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NASA Plans Three More Shuttle Flights This Year 167

Lonesome Squash writes "The BBC are reporting that a new fuel tank is due to arrive on Wednesday that fixes the well-known problems with insulation loss. According to the article, administrators are hopeful that they will be able to "squeeze in three launches" this year. I guess they've lowered the bar enough that even the Shuttle program can slither over it. I can only be grateful that I'm not the poor chump who has to write their press releases."
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NASA Plans Three More Shuttle Flights This Year

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  • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Wednesday March 01, 2006 @11:24PM (#14832468)
    NASA Plans To Push Back Three More Shuttle Flights This Year To Next Year
    • A NASA spokesperson nervously announced more shuttle flights this year. Then a reporter accidently dropped a penny on the ground, and the NASA spokes person dove for cover, and announced "nevermind, no more shuttle flights for another year!"
    • There was an editorial on SpaceDaily recently which presented an interesting perspective: that Griffin is trying to kill the shuttle program. Griffin was on the record as explaining that the cause is due to a fundamental problem with side-mount craft on tanks with cryogenic fuels: the tank's size changes as the temperature changes, causing tiny cracks that allow gas to get inside. The gas liquifies, then reexpands in the upper atmosphere and blows off foam.

      Yet, they're still launching, without a fix. The
      • ... adapting a US heavy lift vehicle to launch them must be confronted.

        Saturn V baby. I've been criticized for saying it before, but I find it interesting that the CEV is now looking at J-2s instead of SSMEs modified for in-flight start. The F-1 is still one of the most powerful on the books. To this day, I don't understand why the US space program didn't stick with what worked. Sure, SSMEs share a common ancestory with J-2, and the OMS is a derivative of the SPS, but what ever happened to the old RP-

    • Is that really a good idea?

      They only have 3 to spare:

      Well, they only promised launches, not landings. Three launches, three shuttles. Sounds like a good fit to me.
    • Griffin and the shuttle program manager have both been very emphatic that further launches will not happen if they don't believe the work done since the last launch has appreciably reduced the risks, which are already low. "They only have 3 to spare" is irrelevant in asking whether or not to launch unless you don't have a good idea what is going to happen.

      Just for kicks, I'll flog the dead horse one more time and look briefly at the numbers. The shuttle has flown 114 (?) times and had two catastrophic fa
  • Cost per Launch? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Aspirator ( 862748 )
    It's still an impressive technology, re-useability has a great appeal,
    but what has the cost per launch got to now, and how does it compare
    with more conventional rocket launches?
    • For added effect, I vote to load each shuttle up with platinum bars, a Ming vass collection, paintings by Rembrandt and Picasso, and many millions in $100 bills.
    • Shuttle costs are weird. AFAIK, it's the most expensive launch vehicle (no matter how it's measured). Most of these are fixed costs, though. (standing army of matinence people, whether or not the shuttle flys and the like) It's not all that much more expensive to do 12 flights per year, than 0. Admittedly, 12 flights per year is nigh impossible with the system...
    • What convential rockets? If we had conventional rockets capable of lifting cargo to the space station, don't you think we'd be using them? Instead we have to essentially buy progress and soyuz launches (at least any outside of the flights specified in our existing agreements, which I believe we have already reached the end of).

      That's why it is so urgent to get the newer unmanned cargo lifter system (and the crew exploration vehicle or whatever they call it) operational as soon as possible. I think the de
      • They aint going to use SSMEs anymore, they're going back to upgraded Apollo engines.

        Thus the last hope that the shuttle program would develop any useful technology what-so-ever is lost.

        • What do you mean 'upgraded' apollo engines? Do you realize that one Saturn F-1 engine produces more thrust than all 3 SSME's on a Shuttle Launch ? 1... and the first stage had 5 of the damn things. 1.5 million pounds of thrust each compared to Shuttles ~1.2 for the combined thrust from 3 SSME's.
          • Not F-1s.
            They are planning on using J-2s for the CEV second stage. They are not Apollo engines anyway they where both Saturn engines. The J-2 was used for the second and third stage of the Saturn V and for the second stage of the Saturn 1b. Nasa managed to keep some development money going to the J-2 all these years. They have tested an aerospike version and the liner aerospike that the X-33 was going to use was based on it. The J-2 also has an in flight restart capability that the SSME currently lacks.
            I b
            • Yeah I did know about the current itteration of the J-2 being used, just wondering what the original poster was after as they didn't really specify and I like reminding folks just what we gave up on with the F-1. Also thought the concept of saying we were 'going back' to it was kinda silly. As you pointed out it is an engine that has been in constant development for the last 30 years or so.

              Have wondered about the 68's myself. Was thinking that was a Kerosene LOX engine but looking at Boeing's page it seems
        • Mmmm, I dunno. Don't you think they learned something from designing and running the SSME for twenty-odd years? Or something about good heat-shield design by landing the orbiter 100 times successfully and once unsuccessfully?

