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Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 1:41 am

The author states that "It's costly, outmoded, impractical and, as we've learned again, deadly".

I am not sure if I agree or disagree. What do you think of it??

The whole article: http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101030210/sceasterbrook.html

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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 1:57 am

Well, I don't want to judge if the NASA Space Program should continue or not.
I just would like to mention, that a bicycle or car can also be "deadly".
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:01 am

I think that the author says that it' s all of them together. Costly, outmoded, impractical and deadly. If it was only costly or only impactical then that wouldn't be the case.

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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:04 am

This Easterbrook guy is an alarmist at best. I do understand where he is coming from. There are a lot of powerful people interested in maintain the status quo in the manned space flight program.

But I don't think a cost-benefit analysis is the best way to approach the problem. Has manned space-flight really detracted, monetarily that is, from unmannned missions? If this claim was true then there would be merit to his argument. I think the other falsehood in his argument is that NASA has made claims that space travel is safe. Anyone involved in that business knows the inherents risks involved with putting people into space using the relatively crude technology that we have. Rather I believe it is the cavalier attitude that the press and the public have towards space travel that creates the belief that it is safe.

But I do agree with him that there is a major problem. The culture at NASA, the aerospace firms, and in Washington has been supporting a far from satisfactory technology. Something needs to be done in the wake of the tradegdy, one to make the current fleet as safe as possible and secondly to meaningfully move ahead with new space lift technologies... manned and unmanned.
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:08 am

What a total non-surprise.  Insane

I predicted we'd have this in about a week's time..the knee-jerk, reactionary crowd who can Monday-morning-quarterback themselves into a frenzy over things they know nothing about.

These people need to understand a few things:

1. Space exploration is dangerous.

2. Space exploration is expensive.

Those are two things that will never, ever change, no matter how much some people whine and wring their hands.

We cannot allow the mindset of these people who lack vision to corrupt the human race. What would have happened if Christopher Columbus and other explorers stayed home? Or if the Wright Brothers and other inventors decided that only birds should fly? Or if people listened to Bill Gates when he said that "512K is really all anyone should ever need," ?

We push the envelope in search of knowledge and understanding. We do this thanks to our innate curiosity and desire to learn and better ourselves.

Once we lose that in the name of "total safety" and "cost-effectiveness," then what have we become?

"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:11 am

It takes 7-15 years of Reserach, Development & Production for a new Space Vehicle. Which would mean the International Space Station would be pretty much dorment except for Russian use. I don't think NASA or the taxpayers would like seeing their dollars just sit in space, unused... I classify this as a knee-jerk reaction. But that doesn't mean the writter doesn't have some valid points, I just don't agree with them.
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:20 am

Frankly, I did not read the whole article but I disagreed with the half or so I did read. I have heard these arguments before.

Yesterday, a former astronaut compared manned space travel to the ballet or symphony. Although the benefits of such things may not have direct, tangible benefits like the construction of a bridge or a school, they should be continued. I agree with him wholeheartedly.

Human space travel is still the frontier of human experience. We live through the experiences of the astronauts and our lives are richer for it. Cessation of manned space travel until it is 'safe' would be an unacceptable surrender.

I am confident that manned space travel will not be discontinued as suggested by the author.

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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:28 am

No Space Shuttle = No ISS = Forget the concept of space colonization. The shuttle is an incredible piece of engineering with 2 losses totaling 14 lives in 107 missions. Don't forget that ocean exploration was in its time (and still is today) another potentially deadly endeavor. I'm glad that the Vikings didn't pee themselves silly when their first boat sank and just decided to explore the bushes near their huts instead. Give up on exploration and might as well give up on life itself. The author of this article is an utter wanker.
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:37 am

I agree with pretty much everything that's already been said. Personally, this kind of alarmist, overreacting articles make sick. Space flights have always been dangerous, and these risks exist. It is my belief, and I'm sure the belief of thousands of people, that tragedies like the Challenger's and the Columbia's can't be reason to discontinue manned space flights, but they should be reason to learn from mistakes, and work towards a more perfect manned space flight program. We have to move on. An author like the one who wrote this article is, obviously, too far from knowing half of the facts to make accusations and judgements like that.

Yes, the shuttle was built with late-70's technology, and a design more than 20 years old, but NASA just can't say "OK, we've had enough of it, let's move on to the next vehicle for our next mission". I don't know if I'm making myself clear. A new design takes time to be completed, especially with the more limited budget NASA can count on. If the government provides NASA with better funding, we could expect more rapid steps new vehicle design and completion.

I never thought I'd read an article like this on Time, I think I don't read it enough, overestimating it.

