major ISS componentry away from Shuttle to other launch systems is not a goer. I believe the technical challenges involved in making the payloads compatable with the launch system, and vice-versa, would make the exercise prohibitively expensive, if it is even possible at all.<br /><br />Their opinions are good enough for me. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em><font size="2" color="#ff0000">Who is this superhero?  Henry, the mild-mannered janitor ... could be!</font></em></p><p><em><font size="2">-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------</font></em></p><p><font size="5">Bring Back The Black!</font></p> </div>
 
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mooware

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<font color="yellow">"The Shuttle, the ISS, both of these are distractions from winning the broader War on Terror which could be won more effectively with a vigorous manned exploration of space beyond LEO"</font><br /><br />I guess I'm confused here.. How is the war on terror and space exploration related?<br /><br />
 
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radarredux

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Thoughts on the article.<br /><br />(1) The article (not necessarily the idea) seemed fairly reasonable. It mentioned several issues shuttle_guy and others have mentioned with respect to using expendable boosters. For example, the space station components are designed for the shuttle's side mounting instead of the vertical mounting of expendables and the need for the shuttle arm to place components.<br /><br />(2) The studies may simply be designed to provide administrators options. I would not be surprised if O'Keefe asked for a range of options from a minimal number of launches (perhaps as few as 6) to a maximum number of flights (30 or more), and what are the various trade offs. For example, in another thread there is a discussion about keeping the shuttle flying until the CEV is available (perhaps 2014 or beyond -- of course keeping the shuttle flying would push back the date for the CEV).<br /><br />(3) For me, the big surprise was: "Sergey Shaevich, the space station program director for the Khrunichev Center in Moscow, proposed to NASA that his company's Proton rocket be used for all but two of the currently scheduled shuttle missions." Presumably Shavich knows what he is talking about.<br /><br />(4) I think this article serves to highlight the tension between the old program (shuttle and ISS) and the new Constellation program. The new program cannot really ramp up until the old program winds down. If Senator Hutchison plan to keep the shuttles flying until the CEV is flying, the CEV may not fly until the end of the next decade because there will be very little funding available to build it. If the shuttle is retired early (perhaps after six flights), then the CEV can come online much earlier. But there are trade offs.
 
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radarredux

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Space.com (via Space News) has a similar article, but with a little more depth:<br /><br />Debate About Shuttle’s Future Heats Up<br />By Brian Berger<br />http://www.space.com/news/shuttle_debate_041029.html<br /><br />What I found disturbing in the SDC article is the skepticism that the ISS could be done by 2010 -- "<i>Few expect NASA to be ready to retire the shuttle any earlier than 2012</i>" ... "<i>NASA is adhering to the program as it is. All outside experts ... believe the existing program has to fly through 2014</i>"<br /><br />With the shuttle program running about $5 billion per year, this would effectively be a $10-20 billion cut in the new Constellation space program.
 
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shuttle_rtf

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I look forward to this summer to see these ladies flying again, inspiring people by their ability to beat the odds and the doubters that seems to have a scratched record for years and years.<br /><br />There's a key word there, inspire. I wonder how many people would be inspired by an Atlas or Delta firing off compared to a Shuttle. Sure, we can all do the maths, but if you're looking at saving tax money, then have a look how much the it costs to have an occasional war.<br /><br />(Disclaimer, I'm English and support - though slightly objectively- the war on terrorism carried out by my country and the US).
 
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no_way

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Past two years STS budget has apparently been approximately 10billion USD.<br />Kinda high price for one not so successful flight.
 
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mattblack

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Perhaps they could use Shuttlle until "U.S. Core Complete" then shift the rest to Protons and Delta 4 heavies. I'm aware of the arguments against re-tooling some of the Station hardware, but surely some sort of compromise could be reached?<br /><br />And then after that, fly each remaining orbiter once more in turn to deliver consumables, spare CMG gyros, batteries, spare parts and experiment racks. This would deliver about 28 tons of mass to the station for future operations. After which, Progress, Soyuz and ESA's ATV would take all necessary items up. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p>One Percent of Federal Funding For Space: America <strong><em><u>CAN</u></em></strong> Afford it!!  LEO is a <strong><em>Prison</em></strong> -- It's time for a <em><strong>JAILBREAK</strong></em>!!</p> </div>
 
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wvbraun

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The sooner NASA gets rid of the Shuttle the better. The Shuttle program has sucked up much of NASA's human spaceflight budget for the past 30 years and has driven the space program into a deadlock. The ISS is a useless, over-priced make-work project. If the station can't be completed as planned, so what? I could care less. In a few years Bigelow will send up his inflatables and teach the governement a lesson in how to build an orbital laboratory. It will have taken him about ten years and cost less than $500 million, whereas NASA will have spend close to $100 billion over more than 25 years on the ISS.<br />Much more important than the Shuttle and the ISS is the development of the CEV and lunar hardware.<br /><br />I agree that the $5 billion/year figure is frightening. If the Shuttle program is continued beyond 2010 I don't see where the money for a return to the moon by 2020 (let alone 2015) will come from. The CEV would be delayed year after year because the Shuttle would continue to consume much of NASA's ressources and since there would be no CEV the Shuttle would have to be kept in service - a vicious circle.
 
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nacnud

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Sorry this is off topic but...<br /><br />If you are able to get BBC TV and have an option on the war on terror watch the BBC 4 series The power of nightmares first.<br /><br />Then go shout at the politicians to spent money on science and space.<br />
 
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halman

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RadarRedux,<br /><br />I am constantly amazed by the attitudes I see here. There is no doubt that the Space Shuttle has consumed a large portion of the NASA budget. About 1/4 of it, over the last few years. If the entire budget of the agency was directed into manned spaceflight, flying the shuttle would not be considered prohibitive. Certainly, there is pressure to keep budgets down, in light of current deficits, but other agencies have had their budgets increased, and the amount spent by NASA represents a fraction of 1 percent of the annual federal budget.<br /><br />There are serious doubts if the manned space program will continue if funding levels are not increased. This country is refusing to invest in the future, to develop new technologies, to create infrastructure which lasts more than a couple of years. Getting spending levels increased should be the biggest priority for all space enthusiasts, so that more can be accomplished.<br /><br />Whatever happens, I hope that what replaces the shuttle will serve at least as long as the shuttle has. We definitely can not afford to design new space craft every few years. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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