. 24/7 Space News .
Call For Ending The Shuttle Program Building Momentum

Last Wednesday, NASA said that the fuel tank needs to be redesigned, scratching a planned launch of Atlantis in September.
Washington (AFP) Aug 14, 2005
Recurring problems that have forced NASA to ground all its shuttles until further notice could persuade officials to speed up work on a new generation of space craft.

Two and a half years after the Columbia tragedy and 500 million dollars to fix the problem that caused it were not enough to prevent foam from falling off Discovery, which recently returned from space to the relief of many.

When Discovery was launched on July 26, its huge external fuel tank shed pieces of insulating foam like the one that ultimately downed the Columbia, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

On Wednesday, NASA said that the fuel tank needs to be redesigned, scratching a planned launch of Atlantis in September.

If the shuttle becomes too difficult to repair or too expensive to fly, many experts, former NASA engineers and members of Congress want to rethink current plans to retire the shuttle in 2010 - and possibly even mothball the three surviving shuttles immediately.

"When your design stinks, Engineering 101 says admit your mistakes and go back to the drawing board," said retired NASA engineer Homer Hicham.

"The space shuttle is ... never going to be reliable no matter how much money, time and engineering careers your throw at it. Let's put the shuttle on the shelf right away and give engineers the gift of designing new ships to carry humans into space," he said.

Roger Pielke, director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder agrees.

"NASA is rolling the dice with the future of the US space program by continuing to hold unrealistic expectations for shuttle performance.

"If history is any guide, then we should expect that the shuttle will fly less and cost more than we think. It is unclear what would be gained by continuing to fly the shuttle rather than moving to the next phase of US space policy sooner rather than later," he said.

He would also involve Congress in a debate on the future of space exploration.

Legislators have been raising clear warnings.

"There is going to be no room for margin of error in terms of flying again if there is not a high level of confidence that the problems we know about are solved," said Representative Bart Gordon, leading Democrat on the House Science Committee.

His Republican counterpart, Sherwood Boehlert, who chairs the committee, said the tipping point comes when problems take too long to fix.

"Then we have to rethink everything. Maybe the shuttle will be no more," he said.

The shuttle's last flight is actually slated for 2009. To have a replacement on line by 2011, NASA wants to launch a three-astronaut capsule, reminiscent of the Apollo program that reached the moon, but launched atop a rocket derived from the one that lifts the shuttle. Cargo would launch separately.

"We have ways to construct such vehicles using shuttle solid-rocket motors and external tanks and shuttle main engines," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.

"We think the existing components offer us huge cost advantages as opposed to starting from a clean sheet of paper. That's what I have proposed doing," he said.

All rights reserved. � 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

Related Links
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

Shuttle Launch In September Unlikely As Engineers Ponder Falling Foam
Miami (AFP) Aug 11, 2005
NASA said Thursday it is unlikely to meet a September target for its next space shuttle flight as engineers try to figure out why foam fell off Discovery 30 months after a similar problem doomed Columbia.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.