Feeds

NASA sticks to 2010 shuttle retirement

Fleet will shuttle off this mortal coil on schedule

The essential guide to IT transformation

NASA is apparently sticking to its plans to retire the venerable space shuttle fleet in 2010 - despite political pressure to keep it flying, pending development of homegrown replacements to supply the International Space Station.

The US House of Representatives and Senate recently 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".

Neither NASA nor the White House requested this cash, and NASA's 2010 Budget Request Summary (pdf) sets shuttle expenditure at $3,157.1m in 2010, falling drastically to $382.8m in 2011 and a final $87.8m in 2012.

NASA says: "The President’s FY 2010 budget funds the safe flight of the Space Shuttle to complete the ISS, and then retire the Shuttle. NASA is committed to completing the nine remaining scheduled shuttle flights, which we believe can be accomplished by the end of 2010."

The final slated launch is Endeavour's mission STS-133 to the ISS scheduled for 31 May next year. The US will thereafter have to rely on Russian vehicles while its commercial cargo-lift contracts with Elon Musk's SpaceX, Orbital Sciences Corporation of Virginia and its own Constellation programme mature.

Regarding Constellation, president Barack Obama has ordered an independent review to "assess the progress we've made so far", as acting administrator Chris Scolese explained to reporters yesterday.

There's no immediate suggestion the White House is getting cold feet on the troubled programme, and the budget summary sets expenditure on Ares I and V and the Orion capsule at $3,505.4m for 2010, rising to $5,602.6m in 2014.

However, NASA notes:

In the summer of 2009 NASA will review ongoing Exploration activities as well as alternatives to ensure the Nation is pursuing the best technical solution for future human spaceflight – one that is safe, innovative, and affordable. The review will develop suitable options for U.S. human space flight activities beyond retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2010, leading to a plan that will be presented to Congress regarding the core transportation elements and related aspects of a U.S.-led human space flight architecture that would support both crew transportation and rescue missions to the International Space Station and missions to the Moon and other destinations beyond low Earth orbit.

Obama's independent review will be led by former Lockheed Martin president Norman Augustine, the New Scientist notes. The probe will take around 60-90 days, during which NASA will plough ahead with Constellation. Whether the panel will consider alternatives - such as Atlas V or Delta IV rockets modified to carry passengers - remains to be seen.

NASA plans to carry out the maiden flight of the Ares I-X rocket, a scaled-down version of the Ares I, in August. The full-fat Ares I is scheduled to carry its first human passengers to the ISS March 2015. ®

NASA's main 2010 budget page is here.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
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?