Friday, February 04, 2011

USA studying commercial shuttle option

United Space Alliance is pursuing a proposal to fly the shuttle as a commercial system after NASA's final three planned flights this year.

The Houston-based company has asked NASA to help fund a six-month study under the second round of the agency's Commercial Crew Development program, or CCDev, the winners of which are expected to be announced next month.

A senior USA manager described the bid as a long shot, but one that would help NASA bridge the gap between the last mission this year and the availability of new commercial vehicles, and help service the space station.

The estimated cost to fly two flights a year with Atlantis and Endeavour is under $1.5 billion, costs that could be shared by potential non-NASA customers.

Under current plans, USA's local workforce will drop to about 1,000 after the last shuttle flight this year, down from 6,000 two years ago.

IMAGE: On April 10, 2009, shuttle Endeavour is transported from Orbiter Processing Facility 2 to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann


Rubber Ducky said...

Good idea - if USA buys the shuttles at original cost.

Mark Lopa said...

I wonder why they would choose Atlantis and Endeavour. Is it simply because they are the newest orbiters?

spaceraceleadership said...

Where are they going to get external tanks? They already shut down the production line...

Mark Lopa said...

Well, the plant in New Orleans is still there, and if NASA goes with a shuttle-derived rocket for either cargo or a manned vehicle, ETs are going to have to be made again. I would think it wouldn't be that difficult to get the production line going again.