View Full Version : Cracks in the space shuttle program?

The Rusty Lander
2002-Jul-14, 04:30 AM
Go here (http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/news/3657445.htm).

David Hall
2002-Jul-14, 11:40 AM
It's good to see that they are taking the Challenger lesson seriously. They know now that even a small weak spot can have terrible consequences. I think it's for the best that they delay things until they can correct it. But it is a shame that the oft-delayed shuttle has yet another problem to work through.

The real trouble is that the shuttle is too complex. There are too many little things that can go wrong, and so you need constant maintenance and inspection to keep them running. What is really needed is a stronger, simpler form that doesn't need so much groundwork. I remember hearing that the shuttle launches themselves are not that expensive. The vast bulk of the billion-a-launch cost is in pre- and post-mission maintenance.

2002-Jul-15, 02:02 AM
It appears from bits and pieces I've seen recently that the whole Shuttle/ISS venture may be in deep trouble. The Shuttle fleet is grounded for the moment...not good news. But worse, the Station, crewed by only three because of rescue vehicle limitations, cannot perform any meaningful science programs. We send people up there to keep it running until the next set of custodians arrive. Nothing else is accomplished, certainly nothing worth the billions being expended. Even the folks in Washington are beginning to catch the scent of boondoggle. I would bet that politics and politics alone will decide whether the US keeps up its part in this venture...and judging by the administration's tendency to toss aside agreements when they are no longer deemed useful, the entire manned space program may be about to bite the dust. The only political point I can see that might tend to preserve this endeavor is that the Manned Spacecraft Center is located in Texas.

I wonder if we'll find used shuttles acting as commercial attractions in DisneyWorld, like the Buran test article in Gorky Park, Moscow?

2002-Jul-15, 01:22 PM
I remember having heard/read something about the shuttles either being redesigned or being replaced with something new and improved. Could that be playing a part in the schematic of things, or have you heard that this is up for being scrapped, too?

2002-Jul-15, 05:10 PM
There have been plans to replace the shuttles. The X-33 and X-34 were supposed to usher in the next generation of reusable launch vehicles, but both programs have been killed. http://www.allstar.fiu.edu/aero/x33_x34end.htm

The Space Launch Initiative is supposed to find a replacement for the shuttles, narrowing the candidate technologies by the end of 2003 and having a working model by the end of 2005.

David Hall
2002-Jul-15, 07:11 PM
How are we supposed to develop any replacements for the shuttle when all the programs for it keep getting killed? The X-33 & X-34 may not have been going right as-is, but they were still important for developing the technology. They should have been kept open, or at least supplanted by something along the same lines. Same goes for the Delta Clipper program. What happened to that line of research? I haven't heard a thing about it since the test vehicle crashed and the program was cancelled.

What, is every promising line of development going to be halted if it comes across a few snags? The feeling I get from NASA these days is that it's just flitting from idea to idea with no real goal or drive behind it. Where's the focus here? The determination to make something work? I want to see one approach decided upon and worked to completion here.

2002-Jul-16, 12:25 PM
On 2002-07-15 15:11, David Hall wrote:
How are we supposed to develop any replacements for the shuttle when all the programs for it keep getting killed?

Maybe this explains it:

"China may launch its first manned space mission by 2003 or 2004. It also has long-term plans to launch its own space station, and possibly a reusable space plane as well."


So, we'll just wait for the Chinese to develop theirs and buy from them.