Feeds

Space shuttle may fly until 2011

Extension to avoid 'bitter pill' of paying Russians

Remote control for virtualized desktops

The US House of Representatives and Senate have agreed a further $2.5bn to keep the space shuttle in service until 2011 - "if such an extension is necessary to complete currently planned missions to the International Space Station", as the Wall Street Journal puts it.

The final planned shuttle launch is Endeavour's mission STS-133 to the ISS, slated for 31 May next year. Thereafter, the US will have to rely on Russian launches pending the development of new homegrown vehicles as part of the Constellation programme - a touchy political subject.

Last September, then presidential candidate Barack Obama said the US must stump extra cash for the space shuttle, or swallow the "bitter pill" of paying the Russians for space transportation services.

Obama insisted this money should not be pilfered from other NASA programmes, and stated: "Any effort to extend the shuttle program must receive adequate funding, ensuring that progress on developing new vehicles is not further delayed."

Well, the House and Senate on Wednesday passed a "nonbinding $3.4 trillion budget blueprint" US budget, including the provision for further shuttle flights. Leading the campaign to reprieve the venerable space vehicle was Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, the "Democratic chairman of a science subcommittee with authority over NASA programs".

Nelson argued that the money would "avoid undue reliance on Russian launches" and protect jobs attached to the shuttle program.

The budget provision was not requested either by the White House or NASA, and some agency officials have expressed concern that "funnelling extra money to the shuttles may sap momentum of work on their replacements".

It remains to be seen if the US will eventually go with the shuttle or the Russians, since the cash injection is "still subject to future House and Senate appropriations bills", the Wall Street Journal notes. ®

Bootnote

It will be some time before NASA has alternatives to Russian launches to the ISS. The Constellation programme is currently running behind schedule, and the first test launch of the manned Orion capsule - designed to replace the shuttle - was last year knocked back until 2014.

In December, NASA signed commercial ISS cargo-lift deals with Elon Musk's SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation of Virginia, both of which hoped to be able to demonstrate their capabilities by 2010 - the former by dispatching a reusable Dragon payload capsule to the ISS and the latter with a maiden flight of its Taurus II rocket (pdf factsheet here).

The deal was, however, stalled back in January by protests from losing bidders for the contract. There are more details here.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?