"... for there you have been and there you will long to return."
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:42 am

Who said to stop exploring?

Let me say that, from what I read, the man doesn't say "Stop exploring, get out of space". He says "Stop the Shuttle, replace it with unmanned vehicles and develop new vehicles for manned flight".

I think that makes sense


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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:51 am


Unless NASA at once puts up big money to man-rate the Atlas V and Delta IV so it can carry Orbital Sciences' small space plane the company has proposed, I still think it's better to find the cause of the breakup, then rebuild the remaining space shuttles with a new generation of thermal protection tiles that are more tolerant of FOD (foreign object damage) and redesign the insulation material on the external tank so it is less likely to fall off during the launch phase.

I remember during the late 1980's NASA did some very serious studies with a newer technology thermal protection tile that was much more tolerant of high temperatures and FOD; maybe it's time to revive that idea. And use the research into aerogels to come with with the best strong insulation material possible.
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:53 am

The author is nothing more than an alarmist, armchair quarterback at best.
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:58 am

How long is NASA planning on keeping the shuttle around? Last time I checked there were no new replacement shuttle designs. I doubt that the shuttle can last another 10 to 15 years.

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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 3:51 am

These aurthors are the ones that annoy me the most. As others have said, he's just the monday morning quarterback.

He's also innacurate in one regard, the main engines on the shuttle are not the orginal ones that flew on Columbia in 1981. They are a newer design. I don't know when they first flew, but they are not the orginals.

Another thing, is he in the clouds about unmanned vehicles? They blow up more than the manned rockets do. In fact, correct me if I am wrong, the Challenger is the only fatality during a launch mode. So, when unmanned rockets fail, is he going to call for the end of the space program all together? What an asinine statement. If thats the case, let's ban cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, motorcycles, etc, etc, etc.

I'm not a real aeronautical engineer, I just play one on Airliners.net.
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 5:39 am

I saw a great headline in The Times today..... the assertion was something like: All this 'pushing the boundaries', dangerous exporation etc etc must be stopped because it is so deadly...

The answer: Go and paint that on your cave wall!

That made my day!

If we didnt take risks, the human race would not be where it is now. Go and crawl back into your cave if you dont want to explore.

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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 6:34 am

I don't think that abandoning the Space Shuttle would mean the end of space exploration and (perhaps, eventual) colonization.

The Shuttle is a relic that has failed to do what it was designed to do (cheap access to space). It's still the only launcher that can deliver both a large cargo (albeit only to low orbit) and ferry humans. That doesn't mean it couldn't be replaces with something newer at some point in the future. It's still an awfully young century after all.

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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 7:00 am

I think we need a new design for the Space shuttle, but where are we going to get the money?
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 7:05 am

Money is always tight, space travel will be very risky for the foreseeable future, and life will go on. After this investigation is complete, NASA will decide the best course of action. I think the Shuttle program has life in it yet. No important human endeavor is without adversity.
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 7:12 am

I agree with the article's claims about cost. Can you imagine how many experiments we could conduct, how many unmanned missions to other heavenly bodies we could dispatch and how many telescopes we could deploy if we were to shelve the manned space program for the time being?

Future colonization is a wonderful goal, but let's face it, we're got much more information to gather before we can even dream of traveling to distant planets or setting up space colonies.

In the mean time, we could make better use of the money to learn about our universe.
"If I don't manage to fly, someone else will. The spirit wants only for there to be flying. As for who happens to do it, in that he has only a passing interest."
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 7:55 am

The first great wave of unmanned probes were launched during the Apollo era, even the later Voyager missions were planned and approved then.
When Manned flight lost focus and funding, unmanned missions were cut too, when the Shuttle began flying more focussed missions in the 1990's, to support Hubble, Mir and the ISS, there was some revival in unmanned probes too, in this period for example NASA returned to the surface of Mars after 20 years, (and the original Viking landers of 1976 were an Apollo-era programme too), plus the first probes to the Asteroids.
A moribund space programme, with less focus, leads to less funding, which means less of everything.
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 7:56 am

The shuttle and ISS have one thing in common, they contribute virtually nothing to space exploration or colonization of space, and what little they contribute, comes at tremendous expense. Their "scientific experiments" are jokes, with more often than not political objectives (such as the first teacher in space, or John Glenn's free ride). We could learn a great deal more about our solar system by spending much less on automated space probes.

