should the space shuttle program be stopped?

That’s what Gregg Easterbrook argues in this Time Magazine article (link via adnan.) His position is that “unfortunately, the core problem that lay at the heart of the Challenger tragedy applies to the Columbia tragedy as well,” namely the following engineering nightmares: the spacecraft used for the space shuttle is much too large for the way in which it is used; the design is therefore too risky for the flights taken (the design is three decades old); and, due to the spacecraft size, the flights are extremely expensive. Based on this, he suggests using astronauts only when absolutely necessary (which may not always be the case on the space shuttle.)
There are at least two problems with his (otherwise well-wrought) argument. One: the use of an international crew of astronauts is a major PR boost for NASA and, by extension, the US, so there’s a huge political motivation to keep the flights coming. Two: there are powerful (i.e. lobbying) contractors who benefit from the continued used of the space shuttle, and it’s unlikely that their clout is going to be ignored by folks on Capitol Hill. Read the article here.

Share

2 Responses to “should the space shuttle program be stopped?”

  1. Morgan Says:

    …the use of an international crew of astronauts is a major PR boost for NASA and, by extension, the US, so there’s a huge political motivation to keep the flights coming.

    I don’t think that events of the past weekend have proven much of a PR boost for NASA or the U.S. Those events, coupled with the Challenger disaster, argue strongly against any PR justification of the shuttle program. That’s not to say that there aren’t others.

  2. Laila Says:

    I was talking about flights in between and also about the international space station, which is where the space shuttle usually docks. Sorry, my wording was confusing.

  • Twitter

  • Category Archives

  • Monthly Archives