In just over 1 day, the last STS flight is scheduled to launch. STS is NASA’s Space Transportation System – more commonly referred to as the Space Shuttle program. It is the United States only manned launch vehicle and, after this mission (STS-135), the United States will be without a manned launch vehicle. This is a national embarrassment. While I don’t advocate for the growth of government, we really needed a better coordination to transition space operations to a more private sector-led effort. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in the private sector companies that current support NASA, but they still rely upon the government agency for certain things, including launch and recovery areas and support.
STS is estimated to have cost about $210B in 2010-adjusted dollars and by many accounts was an expensive failure with regards to its goals. It largely propped up government contractors (again, anyone who believes that a government-run program is more fiscally more efficient than a private sector effort, is kidding themselves). Cost-plus contracts to the likes of Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Harris, and others frequently had overruns. According to the MIT Technology Review:
- There have been 135 shuttle launches since 1981
- Other, simpler designs were considered in 1971 in the run-up to President Nixon’s final decision; in retrospect, taking a more evolutionary approach by developing one of them instead would probably have been a better choice.
- The program cost $209.1 billion (in 2010 dollars)
- NASA administrator James Fletcher told Congress in 1972 that the shuttle would cost $5.15 billion to develop and could be operated at a cost of $10.5 (1972 dollars) million per flight.
- So actually it was (1972) $278 million per flight ($200 billion with 5.33 times inflation factors and 135 flights so 26 times more than the $10.5 million.)
The lack of coordination and the governmental issues has left a gap in capabilities. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 program is coming along and others like Bigelow Aerospace are in the hunt as well. It will be an interesting future as we see what can be accomplished with a new private-public sector partnership in space.
The weather isn’t looking promising for the July 8th launch and, unless the Air Force bumps their scheduled launch of a military navigation satellite, NASA only has until the 10th to launch and then has to wait until the 16th. The Gormogons wish the crew a safe flight and return and hope we can expand into space smartly in the future…heck, it might prove to add a host of jobs to the economy.
GorT is an eight-foot-tall robot from the 51ˢᵗ Century who routinely time-travels to steal expensive technology from the future and return it to the past for retroinvention. The profits from this pay all the Gormogons’ bills, including subsidizing this website. Some of the products he has introduced from the future include oven mitts, the Guinness widget, Oxy-Clean, and Dr. Pepper. Due to his immense cybernetic brain, GorT is able to produce a post in 0.023 seconds and research it in even less time. Only ’Puter spends less time on research. GorT speaks entirely in zeros and ones, but occasionally throws in a ڭ to annoy the Volgi. He is a massive proponent of science, technology, and energy development, and enjoys nothing more than taking the Czar’s more interesting scientific theories, going into the past, publishing them as his own, and then returning to take credit for them. He is the only Gormogon who is capable of doing math. Possessed of incredible strength, he understands the awesome responsibility that follows and only uses it to hurt people.