US in space: fat lady didn’t sing after all

A discussion ensued following  yesterday’s post about the launch of Atlantis which raised a few questions about  the future of the space program. I just found this at the AP which answers some of those. I learned in the article that “NASA is under orders to build a giant rocket to go beyond Earth orbit.” Cool. Didn’t know that.

Q: Why are the shuttles retiring?

A: The shuttles are aging and expensive and their chief task of building the International Space Station is essentially done. Now NASA wants to do something new.

Q: Who decided to stop flying the shuttles?

A: President George W. Bush made the decision in 2004. He wanted astronauts to go back to the moon, and eventually to Mars. But President Barack Obama dropped the moon mission. His plan has NASA building a giant rocket to send astronauts to an asteroid, and eventually Mars, while turning over to private companies the job of carrying cargo and astronauts to the space station.

Q: Why were the shuttles built?

A: It was supposed to make getting into space cheap, simple and safe, flying into low orbit virtually every week. It didn’t accomplish that. But it was the best way to get big items — such as satellites and the Hubble Space Telescope — into orbit . . .

Q: What happens to the space shuttles?

A: They’ll be on display across the country. Endeavour goes to the California Science Center in Los Angeles and Atlantis will stay at Kennedy Space Center for its visitor complex. Discovery’s new home will be the Smithsonian Institution’s hangar near Washington Dulles International Airport. Enterprise, a shuttle prototype used for test flights, goes to New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

Q: How will astronauts get to the space station?

A: NASA will continue to buy seats on Russian Soyuz capsules to ferry space station residents. The $56 million price per head will go up to $63 million, which is still cheaper per person than the space shuttle.

There’s more at the link.

11 responses to “US in space: fat lady didn’t sing after all

  1. Moe,

    This is great news! Thanks for sharing this link.


  2. Ok…..
    The Dog is here with some off the cuff commenets to the stuff in the posted link…..
    Shuttle travel are being cut because after the second crash evryone got spooked…..The Specitcal of a shuttle coming apart on TV in real time was deemed too big a risk anymore …Two of them was enough…
    Bush and the powers to be ordered a moved back ward to the capsules that had proved safe except for a fire in one that took some lives of astronauts ‘ON THE GROUND”….

    Why built?
    First for staright scientific studies and travel….But just before they started flying NASA got a little short of money and looked around for more money and stuff to do….
    The Defense Dept. gladly signed up…..Early shuttle flights had a LOT of Defense work happening on board….Since most if all the early astronuats where in fact military people there was no problem with them keeping their mouths shut on what they where doing hundreds of milles up in space…

    What happens to US MANNED space travel….
    Yup for the next few years NASA has to hitch rides on Russian vehicles….
    Congress and the Defense Department isn’t gonna have that long term….
    The Air Force in fact has it’s own mini ‘unmanned space shuttle ‘ flying the XB-37…..
    Spoace X a private company with ex-NASA people and ex-astronauts has already flown their capsule space craft into orbit and will have another un-manned capsule deliever supplies to the space station….
    They are looking to do manned flights in no later than 3 years at a far cheaper cost than NASA…

    Another private company is almost done with a lifting body space craft….

    So Obama’s call for private competation to continue the American space program is on going….
    Oh, yea…
    NASA is still building a striped down Orion capsule (Formed from the Apollo specs) for tons of mopney so they can be in the running if Congress wants to go back to spending tons of money……


  3. Even Kansas has some world class space stuff.


  4. That’s about as close as it gets for a few years……


  5. NASA does not have enough friends in Congress . NASA’s budget has been cut in real terms for years . The military has Republicans and a few Democrats that have military bases in their states to fight for it . The poor and the senior citizens have Democrats to fight for them . When something has to be cut , it has nothing to do with merit . It has to do with political strength . The politically weak will be attacked and their budgets cut . NASA is politically weak .

    When your ‘primary’ mission is to reach out and make other nations feel good about their scientific contributions, you are a political joke . A lot of Americans have no memory of the moon landings .


    • I’m not sure Alan what your point is. So it’s poor people or space? I think we can manage both, since we have a proven ability to be able to walk and chew gum.

      What’s missing today is a sense of mission. Since JFK chalelnged us to land a man on the moon ‘before this decade is out’, it’s all been pretty clinical.

      Mission – inspiration – excitement – all missing today. I hope we get it back.


  6. Ms. Holland ,

    My point is that I think NASA is one of the very few things you and I can agree on . I am just very pessimistic . I can almost predict what will happen . In the coming battle between the parties , I do not see NASA having enough clout with either your guys or mine .

    Right now, nobody in Washington can walk and chew gum . NASA has been living on food scraps for a decade, at least . Come August, even those will be hard to come by .


  7. Hey Alan…I’ll bet the Private guy do damn better abd cheaper!


  8. Correction…..

    Hey Alan….I’ll bet the Private Guy’s do damn better and cheaper!

    That’s Better!


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