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The Last 10 Days In The Space Shuttle's Bunker?, Atlantis apparently to be scrapped in 2008
Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Feb 21 2006, 03:05 AM
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http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20060...lantis_spa.html :

"Under orders to retire the shuttle fleet by 2010, NASA plans to cancel shuttle Atlantis' next scheduled overhaul and mothball the ship in 2008.

"Rather than becoming a museum piece, however, Atlantis will serve as a spare parts donor for sister ships Discovery and Endeavour to complete assembly of the International Space Station.

" 'People are already calling us and asking us can they display one of our orbiters in their museum after we're done. I'm not giving anybody anything until we're all agreed the station is complete and the shuttles' job is done,' shuttle program manager Wayne Hale told Kennedy Space Center employees during a televised address on Friday.

" 'We're going to keep (Atlantis) in as near flight-ready condition as we can without putting it through a (modification and overhaul) so we can use those parts,' Hale said.
____________________

Jeffrey Bell has recently finished a piece for "SpaceDaily" proclaiming that the wholesale cancellation of other NASA projects in the FY 2007 budget to keep Shuttle and ISS going is actually just part of Michael Griffin's Machiavellian strategy to get both of the cancelled, by making it clear that they can be saved now only at the cost of a swarm of other projects (including Bush's lunar program) which are now more popular. Certainly that is the overwhelming message being conveyed, whether Griffin planned it that way or not -- I haven't seen a single newspaper editorial yet that favors retaining Shuttle at this point.

(Bell also claims to see other, subtler evidence of this strategy in Griffin's moves over the last few weeks -- and also signs that he definitely plans to throw ISS from the train as well, by just giving it to the Russians half-finished in a few years and paying off the ESA and Japan for their unlaunched space lab modules. These include the fact that he's cancelled work on the unmanned cargo variant of the Crew Exploration Vehicle that will be necessary to take up replacement Control Moment Gyros to the ISS after the Shuttle is no longer available.)
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Guest_Richard Trigaux_*
post Feb 21 2006, 05:49 AM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Feb 21 2006, 04:05 AM) *
http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20060...lantis_spa.html :

"Under orders to retire the shuttle fleet by 2010, NASA plans to cancel shuttle Atlantis' next scheduled overhaul and mothball the ship in 2008.

"Rather than becoming a museum piece, however, Atlantis will serve as a spare parts donor for sister ships Discovery and Endeavour to complete assembly of the International Space Station.

" 'People are already calling us and asking us can they display one of our orbiters in their museum after we're done. I'm not giving anybody anything until we're all agreed the station is complete and the shuttles' job is done,' shuttle program manager Wayne Hale told Kennedy Space Center employees during a televised address on Friday.

" 'We're going to keep (Atlantis) in as near flight-ready condition as we can without putting it through a (modification and overhaul) so we can use those parts,' Hale said.
____________________

Jeffrey Bell has recently finished a piece for "SpaceDaily" proclaiming that the wholesale cancellation of other NASA projects in the FY 2007 budget to keep Shuttle and ISS going is actually just part of Michael Griffin's Machiavellian strategy to get both of the cancelled, by making it clear that they can be saved now only at the cost of a swarm of other projects (including Bush's lunar program) which are now more popular. Certainly that is the overwhelming message being conveyed, whether Griffin planned it that way or not -- I haven't seen a single newspaper editorial yet that favors retaining Shuttle at this point.

(Bell also claims to see other, subtler evidence of this strategy in Griffin's moves over the last few weeks -- and also signs that he definitely plans to throw ISS from the train as well, by just giving it to the Russians half-finished in a few years and paying off the ESA and Japan for their unlaunched space lab modules. These include the fact that he's cancelled work on the unmanned cargo variant of the Crew Exploration Vehicle that will be necessary to take up replacement Control Moment Gyros to the ISS after the Shuttle is no longer available.)


Bruce,

I am not a hardline opponent to human spaceflight like you, but in the case of the shuttle I must agree that it was a mistake since the beginning (nobody was to blame at that time, we simply did not knew the incredible cost) and that stubbornly clinging to the ISS/shuttle program now can be done only at the cost of any rational space program.

