Monday, May 03, 2010

Shuttle funded to operate through early 2011; three more flights left

NASA expects to have enough money to continue flying the shuttle into February 2011, but has no plans to fly any missions beyond the three remaining, officials said today.

Atlantis is next up, on track to launch May 14 on what is its last scheduled flight.

Since Atlantis will later be prepared to serve as the rescue shuttle for NASA's final scheduled flight late this year, some have speculated that NASA might take advantage of the flight-ready hardware to add one more mission.

But Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon said that is not currently in the plans.

"If we have to go fly it the vehicle will be all configured and ready to go, but we're not currently working on any plans to fly it as a flight except for (as) a rescue vehicle," he said.

Adding a flight would have been easier if the agency's original plan had held to fly out the remaining three missions by September.

Then, NASA could have taken advantage of $600 million in funding provided by Congress in case flights slipped later in 2010.

But because of a delay to payload flying on the program's last scheduled flight, by Endeavour, NASA will be trying to fly that mission in late November or early December, the only available launch windows toward the end of this year. It's not yet clear the payload -- the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer -- will be ready by then.

Shannon said NASA expects costs savings this year to allow it to continue flying through January or February of 2011. After that, the program would have to request more money.


Gaetano Marano said...


it's VERY SIMPLE to explain why the "commercial space" will FAIL to replace the Shuttle, Orion, Ares, Apollo, etc.

just read this comparison:

Orion: LEO and beyond-LEO

Dragon: LEO-only

Shuttle: SEVEN astronauts AND over 24 tons of cargo to/from LEO

Dragon: SEVEN astronauts ( :) ) OR 2.5 tons of cargo to LEO

Falcon-9: 10.5 tons of payload to LEO

Delta IV Heavy: 24 tons of payload to LEO

Saturn-5: up to 140 tons to LEO and 45 tons to TLI

Ares-5: up to 188 tons to LEO and about 75 tons to TLI

NASA is going to replace giant trucks with a very small and VERY EXPENSIVE electric city car, as clearly explained here:

so, NASA will spend dozens billion$ but will always "remain in the city" (that is LEO)


Anonymous said...

Even if someone wanted to fly an extra shuttle mission, you don't have a payload - so why bother. Some have said you should fly an extra mission to send add'l spare parts to the ISS - great idea...on paper. Those spares haven't been ordered and based on complexity it would be 2, 3, 4 or even 5 years to create a spares list, write an RFP, evaluate the bids, deal with the protests from the losers, order the parts, wait for the parts, wait some more (see telescope slip), inspect and accept the parts and then get them aboard the orbiter.

If you want to send up some Burger King or some extra toilet paper, you can do that quicker, but is it worth the money?

I thought not. Not if I were paying anyway.

It's pretty easy to spend someone else's money. Since I'm counting this as my money, I vote "No" to an extra mission.

A Taxpayer (Microwave)

Anonymous said...

No other nation would have destroyed a national resource as the Space Shuttle and loosing 25,000 skilled workers.

Obama does not support manned space flight. He has the opportunity to extend the Space Shuttle program and keep the Ares funded. I believe he only wants to destroy NASA.

The other Democrats are just puppets of Obama and are not manned space flight supporters.

Obama is a destroyer of manned space flight and creater of 25,000 unemployed middle class skilled workers.

"Thank you Obama"

Anonymous said...

You're way off base, taxpayer microwave. You think there's no supplies and spare parts ready to go? The ISS needs CONTINUAL replenishment. It takes several Russian cargo trips to match the shuttle's capability. The stuff is ready, the shuttle is stacked and ready to go. LIGHT THE FUSE!