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Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sat Jul 09, 2011 6:19 am

OK the rocket is not a full replacement of the Space Shuttle which they are retiring. Why are they retiring the space shuttle? Will NASA ever build a new space shuttle like the one Lockheed proposed?
 
GST
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:00 am

The shuttle as we know it was retired basically due to cost. when it was originally designed there seemed to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" path chosen. There were conflicting roles that resulted in trade-offs being made and an associated cost of operation increase and arguably the safety of the system decreases due to there being more to go wrong. One example of this was the ability to retrieve satellites back to earth for repair and re-orbiting, ignoring the fact that most of the satellites orbit significantly higher than the shuttle could reach. Immediately you have a problem with the practicality of retrieving a broken satellite hundreds of kilometers higher than you, but also the economics simply don't work if it were practical. It costs a hell of a lot to launch a satellite once, why on earth would you want to pay for a further launch to retrieve it, then more to repair it, and again to re-launch it? It would often be cheaper to commission a more advanced replacement and use a single launch to put that up instead. Don't get me wrong, on occasion the Shuttle has proved its abilities to be just what was required for a given job, for example the Hubble telescope optical repair could not have been done with any other vehicle, but this was an exception.

There is still interest in lifting body re-usable space vehicles (the US Air Force looks to have one close to operational use and the ESA is testing an experimental concept vehicle), so the legacy of the Shuttle is sound but we won't be seeing manned missions on anything similar for a long while yet. In the meantime we can hope that the Orion capsule (which is still being developed in all but name) will find itself an affordable privately produced booster and be able to keep up US manned space flight, albeit with a smaller crew but hopefully with a greater reliability.
 
zanl188
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:00 pm

Quoting GST (Reply 1):
Don't get me wrong, on occasion the Shuttle has proved its abilities to be just what was required for a given job, for example the Hubble telescope optical repair could not have been done with any other vehicle, but this was an exception.

For what the Hubble repair missions cost, spectacular though they were, we could have built & launched a fleet of Hubble Telescopes.
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boeingfixer
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:09 pm

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 2):
For what the Hubble repair missions cost, spectacular though they were, we could have built & launched a fleet of Hubble Telescopes.

Do you know how much Hubble cost in the first place? Hubble cost more than $2.5B (4.3B in 2011 dollars) by the time it was launched in 1990. The average total cost of a Shuttle mission in today's dollars is 1.3B (862M in 1990 dollars). Given the dollars involved it was still cheaper to launch the Service Missions than to build and launch "a fleet of new Hubble Telescopes". The math doesn't add up.

The later Service Missions also added increased capability along with repairing existing systems. Even though Hubble started off on rocky ground it has become a great resource for astronomers and the space science community. The Service missions were a shining moment for the Space Shuttle program if you ask me.

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par13del
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:15 pm

Will NASA build another shuttle, No, it is a known quantity and thus would be too cheap. Simply building a new shuttle with more modern day materials and electronics will not advance the science industry, create new employment, bring new technologies to market or create a whole new industrial logistic train.
Better for the economy to turn it over to private industry to eventually claim government funding.
 
zanl188
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sat Jul 09, 2011 6:21 pm

Quoting boeingfixer (Reply 3):
Do you know how much Hubble cost in the first place? Hubble cost more than $2.5B (4.3B in 2011 dollars) by the time it was launched in 1990

Much of that cost was fixed and if spread across a fleet the unit costs would have come way down. Also it includes shuttle launch costs - launch them on expendables and the costs come down again. Remove the astronaut tended features and it gets cheaper still...

Such was the folly of using shuttle as the sole means of access to space.
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Flighty
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:30 am

The Shuttle showed exactly why NASA should not be the administrator of a future Shuttle. I have a lot more faith in SpaceX and organizations like that. They are careful with a buck and really drive toward results. The old NASA spirit lives on in these private companies.

The government should fund programs, but otherwise, it should make grants / prizes based on merit, not poor quality cost-plus contracts. Nor should the govt do this work internally. Those methods don't work. Cutting edge work doesn't happen within megaprojects!!!!!! The Shuttle was impressive but misconceived and wasteful.
 
