Is the Space Shuttle Endeavor the last trip into space?

Is this the end of the shuttle program forever? When are they supposed to start again?

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  • 9 years ago
    Best Answer

    Until another US launch vehicle is ready, crews will travel to and from the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft or possibly a future American commercial spacecraft. In the 1980s and 1990s, a planned successor to STS was "Shuttle II" and before 2010, Project

    In the mid-2000s NASA began developing a new spacecraft not only to ferry passengers and cargo to the ISS but also to travel beyond Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars.[74] Originally called the Crew Exploration Vehicle, the concept later evolved into the Orion spacecraft and the project was named Project Constellation. In February 2010, President Barack Obama's administration proposed eliminating public funds for the Constellation program and shifting the burden for developing a replacement low-orbit service to private corporations. The Constellation program was canceled with the signing of the NASA Authorization Act on October 11, 2010. It marked the end of one plan to fill the void left by the Shuttle's retirement.

    The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 envisions the transformation of the Ares I and Ares V vehicle designs into a Shuttle-Derived heavy launch vehicle, the Space Launch System, both for crew and cargo. It is to be upgraded over time with more powerful versions.

    NASA announced the awarding of contracts for the cargo resupply of the International Space Station (ISS) in the form of the new Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. Contracts have been closed with SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation on December 23, 2008. SpaceX will use its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft.[80] Orbital Sciences will use its Taurus II launch vehicle and Cygnus spacecraft.

    Another proposal is the Commercial Space Transportation Service (CSTS), which involves commercial operation of the Space Shuttle. Under the proposal, two orbiters would continue to be flown until 2017, or when a replacement is available, for about $1.5 billion per year.] The plan would mean restarting production of external tanks, but would save having to develop a new spacecraft and launch system.

    The Shuttle's potential for space tourism has been studied since the 1970s. An example of this was the Rockwell 74 seat add-on, which filled the payload bay with seats like an airliner. At current prices for a seat to orbit (around $30 million), each 74 passenger shuttle launch could earn well over $2.2 billion. This is nearly $1 billion in excess of current per launch costs.

    Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) is a multiphase space technology development program, funded by the U.S. government, and administered by NASA. The program is intended to stimulate development of privately operated crew vehicles to low Earth orbit. In the first phase of the program, NASA provided a total of $50 million during 2010 to five American companies, intended to foster research and development into human spaceflight concepts and technologies in the private sector. A second set of Commercial Crew Development proposals were solicited by NASA in October 2010. Approximately $200 million of phase 2 awards are expected by March 2011, for technology development project durations of up to 14 months.

    Source(s): Wikipedia.
  • 9 years ago

    There is one more launch of Atlantis scheduled. After that, the shuttles retire, long overdue for it. They have served far longer than intended. Yes, it will be the end of the shuttle program forever, which is kind of the way it has to be unless you really like killing astronauts.

    It will not, however, be the end of manned spaceflight. It will be about 3-4 years before NASA's replacement (built around the Orion capsule, which was about the only element of the Constellation program to get close to completion, and some off-the-shelf launch solution) comes on line. In the interim, it looks like Soyuz and the new SpaceX Dragon (test-launched this December) will be used for servicing the ISS.

    The US, of course, retains unmanned launch capabilities via the Delta family of launch vehicles. It has become the preferred means for actually boosting payloads, given the Shuttles' frequent launch delays and inability to use the Centaur booster for geosynchronous payload delivery. You might very well see Delta IV Heavies lifting the Orion spacecraft to LEO in the near future.

    Unfortunately, the future of US manned spaceflight after the shuttle had been lumped into a single 'do-everything' program called Constellation, which included solutions for both NASA's orbital capabilities and a return to the moon, lumped into a single family of spacecraft. It included the Orion capsule, the Altair lander, and the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles. The program lumbered, flailed, and haemorrhaged cash, ending up massively behind schedule with only the Orion systems anywhere close to completion. This is the ultimate cause of the delay, though it seems as if it might well be rectified by the institution of the Obama Administration's National Space Policy, which is more of a staged approach than a 'do it all at once' plan.

  • DLM
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    It will be the final manned spaceflight by NASA, at least for the time being. The original plan was to have the Constellation Program in place in a few years, but that was canceled by the current administration.

    In the meantime, US astronauts, for manned spaceflight, will require cooperation with the Russian's, (cooperation = buying seats aboard their Soyuz spacecraft).

    Unmanned space exploration for NASA will resume as usual.

    I've also heard the China is designing a "shuttle," although I'm not sure why. These vehicles have demonstrated time and again that they are not cost effective, are bulkier than anticipated, suffer more damage than expected, cost a lot to repair and replace, take a long time to repair and replace, and have the highest fatality rate of any mode of transportation humans have ever developed.

    It looks like non-reusable spacecraft with disposable stages, like we used in the 60s and 70s, are the most efficient form of Human Spaceflight.

  • 9 years ago

    No, it is the second to last shuttle flight. The final flight will be the Atlantis flight later this year. And yes, that is the end of the shuttle program forever.

    After that there will be other technologies, such as the SpaceX dragon, which is a private space craft that made it's first (unmanned) orbital flight a few months ago.

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  • Amanda
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    No, I believe the last space shuttle should be donated to a museum after we have replacements for it-- just in case the need for an USA owned spacecraft equivalent... Besides can we afford the fuel to squander on the expensive trip to the sun? Why not use the money to buy the fuel for such a venture to fund schools, libraries, or recreation centers for the masses?

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