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NASA Space Science

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

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 cosm ( 1072588 ) <thecosm3@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday April 05, 2010 @10:21PM (#31744198)
  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @10:21PM (#31744200) Homepage

    It will.

  • by RoboRay ( 735839 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @11:11PM (#31744428)

    No, there weren't. There were exactly three more Apollo flights planned. Those are the three Saturn V lawn ornaments scattered around NASA centers. Those weren't models or mock-ups; they were fully operational, man-rated moon-rockets that could have been used with little additional expenditure. Nearly all of the funds that could have potentially been "saved" were already spent; the hardware was already bought and built.

    The program was killed not to "free up money" for Vietnam, but to kill a program that nobody in power really wanted but couldn't eliminate until it succeeded without appearing to spit on JFK's grave.

  • by Third Position ( 1725934 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @11:54PM (#31744626)

    Now, what is the point of a return trip? Men on the Moon has been done. No one doubts we could do it again if we really wanted to.

    I disagree. I don't think we could do it again. Others feel the same way. []

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @11:55PM (#31744638)

    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.

    China's monetary policy would be a gift to any rational competitor who can print dollars. The US could just buy a massive amount of yuan (say a few hundred billion dollars worth or more) and close down this fixing scheme instantly (the US would exit the strategy by buying back dollars with the now more expensive yen, making a big profit). If China tries to print more yen to play the game, then sell yen to crash the market (alternately, provide your rival, more competitive yuan/dollar exchange). The dynamic of the big export economy in China means the US would win sooner or later. Instead the US apparently bought up to 1.25 trillion dollars [] worth of iffy real estate to prop up some failed businesses.

  • by wdhowellsr ( 530924 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:19AM (#31744780)
    On May 25, 1961 John F. Kennedy said the following:

    "IF we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take. Since early in my term, our efforts in space have been under review. With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where we are not. Now it is time to take longer strides--time for a great new American enterprise--time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on Earth.

    I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment."

    On July 16, 1969 Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin A. "Buzz" Aldrin landed on the moon.

    When the Space Shuttle program ends there will be no US based manned space flight solutions for at least five years and possibly fifteen years. During that time all US manned space flights will be outsourced to Russia, China and possibly India at a cost far exceeding the current cost of the Space Shuttle.

    On a personal note, I live close enough to see all of the Space Shuttle launches from my front yard and watched a early morning launch on the way back from my honeymoon in 1986.

    I'm just glad that John F. Kennedy is dead.
  • Re:They will extend. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:23AM (#31744804)

    They can vote as much as they like, extension in any sensible use of the word is impossible.

    for example.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:43AM (#31744870)

    Just because one dumbass president kept saying 'nucular' doesn't make it a real word.

    Jimmy Carter used to consistently say "nucular" when he was president. Is that who you're talking about? I ask because he was, by all accounts, considered to be rather intelligent.

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:49AM (#31744886)

    We go down, they go down...

          But remember, the bigger you are, the harder the fall. How would the average Chinese peasant's life change in some form of global economic collapse? He would be on the verge of starvation. But then again, he's on the verge of starvation today anyway. Now how is your average US suburbanite going to take starvation...?

  • Re:SR (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @02:12AM (#31745236) Homepage

    One of the problems with the shuttle is that it is too big and expensive to launch - due to requirements from DoD.

    What was under development during the 70's were a lot of smaller alternatives - small shuttles for personnel etc.

    There are advantages with having a shuttle - it allows for a more controlled landing, which means that you can revise flight path and landing place to some extent. And with a new generation there is room for using better/lighter materials. In design of a new shuttle it may even be possible to design it so it can be able to use major commercial landing strips in case it's necessary.

    A capsule also has some merits - it is a simple object that is reliable. Unfortunately the landing is less precise. You can land a capsule on ground, but landing on water is preferred. However that also means that you need an extensive operation for retrieving the capsule.

    And I suspect that the astronauts involved would really like to be in control of the vehicle as much as possible.

  • by Trapezium Artist ( 919330 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @07:06AM (#31746232)

    I'm amazed that they've missed the fact that the July flight of Endeavour is due to carry the $2B particle physics experiment, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), to the ISS.

    Spearheaded by Nobel-prize winner, Sam Ting, and built and funded largely outside the normal peer review process, AMS is one of the most significant physics experiments of recent years, but as much for political and sociological reasons as scientific. If nothing else, without AMS and its friends in high places, there would only two shuttle flights left: this one was added by Bush and ratified by Obama completely over the head of NASA's normal process.

    That all said, AMS recently moved from testing at CERN in Switzerland to ESA's ESTEC in the Netherlands for electromagnetic and thermal-vacuum testing, and is on a really (really) tight timeline to get to KSC in time for the July launch. There are good reasons to suspect that that flight will be delayed into August and perhaps even moved later in the year behind Discovery's last flight.

    I was on a VIP trip to KSC very recently and was thrilled to be shown around the Orbiter Processing Facility where both Endeavour and Atlantis are be prepared for their last flights at present, while Discovery was out on the pad. Very special for a space geek to be literally inches from all of those tiles on the underside of Endeavour and (sorry NASA :-) to have actually sneaked a touch of the undercarriage.

    Also deeply, deeply sad to think that this will all be over very soon: the shuttle programme has been an inspiration all the way back to the drop tests of the Enterprise back in 1977, even in the darkest hours. While I understand all the technical and financial arguments for stopping it now, psychologically it seems crazy to do so, particularly in the absence of any successor. End of an era. There were moments when I was pretty choked up on that OPF visit, I have to admit.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:37AM (#31748820) Journal
    What they can do and what they will do are two very different things. If we go after China, then it would likely move many investors off the dollars (hopefully, to the euro). Basically, they would see us as being irresponsible and wanting to get out of the way of 2 nations that are conducting war via economic means. Besides, the fact that Geithner is not forthcoming with the report about fixed money speaks loudly about this admin. I voted them in since I can not say 'president palin' and not see more W/Cheney/neo-con regime with it. BUT, I am not wild about what I see here. Basically, Obama's team is NOT fixing the problem.

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