Thrust
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:23 am

My personal opinion is that we need to return either to expendable rockets of the type used in the Apollo era, or we need to use those types of rockets in conjunction with reusable ones.
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jwenting
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Mon Jul 11, 2011 6:12 am

NASA has for decades done everything it could to kill Shuttle replacement programs, and with a 100% success rate.
That's why the Shuttle made its last launch this weekend, rather than 15 years ago.
We should and could have been operating VentureStar and/or HyperX type SSTOs by now.

It was not retired for cost reasons, but for a political decision for the USA to abandon its manned space program.

Both things tell me NASA won't build a new Shuttle (replacement) or order one built, unless there's a dramatic change in both the political and bureaucratic leadership in Washington DC as well as at NASA itself.

Of course private enterprise might step in and create something as a commercial venture, but given the massive cost involved and the almost certainty that the federal government will do whatever it can (and it can do a lot) to ensure it never gets off the ground, that's highly unlikely (or if it happens it'll likely choose a launch site outside the USA, as SeaLaunch did for their single use boosters).
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eksath
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:26 am

Quoting jwenting (Reply 8):
It was not retired for cost reasons, but for a political decision for the USA to abandon its manned space program.

This is incorrect. The US manned space program has not been abandoned.

The US manned space program still continues and so does recruitment of astronauts!

It will just not be sending 7 astronauts up at a time and the type of astronauts will change. The political decision by two different US administrations was to do something different than the STS program NOT kill the US manned space program. There was an 8 year hiatus between the end of the the Apollo program and the start of the STS so there is precedent for this type of timeline and paradigm shift.
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prebennorholm
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:52 pm

Quoting boeingfixer (Reply 3):
Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 2):
For what the Hubble repair missions cost, spectacular though they were, we could have built & launched a fleet of Hubble Telescopes.

Do you know how much Hubble cost in the first place? Hubble cost more than $2.5B (4.3B in 2011 dollars) by the time it was launched in 1990. The average total cost of a Shuttle mission in today's dollars is 1.3B (862M in 1990 dollars). Given the dollars involved it was still cheaper to launch the Service Missions than to build and launch "a fleet of new Hubble Telescopes". The math doesn't add up.

There is little doubt that the whole Shuttle program was in fact tailored to launch and service the KH-11 and KH-12 spy satellites, and retrieve them for overhaul and relaunch. The KH-11/-12 satellites were enormously expensive, and an impressive double digit number have been launched.

One major service was to refuel them. Those satellites were highly maneuverable, both in altitude and latitude. Getting into position, dip down into the upper atmosphere to get the best pictures and climb back to less draggy altitude required burning a lot of fuel, making refueling economically very desireable.

It is, however, not so well known to what degree the Shuttle actually served the KH-11/-12 satellites.

It is today known beyond any serious doubt that Hubble is in fact a slightly modified KH-11, pointing its sensors away from Earth instead of against Earth, and flying at a higher and more comfortable altitude. It probably lacks some of the maneuvering capability of the KH, but it retains the climb and inflight refueling capability.
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mke717spotter
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:57 pm

Quoting eksath (Reply 9):
There was an 8 year hiatus between the end of the the Apollo program and the start of the STS so there is precedent for this type of timeline and paradigm shift.

Actually it was only about a six year span between the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project and STS-1 (1975-81). Not to mention that the Approach and Landing Tests took place in 1977, so NASA was clearly farther along in coming up for a replacement back then than they are today.
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Thrust
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:47 am

Quoting jwenting (Reply 8):

The average shuttle launch cost was $1.6 billion as of 2008. If that was not a factor in the shuttle being retired, I would be shocked. That's higher than what it cost to launch a Saturn V to the moon in 1969 in today's dollars.
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zanl188
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Tue Jul 12, 2011 1:15 am

Quoting prebennorholm (Reply 10):
There is little doubt that the whole Shuttle program was in fact tailored to launch and service the KH-11 and KH-12 spy satellites, and retrieve them for overhaul and relaunch. The KH-11/-12 satellites were enormously expensive, and an impressive double digit number have been launched.
Quoting prebennorholm (Reply 10):
It is today known beyond any serious doubt that Hubble is in fact a slightly modified KH-11, pointing its sensors away from Earth instead of against Earth, and flying at a higher and more comfortable altitude. It probably lacks some of the maneuvering capability of the KH, but it retains the climb and inflight refueling capability.

