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  Space Shuttles - Space Station
  Retaining the orbiters in case of emergency

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Author Topic:   Retaining the orbiters in case of emergency
WAWalsh
Member

Posts: 791
From: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Registered: May 2000

posted 01-18-2010 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With the information from NASA that the agency is looking to deliver all three orbiters to museums by the middle of next year, is anyone else wondering what is the rush?
  1. While everyone hopes that the next generation of rocket will be on schedule, the Block I Orions are not even anticipated until 2015 and budget issues look to be significant in the next few years. Given past delays, the better odds would be that after the conclusion of the shuttle program this year, the next manned launch from Florida will not take place until 2018 or later. So why get rid of every orbiter now?

  2. More importantly, the orbiter continues to possess the sole ability to rescue an entire crew from the ISS or even to help nudge the ISS into a higher orbit. Wouldn't the more prudent approach dictate keeping at least one orbiter available and capable of a sudden mission to the ISS in the interim? What will our approach be to the ISS should an accident happen in Russia causing a loss of the launch facility there for more than six months?
While I am sure that within the Johnson Space Center there exists a 350-page contingency manual addressing problems with the ISS, I have seen little information on the point. It strikes me that NASA should be keeping one of the orbiters and capable of a relatively quick launch -- just in case.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-18-2010 09:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by WAWalsh:
...budget issues look to be significant in the next few years.
You inadvertently answered your own question: the budget does not exist to maintain a flight-worthy orbiter at the same time as developing a new launch vehicle.
quote:
...the sole ability to rescue an entire crew from the ISS or even to help nudge the ISS into a higher orbit.
The two Soyuz docked with the space station at any given time have the ability to rescue the six-person crew, and Soyuz, Progress, ATV and HTV vehicles can be used to boost the ISS's orbit.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 01-18-2010 01:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Big problem with shuttle is it eats up a lot of resources even to keep it stored in a powered down state. A contingency use of the shuttle also pretty much mandates quick turnaround to prep for launch and that gets more difficult the longer the vehicles remain in storage as some items will require replacement or recertification if they get past their "use by" dates. The workforce would also have to be maintained as well.

If the current schedule holds, there will still be one set of SRBs and an ET left over, but those also require storage and periodic checkout (as will pad 39A). There have been rumblings of possibly adding one more flight to the manifest to use those last items (using Soyuz as a backup to bring the crew home if the shuttle can't come back). If that mission does fly, then there won't be any more stacked SRBs or an ET to loft a shuttle (two more tanks apparently can be assembled from parts in Michoud's inventory, but nothing can be assembled quick for a contingency mission).

All that boils down to money, which NASA doesn't exactly have given their budget in recent times. As for the Russians, to my knowledge they have two Soyuz pads rated for manned launch. So if one gets taken out due to an accident, the other is still available. And one Soyuz ALWAYS accompanies three crew members. So there will always be two Soyuz craft for a six person crew.

All times are CT (US)

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