Getting the shuttle back into the air
John Schutkeker writes:
The solution I imagine is to launch an escape module atop an expendable
booster, with enough capacity to evacuate the entire crew. Then mount a
repair mission at a later time. Remote control capabilities and fuel would
have to be provided to maintain the shuttle's orbit for the long term, as
it might take a year or more to plan such a repair mission, or it might
require more than one mission.
What you're talking about is similar to the vehicle NASA has wanted to
evacuate the crew from ISS in an emergency. They've wanted this for
decades. They don't have it yet because such a thing is neither cheap
nor easy to do. Eventually the CEV will be capable of such a mission,
but the shuttle won't be around when the CEV starts to fly manned
The real reason to end the shuttle program is that it costs too much
to keep going and there aren't that many orbiters left even if you
wanted to keep flying them.
Does anybody know what options NASA is examining to do this job, or if it
would even be realistic to salvage the vehicle in such a situation? I can
easily imagine that it might be impossible to repair the shuttle in orbit,
and that in such a situation, we might lose another vehicle, although
fortunately not the crew.
This has been talked about before. The answer is that once the fuel
cells run dry, you really can't recover the vehicle.
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