Well there's a whole lot of doubt here that shuttle was designed to service Keyhole sats.... Before I say more I would ask you to provide a source for your facts.

Why would Hubble need a refueling capability? It has no thrusters!
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eksath
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Tue Jul 12, 2011 2:01 am

Quoting mke717spotter (Reply 11):
Actually it was only about a six year span between the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project and STS-1 (1975-81). Not to mention that the Approach and Landing Tests took place in 1977, so NASA was clearly farther along in coming up for a replacement back then than they are today.

I meant to write six. 8 was my typo. But it still points to a hiatus for the US manned space program as a precedent.

As for the approach and landing tests asa barometer of progress, Space X has already flown their bird twice and that is BEFORE the retirement of the STS program. So I would not be wrong in saying progress is even better than Apollo to Shuttle transition, if that is my yardstick.
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gigneil
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:11 pm

Someone will build a new space shuttle, but it will not be NASA.

Space tug, maybe.

And if you have to ask why the shuttle was retired, you don't read or watch the news.

NS
 
spudh
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:42 am

An earlier, deleted post questioned whether we had gone backwards intellectually since the heady days of Apollo. I don't agree with this. What we (I mean the 'West' collectively) are now, is risk averse. Our best and brightest have to put all their energy into designing their way through red tape and risk assessments rather than actual problem solving.

The age of instant media hysteria means that deaths and loss are no longer acceptable.

Compare the The Apollo program to the Shuttle program. Apollo 1 blew up on 27 January 1967. This was followed 9 months later by the launch of Apollo 4 (albeit unmanned) on 9 November 1967. Apollo 13 near disaster 11 April 1970, Apollo 14 launched 31 January 1971, again 9 months later. The point is the program took precedence over safety concerns.

That is, rightly or wrongly, completely unimaginable in modern western society.

Compare the Shuttle, Challenger disaster on 28 January 1986, next flight 29 September 1988, a full 32 months later. Columbia Disaster 1 February 2003, next launch Discovery on 25 July 2005. A 30 month gap.

The technology leap from Apollo to STS cannot account for these delay gaps. In fact it could be argued that accident investigation should be immeasurably faster now than it was for Apollo.

So what's different? Our appetite for loss of life and the prevalence of a 'fear' culture in Western society. Our spirit of adventure and exploration has been well and truly drowned by our fear of litigation and the preponderance of red tape installed to prevent it.

Individually we still have it, give young men a chance to sit in a rocket and even if there is a 90% chance it will blow up, there will still be a queue of guys and girls happy to take those odds (as there always was). All you need do is look at our chosen extreme sports for proof of this. But our wonderful modern society simply will not alllow this to happen at a Government program level.

The land speed record is now supersonic by virtue of private enterprise but there's no way that Chuck Yeager could break the sound barrier if the USAF operated back then under todays rules and red tape.

It's sad, but the future of space travel (and if you push the thought far enough, mankind,as we're going to have to get off this planet some time to survive) is, wrongly I believe, in private hands.

The problem with that is, there has to be commercial gain in it for private venture. So private exploration will never go beyond the highest sattelite orbit without a commercial interest in doing so.
 
kalvado
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:24 pm

Quoting spudh (Reply 16):

Compare the The Apollo program to the Shuttle program. Apollo 1 blew up on 27 January 1967. This was followed 9 months later by the launch of Apollo 4 (albeit unmanned) on 9 November 1967. Apollo 13 near disaster 11 April 1970, Apollo 14 launched 31 January 1971, again 9 months later. The point is the program took precedence over safety concerns.