The space shuttle is an amazing vehicle, it can put a huge load into (very low) orbit, reasonably safe for the mission it was assigned, , but is grotesquely expensive, like a gold plated, diamond studded pickup truck. The biggest barrier to colonization is transportation costs, i.e. it costs too much (thousands of dollars) to put each pound of cargo into orbit. If these costs went from $1,000/lb down to $100/lb space colonization would become a reality.

The shuttle has not and will not lower lift costs. It would have been cheaper and better to continue developing Saturn V rockets than the shuttle. And by continuing to operate it, it sucks resources from newer space lift projects that have the potential to dramatically reduce these costs.

So don't romanticize the shuttle, it was a great accomplishment of early 1970's technologies, but it's time has passed. Cancel it and replace it with dozens of probes a year to Mars, Venus, the asteriods and every other planet in our solar system. If one fails another will just be a month behind it, and no-one will lose their life. And bid the launches all out to private corporations like Boeing and Ariane so they can compete with new technologies to continiously lower lift costs. Given enough time and effort the costs will decline dramatically, and we'll be able to build a real ISS that will be able to serve as a staging facility for additional exploration for a fraction the cost of today's boondoggle.

Keeping the shuttle around is like requiring airlines to fly nothing but DC3's, sure they were great in their day (though the DC3 actually performed as promised) but time moves on. If you disagree with me, pay for it yourself, I'm tired of being taxed up the wazoo for overpriced projects that should have been canceled years ago...
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 8:04 am

Why don't we just stop flying too. It's dangerous and costly. What about our cars. They're very deadly. So all in all, we should just stay home and do nothing. Its too risky to walk across the street. A car could hit you. Get my point?

Ride Amtrak!
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 8:18 am

For 20 years, the American space program has been wedded to a space-shuttle system that is too expensive, too risky, too big for most of the ways it is used, with budgets that suck up funds that could be invested in a modern system that would make space flight cheaper and safer. The space shuttle is impressive in technical terms, but in financial terms and safety terms no project has done more harm to space exploration.

He does have a point about that, however. It seems to me that the Space Shuttle has an air of Cold War American superiority about it, sort of a "damn the costs, we're doing it anyway," feel about it.

Switching to unmanned rockets for payload launching and a small space plane for those rare times humans are really needed would cut costs, which is why aerospace contractors have lobbied against such reform. Boeing and Lockheed Martin split roughly half the shuttle business through an Orwellian-named consortium called the United Space Alliance. It's a source of significant profit for both companies; United Space Alliance employs 6,400 contractor personnel for shuttle launches alone. Many other aerospace contractors also benefit from the space-shuttle program.

I also think that this makes sense. Of course, I'm biased. I live about 20 miles away from Marshal Space Flight Center (and the Redstone Arsenal) in Huntsville, AL. We're responsible for the design of the SSME (space shuttle main engine), which is the most complex engine of any sort ever designed.

I have to agree that the guy makes sense, though, although he's a little radical. I'm not sure if it's quite time to retire the Space Shuttles. I'd personally rather see them fly for a couple more years first.
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 8:23 am

Our calculus teacher, a few years ago, did work with NASA. We were talking today about how old the technology is. He pulled out a graphing calculator and said, "this right here is more advanced than the computers on that shuttle."

The technology is old, the spacecraft is old. But funding is short, so the options are limited.

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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 9:39 am

The only point IMHO the article has that NASA postponed
the creation of a Next Generation reusable or expandable
space vehicle for too long. Then when such catastrophe
happens they are risking being gounded and not having

Spaceflight is/was/ and will always be dangerous and accidents
will always happens. The article mentioned the failed Ariane 5
last month (fortunately nobody died). It is interesting
to recall what the flight menager (or whatever the head of the
mission called) right after the disaster. It was something like
''It is hard now. We have been here before, we overcame
failures before, we will overcome this one too.'' I think this
summarize everything that need to be said about the future
of space fligth.


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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 9:48 am

I think AlaskaMVP and MD-90 hit it on the head. The shuttle is a great technological masterpiece, but from the 1970's. We have progressed so much farther in all aspects of science and engineering. Alaska is right, don't romanticze the shuttle. It's not what it used to be, for lack of a better way to put it. Imagine if the major aircraft manufacturer's decided that since the DC-9 and 727 were great machines and that since they worked they would no longer research or develop next generation jets. The columnist is right when he says the shuttle is needlessly huge and expensive. It is time for another vehicle, whatever it may be. However, the space program nor NASA should stop. That's the last thing that should happen....
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 10:04 am

well being from Houston maybe I am baised, and as an aviator, equally so, but I say, Hail Columbia and explore on!!!!!

