It has made world-wide news, and rightfully so, as NASA’s oldest Orbiter gets stuck into the petting zoo at the Smithsonian’s Udvar Hazy facility located at Dulles International Airport. I have gone into detail about my views, many of them very strong, about how the Obama Administration, and their lap-dog Administrator Bolden, has castrated our Space Program, leaving America with an ambiguous grab bag of less than well-defined capabilities which may come to fruition in the distant future. You can read all you want about my detailed views on the subject, and how to fix our predicament with bold and creative solutions, by clicking the “Categories & Hot Topics” tab to the right, selecting “Space Shuttle Retirement,” and reading through some of the pieces concerning retooling NASA and/or starting a new fresh and nimble agency to handle American space exploration.
In the end we are losing not just a way to get into low earth orbit, the Shuttle was always an overkill solution for simple human transportation, we are losing America’s space truck, a irreplaceable multi-role platform that we had finally come to truly understand and operate safely. We had a opportunity to continue to fly the Shuttle and prove the “commercial spaceflight” model all at the same time instead of jumping into it headfirst with reckless abandon as we did. The United Space Alliance, the constellation of contractors who have supported the Shuttles for years, offered to fly the Shuttle twice a year for NASA, more if needed, as well as for private purposes, at a much lower cost than NASA had been paying per launch historically. This seemed like a win-win for all involved and a great way to transition with low risk to a new dawn of commercial spaceflight right? Not in Administrator Bolden and the Obama Administration’s eyes. Nope, they wanted the Shuttle’s wings clipped ASAP. Now we are left with relying on the Russian’s increasingly questionable Soyuz system to access the a Space Station which we primarily funded, while hoping that one day Space-X and others will give us back a rudimentary capability we had some 50 years ago. As for heavy lift capability, in place of the Shuttle we have nothing aside from a design on paper of a monstrous and dated vehicle with no real core mission or relevancy, that featuring a timetable of development measured in decades not years. It would appear that America’s loss of the Shuttle, without a real replacement such as the promising Constellation Program, is a symptom of America’s chronic sickness of unfocused priorities and dwindling economic might. All the while young would be astronauts and engineers that could change the way mankind lives and even thinks are treated to a series of flying funeral processions of America’s space faring icons of days gone by.
Honestly, I have been dreading this day. Don’t buy the propaganda, today was another NASA, and thus American, death rattle on a grand scale for all to see…
Here are some of the best videos of Discovery’s trek to Udvar Hazy, we are still waiting on the photos and footage from the T-38 chase aircraft: