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NASA Space Science

After Discovery's Launch, What's Left For the Shuttle? 150

Posted by kdawson
from the short-timer dept.
coondoggie writes "NASA space shuttle Discovery rocketed into orbit this morning and, despite some communications problems, is slated to dock with the International Space Station in the wee hours of Wednesday, April 7. After this mission NASA has only three shuttles scheduled to launch, though speculation persists that the program may be extended. NetworkWorld has a roundup of what the last Shuttle missions consist of and what happens next."
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After Discovery's Launch, What's Left For the Shuttle?

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  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday April 05, 2010 @10:33PM (#31744266)
    So after 28 years, we don't have a replacement for the shuttle yet? In less than half the time, mankind went from sending metal orbs in orbit to landing a man on the moon. After 28 years in the US we can't even backport an older design and make a working manned spacecraft.
  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Monday April 05, 2010 @10:40PM (#31744294) Homepage

    Between 2.5 wars, a few major natural disasters, an economic mess, a heaping helping of social programs and agriculture subsidies, and the US's loss of the world tech leadership position....we just couldn't seem to find the time.

    Busy and Lazy can have the same effect.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday April 05, 2010 @10:50PM (#31744342)
    ...Because we all know that the 1960s were just a happy time!

    Lets see, Coalition forces dead in both Iraq and Afghanistan total 6,411 in 2010. 58,159 died in Vietnam. The US has been pretty stable in recent years with the exception of 9/11, compared to massive domestic instability, the assassination of a president, the time closest the world has come to total nuclear destruction, the cold war, etc.

    Yeah, the 1960s were just a -great- time.

    Yeah, we aren't going to great in 2010, but we, and the world, are a whole lot more stable now than we were when we landed a man on the moon.
  • by RoboRay (735839) on Monday April 05, 2010 @11:03PM (#31744396)

    You obviously were neither alive during the 1960s nor are a student of history.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2010 @11:04PM (#31744400)
    Well, if less time was spent picking fights with other countries, you'd have more time/money for space exploration.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday April 05, 2010 @11:30PM (#31744508) Journal
    Actually, we had a much better economy and manufacturing back then. In addition, we did not have the kind of hatred that we see today in our politics. Yes, they fought over Johnsons give aways, BUT, overall, politicans represented AMERICA and AMERICANS. Now, politicians represents any company in the world that attaches themselves to the pols zipper and lines their pockets. Look at how W/neo-con regime allowed China to disregard their legal obligations just so that they could invade/occupy Iraq. Now, look at the fact that Obama is not reporting on countries that manipulate their money, of which the WORST is China (fixed at 7 yuans to 1 dollar for quite some time; Many economists think it should be anywhere from 3, or possibly 1, yuan to a dollar). Basically, America, the land of the free and brave, has losts its morals, and its way.
  • by robot256 (1635039) on Monday April 05, 2010 @11:34PM (#31744530)
    Or we could keep flying them, at excruciating cost, until every last one blows itself up, leaving nothing for future generations to remember a whole era of spaceflight by. The only reason the hardware cost so many billions of dollars is because so many man-hours went into retrofitting and repairing it to actually work. Face it, the only way to not have this problem is to take control of space travel away from politicians.
  • by khallow (566160) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:04AM (#31744702)
    It probably will be extended a little, but not significantly for three important reasons. The budget game in Washington is such that you can fly the Shuttle or develop a heavy lift replacement (or exclusive to both of those, some sort of beyond Earth orbit program). Sure the US is a wealthy country and could afford to run many space-related things at once. But it's not going to. The extension proposals seem to launch the Shuttle twice a year, which aside from being a pathetic launch rate (which causes serious safety issues), result in massive cost per launch, somewhere in excess of a billion dollars per launch.

    Second, the Shuttle doesn't serve a useful role in any serious US space program. The only argument for it is ro provide "downmass" from the ISS (that is, returning mass from the ISS safely to Earth). All those other fancy capabilities are near useless for what the Shuttle is used for.

    Third, the supply chain for the Shuttle has been completely disrupted. The US already has shutdown the facilities for making external tanks. The SRBs probably will be shut down this year or next. And there's only three orbiters. Sure we could spend a bunch of money to restart that manufacture, but what would be the point? See the first two problems above.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:14AM (#31744740)

    alternatively: it wont.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:14AM (#31744744)

    "but we, and the world, are a whole lot more stable now"

    And there's the problem. Stability means demanding ever more TV channels to entertain us. Instability means working your butt off to make sure you're better than the other guy.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @06:00AM (#31746012) Homepage
    You know a good way to "work out" work out how to do something? You stop paying people to theorise about how you might do it, and you start the countdown to doing it.

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