NASA will sooner or later have to develop another way to go in space. This will have a cost, and delaying this step can only increase this cost and further delay all the useful activities. Clearly, maintaining the shuttle program is delaying any other activity, and to this delay we have to add the time to develop another transportation mean.

In Europe we had a hot debate about doing or not the Hermes shuttle. After years of political struggle, the decision was made to do it, with an overal agreement on a budget that everybody was already considering very high, a considerable effort. So industrials began the development of Hermes, but only some month after they came with a bill 50% more than expected. So the decision was taken not to pursue further, and to abandon Hermes. A sad decision certainly, especially for advocates of human spaceflight. But a wise decision, everybody agreed.

So, today, whatever the future plans, the wisest for the NASA, and by far the less expensive, would be to abandon the shuttle right now. Certainly a sad decision, but a necessary one.
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djellison
post Feb 21 2006, 08:17 AM
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One of Maggie Thatchers few highlights - not involving the UK in Hermes and infact, despite there being a Union Jack in the ISS, as I understand it, we're not involved in Columbus either. We don't spend much on space here, far far far too little, but what we do spend, at least wasnt poured down that particular black hole...

HOWEVER...

I still maintain that the US HAS to complete it's obligation to international partners with ISS. Bush called for international cooperation in the VSE, and he's simply not going to get that if they scew over Japan and Europe with ISS. NASA can do that however it wants - using STS or something else - but it HAS to do it. ITAR makes international cooperation harder now than ever before ( ask the Canadians working on PHX ) - so the US, if it is serious in wanting future involvement with other agencies, HAS to do what it signed up to many many years ago. Reading the excellent 'Titans of Saturn', I'm more convinced of that than ever,

I take little notice of what Bell says, he has an agenda in everything he says and interprets everything to support his agenda, it's hard to take him seriously as a result. He occasionally flags up a good point, but rarely more than that, his article reads more like a forum ranting than a piece of journalism.

The early Atlantis retirement makes a lot of sense, and shows to me that Griffin really does want to get rid of STS as quickly as is reasonably possible.

The scrapping of plans for a cargo CEV shows, perhaps, that he's prepared to take commercial options for shifting smaller loads into orbit (Delta 4, Atlas 5 etc ). An alternate interpretation of that particular piece of evidence.

Doug
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Feb 21 2006, 09:24 AM
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"I still maintain that the US HAS to complete it's obligation to international partners with ISS. Bush called for international cooperation in the VSE, and he's simply not going to get that if they scew over Japan and Europe with ISS. NASA can do that however it wants - using STS or something else - but it HAS to do it. ITAR makes international cooperation harder now than ever before ( ask the Canadians working on PHX ) - so the US, if it is serious in wanting future involvement with other agencies, HAS to do what it signed up to many many years ago."

That depends, I think, on whether NASA is willing to cover the costs that the ESA and Japan ran up building their lab modules -- which Bell thinks it can easily do with a small fraction of the money it will save by cancelling Shuttle/ISS. If it does, then -- given the Gordian-knot mess which the entire ISS project has degenerated into -- I think ESA and Japan will be a lot more willing to forgive us for jumping ship on this one. (They would certainly have taken America's cancellation of its half of Ulysses better in 1981 if we'd covered their costs for THAT one -- they lost half of their own planned experiments!)

QUOTE (djellison @ Feb 21 2006, 08:17 AM) *
The scrapping of plans for a cargo CEV shows, perhaps, that he's prepared to take commercial options for shifting smaller loads into orbit (Delta 4, Atlas 5 etc ). An alternate interpretation of that particular piece of evidence.

Doug


Bell says -- and I haven't double-checked this yet -- that there is no other cargo-carrier satellite big enough to carry replacement CMGs.

