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NASA Speeds Up Shuttle Replacement (moved from ATSNN)

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posted on May, 9 2005 @ 07:51 PM
NASA has decided to have the Space Shuttle's replacement orbiter ready to fly by 2010 instead of 2014. That would cover a four-year gap between the completion of the International Space Station and the planned rollout of the new system. There are some reports of friction between the designer of the old plan and the new NASA Administrator, but a NASA spokesman denied it.
Less than a month after taking the job, NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin is pushing an ambitious but risky plan to shave four years off the timetable for building a next-generation spaceship to replace the space shuttle, and wants to launch it with a crew by the end of 2010.

The shuttle has not flown since the Columbia tragedy in February 2003, and even after safety modifications are completed and flights resume, the orbiter will not get beyond "low Earth orbit'' and will become obsolete as soon as construction of the international space station is completed in 2010.

NASA has planned for more than a year to build a new workhorse spacecraft to carry out President Bush's long- term vision for space exploration, aimed at returning humans to the moon by 2020 and eventually sending them to Mars, but the initial strategy called for completion of the new spaceship by 2014. That would leave the United States without its own access to space for four years.

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Hopefully NASA will consider safety and long-term efficiency while speeding up the orbiter program. The corners cut in the Shuttle program caused tragic safety problems and massive cost overruns.

The reported dispute between new NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin and retired Navy Rear Adm. Craig E. Steidle is something of a concern. Steidle was the force behind the original plan to replace the shuttle, but has apparently been superceded by Griffin. It seems that whenever NASA has internal conflicts that require anonymity due to "fearing retribution", trouble follows.

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