Confusing Rationale To Keep Flying the Shuttle

Our economy needs a robust space program, editorial, Houston Chronicle

"It would be prudent to keep the space shuttles flying with new missions to maintain a vital back-up contingency, until replacement spacecraft and commercial space transportation achieve reliable operations. The space shuttle's unique capability to launch heavy payloads into space, or return hardware from orbit, is the only means available of flying critical replacement components to support the $100 billion International Space Station. If the 300-ton space station is ever taken out of service, the space shuttle is the only vehicle in existence that could safely deorbit the massive structure."

Keith's note: Hmm ... "deorbit" implies that you are going to drop the ISS into the ocean. Mir, which was somewhat comparable in size - with things pointing out in all directions. Mir was deorbited with several Progress flights. Why couldn't a series of Progress, HTV, ATV missions do the same for the ISS? Or are you going to use Shuttle propulsion to deorbit the ISS? Or are you talking about taking the ISS apart and returning the pieces to Earth in a shuttle cargo bay? Given how many flights it took to assemble the ISS, that would be a rather time consuming and expensive undertaking. And then what about the Russian segment? That would have to come back too - just like Mir did.

- NASA's 1999 Plan To Splash ISS, earlier post
- Mir deorbit simulation, earlier post
- The Deorbit of Skylab, earlier post

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on August 22, 2010 12:43 PM.

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