Future of US Space Shuttle Program Once Again in Doubt

Flynn

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2005
Messages
11,697
Likes
210
#1
The heading by itself would be an alarming thought to the astronauts that are onboard Space Shuttle Discovery for this mission.

Amazing technology, the shuttle is one of the most sophisticated pieces of engineering achieved by man but it appears the technology is flawed and new craft are aleady been designed for use by 2010.

What is the future of the space program ?

Is it worth the money spent ?

Are the so called EXPERIMENTS just for medical reasearch ?

Can they be rescued if Discovery is given a red light for re-entry because of tile or windsreen damage ?














By Michael Bowman

The head of the U.S. Space Agency has conceded that there is no guarantee that the
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, right, and NASA Deputy Associate Administrator Michael Kostelnik, center, view the Space Shuttle Discovery launch from the Launch Control Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center
troubled space-shuttle program will launch another orbiter. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin spoke as crewmembers of the Space Shuttle Discovery expressed consternation that, despite exhaustive repair efforts, a piece of foam insulation once again broke away from an external fuel tank during last week's launch.

NASA is facing more questions for which it has few concrete answers. Days after the first shuttle launch in more than two years, Administrator Michael Griffin said NASA has no choice but to consider the possibility that further construction of the International Space Station will have to proceed without U.S. orbiters ferrying personnel, equipment, and supplies.

Mr. Griffin spoke on NBC's Meet the Press program.

"If we cannot fix the foam [problem], then we will have to figure out a different path to sustain the space station until we can get a new vehicle. As a matter of fact, we are currently doing design studies on just such things right now," he said.

The Bush Administration has called for accelerated development of a successor vehicle to the three-decade-old space shuttle, with a target date of 2010. But NASA officials say they had hoped for some 20 shuttle missions between now and then for a variety of missions, from space station construction to fixing the Hubble Telescope.

But that ambitious launch schedule has been thrown into doubt. It was foam debris that damaged the Space Shuttle Columbia and was blamed for the break-up of the vehicle upon its ill-fated return from orbit in 2003.

Administrator Griffin said last week's Discovery launch showed that, more than two years after the Columbia disaster, the foam issue has not been solved. He indicated that errors had been made or,

"We goofed [made a mistake] on that one," as he put it. "Certainly we were lucky. If it [the foam section] had broken off earlier and if it had followed a different trajectory, it could have hit the orbiter, as any piece of foam could, and could have done some damage."

Mr. Griffin said he has no reason to believe that Discovery is unsafe to return to earth. Crewmembers aboard the space shuttle have expressed similar confidence that Discovery is in good shape. But, in an interview on ABC's This Week program, pilot James Kelly said he was surprised and disappointed to learn that foam had peeled off the external fuel tank.

"The area where to foam came off is an area that was not examined or decisions were made not to look at it and not to test the foam there. I think we do need to address why that decision was made," said Mr. Kelly.

Despite problems and setbacks, former astronaut John Glenn said space exploration remains a worthy endeavor, and that a certain amount of risk is unavoidable, especially on space shuttles comprised of more than two million parts.

"It [the Space Shuttle] is the most complex machine ever built," said Mr. Glenn. "Any time you venture out of bed in the morning, you take some risk. I think there will always be risk, whether you drive an automobile or a spacecraft. I think it is worth the risk, because what we are trying to do with the shuttle is to complete the International Space Station. And that will enable us to do the research it was built to do in the first place - medicines and pharmaceuticals and things like that that are a benefit to people right here on earth."

Discovery is scheduled to leave orbit on Monday, August 8, one day later than originally planned. NASA says that, if any safety issues should arise concerning Discovery's return to Earth, the crew has the option of going aboard the International Space Station until a solution is found or another vehicle is launched.
 

talk2me452002

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2004
Messages
5,244
Likes
379
#2
Discovery is scheduled to leave orbit on Monday, August 8, one day later than originally planned. NASA says that, if any safety issues should arise concerning Discovery's return to Earth, the crew has the option of going aboard the International Space Station until a solution is found or another vehicle is launched



uh yeah..i would like to stay there till they built another ship to come get me!.....oh yeah!
 

jungleboy

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2004
Messages
3,059
Likes
78
#3
The space shuttle is old. The US got it's money's worth. It is time (overdue even) to replace them.

I support and believe in the usefulness of space exploration. It has many positive benifits for the world.


Talk, I agree. There should be a good backup plan for getting back down.


Maybe the US should work closer with the Russians. They are selling seats on their shuttle.