That is, rightly or wrongly, completely unimaginable in modern western society.

Compare the Shuttle, Challenger disaster on 28 January 1986, next flight 29 September 1988, a full 32 months later. Columbia Disaster 1 February 2003, next launch Discovery on 25 July 2005. A 30 month gap.

Not a good comparison. First of all, evidence collection for high speed, high altitude accident is much more challenging than investigating a fire on the ground. Comparing apples to apples - 787 was grounded for months after the fire, 330 did not stop flying following a mysterious crash, and it took weeks for 380's to be fixed.
Second, if you happen to read Rogers commission report - NASA had to deal with exactly that "on a prayer and a wing" approach which went as far as in fact falsifying test data. Same with Columbia - it was not that much of a technical problem, problem was with people not taking things seriously.
And keep in mind, there was a set goal to achieve in time for Apollo project; Shuttles were much more of a routine...
 
Thrust
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:40 pm

Quoting spudh (Reply 16):

Apollo 1 didn't "blow up." It caught fire during a ground training mission. The Apollo 13 spacecraft was near disaster, that is true, but we fixed the problem. And that problem was a very sophisticated one in which the oxygen tank or shelf, can't remember exactly what it was, was dropped, and a repair was proposed, and Jim Lovell signed off on the procedure...there was no way to open up the damaged object to inspect it. The shuttle had issues which were far less sophisticated and had much higher probablities of happening. NASA and Morton Thiokol were well aware of the o-rings' vulnerability to temperatures but chose to launch anyway. With Columbia, NASA denied the astronauts an opportunity to inspect the wing for foam damage. So actually, I would say NASA management with the Apollo program was actually overall better than with the shuttle program. And what if the Apollo missions were more risky? There were several reasons for that...space was a newer phenomenon back then, and leaving earth orbit is more dangerous than staying in orbit any way that you put it. There is always great risk with space travel...unless people are willing to accept that, we have no business even going into space. And despite all the problems encountered with the Apollo program, no lives were lost except for Apollo 1. What is certainly true is that the Apollo spacecraft accomplished more than the shuttle despite being smaller in size. We had a vehicle that could travel out of orbit or stay in orbit. We also had a vehicle capable of carrying a heavier payload into space than the shuttle. And..on top of all that, the Apollo spacecraft had an abort system during launch that the shuttle didn't. So which spacecraft was safer is debatable. What I was saying earlier is that I think expendable rockets are overall more productive at launching payloads than the shuttle, and as far as expenses go, it turns out reusable spacecraft are just as expensive to launch as expendable ones. I think we need to use them together instead of throwing one out for the other.
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Dreadnought
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sat Jul 16, 2011 8:04 pm

Quoting Flighty (Reply 6):
The Shuttle showed exactly why NASA should not be the administrator of a future Shuttle. I have a lot more faith in SpaceX and organizations like that. They are careful with a buck and really drive toward results. The old NASA spirit lives on in these private companies.

The government should fund programs, but otherwise, it should make grants / prizes based on merit, not poor quality cost-plus contracts. Nor should the govt do this work internally. Those methods don't work. Cutting edge work doesn't happen within megaprojects!!!!!! The Shuttle was impressive but misconceived and wasteful.

I partially disagree. NASA showed in the 60s what it could do when given a mission and a timeline.

What NASA has also shown us more recently is that without a clear and unambiguous mission it becomes as wasteful and bogged down as any government bureaucracy. It also shows the wastefulness of the cost+ system it shares with the pentagon when a vehicle takes a ridiculous amount of time and billions to develop. Government purchasing / development contracts must be reformed.

