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NASA Campaigns For Safer Launch Requirements 193

NASA officials will speak before members of Congress this week in an effort to gain support for more stringent launch safety considerations for the space shuttle's successor. Crew safety remains a major concern for lawmakers while they debate NASA's future and the potential integration of private companies into US space flight plans. "The demonstrated probability of a shuttle launch disaster is 1 in 129. NASA's 83 astronauts think those odds can be improved to 1 in 1,000. Independent safety experts agree. 'None of us want to repeat the accident history of the shuttle,' said retired Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Dyer, chairman of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, a group organized to oversee NASA programs after three astronauts died in the 1967 Apollo 1 launch pad fire. ... NASA's Astronaut Office began a re-evaluation of next-generation launch vehicle safety after the loss of Columbia's crew. The guiding principles laid out in a May 2004 report remain current, astronauts said. Launching astronauts into low Earth orbit is dangerous. But an order-of-magnitude reduction of risk is achievable 'and should therefore represent a minimum safety benchmark for future systems,' the report says."
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NASA Campaigns For Safer Launch Requirements

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  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Sunday November 29, 2009 @01:16PM (#30262286) Journal
    Seriously, Rutan had it right when he said that we are not killing enough. The simple fact is, that to be cutting edge WILL involve loss of life. Yet, NASA is talking all about safety rather than designing/building new rockets.
  • by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Sunday November 29, 2009 @02:21PM (#30262764)

    NASA can not afford accidents, not because of the sanctity of human life or any nonsense like that, but because it will kill NASA and probably manned spaceflight in this country in general.

    Nasa can't afford accidents because Challenger cost about $2,000,000,000 to replace and Columbia was essentially impossible to replace; lose one more shuttle and there aren't enough left to get anything useful done.

    Lose an Arse launch and it's just a matter of replacing a capsule and hiring a few more astronauts.

    Of course if NASA really cared about making it safer, they wouldn't have built an expensive, complex and rarely flown new launcher of their own rather than using a cheap ELV whose reliability is already known combined with an escape system designed to cope with what accidents may occur.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Sunday November 29, 2009 @02:48PM (#30262940)

    How many people here would go on the shuttle today - given that failure rate - under 1%.

    Me. In a hearbeat. I'd go to Mars if the odds were at least 4:1 in my favour (20% or lower chance of failure), and stay there as long as the odds were better than 50-50 in any given decade.

  • Re:Unpopular (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Sunday November 29, 2009 @03:48PM (#30263308)

    NASA's budget is already pretty small, 17.2 billion. The current stimulus plan is valued at 135.15 billion.

    Which are both dwarfed by the money spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not trying to start a fight, I'm just sayin'...

    According to this report [] (pdf) by the Congressional Research Service, the "official" expenditures to date are listed as about $944 Billion, the UK Times estimated [] (in Feb 08) that including other things, like the cost of veteran's benefits, it has/will cost the US closer to $3 Trillion.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Sunday November 29, 2009 @03:54PM (#30263340)

    Me. In a heartbeat. I'd go to Mars if the odds were at least 4:1 in my favor...

    Hell, I'd go even if I knew I'd probably die en-route. It would sure be more interesting than being a sysadmin/programmer for the next N years. Plus, you'd be in the history books as "the guy who died trying to get to Mars". OK, less of a "plus", but still...

  • Re:Wow... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HBoar ( 1642149 ) on Sunday November 29, 2009 @08:02PM (#30264882)

    no one wants to support people dieing in explosions.

    I'm not so sure about that. How many people go to things like nascar just to watch crashes? In fact, I'd imagine that more frequent, bigger explosions could be a great source of revenue to NASA if they marketed it right!

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."