He has told me in an E-mail tonight, though, that he doesn't regard the scrapping of Atlantis as corroborative evidence that Griffin is planning to zap Shuttle/ISS:

"No real news here. Space Cadet chat groups had figured this out long ago. Clearly there is no point in starting a 2-yr overhaul of Atlantis in 2008 when the system is closing down in 2010.

"And stripping an Orbiter for parts isn't new either -- parts are constantly swapped between the Orbiters. This isn't a pointer to an early Shuttle termination."
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djellison
post Feb 21 2006, 09:47 AM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Feb 21 2006, 09:24 AM) *
Bell says -- and I haven't double-checked this yet -- that there is no other cargo-carrier satellite big enough to carry replacement CMGs.


They are 281kg. I assume by 'big enough' he means dimensions, not lifting capacity. And even so, it's not a dimensions issue - it's simply that the russian docking ports are smaller than a CMG. There is no external cargo stowage capacity on LV's - that's the problem.

What we don't have is a US unmanned ISS vehicle. There is an ESA one in the works, and a Russian one that's is very very relaible. There is no doubt that a means could be found to carry many CMG's to ISS using one of those vehicles. Similarly, it would not be the work of billions of dollars to build a simple unmanned bus that operates like progress, to have externally stowed cargo to launch via a EELV. It really isnt a big technical challenge.

What Bell is saying is that they are going to intentionally launch the next shuttle knowing that it will shed foam and thus he is alledging that NASA is knowingly and intentionally endangering the lives of astronauts. It's not just idiotic, it's sick. He's sensationalising in the extreme to draw attention to himself, that's all.


Doug
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edstrick
post Feb 21 2006, 11:15 AM
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One big lesson of the post-Columbia "test" flight and post-flight research was confirmation that there are two essentially different foam loss mechanisms. <There could be more but there's 2 main ones>

There is a *LOT* of "popcorning"... small foam bits shed semi-randomly from the tank at high altitude in near vaccuum. They could see it on the radar with the new high-sensativity instrumentation. This stuff's simply no problem. There's not enough air to sweep it past the shuttle with enough speed that impacts have the force to do damage.

The other foam loss, cryo-pumping, apparently with chill-formed liquid air trapped in small cracks and voids in the foam, then heated during ascent and blowing foam chunks off, is the biggie, and they had 2 remaining sources of foam loss last flight. Identified. Fixed. There may be others, I suspect there will be, but we've probably gotten the biggies.

Bell has good points, but too much of it is a pure rant. Hard to sort the foaming bits from the stuff that makes sense.
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Guest_Richard Trigaux_*
post Feb 21 2006, 03:15 PM
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Without entering into the "gordian-knot mess", I would say that the cost of today situation is the result of decisions which were taken 10 to 20 years ago. Lack of prevision, stubbornely ignoring warnings, refusing to come back once engaged into a dead way... The bill increases as a power of passing time.

There is a constant trend for politicians to make bear the costs of their decisions by the future generations. But now WE are their future generation...

As I said further, the cancellation of the Hermes shuttle project by Europe was certainly a sad decision, but at least we are getting out of this at NO COST and with all our freedom.
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Guest_PhilCo126_*
post Feb 21 2006, 03:58 PM
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As we already mentioned in the 2nd BIS book on the International Space Station, a down-sized ISS will do fine, just get the major components up there and scrap the STS shuttle program ( NASA might not survive another shuttle disaster ! )...
It looks NASA is going in the right direction ... turning attention to the new crew vehicles and launchers...
On to Mars !
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MahFL
post Feb 21 2006, 05:23 PM
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Its going to take much much longer than anyone thinks to land a human on Mars, my guess not before 2050.
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Guest_Richard Trigaux_*
post Feb 21 2006, 05:34 PM
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When I think back twenty years ago, when the shuttle program was starting, all the hope we invested in it: cheap, easy, safe access to space, going in orbit as easily as we go in holidays, send up there tourists, scientists, artists, space stations, large science facilities, factories... and where we are now...
NASA is not the culprit: all the other shuttle programs were canceled, and space remains expensive, dangerous and difficult. There will perhaps not be a PRACTICAL space station and flight to Mars before several decades, and, unless something really new is discovered, there will never be easy cheap access to space.

