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Christopher Low

Shuttle launch scrubbed for today

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For those who haven't seen the news or read it online, the shuttle launch was scrubbed due to a faulty fuel reading. Looks like next week is the earliest for a retry.-JohnEdit--after my posting, the launch date was changed to Sat.

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Has there ever been a launch that hasn't been delayed? :-hmmmWhat was with those guys when they cancelled Venturestar and X-33?

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I can't recall any launch that went up on time--I'm sure there were such launches, but the delays are all I remember. Lord knows why the X-33 and Venturestar were cancelled--but I suspect some program will take their place. It just might not be a program out of the U.S.--we'll be caught napping while some other country or private enterprise gets the new technology off the ground.-John

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The SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) programs were canceled because of problems with composite hydrogen tank leakage. The small hydrogen molucules were seeping right through the composite materials in the tank walls. There didn't seem to be much prospect of resolving the problems without resorting to a significantly heavier lined tank or a metal tank which would have been too heavy for SSTO operations.In addition, the Delta Clipper prototype fell over when one of it's landing gear didn't lock in the extended position. The unmanned vehicle was destroyed in the resulting explosion.

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Well, they had better get a replacement real quick, because the Shuttle is old technology, and it is also hideously expensive.Chris Low.

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The replacement tank for the X-33 (lightweight alloy, as light and strong as the composite tank but not leaking) was already under fabrication when the project was cancelled.New composites that don't leak were under development and would have been easily retrofitted if they'd not been ready before Venturestar would have entered service.The official reason was budget overruns, yet these were minimal (especially compared to other NASA projects).Delta Clipper was a different and very promising vehicle, cancelled after only a single accident at the very end of a highly successful test series.Both cancellations seem to me to have been for mostly or purely political reasons, not for any technical or financial reason at all.I wonder who's state got the funding that was freed by cancelling them and what they did with it.

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Yes, your thinking is similar to mine, Jeroen. The X-33 project was cancelled far too quickly for my liking. One little problem, and they decide to give up ?That just doesn't make sense.Chris Low.

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especially with the craft being complete except for that fueltank (which was under construction), the launch facility over 90% complete (in fact the president had already dedicated it), and mission planning well underway.

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To be honest, I was totally astonished when the news came through that the X-33 had been cancelled. I suspected right away that it had less to do with technical problems, and far more to do with (like you say) political agendas....or even an opportunity to use the funding for something in the black world.I just find it highly suspicious that there is no replacement for the current Shuttle that is anywhere near the construction phase of development. It just doesn't make any sense. Let's face it, the Shuttle programme will be dead and buried if they suffer another major catastrophe. So what would that mean for US manned space flight ? A decade in the doldrums while they scrabble around, desperately looking for a solution ? Begging letters to the Russian government every time that they want to send a few guys to ISS ? What's the point of a one hundred billion dollar space station if you don't have the capability to get anyone there ?Surely they have a backup plan ?Chris Low.

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The Clinton administration was more or less determined to kill the manned space program completely, possibly kill space exploration altogether.As a result they reduced the NASA budget to the lowest levels ever.High profile programs like Venturestar (which btw would have been supplied to NASA at cost by the manufacturers in return for technology transfer and launch slots for a private fleet) of course had to go, with the funding being shifted to low profile programs.These were then selected to benefit the states of Clinton supporters in congress in order to make those people look good in the upcoming elections.Bush for his first term faced an economy left in tatters by 8 years of neglect under Clinton so could do little about it.Now that things are starting to look up the CEV is being actively developed as a launch vehicle, not just an escape pod.Of course it will need expensive single use rockets like Atlas or Delta to launch it into orbit but it'll at least give NASA the capability to launch crews to the ISS.Nothing else is on the horizon, with the shuttle slated for retirement in 2007.Of course the shuttle has a remarkable service record if you consider it was scheduled to be an interim solution until a true SSTO (or possibly a two stage completely reusable vehicle) would become available in the late 1980s yet it's soldiered on for almost 20 years beyond that.The shuttles now flying are 25-30 years old, well past the age most commercial airliners are retired from active service with western airlines. That despite the far more stressful operational profile for the system.

