|Quoting Cloudy (Reply 4):
Then again, the whole concept of the Space shuttle did not make sense.
The concept made perfect sense, and still does. The execution is what went badly wrong. Shuttle began life as a reusable manned spacecraft to replace the expensive and (probably) unreusable Apollo. Shuttle wasn't originally proposed to be an all-purpose launch vehicle. Early studies looked for launching the Shuttle on Saturn IB
. When Shuttle took on more missions and grew larger, it became a dual vehicle launch system, a reusable Orbiter riding atop (or astride in some designs) a reusable winged Booster (that's why the Shuttle's today are designated OV
-102..., the boosters would have been BV-101, BV-102...) But the money to build essentially two brand new manned spacecraft wasn't forthcoming, so the winged booster was cancelled and NASA began drawing up plans to launch the Orbiter atop a Saturn V S-1C first stage. (There were even winged, reusable S-1Cs proposed.) When even that proved too expense in the lean Nixon-era budgets, NASA scrapped the reusable booster and adopted reusable solid boosters and a throwaway fuel tank. At that point, in a perfect world, NASA would have completely thrown out its original plans and started again with a better design... there were better ways to do the booster/tank concept, Lockheed's Starclipper, for example. But that would have cost even more money and would have made a very tempting target for Congress to cut. So they didn't, and we were stuck with the Shuttle we know today.
|Quoting Cloudy (Reply 4):
Everything we want to get with ISS, Constellation, the CEV, etc. we could have had a long time ago without the shuttle boondoggle.
Except that... no, we wouldn't have. Constellation, CEV, etc. are all essentially Apollo Mk.II. NASA had plenty of plans to continue and improve Apollo, including making parts of the Saturn rockets reusable and cheaper to build. LBJ was indifferent to this. He funded post-Apollo work at first (Skylab) and then let it die to pay for Vietnam and his Great Society programs. Nixon and Congress later adamantly refused to pay for any more Apollo flights, they even killed the last two for which the hardware was already bought and paid for. So we wouldn't have gotten ISS, Constellation, CEV, etc. without the "Shuttle Boondoggle" because, well... we didn't. NASA still planned a Space Station in this post-Apollo environment... they wanted a big one launched by Saturn V and serviced by a small Shuttle. Nixon and Congress agreed to the Shuttle, but said "wait until Shuttle is finished" before they'd approve Station. And we've been stuck in this rut since Station was finally approved in 1984.
[Edited 2006-03-21 00:31:45]