          In science and engineering, even a failed experiment is progress. If nothing else you learn what not to do next time, but far more often the data you collect when things don't go the way you expect them to is highly useful for the next try. It may be that the Shuttle is not the righ
    • It's still an impressive technology, re-useability has a great appeal,

      Do keep in mind that Shuttle isn't really reusable - more like 'rebuildable'.

      but what has the cost per launch got to now, and how does it compare with more conventional rocket launches?

      The Shuttle is more expensive that current expendable yes - but then platinum is more expensive than gold too. (I.E. current expenables are too expensive by a large margin.)

      The Shuttle isn't expensive because it's reuseable, it's expensive because it's

  • The shuttle was past it's use by date before it even got off the ground. And the only reason to still be using that there is no other choice. Seriously, I was told I'd be driving around 'Jetsons Style' by now! Yet here we are still stuck using this craptastic old dinosaur, to carry out rooooly important testing the effect of zero G on spiders. Yeah. Like spiders are ever going to be able to fund their own space program. Still, I suppose this keeps a bunch of sad old nerds in work,
    • carry out rooooly important testing the effect of zero G on spiders. Yeah. Like spiders are ever going to be able to fund their own space program.

      Riiiight. "Rooooly important projects, like the effect of zero G on spiders." Well, if the shuttle is still going up, we could maybe use it for something like servicing the Hubble space telescope and extending its life! You know, since it's still at the forefront taking cutting edge pictures like the wonderful mosaic of M101, which is

      • yeah, if we had working Shuttles. They are currently grounded and no fluff-piece is going to cover up the very serious problems with STS. The only thing that is going to "save" Hubble is to build a new space telescope with the 3 grounded instruments.

    • Yeah. Like spiders are ever going to be able to fund their own space program.

      By The Fetid Breath of The Dark Twin Kazon - What A Foolish Hu-Man. Hu-Mans Are Prey Animals - Weak And Helpless. My Gods, Dogar The Black And Kazon The Unseen, Have Personally Confided To Me That They Despise You Hu-Mans, And That They Will Help Us To Kill You All!
    • testing the effect of zero G on spiders.

      Personally, I'd rather see them finding out how cats adapt to zero G. They're semi-aboreal, good climbers and, with the right wall covering, can hold on and walk around using their claws for traction, just like in a tree. Also, they're smart enough to experiment, find out what works an learn how to get around.

  • get to write trolls for slashdot, you must be proud.
  • Who are you kidding? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If somebody said "you can be one of the 1/100000000 portion of the human race that gets to go into space, but there's a 1/25 chance you may explode in a ball of fire", who here wouldn't be all over that?

    That's pretty good odds in my book. If any of you whiners have a seat you want to give up, there'll be no shortage of takers.
    • If somebody said "you can be one of the 1/100000000 portion of the human race that gets to go into space, but there's a 1/25 chance you may explode in a ball of fire", who here wouldn't be all over that?

      Same reasoning is used by drug addicts... it's a blast to shoot up, you just have to maybe... die.

    • I sure would! But my wife probably wouldn't let me....
  • ...the Russians are planning on making a sequel to "Armageddon" in which a cowboy-hat-wearing stereotypical American astronaut says in broken Russian...

    "Welcome aboard sopheeesticated American shuttle!"
    • Funny that you say that. I am watching that this very second.
  • Well I'm certainly glad that you don't write NASA's press releases or half of the other initial comments I have seen on this board. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

    Space exploration has been dangerous for half a century, but has been rewarding for the advancement of science and technology. Neither fact is going to change in the next half century.

    While you might not support manned space flight, and thanks for letting us know, many other people out their do support the programs. We would like to respect
    • My father broke more hearts than Russel Crowe. Unfortunately, they were in his chest at the time.

      Now can I make fun of the Columbia astronauts?
    • NASA are ALSO pretty glad I dont write their press releases :) Me? I have nothing against space exploration. Hey, sounds great to me. What I do have a issue with is this ridiculous trotting out of outdated and proven dangerous hardware, costing billions of dollars to do some halfassed experiments. Science isnt being served by testing lima beans in space. All that is happening is a few companies are getting great steaming wads of taxpayer funding, whilst kids struggle with literacy. Go into space? Fine. Bu
  • I can only be grateful that I'm not the poor chump who has to write their press releases. You only need be grateful to your lack of writing skills and lack of experince.
    • Are you referring to the 24 year old presidential appointee in the NASA press room (the one who "claimed" to have a degree) who recemtly told a NASA web developer to make sure to call the Big Bang a "theory"?
  • Well, after the Air Force looked at the earth circling expended main tank (from the last mission) through their very immense ground based telescopes, they were able to ascertain that sixteen chunks of the exterior insulation fell off. Lock-Mart has determined that severe application of super glue would solve the trick. Tactical raids of local Wal-Marts gathered the needed supplies and off they were. No need to worry now. The main tank is totally encapsulated in super glue.
  • NASA continues to surprise me...I guess it should not be a surprise anymore. When ever there is going to be a shuttle flight, all American big media converges to the launch scene.

