Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sending the Bill

By an overwhelming 409-15 vote, the US House of Representatives has passed a new NASA authorization bill. The 20.2 billion is far more than the 17.6 billion requested by the White House. With more funding for science, the bill directs an additional Shuttle mission for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. NASA administrators have resisted the extra flight because of safety and eagerness to end the Shuttle program. (The crew would avoid an accident by leaving the Shuttle in Space and returning by Soyuz.) Congress also budgeted an extra billion to get Orion on line faster. Already international partners have spent 1.5 billion on AMS. While the US government is divided on many things, this day shows strong bipartisan support for Space.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Frank Glover said...

"(The crew would avoid an accident by leaving the Shuttle in Space and returning by Soyuz.)"

Hmmm. Recent Soyuz re-entry issues don't leave me overflowing with reassurance on that...

11:36 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Abandoning a Shuttle and returning by Soyuz is a contingency that must be planned for in case of tile damage on ascent. Hopefully by 2010 the Soyuz ballistic entry glitch will be solved, or COTS will be ready.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Chris Radcliff said...

Hm. I hadn't thought of leaving a Shuttle at ISS, but it makes a lot of sense. Extra space, extra power, extra thrusters, and (in a pinch) a detachable safe-haven in case of something unfortunate.

There might be some issues with maintaining a bird in orbit long-term, but probably not bad compared to standard ISS issues.

Have you heard of anyone within NASA proposing this?

7:55 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Reboosting the ISS and the Shuttle would certainly take more thrust than reboosting the ISS alone. More drag. More mass. So the utility of the Shuttle up there would have to be weighed. The Shuttle was designed for, what, 19 day missions?

I've wondered if ion engines could be used for reboost of ISS to reduce mass to orbit required. Not generally much thrust, but constant. Perhaps constant thrust would upset zero-G experiments.

Maybe a Bussard ram scoop could pick up some reaction mass from high Earth atmosphere, and spit it out at high ISP to do ISS reboost. Development of such a system might pay for itself quickly.

9:29 AM  

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