Shuttle News: March 2005 Archives

Editor's note: NASA is planning to fly no more than 28 Space Shuttle Flights between now and 2010 at a rate of roughly 5 per year. This will lead to some tough decisions - some of them coming rather soon.

Mike Kostelnik, Deputy Associate Administrator for International Space Station and Space Shuttle Program: "If we did not have the ISS on orbit today we would not be returning [the Space Shuttle fleet] to flight but rather dedicating resources to next generation of exploration".

Others: Since NASA will not need any more Al-Li to build External Tanks (they have enough for 28 flights), that contract will be shut down. Since NASA no longer needs SRB canisters (they have enough for 28 flights) that contract will be shut down as well. By 2008, NASA will have enough Aluminum perchlorate for SRB fuel (again for the remaining number of flights) - so that contract will come to and end - possibly driving up the cost for DoD users.

Editor's note: Of course, if NASA decides to pursue a Shuttle-derived heavy launch system (mentioned more than once at this meeting), this might change. NASA PAO has also pointed out that no one specifically stated at this meeting that these specific contracts would be cancelled. However, the tone of the overall presentation was about things NASA would cancel, shut down, descope, delay, sell off, abandon in place, rethink, transform, etc. If NASA has no further need for a product or a service - be it for the shuttle or any other program (as was clearly discussed) it follows that such contracts would eventually be modified or cancelled - right?

More to follow.

Editor's note: The Stafford/Covey RTF Task Force is not going to be releasing its final recommendations tomorrow as had been planned. The fact finding that needs to go into the formulation of final decisions and recommendations has not been completed. More to follow.

Update: Return to Flight Task Group Postpones March 31 Meeting, NASA HQ

Editor's note: If you visit Astronaut Space Safety 2005 you'll see that the report "SPACE SAFETY REPORT: Vulnerabilities and Risk Reduction In U.S. Human Space Flight Programs", written by the Space & Advanced Research Institute at George Washington University, is now online. This report was written with $300,000 from the mysterious non-profit Space Shuttle Children's Trust Fund. This organization's website does not list any corporate donors or board of directors/advisors - just a media contact - and an address where to send money. Nor does it specify what programs it has established which have helped 'children' in connection with the Columbia accident.

With regard to Astronaut Space Safety 2005:

Section 1.1: "We would have preferred to base this study on more primary sources, but these were not always available to us since this research effort was commissioned as an "independent" review. Indeed one of our prime findings is that efforts be made to obtain prime source reports from NASA on the areas of launch safety that we have identified as being of possible concern."

Editor's note: Then shouldn't you have worked harder to get access to those materials - or waited to release your report until such time as you had accurate and reliable information where upon to base your report? Isn't this supposed to be a scholarly document?

Keith, I have to say I couldn't agree more with your observations of the "Space Safety 2005" Report done by GW/SACRI for the Space Shuttle Children's Fund. I'm afraid it presents a REAL disincentive for anyone to contribute to the SSCF, which, as you also indicate, is an organization of some questionable status, anyway. I'm also more than a little surprised at the lack of quality control by GWU in allowing their name to be associated with a "report" that, at least as far as I've read so far, not only offers nothing new, but suffers the lack of focus and substantiation you offer examples of.

GAO Report: Space Shuttle: Actions Needed to Better Position NASA to Sustain Its Workforce through Retirement

"GAO is recommending that NASA take steps aimed at better positioning the agency to sustain a critically skilled space shuttle workforce through retirement. In particular, we are recommending that the Space Shuttle Program begin identifying its future workforce needs based upon various future scenarios the program could face. In commenting on a draft of this report, NASA concurred with our recommendation."

Editor's note: I guess I shouldn't rely on news reports to find out what someone actually said in a news conference - my fault, I could have participated - but I was busy. According to someone who actually participated in the telecon yesterday, O'Connor spoke very specifically about factors - flight rules etc. - which would now be put formally into place so as to guide the decision making process as to when to deorbit - and where to land - procedures which specifically take public safety into account. Up until now, landing decisions had to do with conditions at one landing site or another. As such, this would be the 'first time' that such factors would be formally incorporated into shuttle mission flight rules.

Earlier posts/rants on this topic ....

The mission NASA hopes won't happen, USA Today

"Such a mercy mission would be dramatic, the most daring trip in the history of space exploration, but it could also force NASA to break its own safety rules. And it would end the USA's ability to send astronauts into orbit for years, even decades."

Editor's note: How do you arrive at this conclusion, Traci?

MOD Rallies The Troops

NASA MOD Internal Memo - Subject: Message to our partners

"As many of you are aware, over the course of the last several months we have taken steps to refresh the symbols or our operations culture. Specifically, both ISS and Space Shuttle are now represented on our MOD emblem, and we have recently completed an important amendment to the "Foundations of Mission Operations", adding 'Vigilance' to our set of core values we embrace both as individuals and as a team.

In hand with rolling out these improvements, we have drafted separate but similar memos to our CB and program partners that communicates what we have done and what it means not only to us but to them as well.

We would like the as much of the MOD family to be signatories to this as we can manage, with the goal of formally transmitting these notes by the end of March."

- Memo to Astronaut Corps - Subject: Vigilance
- Memo to Space Shuttle and ISS Programs - Subject: Vigilance
- Foundations of Mission Operations

[Notice: 05-045] RIN 2700-AC39: NASA Final Rule: Small Self-Contained Payloads (SSCPs)

"Consistent with this new direction and the lack of future flight opportunities, NASA has determined that the SSCP program cannot be sustained as a viable activity, and the program has been terminated. Therefore, NASA has determined that 14 CFR Ch. V 1214.9 is no longer applicable and should be removed."

Canton Park District receives gift from Nagel, Canton Daily Ledger

"Former Canton resident, retired Air Force Colonel, and former NASA Astronaut Steve Nagel has secured a shuttle spacecraft tire for display by the Canton Park District the board learned at its Feb. 28 meeting. The tire has been fitted with a glass top and is being used as a table at the Ingersoll Airport office building. Michelin Aircraft Tire Company manufactured the tire and donated it to the park district."

Editor's note: That's more like it!

NASA Sale of Surplus Property: Sale of Flown Shuttle Tires, Main Landing Gear

"Bid opening is March 15, 2005, at 2:00 pm local time. A copy of the Invitation for Bid may be obtained from the Internet at: or call 321-867-2287 and ask for Sale Number 804200-2005-0008."

Editor's note: I have to think that there is a museum - perhaps a small one - somewhere in the United States where such a piece of space flown hardware would receive a special place of honor. Selling this item as surplus runs the risk that it might end up inside a plastic bag in some collector's garage.



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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Shuttle News category from March 2005.

Shuttle News: February 2005 is the previous archive.

Shuttle News: April 2005 is the next archive.

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