'Dear Columbus, Magellan, Hudson, Vespucci, et al,
Your trip will be expensive and to dangerous. We have sadly lost explorers before. Stay home and colour'

Ciao, and Hook 'em Horns,
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be

Tue Feb 04, 2003 10:34 am

The inflight computers on the shuttles have been updated heavily. Columbia, at least, featured a modern, all glass cockpit.

I can't speak to the rest of the systems... but I agree a next generation space vehicle would get my vote.

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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 10:57 am

Revive the Venture Star program

"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 12:10 pm

When I was a kid of 11, I went to see the Jamed Bond film, Moonraker, which featured a fleet of private space shuttles at the behest of a mad billionaire villain, Hugo Drax, out to destroy humanity from space. The most outrageous, and, therefore, best Bond film, I loved the movie so much, I saw it several times and soon bought the novel in 1980 Florida and read every word in the back seat of the rental car on vacation. My Space Shuttle T-shirt from the JFK space center gift shop, and a little metal space shuttle toy, are fondly remembered. The next year, my 7th grade science project was a model of the space shuttle Columbia sitting on its crawler. Don't remember my mark, and didn't really care.

I would have sold my soul to the devil just to sit in a space shuttle. But after the Challenger disaster, the price I would have paid dropped a bit. Saturday, it dropped again. If NASA loses another one, they're going to have to start paying me to sit in it. But another loss may not be a possibility. This could be the end of the line.

Considering that there have been only a 113 launches, and already two shuttles have been destroyed is, to me, and unacceptable rate of attrition. At that rate, we will lose the remaining three shuttles, Endeavor, Atlantis, and Discovery, and 21 more astronauts, in the next 166 launches. Is this acceptable? It's enough to finish the space station. Should that be the logic for its continued survival? Should that be the measure of its success? Should the space program play Russian roulette, using those odds?

Yes, a lot has been done with the shuttle, and one can justify it on a cost-benefit analysis alone. What is 14 people and 50 billion dollars worth of metal for 22 years of ground-breaking service? Some might say that this is a good return on investment. The US spends 1 billion dollars a day just on defence expenditures. Per day. And don't forget the benefits of Tang.

But all that notwithstanding, for me, the space shuttle is no longer morally acceptable. In the space race with the Russians, NASA was forced to play those odds to get there first. And a few cocky pilots were willing to risk it all for glory. But this is no longer the race to the moon. And an astronaut today is often simply a PhD in some scientific discipline riding as a "payload specialist". Risks that were acceptable 40 years ago, should no longer be acceptable today.

The shuttle is an early '70s design, and it uses the same chemical propulsion invented by the Chinese a thousand years ago. It's so complicated that one of a million different parts can fail and stop the countdown and often does. Or they fail in flight and destroy the shuttle and its crew. It has become the technological epitome of a very primative idea - going to space by strapping yourself to a million lbs of explosives, and accelerating your mass to a dangerously high speed, just to sustain a weightless condition. It really is something so absurdly dangerous in conception as to be right out of a Monty Python skit. In 50-100 years from now, we'll all laugh that we did it at all, and did it for so long.

There has to be a better system for getting people and material into space. And some NASA engineers think they may have found it. A lot cheaper, and a lot safer. Some experts say it could be built today. Some say a hundred years from now. Most engineers admit that it is within our technological grasp and possible in our lifetime's span.

I hope this accident will add renewed vigor to the feasibility of this new concept and hopefully herald the beginning of the end of the dark ages when man sat on gunpowder, lit the fuse, and prayed.


Nasa's space elevator

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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be

Tue Feb 04, 2003 12:18 pm

Orbital tethers have been a popular Star Trek concept for a few years at least now. They at least attempt to use feasible concepts, and when they don't they have a "compensator" for the law of physics they're breaking.

The only problem is the week of travel time. For cargo, that's great. For people, not so much.

If a tether broke, also, it'd be problematic. Whoever was on the tether would die, and they'd stay awake for most of the trip. I'd rather blow up, honestly.

It is however a concept grounded in reality.

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RE: Article (TIME):"The Space Shuttle Must Be Stopped"

Tue Feb 04, 2003 1:10 pm

I agree that we should give NASA a lot more money and allow them to research and develop new technology, and yes, eventually phase out the shuttle fleet in favor of newer vehicles.

As for the article, the space program is, and should be about, people. Of course we can do lots of research with unmanned vehicles. The original mission of NASA was to "Land a man on the moon." Let's not lose the people-focus of the space program.

The author makes alot of misrepresentations and pure falsehoods. For example, he claims that no upgrades were made to the SRBs, which is untrue. I could go on, but I won't, because this is obviously a biased journalist.
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