Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Annual Report: The Gap unavoidable

NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel has issued it's Annual Report dashing hopes for additional Space Shuttle missions, reiterating many of the same safety issues mentioned here two days ago. The thirty-year-old program has safety limits put in place after Columbia greatly limiting its range of use, beyond its present flights designed to complete the International Space Station.

The panel also conflicts with recent publicity summarizing a report issued by the Congressional Budget Office that the Constellation program will need "billion more" than already slated now and in the "out-years" to become viable and tests of the Ares-X1, later this year, are needed before further conclusions should be made.

The panel also does not share optimism by many that Commercial Orbital Transportation Services projects (COTS), already awarded twenty ISS cargo re-supply missions by NASA made to SpaceX and Orbital Sciences, will be able in time to perform manned missions to ISS to evade an inevitable "gap" in U.S. manned missions into Space prior to Constellation. Although cautious to admit concerns about relying on the Russian Soyuz to carry astronauts to and from ISS in the interim, the Panel cited its 40-year-record of demonstrated reliability.

Mark Matthews of The Orlando Sentinel's Right Stuff has details.
The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel's Annual Report (pdf) can be downloaded HERE.

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