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Of the remaining shuttles, Discovery is the oldest and it will be 21 on August 30th this year. Atlantis will be 20 in October and Endeavor is only 13 years old. The current average fleet age is 18 years. Far from the 25-30 years you're quoting.Just thought I'd throw some facts into the discussion here ;)Cheers,JohnBoeing 727/737 & Lockheed C-130/L-100 Mechanichttp://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/ng_driver.jpg

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Endeavor was built to replace Challenger, her age pulls down the average rather sharply.Still it's an old fleet, used way beyond the planned retirement age.As with aircraft maintenance needs increase and so does the chance of catastrophic failure when put under high pressure (which they are every time they launch or reenter).The decision to cancel all development of the two leading and very promising contenders to replace her was the worst possible that could have been taken for the US space program.It meant the effective end for manned launches in the near future, the end for any chance to see launch cost reduced to economically viable levels, and with that effectively delays the exploration and exploitation of space by at least decades.The latter especially is an almost criminal result, as space colonisation is a requirement for the human race to survive in the long term.It's been hinted that launch cost is deliberately kept high by governments in order to limit the access to space to themselves.While I'm not that sarcastic (however...) the people that claim so do have a point because that's the effective result (some commsats excluded).

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>The latter especially is an almost criminal result, as space>colonisation is a requirement for the human race to survive in>the long term.Hmmm ... even if this is true we are talking thousands of years to develop technology that would enable human race to reach places suitable for colonization (our 'used up' Earth will remain superior to Mars or anything in the Solar system for hundreds/thousands of years). Frankly whether space shuttle/or its substitute is funded or not is just a blimp, an insignificant event in the large scheme of things.Michael J.WinXP-Home SP2,AMD64 3500+,Abit AV8,Radeon X800Pro,36GB Raptor,1GB PC3200,Audigy 2http://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/747400.jpghttp://www.hifisim.com/images/asv_beta_member.jpg

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>Frankly whether space shuttle/or its substitute is funded or not is just a blimp, an insignificant event in the large scheme of things.http://www.hifisim.com/images/as2betateam.jpg

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Yes, but surely you can see Jeroen's point ? What is NASA going to do when the current shuttle fleet is retired (and let's face it, they will now be used for nothing more than the remaining construction work for ISS; the loss of Columbia effectively cut off any other alternative, since that was the only shuttle that had been modified as a space laboratory) ? It is staggering to think that the X-33 (which, in my opinion, COULD have been completed and used as an effective replacement for the current shuttles), was abandoned when so much work had been done. Cancelling the entire project because of ONE major problem (a problem that Jeroen has indicated was well on the way to being solved) showed a remarkable lack of faith in the future of US manned spaceflight.All this talk of putting men on Mars within 30 years is frankly laughable in the light of such a dilemma.Chris Low.

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-------------------------------------------------------All this talk of putting men on Mars within 30 years is frankly laughable-------------------------------------------------------I agree. I will be shocked if we see another Moon (let alone Mars) mission in our lifetime.

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2 things: 1) the situation shows a total disinterest for human space exploration. If that continues soon we'll have abandoned space making it impossible to get up there at all when the need arises.2) we may have a long time but things move excruciatingly slowly. Effectively now that the shuttle is nearing retirement we're back in technology to where we were before Apollo.We've lost the technology to go to the moon, we'll soon have lost our capability to launch any humans at all except in Soviet capsules designed in the early 1960s.Had we continued on from Apollo we'd have had those space settlements by now, with potentially hundreds of thousands of people living in space permanently and working there.No more population pressure or depletion of natural resources.At the current rate we're never going to get there. Instead we'll end up waiting until it's too late to do anything and then end up being destroyed with our planet (or having the planet run out of the means to set up a viable space colonisation effort and us dieing out due to lack of natural resources).Maybe slightly sarcastic but my view of democracies and longterm projects is as follows:Any project that takes more than 4 years to show results a politician can use as a campaign item does not get funded

