The Houston Chronicle has a good brief overview of the history of the development of the Space Shuttle with the politics and the decisions that caused it to be the dangerous and incredibly expensive spacecraft that it is. Near the end of the article Alex Roland sums up a view of the Shuttle with which I am in complete agreement:
Alex Roland, a space historian at Duke University who likens the shuttle to "a camel -- a horse designed by a committee," prefers a different route. He said NASA should concentrate its efforts on bringing down the cost of getting into space.
"Instead of doing that," Roland said, "NASA keeps on throwing away its money on a system that doesn't work and which doesn't do anything."
The money currently spent on Shuttle operations would be better spent on the development of technologies that hold the promise of greatly lowering space launch costs. Materials science research should be funded toward that end. Also, a series of experimental spacecraft should be designed, built, and tested in order to test concepts and to gather information about hypersonic flight for scramjet propulsion systems development. The continued operation of an old tech spacecraft for a couple of more decades is just a total waste of time and money.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2003 July 21 12:22 AM Airplanes and Spacecraft|