U.S. Shuttle Program Lost in Space

Lost in Space
Lost in Space
By Gene J. Koprowski

When America’s space program ends in September, the U.S. will be completely dependent on Russian rockets for transport into space. But what will happen to American astronauts if U.S.-Russian relations sour?
When America’s space shuttle program ends in September, the U.S. will be completely dependent on Russian rockets for launching men and women into space – and bringing them back. But what will happen to America’s astronauts if relations between the U.S. and Russia sour?

Until American companies come to market with commercial rockets and to replace the shuttle, the only nation ever to put a man on the Moon won’t even be able to put a man into orbit. And that, experts tell FoxNews.com, has the potential to be a “tragic mistake,” one that could hold America’s astronauts in orbit hostage to the whims of the Kremlin.

“The U.S. has surrendered its advantage in space, conceding the high ground to others who are probably our enemies,” said Jane Orient, a science policy expert and professor at the University of Arizona. “We are apparently leaving seven astronauts in space as hostages. Their loss would be a tragedy, but only a small part of the total disaster. It would symbolize the lack of respect that America has for its pioneers.”
Former rocket scientist Shannah B. Godfrey is equally outspoken in her criticism and concerns, noting the need for constant training and condition to remain prepared for a crisis in space…

I remember years ago I read Michael Collins book “Carry The Fire; An Astronaut’s Journeys” he said back then that NASA is making a huge mistake by putting all of it’s eggs in the Shuttle basket!

Maybe they should have listened to him.

All I can do is weep:bighanky:
Be extremely angry:banghead:

And pray:signofcross:

I know a man who is getting ready to go on one of the Orion flights. We have his bags packed for the trip to the lunar base. I was to wait at home with the tea kettle and the soup ready for his return. Now, all I can do is cry for our lost dreams…

This is SO sad. I loved watching the shuttle blast off. What a shame.

It’s not the ending of the Shuttle program that irritates me, although I love the beast.

It’s the sudden cancellation of Project Constellation, with absolutely no replacement of it with *any *program.

So now, to use the several billion dollars of space station that we own, we will have to “bum rides” from the Soyuz program until–or if--our private space program learns how to get to low Earth orbit as NASA has already learned to do for the last 50 years. It’s not “Back to the Future” but “Forward to the Past.”

So what happens if a political event happens that re-freezes our current amiable relations with Russia?

That’s a serious waste of dollars, especially considering that NASA uses a very small amount of the Federal budget. Congress has easily wasted tens of times more money than NASA spends in a year.

Such terrible decisions are yet another stake in the heart of the current Congress and presidential administration for me.

What should be done is to fund one Shuttle, with a second orbiter as backup, for two trips per year or as needed until private industry comes along. Nothing else makes sense if we are to maintain any presence, much less leadership in space.

More fear mongering. Nothing is set in stone. The Russians need the money. Besides, we could always license technology from them. The shuttle is expensive and it’s more cost effective to get payloads into orbit using existing rockets.

But, private companies like Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites and this company:


Will help take up the slack.

God bless,

Choose Jesus.

I agree. We’ve known, for more than a decade, that the 2010 end to the shuttle program would leave a multi-year gap in our space delivery abilities. Nothing was done to close the gap because supposed risk was minimal and the cost to expedite a replacement was cost prohibitive.

This gap is not the result of Obama’s priorities, but the priorities of the previous two presidents, and of Congress during that period.

I agree. For more than a decade the US has known that the retirement of the space shuttle program would leave a multi-year gap in space delivery ability. But the cost of expediting the replacement program has repeatedly been deemed prohibitive. If you have a complaint about this, the fault is with the previous two presidents and the Congress which has controlled the budget during this period.

Scaled Composites is building only suborbital vehicles. Not at all suitable for accessing the ISS.