In facts the idea of the space shuttle came not from scientists and not from engineers, it came from science fiction. And we all tried to realize a scifi dream. Sometimes it is a good idea. Sometimes not. Let us search for something else for an easy access to space. Starting with what we know to do. Large aircraft or huge baloon at high altitude, perhaps? Would a very large aircraft such an A380 be able to hauld a rocket stage at high altitude? Certainly yes, but how large? For small satellites perhaps.
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dilo
post Feb 21 2006, 09:33 PM
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QUOTE (Richard Trigaux @ Feb 21 2006, 06:34 PM) *
...In facts the idea of the space shuttle came not from scientists and not from engineers, it came from science fiction. And we all tried to realize a scifi dream. Sometimes it is a good idea. Sometimes not....

Agree, Richard. And I'm worried by this fact, because I'm convinced that also the new USA exploration program is something like this. Recently, I hear "expert" saying it will be easier (and cheaper) to launch satellites and spacecrafts from the moon, and make astronomical observations from it's "dark side". But a scientist, or even a space enthusiast, undertsands that this is not true: a base on the moon will be very hard to make and will cost a lot, making very difficult to pay back construction expenses (ISS should teach us something!); and best place to observe universe is far from any celestial body!
And yes, I share with MahFL the impression that we will not see a man on Mars in our lifespan. sad.gif But we have MER images! biggrin.gif


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Bob Shaw
post Feb 21 2006, 10:32 PM
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QUOTE (Richard Trigaux @ Feb 21 2006, 05:34 PM) *
In facts the idea of the space shuttle came not from scientists and not from engineers, it came from science fiction.


Richard:

No, I don't really think so!

The 'spaceplane' concept came largely from German engineer Dr. Eugen Sšnger who researched many rocketry technologies, such as regeneratively cooled liquid-fueled engines. After WWII, Bell Aircraft Corporation undertook the BOMI and ROBO studies of round the world spaceplanes, which appeared to offer many advantages of artillery-derived rockets. From these seeds came a whole range of spaceplane projects, and science fiction merely reiterated the concepts - remember that Arthur C Clarke was active in the BIS before he wrote fiction!

http://www.luft46.com/misc/sanger.html

Bob Shaw


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Remember: Time Flies like the wind - but Fruit Flies like bananas!
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Feb 22 2006, 01:19 AM
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While I will agree that it's insane (even given NASA's past actions) to say that Griffin would DELIBERATELY pass up an opportunity to minimize the dangers of more falling Shuttle foam before the next launch, there's another possibility: we may very well have no choice but to do so if we want to keep the ISS going at all.

The best weblog page on the ISS ( http://www.geocities.com/i_s_s_alpha ) says flatly that the only possible carrier right now for the Control Moment Gyros, except for the Shuttle, is Japan's HEV cargo carrier -- which won't be ready until 2009. (Europe's cargo carrier module can't do it.) NASA released a solicitation for "Commercial Orbital Transportation Services" carriers that might be able to do the job in October, with the proposals due this May -- so how long will it be before one of those can possibly fly? Surely 2008 at the absolute earliest.

And the CMGs have proven very fragile. Quoting last Sept. 5's Aviation Week: "The CMGs are too large to fit through the Progress vehicle hatch, so the Shuttle is the only option for replacing them. The combination of their ability to save propellant and their apparent fragility makes CMGs the long pole in the tent for continued Station viability without Shuttle support.

" 'If we went down to one CMG we couldn't last very long, says Mark Ferring, lead ISS flight director during the EVAs [on last year's Shuttle flight]. That's the thing that we had to get done.'

