NASA goes back to the future Matt 02 Aug 2005

10 comments Latest by MrBlank

Shuttle “dandruff” keeps causing havoc for NASA. The retro-looking redesign of the agency’s space vehicles (NY Times) will solve this problem by putting the crew and payload up above the tanks where falling debris won’t affect them. Rather than gliding back to Earth, the new crafts will kick it old school by deploying parachutes and landing on the ground in the Western United States.

“The shuttle is not a lemon,” Scott J. Horowitz, an aerospace engineer and former astronaut who helped develop the new plan, said in an interview. “It’s just too complicated. I know from flying it four times. It’s an amazing engineering feat. But there’s a better way.”

10 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Michael Spina 02 Aug 05

“It’s safe, simple and soon,” said Dr. Horowitz

With an attitude like that, coupled with lower cost, this might actually work.

Chris 02 Aug 05

�The shuttle is not a lemon,�

is he sure? My whole take on life has changed now.

Tim from philly 02 Aug 05

But there�s a better way

Yeah, subcontract it out to Scaled Composites

MrBlank 02 Aug 05

Havent they been using the current shuttle design since the 80s? Why is this “dandruff” a problem now? Did something change?

DaveMo 02 Aug 05

I think the 2 vehicle concept is almost right about shoving the heavy, non-human stuff off-world using an unmanned booster, but I much prefer Tim from Philly’s idea about putting the crew up using a system like Dick Rutan’s Space Ship One.

It’s gotta be cheaper and safer in the long run-with only one disposable vehicle as opposed to two-and the crew gently ferried into orbit instead of being blasted from sea level on top of a volatile and relatively dangerous balistic missle (these things blow up with alarming frequency too), then falling back to Earth in a capsile with no control and the dodgy hope that your parachutes deploy as planned.

Jon Konrath 02 Aug 05

If small reusable craft were such a great idea, maybe NASA shouldn’t have shelved the X-33.

And if we would ground the shuttles and go back to old-school single-use rockets, it’s only a matter of seconds until everyone starts saying “hey, why aren’t we using a reusable ship like the Shuttle for this?”

the shuttle rebuttal 02 Aug 05

Here is a good article on space elevators. Fantasy soon to become a reality… I hope!

Lisa 03 Aug 05

Havent they been using the current shuttle design since the 80s? Why is this �dandruff� a problem now? Did something change?

Yep. Due to EPA regulations, the freon that was once used in the insulation foam is no longer allowed. It has been reported that the foam is considerably weaker do to this change. There is some information on it here.

MrBlank 03 Aug 05

Thanks for the link, Lisa!