Re: The crash of NASA's culture


From "Adriano Autino" <adriano.autino@xxxxxx>
Date Tue, 26 Apr 2005 15:30:08 +0200
Disposition-notification-to "Adriano Autino" <adriano.autino@xxxxxx>
References <00c901c5497a$e857c0b0$cc8b7b3e@porta04> <426CF84F.9FDFA94F@xxxxxxxxxxxx>

Hi Damian, thanks for answering to my message.

What I (and other friends) think about shuttles was expressed in a service titled "Shuttles forever?" published on TdF in 2001 http://www.tdf.it/numero2/dove/dove_eng.htm.

In brief: the Shuttle fleet is the result of a bad strategy, that threw away all the experience made with X15 (200 flights up to 100 kms) during the '60s, in order not to disturb the market of the expendable rockets industry. They only built 5 unic pieces, and they never run an industrial line, which had assured the needed technological evolution, and lowering of costs as well.

I think it's a miracle that 3 on 5 of those machines are still in conditions to fly (do they?).

The hard truth is that, if it were not for the Russian Soyuz, we had lost the ISS, or we had been constrained to fly the shuttles anyway, 6 mounths or so after the Columbia disaster.

Now the question is: is the Soyuz safe and reliable enough for other 5 years?

If yes, I'd vote for:
- accelerate the production of the new fully reusable machines (a passengers 'car' and an heavy cargo, at least) - collaborate with the Russian agency, in order to assure the due maintenance to Soyuz - retire what it remains of the shuttles fleet now, because 2 total failures on 5 machines is an intolerably high failure rate

If not:
- make the revamping of the shuttles (that anyway is going on since two years) safe enough to allow flying them until the new machines will be ready
- accelerate the production of the new fully reusable machines anyway

All the best
Adriano

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