March 14, 2010
Did you miss me? I know you guys did, so no need to lie about it. I missed you! Anyway, if I happen to blog about something a co-blogger all ready wrote about, chalk it up to the fine traditions here on DPUD of not actually reading the blog.
So. Space! Did you know - and this may shock you - that the shuttle program costs money? I know, shocking stuff there. But, with so many congresscritters up in arms over Teh Won's treatment of NASA, the space agency thought they might just point out the fact that, while it's all well and good to keep the shuttle program running, someone's gotta find the two billion dollars a year to make it happen:
Money is the key to keeping the shuttles flying, said program manager John Shannon.
"The shuttle program is fairly expensive. We burn at about a $200 million-a-month rate. So that gives you a base of about $2.4 billion per year ... almost irregardless of how many flights," Shannon told reporters.
He added: "Where that money comes from is the big question."
Shannon said NASA already has an extra fuel tank and pair of boosters, which are set aside for a potential rescue mission for the last shuttle crew. Assuming no rescue is needed, that set could be used for one additional flight to haul up supplies and spare parts to the space station, already 11 years old with another 10 years ahead.
The shuttle is the biggest space station supplier by far. In fact, some of the big-ticket pieces of equipment can only fit into a shuttle's payload bay. As for NASA's astronauts, they already are hitching rides on Soyuz capsules.
To create even more flights, tank production would have to be restarted, with a lead time of about two years. The only way to avoid such a lengthy gap would be to space out the remaining missions, Shannon said.
As for other shuttle parts, the suppliers are still in business and could start up production again for NASA, he said.
Regarding safety, Shannon said NASA has been recertifying the most critical shuttle parts since 2005, when flights resumed following the Columbia tragedy. The space agency also has met with experts on aging aviation vehicles, like the B-52 bomber.
Until receiving orders to the contrary, NASA is proceeding as if only four flights remain.
No wonder these idiots can't run the fucking economy. They can't even figure out that sending rocketships to space costs money.
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