"NASA is already looking for smaller, lighter gyros to use on the Station after it retires the Shuttle. But for now, the only option available to the Station program is getting the most use out of the current model. Controllers were surprised when CMG-1 failed -- the victim of a bearing failure that gave only a few hours' of warning -- and they still don't have a full understanding of the breakdown. As soon as the spacewalkers restored power to CMG-2, ISS controllers took CMG-3 offline for attitude control because it was showing unusual vibrations and current pulls, although they let it continue to spin. Engineers at NASA and L-3 Communications, which supplied the CMGs, were eager to get a look at the original CMG-1 in the hope it would hold clues to the cause of its bearing failure. Noguchi and Robinson carefully bolted it into the aft end of Discovery's payload bay for the trip home.

" 'Bringing one back is actually one of the biggest priority things that we have on this flight, not just installing a new one, but getting the one that's failed on the ground so we can do analysis on it', Ferring says."

So. If they get down to only two working CMGs on the ISS again and they don't have a flying Shuttle before 2008, they are up Excrement Waterway -- they will have no way to prevent the sudden reduction of the ISS at any moment to only one CMG, after which it "can't last very long". For this reason alone, NASA may very well have to fly Shuttles again as soon as possible even if they don't -- or can't -- solve the foam problem. Unless, that is, they're prepared to dump the ISS at any moment.

As for Griffin's Jan. 19 interview with the Orlando Sentinel that Bell mentions ( http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_spac...griffin_af.html ), he makes it pretty clear that --while he hopes they've solved the problem of big pieces of foam falling off -- he is by no means confident of it:

"Orlando Sentinel: What is the likelihood of making May?

"Griffin: We donít know. I think youíve been covering this long enough to understand that in order to even find out, you have to set a date and then you have to start working toward that date. We know what our processing flow is. Weíre not going to make it up on the fly and the process flow either makes May or it doesnít. But on the other hand, if we donít set a date and try for it, we know we wonít make one. So thatís the plan. In brief summary to the question, yes, we think we understand the mechanism. Yes, we have mitigation based on that understanding of the mechanism. And we think weíll get back to flying in late spring or early summer. We believe things will go well after that and weíll be on our way to completing the [international space] station.

"Orlando Sentinel: What happens if on the next mission, STS-121, things donít go well and you see big pieces of foam come off the tank again that are in excess of your design restrictions?

"Griffin: I canít get into that kind of speculation. Obviously, it would be a major hiccup and we would have to deal with it.

"Orlando Sentinel: Could the program survive that politically?

"Griffin: I just donít even know. Iím not going to speculate. I just canít. There are too many branch paths. Right now, we are devoting our resources to flying and flying well. Thatís how you have to think."

In a situation like that, if YOU were Griffin, wouldn't YOU be eager to get rid of this whole thing at the slightest opportunity? It's not only a white elephant; it's a dangerous rogue white elephant. Griffin, contrary to Bell, surely isn't deliberately making the next Shuttle flight more dangerous than it needs to be -- but it is unavoidably extremely dangerous; he knows it; and I think at the slightest indication that the foam problem hasn't been completely solved he will seize the opportunity to say it's time to kill Shuttle-ISS completely.
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gpurcell
post Feb 22 2006, 07:01 AM
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Look, the simplest explanation for the official announcement for retiring Atlantis NOW is that it significantly degrades the option of trying to continue flying the shuttles post-2010. Griffin wants two solutions:

1) Develop CEV
2) Stop manned spaceflight

without option

3) Keep the shuttles staggering along until the next disaster.

The problem with option three is that it is, year-on-year, cheaper then option one...but it does, however, inevitably lead to option 2!
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Guest_Richard Trigaux_*
post Feb 22 2006, 07:47 AM
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QUOTE (gpurcell @ Feb 22 2006, 08:01 AM) *
Look, the simplest explanation for the official announcement for retiring Atlantis NOW is that it significantly degrades the option of trying to continue flying the shuttles post-2010. Griffin wants two solutions:

1) Develop CEV
2) Stop manned spaceflight

without option

3) Keep the shuttles staggering along until the next disaster.

The problem with option three is that it is, year-on-year, cheaper then option one...but it does, however, inevitably lead to option 2!



Yes this is the problem: they think "what is the cost this year " or "what is the cost during the time I am the responsible" and not "what is the overal cost of the program, spin-off and inconveniences included".


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