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The engine canna take any more, captain!
June 25, 2002 10:48 AM   Subscribe

The engine canna take any more, captain! So, we're going to ground the fleet. I guess our friends in the space station are just going to have to wait until NASA is done checking under the hood.
posted by dwivian (6 comments total)

 
What I find more worrying is that newest shuttle in the fleet is eleven years old. Says a lot about the state of NASA.
posted by riffola at 11:23 AM on June 25, 2002


It's never good to combine crack with space flight. Say no to crack.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:40 AM on June 25, 2002


riffola: exactly what is wrong with that?

If a Space Shuttle's intended lifespan is that many years or some number of flights, and it has only served 50 or 70%, how is this worrying?
posted by azazello at 3:10 PM on June 25, 2002


riffola, the expected "lifetime" for each shuttle is approximately 100 flights. At the current rate, if no successor vehicles are developed, the fleet could easily be flying well into the 22nd century; none of them has flown more than 30 times, and recently there have been roughly just 6 flights a year, most of them ISS-related.

As for the astronauts on board the station, they do have a way home -- the Soyuz craft TM-34 was delivered in April, on the flight which carried South African millionaire Mark Shuttleworth. The crew flew down the Soyuz TM-33 craft which had been the previous lifeboat (they have a roughly six-month lifespan on-orbit). Because of this guaranteed return capability, there can at this time never be more than three permanent crew members.

A project to build a 6 or 7 person lifeboat -- the Crew Return Vehicle -- is on hold due to budgetary issues, as well as a permanent Crew Habitat Module.

In any case, the new station crew just arrived; the next shuttle wasn't going to take them home, or even visit the station at all. STS-107 (not STS-111, mistakenly linked on that Yahoo page) carries the SPACEHAB science laboratory in the back. Columbia, the oldest shuttle (it was STS-1), is also the heaviest because the superstructure, especially in the delta wing, was buiilt stronger than needed. This makes it incapable of flying to the roughly 212-mile orbital altitude of the space station.
posted by dhartung at 4:51 PM on June 25, 2002


I dunno, I was thinking in terms of commercial planes. Well actually even those have a long lifespan. I guess the fact that there hasn't been a new shuttle in the past ten years was slightly surprising.
posted by riffola at 6:56 PM on June 25, 2002


Columbia, the oldest shuttle (it was STS-1), is also the heaviest because the superstructure, especially in the delta wing, was buiilt stronger than needed. This makes it incapable of flying to the roughly 212-mile orbital altitude of the space station.

Fascinating, I did not know that. Thanks for the education! :)
posted by rushmc at 7:46 PM on June 25, 2002


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