    On the other hand, the Russians just do their thing with little or no media attention. With their way of doing things, they have achieved a lot with so little. NASA just "mis-used" US$ 2.9 billion allocated last year according to some sources yet among the fruits of this investment will be the constant worry whether things will go

  • I can only be grateful that I'm not the poor chump who has to write their press releases."

    The hassel is having to write two versions, just like election night.

    "Perfect Launch," or the more common, "Shuttle blows up on launch again."

  • NASA launched so much new technology, it's sad that a program that brought so much is consistently underfunded. Imagine the possibilities in innovation if adequate resources and minds were still placed behind the program. The "Jetson's" car would have been a reality by now. Instead you now see private investors pushing the innovation in space exploration, such as paypal founder.
  • We should put Burt Rutan in charge of NASA.
    No telling what he could do with a multi Billion dollar budget after putting a man into space twice with a multi million dollar budget.
    • If Burt was in charge, he would be destroyed. Plain and simple, He was made to design and develop small projects. There are all kinds of ppl who do large projects successfully; Griffin is one of those. He can make this happen. Of course, there are other types of ppl who manage large projects; O'Keefe, Brown, johnson, Nixon, and Bush come to mind for those.
  • by movingaloe ( 958285 ) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @12:55AM (#14832761)
    Exploration always results in new and unexpected advances in science. We explored all the land, were working hard on the oceans, and as soon as we can we should explore as far as we can reach from our planet.

    I applaud NASA for doing their best with their limited budget, a reusable ship based on technology that has been successful in the past is exactly what they should be doing. They have a bad track record, they need to do a few safe missions to gain public support.

    Its just too bad for them (although I couldnt be happier) that the private companies are going to steal the show.
  • Those last two comments were pretty fucking shitty. Normally I don't comment on things like this, but that's completely unnecessary.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
    NASA to Cut Back Scientific Missions Because of Budget []:

    "ome of the most notable missions on NASA's scientific agenda would be postponed indefinitely or canceled under the agency's new budget, despite its administrator's vow to Congress six months ago that not "one thin dime" would be taken from space science to pay for President Bush's plan to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars."
    • Moderation -1
          100% Redundant

      I quote from a completely different story, to which I linked, and that's "Redundant". That kind of stupid TrollMod can't understand NASA, budgets, or Iraq, either.
  • I guess they've lowered the bar enough that even the Shuttle program can slither over it. I can only be grateful that I'm not the poor chump who has to write their press releases.

    dear editors ... please leave the editorializing for the community. When reading an article summary, I don't give a crap about what some person named Lonesome Squash thinks of it. Trolling abstracts do not promote healthy debate, but rather, make a mockery of the community as a whole.
  • No, seriously, think about exploration for a bit.

    In the past, we've had explorers sailing off for possible one-way trips, running out of food, dealing with canibal tribes, disease, etc.

    In the past, we had wars fought up close and personal with knives, axes, swords, etc, not by remote control.

    Many thousands of people died exploring this world in the last couple of hundred years. Now a couple die in a shuttle, going into SPACE and it's suddenly not worth it any more?

    I'm quite sure the astronauts, and

    • Are we turning into a bunch of sissies?

      In a word, yes.

      Astronauts, like test pilots, know the risks. They know what they're up against. The selection and training take YEARS. They have plenty of time in all that to weigh things for themselves and make their own decision. By the time they strap in, that decision is rock-solid.

      If a bunch of men and women decide that it's worth risking their own lives (THEIR lives, not ours) to push the envelope and explore, that's their right. No one is forcing them. It's thei
  • Some carzy people think the Shuttle is like software-- it's not ready until it's ready. Not when the scheduler guys think it will be ready. Not when the prez would like to talk to the astronauts during a speech. It's ready when several thousand tiny itsy bitsy teensy tiny little things are all working just right. And nobody can predict when that will be. Sounds like NASA still doesn't get it.
  • Do we really need that massive bureaucracy anymore? Look at what Scaled Composites is doing with a fraction of their budget. I think NASA needs to survive in some form, perhaps as more of a specialized contract administrator. Or the FAA for space. Someone needs to coordinate all that junk zooming around in orbit.

    I'm just wondering if the only way we're ever going to achieve practical space travel is to put it in the hands of the private side. Not necessarily corporate hands but private industry. It'

  • The two biggest constraints for timing the next shuttle launches are
    (1) it must be launched in mid-daylight so the large array of cameras can capture every angle of launch and
    (2) it has to go into a highly inclined orbit to catch up with the space station.
    Both these only allow three two week launch windows for 2006. The constraints will be relaxed a little if the next two launches are 99.9% successful, else they will continue.
  • Why don't they save us the risk and just go give $10 billion to the contractors in cash?


  • An entire new fuel tank just to keep the insulation from falling off?! Two words NASA: Saran Wrap!
  • Funny how no-one ever did a pole for what users think the actual launch rate is going to be. Personally predict there will be no more than 1 launch every year for the next 20 years. There are going to be too many minor glitches to fix in time with NASA's kind of pyramid organisation.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger