The space shuttle Endeavour and its seven-member crew landed safely at NASA's Kennedy Space Center late Wednesday evening, ending the 16-day mission to the International Space Station. The shuttle touched down 8:39 PM US Eastern time (12:39 AM GMT) in an unusual nighttime landing after postponing its first opportunity to de- …
Greatest Living Spacecraft
I applaud the returning crew of Endeavour for a splendid job all around. It is remarkable that mankind has actually built the capability to launch things of that size, with payloads that big. And attach them to growing structures already in orbit. Work for almost a fortnight, and then land with more crew than originally lifted off. The Space Transportation System may not be everything we wanted when the first test article was named Enterprise, but the shuttle is by far the most capable and effective spacecraft yet developed. It is a very big shame that NASA and the US congress have decide to trash all that capability and go back to 'throwing rocks' like everybody else. No disrespect to all the other manned space systems out there, but a ballistic boost and ballistic reentry doesn't have nearly the flash and appeal that the winged orbiter brings to spaceflight.
Thumbs up for the job well done, thumbs down for the future plans with Aries.
Capable and effective? Yes.
For duties up to a certain distance out.
Efficient? Not really. If you measure efficiency in $/ton payload lofted. And since money is the only metric Governments understand...
Shuttle needs to go away
The winged orbiter may be sexy, but it doesn't really work very well for what you want it to do. Think about it: on every launch you lift fifty tons of delta winged space bomber into orbit, and you bring it right back again. Why would you do that? Just launch the bits that need to stay up there separately, and stick the people in a minimum spacecraft capsule type thingy (X-33 would have been awesome, for example).
Poor old Shuttle, all stretched out of shape by its conflicting design demands, ever-shrinking design, horrible reliability problems, retrofitted safety systems (two separate redesigns and still huge windows of the launch where survival is impossible in any kind of major failure) and antique electrical system. It could have been rather beautiful as originally envisaged, but it turns out, things just can't work out that way. There's a reason the Russians only flew Buran once. It's because they hadn't killed off the Soyuz programme ahead of Buran becoming available.
@ Jack Sprague / Greatest Living Spacecraft
While it has a certain sex appeal lifting wings and wheels into space, orbit for two weeks and then finally use them for a few minutes gliding and landing seems like a waste to me. It has also proved to be a very dangerous way to do it.
A return to simplicity will free more money for useful science and perhaps sending humans beyond LEO again.
Mine is the white pressure suit with the lunar boots option.
So you take off with Garrett Reisman leave him at the ISS, and you bring Léopold Eyharts back from the ISS to earth, and somehow you have concluded that it landed with more Crew?
This will no doubt be the same maths that says its worth lofting Wings & Wheels into space so that 0.001% of the mission will look cool! Never has any craft been so daft.
"and go back to 'throwing rocks' like everybody else." theres a reason why everybody else stayed this way, when you need to break windows rocks are just fine. Now lets get back to stick driven computers.. (tablet & stylus anyone!)...
Although post SS will be cheaper
The replacement can't bring things back, the final Shuttle mission is supposed to be to collect Hubble and return it home, couldn't do that with Ares.
My biggest concern is that the ISS is scheduled for decommission around 2016 - 2018, given that it won't be completed until 2010 that's a short shelf life for a $200Bn project that serves an ambiguous purpose.
Sky is falling in 2018
Who will catch the space station when it falls? Or will we have to shoot it down also?
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