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>Yes, but surely you can see Jeroen's point ? Nope I can't. His point connecting the Space Shuttle (or its follow-up) with survival of human race and colonization of other celestial objects I found totally ludicrous. If it was meant to be a joke - I apologize for not catching it.>It is staggering to think that the X-33 (which, in my opinion,>COULD have been completed and used as an effective replacement>for the current shuttles), I am glad you say YOUR opinion. Other more qualifiied people disagreed about long term prognosis for X-33 or whether it could have been fixed. I am no expert on the subject. Frankly when my personal tax $$ are concerned I will glady pay for robotic missions like Cassini, Opportunity or the recent comet mission - they excite me, I see presence of humans in space at the moment as total waste of money specially when hundereds of billions are involved.>All this talk of putting men on Mars within 30 years is>frankly laughable in the light of such a dilemma.It is. Lets wait for breakthrough in racket technology before sending people to Mars when we can get there easily and in style, using right tools for the job is the key. On the other hand I was great supporter of the Apollo program - because technology matched the target.Michael J.WinXP-Home SP2,AMD64 3500+,Abit AV8,Radeon X800Pro,36GB Raptor,1GB PC3200,Audigy 2http://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/747400.jpghttp://www.hifisim.com/images/asv_beta_member.jpg

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Why not just ditch the ISS, it's pretty useless and appears to exist just to keep the Shuttle going. Scientifically it is of very little value, especially when you start to consider what could be achieved with the same money in earth based science. With the space race gone there is no longer any need to send people into space, and the russian launches are a lot cheaper anyway.btw, all the interesting facts we have learned about space lately comes from unmanned expeditions.-

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I agree 100%. I see little justification for ISS. It is a large piece of (rather expensive) hardware for the sake of this hardware. I know it performed some 'political' function in keeping some former Soviet scientists and engineer employed and giving some other minor nations fuzzy warm feeling of doing something in space. We should end this pretense and start funding more interplanetary unmanned missions where the bulk of our space science come from and where my (& your) tax dollar is better utilized.Michael J.

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ISS is a vital stepping stone towards space colonisation and the initiation of deep space manned exploration and exploitation.It's a vital link for the longterm survival of the human race, without it we would loose the ability to reach space and eventually perish on this dirtball.The old argument "all science has been done, everything has been discovered" has been proven wrong time and again.Anyway, the money invested in it (which isn't much overall) would just be wasted on "social" programs (iow, make-work programs for politicians) otherwise.The only reason the blockbuster announcements you see in the news sometimes are from unmanned missions is that there are so darn few manned missions going up.ISS is doing valuable research but nothing that makes a nice 20 second sound bite on the evening news and therefore it's not reported.TV airheads aren't interested in molecular film research, microgravity crystal growth, etc. etc. These are showing incredible promise in places like medical applications, allowing the production of far more effective medicines at low prices (if we only get the launchcost down which would happen instantly if we had people living in space permanently and mining it for raw materials) which could cure many diseases.If we can mine the asteroids (or even the moon, though that's another dirtball which may prove uneconomical in the long term) we could stop mining for minerals on earth, instead sending down everything we need (including loads and loads of clean hydrogen fuel and oxygen).Manned permanent settlements in space are also vital for maintenance and construction (at least oversight) of solar power stations in orbit (or elsewhere in the system) which can provide (almost) free, completely clean, and all but limitless energy (thus doing away with the need to build any kind of powerstations on earth, greatly reducing polution).Still think we should cower down here, eating up natural resources at an ever increasing rate, breeding like rats until we're so densely packed there's no more place to grow food and we all starve?

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>Nope I can't. His point connecting the Space Shuttle (or its follow-up) with survival >of human race and colonization of other celestial objects I found totally ludicrous. If it >was meant to be a joke - I >apologize for not catching it.Well, I was referring to the part about there being no replacement for the shuttle on the (visible) drawing board. Any number of secret agencies could be designing God knows what behind the American public's backs.>Frankly when my personal tax $$ are concerned I will glady pay for robotic missions >like Cassini, Opportunity or the recent comet mission - they excite me, I see presence >of humans in space at the moment as total waste of money specially when hundreds >of billions are involved.I completely agree. I love seeing all of the information and pictures sent back by probes like Cassini and Galileo, and it is certainly more interesting than the rather predictable (and boring) stuff that is associated with virtually every shuttle mission. However, I am pretty sure that NASA would like to see manned space exploration continue, and that is why I am so puzzled that a replacement is nowhere to be seen.Chris Low.

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