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banquo's_bumble_puppy
2006-Feb-17, 03:03 PM
Would it have been better if there had been a larger space shuttle fleet, ie. say 8 instead of 4? Could NASA have done a lot more with such a fleet?

Saluki
2006-Feb-17, 03:08 PM
IMO, not much. How much can you do in low Earth orbit? Maybe we would have a completed space station by now. Whoopee.

We have been spinning our manned space flight wheels for 30 years.

Metricyard
2006-Feb-17, 03:54 PM
We may have gotten a few more flights, but I don't think it would have made much of a difference.

The whole point of having the shuttles in the first place was quick turn-around times. Unfortunately, that didn't happen in the real world.

I don't think that NASA could have afforded 8 shuttles, not without totally wiping out other projects. And with the loss of other experiments, you have less to launch. And with less to launch, you have a whole bunch of idle ships. Kind of self-defeating in the long run.

Ara Pacis
2006-Feb-17, 11:29 PM
If NASA had bought more shuttles then nothing would have changed except that NASA would have paid twice as much money for the same thing we got.

MID1
2006-Feb-19, 04:27 PM
Would it have been better if there had been a larger space shuttle fleet, ie. say 8 instead of 4? Could NASA have done a lot more with such a fleet?


It's hard to know what the term "better" means in this context. I don't think the Shuttle has provided much in the line of benefit as it is, quite frankly. It was, from its inception, a compromise--a heck of a flying machine, of course, but a compromise nonetheless.

That compromise, the result of a lack of funding, combined with a strange impetus to accellerate the program unnecessarily, and with a deterioration in the fabric of the management paradigm at NASA, produced disaster...twice.

Another 4 shuttles would've produced little, save perhaps another 20 plus billion in expense (+/-), perhaps more flights even more frequently, and, by logical extension, perhaps another disaster to accompany the two we've seen.

Additionally, that extra expense, for essentially nothing, would've taken NASA funding from the actual exploratory and science programs that the people at JPL have so sucessfully executed in the past decades.

I don't see that as "better" in any way.

Perhaps "better" would've been to produce the shuttle as it was originally intended, then utilize it for what it was supposed to have been used for--as an adjunct, a support vehicle for manned exploration programs, rather than as "the program" itself. That would've cost us less in the long run, especially given the billions that have been spent "fixing" the shuttle, and of course, given the incalcuable loss of life we've all witnessed.

Damburger
2006-Feb-20, 01:34 AM
From what I understand, the people needed by the shuttle program can't really be employed part time. You have to hire them for the whole year regardless of how often you launch.

I believe the OP is suggesting that a bigger shuttle fleet with more launchers would have resulted in a lower cost per launch (correct me if I'm wrong).

banquo's_bumble_puppy
2006-Feb-20, 11:29 AM
that was sort of the idea

Metricyard
2006-Feb-20, 02:35 PM
Unless there were hundreds of shuttles built, I doubt that would have been any significant cost savings. You still have to check/rebuild the engines, you still have to replace worn or missing tiles,etc. And with more shuttles to support, you would probably have to charge more, not less, per launch to keep the fleet up to snuff.

Looked what happened after the Challenger accident. instead of grounding 3 shuttles, you would have grounded 7 of them. And you still have to pay to support them, no matter how many years they sit idle.


Edit: Cleaned up/spelling

Doodler
2006-Feb-20, 02:49 PM
Unless there were hundreds of shuttles built, I doubt that would have been any significant cost savings. You still have to check/rebuild the engines, you still have to replace worn or missing tiles,etc. And with more shuttles to support, you would probably have to charge more, not less, per launch to keep the fleet up to snuff.

Even if there were a hundred shuttles, there would be no real savings. Given the amount of between flight maintenance needed, one has to ask just how much was really saved having to go over each ship with a fine tooth comb replacing worn parts and essentially reconstructing an engine. If anything, the shuttle's supposedly more efficient re-usability made them MORE expensive than a one off capsule system.

You certainly had more capability in the vehicle, but there are more efficient ways of addressing most of those roles. Realistically, the only thing that has ever justified needing the shuttles is the construction of the ISS. Other than that it was a glorified satellite booster and a relaunchable Skylab style spacelab.