Shuttle News: August 2008 Archives

Shuttle Extension Update

NASA requests shuttle options, Huntsville Times

"It's not really a formal study, though," Yembrick said, "but an informal request. As an agency we realize we want to be prepared and look at our options across the program." Yembrick said the options would be part of briefings and testimony to White House officials, Congress and other decision makers NASA has to speak to about the subject, and it should take about a month to complete. Informal requests are often cloaked studies, said Keith Cowing, who runs the online site "Whenever NASA gets caught in a study, but doesn't want anybody to know it is a study, then they try to call it something else," said Cowing."

EXCLUSIVE: NASA to study extending shuttle era to 2015, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has ordered his suborbinates to study how the agency could fly the space shuttle beyond its planned retirement in 2010, according to an internal e-mail obtained by the Orlando Sentinel. The decision signals what could be a huge change in NASA policy. Griffin repeatedly has rejected the notion of extending the shuttle era beyond its 2010 retirment date, arguing it could cripple the fledgling Constellation program, a system of new rockets and capsules meant to replace the shuttle in 2015."

NASA Internal Email: Shuttle Extension Assessment, Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel

"The SSP program in conjunction with Cx and ISS have been asked by the administrator to put together some manifest options to assess extending shuttle flights to 2015. SSP would like to have some options developed for review by senior management by the end of September. The result of the review might be a formal budget assessment of a option(s)."

State senators backing request to extend space shuttle program

"Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, agreed with the letter's intent and called for a cessation of Russian hostility to its neighbors. He said he fears the 15-year-old joint U.S.-Russian space station agreement could end if relations continued to slide, he said. "If Russia continues to act irresponsibly, our partnership in space will have to end. If that occurs, we will need to maintain our own launch capability in the future," Sessions said. The letter called for support of the Ares program, the Orion crew capsule and for support for commercial rockets, such as the Delta IV manufactured by the United Launch Alliance in Decatur."

Wayne Hale's NASA Blog: Shutting Down the Shuttle

"Hey, I am the biggest shuttle hugger there is. I think it is the best spacecraft ever built. But I also deal in the real world. Where does the money come from? Where do the people -- who should be working on the moon rocket -- where do they come from? We started shutting down the shuttle four years ago.

That horse has left the barn."

McCain asks Bush to tell NASA not to dismantle shuttle infrastructure, Orlando Sentinel

"Sen. John McCain -- joined by Republican colleagues Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and David Vitter of New Orleans -- sent a letter to President Bush this week, saying that in light of tensions with Russia, the White House should tell NASA to stop any further dismantling of the shuttle infrastructure for at least a year to keep open the possibility of more shuttle flights beyond 2010."

Full text of letter

United Space Alliance Files Lawsuit Against ATK

"United Space Alliance (USA), NASA's prime Space Shuttle contractor, filed a lawsuit in Brevard County Circuit Court in Florida today against Alliant Techsystems, Inc., and ATK Launch Systems, Inc., seeking damages for fraud and breach of contract, and seeking an injunction against further piracy of USA employees with skills essential to flying out the Space Shuttle manifest.

... ATK concurrently undertook an aggressive campaign to hire critically skilled USA employees, who have been performing specialized work in support of both the Ares and Space Shuttle programs in order to solely perform work on Ares."

NASA contractors locked in legal battle, Orlando Sentinel

"According to industry officials, there is a possibility that if USA does not get satisfaction in its dispute, the company could stop work on preparations for next years test flight of ATKs Ares I-X rocket. The test rocket is considered an important step toward developing the complete Ares I rocket that is supposed to replace the shuttle by 2015. A delay in the test could impact the already behind schedule Ares I."

Editor's note: This certainly does not bode well for a smooth transition from Shuttle to Ares operations.

NASA opts to leave shuttle launch dates as scheduled, SpaceflightNow

"NASA managers today decided to stick with Oct. 8 as the target launch date for shuttle mission STS-125, a long-awaited flight by the shuttle Atlantis to service and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. They also agreed to stick with Nov. 10 for launch of the flight after that, a space station assembly mission by the shuttle Endeavour."

Editor's note: This video of a Space Shuttle launch was taken recently from an Air Canada flight. The video was posted on 24 July 2008. It is not clear when it was shot. Perhaps it is STS-124? Oh yes, the guy with the camera was clearly impressed with what he was seeing.

Reader update: "This is the launch of a Delta 2, most likely GPS 2R-18 on December 20th. The YouTube original was posted "seven months ago" according to the tag. You can see the first set of SRBs burn out and the other ignite at 55 seconds into the video."

Video below

NASA's Griffin Tells Forum Crowd There Are No Guarantees In Space Travel,

"The US and its partners have invested $100 billion in the [ISS]," said Griffin, "so it does seem short-sighted to not spend the $3 billion a year to maintain the Shuttle. " Directing his comments to the children in the audience, "Sometimes Washington does silly things."

What Mike Griffin *Really* Thinks About NRC's Space Station Report (2005 posting)

"I'm copying a bunch of folks on this note because it concerns the nucleus of a strategic problem for us in going forward with the VSE. Bottom line, we're going to have to answer the specific issues in this report. We're going to have to define the program of activity for ISS that obtains from it the utility that it can provide. We may NOT be able to fund that activity at present; I consider that almost a fact on the ground. But we can put in place the kind of peer-reviewed science that we WOULD do, given the money, and that we WILL do, when we can afford it."

Why the U.S. should return to the moon and venture on to Mars, (edited transcript), USA Today (2005)

"Q: In retrospect, was the shuttle program a mistake?
Griffin: My opinion is that it was.

Q: Was the space station a mistake?
Griffin: I would not have built the space station. We are now trying to change the path while doing as little damage as we can."

Editor's note: First the ISS and the Shuttle were "mistakes" (Griffin's own words). Now their imminent demise is "short sighted".

NASA's Griffin Tells Forum Crowd There Are No Guarantees In Space Travel,

"When asked what would he do if "wishes were free" and NASA's budget were doubled (the equivalent of the inflation-adjusted program for Apollo), the Administrator's response was as follows: 1) [We] wouldn't rely on another country and would develop a new system in parallel to continuing to use the Space Shuttle; 2) Begin working on vehicle systems sooner; and 3) Do more advanced research, the "blue sky stuff."

Editor's note: Wait a minute: after 3 years of saying that NASA must retire the Space Shuttle, is Mike Griffin now saying that he'd continue flying the shuttle if he had enough money - despite what the CAIB recommended (safety, recertification etc) ? Hmm ... this sounds a lot like something one of the presidential candidates (and their surrogates) has been saying ...

Shuttle Job Cuts Begin

Lockheed Martin informs external tank workers of possible job cuts, Huntsville Times

"Lockheed Martin Corp. today informed its external fuel tank workforce in Huntsville and New Orleans that jobs on the space shuttle support program would be cut starting in the fall, according to a company spokesman. About 100 Lockheed Martin people work on the program in Huntsville, said Marion LaNasa, spokesman for Lockheed at the Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans where the aerospace giant manufactures the 15-story fuel tank for NASA."

Statement by John Chapman, External Tank Project Manager, About Work Force Reductions at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility

"While the reductions associated with the shuttle's retirement will result in fewer people doing NASA work at Michoud, the agency plans to locate significant work there in the future. Boeing employees will manufacture and assemble the Ares I upper stage, and conduct avionics systems integration and checkout. Lockheed Martin will build structures for the Orion crew exploration capsule as well as the capsule's Launch Abort System. In future years, the Ares V core stage and Earth departure stage, which will be needed for the return to the moon, will be built at Michoud."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Shuttle News category from August 2008.

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