But the real purpose of space exploration is so long term that I think it is one of the few cases where government involvement is a requirement. The benefits of, say, putting men on Mars or beyond might make financial returns decades or even a century from now - far too long for private investment to deal with. No private firm would have been willing to pay for the Apollo missions, and yet we benefited greatly from the technological by-products.
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Thrust
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sat Jul 16, 2011 8:22 pm

My personal belief is that politics is the greatest enemy of space exploration. I am in favor of private corporations doing this kind of stuff in the hopes that space travel will get less expensive and be less dependent on the taxpayers and the minds of politicians who know nothing about the merits of space exploration. Both the Apollo and the STS missions were ended because of politics, far too soon IMO.
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DiamondFlyer
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sun Jul 17, 2011 2:32 am

Quoting dreadnought (Reply 19):
I partially disagree. NASA showed in the 60s what it could do when given a mission and a timeline.

Only that they could do well with an open checkbook. Face it, if the Soviet's weren't spending the money on space, we wouldn't have gone to the moon.

-DiamondFlyer
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zanl188
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sun Jul 17, 2011 3:16 am

Quoting spudh (Reply 16):
So what's different? Our appetite for loss of life and the prevalence of a 'fear' culture in Western society.

No. What was different is that NASA in the 60's had a goal to reach, "Land a man on the moon before this decade is out". Apollos 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 were all spaced just a couple of months apart. Had Apollo 11 failed to land in July 1969 NASA was fully prepared to continue the rapid fire launches and launch both Apollo 12 & 13 before the end of 1969. But 11 succeeded and the program relaxed. 12 launched in Nov and 13 the following April.

Quoting Thrust (Reply 18):
So actually, I would say NASA management with the Apollo program was actually overall better than with the shuttle program.

One of the root causes of Apollo 13s problems was the failure of NASA management to successfully manage technical specification changes. The tech spec for the O2 tanks ground support equipment was increased to, IIRC, 65 volts. Yet the thermostat in the O2 tank was never redesigned for the higher voltage. When the tank failed to drain (due to being dropped) on the pad the ground crew elected to bake the O2 out of the tank and applied 65 volts to the tank heater and welded the thermostat contacts together. Thus the heater never shut off, the excessive heat destroyed the insulation on the fan wiring - and 13s fate was sealed, just needing the astros to throw the switch to "stir" the tanks to get the tank to explode.

So, IMHO, NASA management was just as flawed during Apollo as it was during Shuttle - maybe worse.
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spudh
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:14 am

Quoting kalvado (Reply 17):

Your right of course, I completly missed the point about the shuttle being routine as opposed to the Apollo being entirely goal orientated. A routine operation to be repeated over and over should have more stringent safety standards and procedures and lower risk thresholds.

Having said that, some of the other well informed posts would suggest that is not quite the case.

Great thread either way!
 
GDB
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:42 pm

Quoting dreadnought (Reply 19):
No private firm would have been willing to pay for the Apollo missions, and yet we benefited greatly from the technological by-products.

That has often been the case way beyond just space exploration.

While I totally understand the concerns many have with the retirement of STS with no direct follow on coming right afterwards, consider;
In December last year Space X with the launch and recovery of the Dragon test article, showed starkly the progress at much less cost, compared to Ares 1/Constellation.
Since at the time of it's cancellation just a few months before, that NASA program not near to doing a similar test of it's launch system and space vehicle.

Some reckoned a manned Ares 1 launch would not likely occur before 2017, Space X can beat that, if politics does not intrude.
 
Thrust
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:18 pm

If I were to propose a new launch vehicle, especially for getting to Mars, it would be a vehicle similar to the Ares V I guess. An extremely powerful liquid fueled rocket assisted by solid rocket boosters. I'm not sure why NASA was originally for a separate rocket for people and cargo...my only guess would be so more people and more cargo could be transported. As for a shuttle replacement, I can't really think of anything off the top of my head, but it would probably have to be a vehicle of the size and efficiency the shuttle originally was originally intended to be (smaller and less costly to launch).
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zanl188
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RE: Will Nasa Ever Build A New Space Shuttle?

Mon Jul 18, 2011 8:48 pm

Ares V would have been overkill for an Orion flight to ISS, so they needed something smaller. As it turns out Ares I was too small... Too bad all the politicos were so busy trying to find a new use for the SRB, we might have had a follow on to shuttle by now...
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