NASA to Keep Shuttles until 2022

According to this Yahoo! News article, NASA is exploring ways to keep the remaining three shuttles in service until 2022. Apparently the next generation space vehicle won’t make its first test flight for 12 years.

I’d say write your congressperson, but it’s too late for that now. NASA is so far behind in development, that no amount of budget increases would help them. Well, write your congressperson anyway. They’re not busy.

9 replies on “NASA to Keep Shuttles until 2022”

  1. GrimSean says:

    So what happens…
    … when the next Shuttle doesn’t make it down? Why can’t they simply face facts and realize that the Shuttles are outdated and need to be replaced with something a lot more reliable? Two Shuttles lost in less than 200 missions is not a good record.

    I hope that China will somehow be able to re-spark the space race by sending people to the moon. America is becoming quite relaxed about its position, and that is the only thing on the horizon that has a ghost of a chance to pull them out of their stupor.

    • theangrymob says:

      Re: So what happens…

      … when the next Shuttle doesn’t make it down? Why can’t they simply face facts and realize that the Shuttles are outdated and need to be replaced with something a lot more reliable?

      There was no money through the 90’s to build a replacement technology. Now they are behind the times. They have no choice but to keep them flying.

      • GrimSean says:

        Re: So what happens…

        There was no money through the 90’s to build a replacement technology. Now they are behind the times. They have no choice but to keep them flying.

        True, but perhaps the money that was spent on the ISS would have been better spent on a next generation shuttle – something with a better cost to weight lift ratio or a larger payload area. I know they built Endeavour essentially from spare parts to replace Challenger, but I really think that they should have went on to something else instead. The proposed 2022 date for use of the remaining shuttle fleet is an unreasonable date for a piece of technology that is closing in on the quarter century mark (and has already had two catastrophic failures) – 40 year old shuttles are not something that I would feel safe in.

        • Jhon says:

          Re: So what happens…

          True, but perhaps the money that was spent on the ISS would have been better spent on a next generation shuttle – something with a better cost to weight lift ratio or a larger payload area

          I believe that the shuttle was designed to help BUILD the ISS. The main problem is that NASA’s budget is WAY too small and whenever a project is proposed that doesn’t include employment for a small army of NASA personnel it usually gets shelved.

          This problem can be solved by (A) doubling NASAs budget (which would STILL be only a TINY fraction of the US budget — particularly when compaired to entitlement spending) and (B) gut NASA managment and redesign it from the ground up.

          -jhon

    • Trekkie says:

      Re: So what happens…
      I quote a line from armegeddon ‘Some people don’t have cars that old…’

      The Space Shuttle is a great product. It’s just older than most cars. Besides Endeavour, they were made in the early 80s at the best.

      You can expect fatigue in the core airframe, and there is nothin you can do about it.

      is the technology old? Hell yeah. Does it need to be dropped for something ‘bigger and badder’? Hell no.

      • GrimSean says:

        Re: So what happens…

        The Space Shuttle is a great product. It’s just older than most cars. Besides Endeavour, they were made in the early 80s at the best.
        You can expect fatigue in the core airframe, and there is nothin you can do about it.
        is the technology old? Hell yeah. Does it need to be dropped for something ‘bigger and badder’? Hell no.

        I agree, the Shuttle is a great hunk of technology given what they had back in the early eighties. As a kid, it was my dream to fly in it, and I still remember the horror of watching Challenger‘s last flight (not to mention waking up to find Columbia gone). But to expect a forty year usable life out of it, given the stresses that it undergoes is, to me, not a reasonable estimate. The only piece of technology with a longer life expectancy is the B-52 Stratofortress (started in 1954, supposed to last until 2020-ish), and it doesn’t undergo the stresses that the shuttles are subject to. I’m not saying they need something “Bigger and Badder”, what they need is something “Cheaper and Safer”, and, honestly, how many people do you know who routinely drive forty year old cars, or even twenty year old ones?

  2. Gaewyn says:

    Space elevator
    Kindof proves one of the great reasons for someone to get the space elevator going. Whoever gets that going first is going to be VERY rich… even with the lower costs of transport

  3. Lightbringer says:

    NASA holds up space travel, once again.
    What NASA is realy saying is that they won’t have a shuttle replacement of the type that they want ready for another couple of decades.

    There are other cheap alternatives to the shuttle that could be in service within a few years if NASA was so inclined. Heck, the DC-X program could be restarted and completed within 5 years with less than a billion dollars.

    But, NASA is dead set on an exotic materials scramjet/rocket hybrid powered space plane and they aren’t going to take any cheaper more easily attainable alternatives in the meantime. So instead we get 19 more years of aging, ungodly expensive to operate, shuttle use.

    Honestly given the progress various teams participating in the X-Prize are making I’d expect that a commercial revolution in space travel is going to occur before we ever reach 2022.

  4. enloop says:

    Here’s What’s Wrong at NASA
    Nothing much really new here, actually. NASA’s been saying for years that they want to keep the shuttles flying into the 2020’s. The report does give a little bit of daylight to the notion of using the Shuttle as an unmanned cargo carrier after an orbiting space plane comes on line, which is a tiny step in the direction of common sense.

    Here’s what is still wrong at NASA: They don’t want to go anyplace. They haven’t had the guts to propose taking humans to a destination in space — a Lunar base, a Mars expedition, or whatever — since they got their budget rug pulled out from under them after Apollo. They’ve got a Shuttle which goes around in circles, and now they want an orbiting space plane that also does nothing but go in circles. Why bother? We knew how to get people into orbit and back safely 40 years ago. NASA and the U.S. need to stop throwing money at defense contractors to build gilded over-spec’d ways to get to low earth orbit, and start building spacecraft that actually take us someplace.

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