SpaceX is doing some impressive (and importantly, well funded) work, but the current work is geared toward orbiting satellites and cargo, not manned spacecraft. SpaceX has manned spaceflight in it’s future plans (Dragon), but that still leaves a significant gap in U.S. manned spaceflight between the shuttle retirement and any replacement, whether it be a SpaceX dragon launched on a man rated Falcon 9 or some other vehicle launched on a man rated Delta or Atlas. Such as gap has existed before, between the last Apollo flight in 1973 (Apollo / Soyuz) and the first shuttle flight in 1981, but there was no manned space station at the time. Relying on the Russians for all access to the ISS does have risks.

Agreed. The gap of flights post-Apollo affected only one pipe dream: Saving or mitigating risks from the re-entry of Skylab. Now that we have a working presence in space, the situation is more significant. Further, there’s no goal or timeline set for when we will return. Current private space flight capability is 1961-era, and that’s it. There’s no reason not to keep two orbiters available for contingencies that a Soyuz cannot do easily. The ISS now has a six-man occupation. What happens if a crisis occurs where one of the Soyuz spacecraft docked cannot be used for emergency return?

That’s dire, of course, but “fear-mongering” has little to do with it. It’s ability and practicality. President Bush at least authorized a replacement for STS.

More baloney.

The US Air Force, part of the Who Cares What It Costs, military, has built its own shuttle. Can’t have those top-secret military cargoes sittin’ on the ground waitin’ for NASA ta do somthin’


Scaled Composites is ready to launch payloads into orbit.

God bless,

Choose Jesus.

Like, for example, if an adoptive mother were to send her adopted son back to Moscow alone?

I am disappointed. I thought your link might go to an article which we could read, not just an ad on Amazon.com for buying a copy of Popular Mechanics. And since when are they the end all and the be all? Before the Second World War, they were telling all of us that we would have flying cars in each driveway by 1950 or so.

Give a little harder evidence before you go besmirching my Air Force!

Proud Veteran of the USAF, and proud parent to two USAF members.

I am disappointed that people on the internet can’t do their own research and want everything spoon fed to them.


The X-37B has a nice layer of secrecy over it that shows, to me, that it is the military answer to stupid politics since the military cannot afford to be lacking capability in delivering payloads to space. It’s a national security issue that was going to be funded regardless of what NASA or the government was going to do.

I’m sure if NASA asks nice, the Air Force might let them use it in between missions.

The launch of the X-37B is April 20 of this month. No coincidence.

God bless,

Choose Jesus.


Ed, this is the second time, in the last couple weeks, that you’ve posted an advertisement as a news source, and then acted huffy when people have called you on it. Is it that hard for you to find a legitimate news source? Doing so is only being considerate of the other readers here. After all, if you aren’t willing to do the research, why should we take your point seriously?

Here is another article on the US Air Force’s space plane:

Would you be willing to say why you think the vessel of Scaled Composites is somehow comparable?

A payload carrying version of SpaceShipTwo will be made available. A tube will be mounted on its back, doors fore and aft would open, and a rocket would fire to put the payload into orbit once altitude is reached.

God bless,

Choose Jesus.

The x37B is* not* a replacement shuttle. It is an unmanned lauch vehicle. There is just a wee bit of difference.

The X37 is pretty small compared to the shuttle.


Vandenberg AFB had been the planned site for military shuttle operations, from its SLC-6 complex on south Vandenberg. (Space Launch Complex-6). It’s my understanding that the complex was pretty much complete, and looks like the Cape Canaveral shuttle complex. I even got a tour of it a few decades ago.

But after the Challenger disaster, the VAFB shuttle program was cancelled. So there is, as far as I know, no follow-on civilian OR military mission to the shuttle. If another nation gains manned superiority in space, it will be difficult for the U.S. to catch up.

Frankly, I think NASA got complacent with the space program with the shuttle and has dropped the ball. They’ve been the only game in town for too long. Back in the 60s they had competition with the Soviets, whether real or imagined. Ever since they’ve been in the catbird’s seat and haven’t had real competition. I think getting spaceflight into the hands of private companies will only help restart innovation and get things moving again. The space program has been stalled for the last 30 years doing nothing more than acting as a moving van for hire into orbit. That’s the real shame.

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