[FPSPACE] The Myth of space shuttle retirement and space station - was Re: Here's a question

David Portree dsfportree at hotmail.com
Sat Nov 15 14:31:29 EST 2014

As far as I know, the US paid Russia (really Energia) throughout the period in question - any "in-kind" deal was in addition to contractual payments for Russian services. As you note, the US conveyed Americans and other nationalities (including Russians) to ISS on board the Shuttle on numerous occasions, along with all the US-, ESA-, Canadian-, and Japan-built ISS hardware. Soyuz served its lifeboat function - negotiations for that began as early as 1990-1992, initially for Space Station Freedom - and served a backup crew transport function. Shuttle also delivered a large quantity of cargo - more, if I'm not mistaken, than Progress during the period in question. It also rotated crew and delivered cargoes to Mir; Soyuz served a lifeboat function during the Shuttle-Mir Program, too. So we're coming up on 20 years of US use of Soyuz as a lifeboat. Or, more accurately, joint Russian-US/ESA/Japan/etc. use.
Mike Griffin may have reminded Congress of the need for a US Shuttle replacement, but he always tied it to his interpretation of the grand Bush Space Vision (which was, of course, a phantom). That Bush permitted Griffin to spread NASA's net so wide - taking in station, heavy-lift, and moon, all at once and right now - was a clear sign that he didn't actually care much about his Vision as described in January 2004. That Vision was much more step-wise and pragmatic, having been based on studies performed in the last years of the Clinton Administration, than was Griffin's "Apollo on steroids." NASA has had a tendency to ignore "buy it by the yard" and "pay as you go" approaches in its advance planning in favor of believing every call for a new space project is a new Apollo Program at least since the run-up to the Reagan Station speech in January 1984. This has caused it to trip over itself many times. Had Bush ever cared about his Vision, he would have 1) funded it and 2) hit Griffin on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.
Lest I seem partisan, the Obama space thing is a gawdawful mess.
David S. F. Portreeauthor and stuff
dsfportree at hotmail.com
dportree at usgs.gov

> From: john.b.charles at nasa.gov
> To: juliermiller at earthlink.net; fpspace at friends-partners.org
> Date: Sat, 15 Nov 2014 16:56:36 +0000
> Subject: Re: [FPSPACE] The Myth of space shuttle retirement and space station - was Re: Here's a question
> Interesting observation, except:
> (1) The shuttle did in fact deposit 21 astronauts aboard ISS, then depart, returning later to retrieve them, 13 times in 2001-2003 and 2007-2009. Not counting the Exp 6 crew launched on Shuttle and landed on Soyuz after Columbia disaster, or the crew launched on Soyuz and landed on Shuttle (Exp 1). Not the same as a lifeboat capability, but definitely "live" not "visit". 
> (2) Griffin reminded Congress every year that the Shuttle-retirement clock was ticking. Let's give him due credit. 
> John Charles
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Julie Miller [mailto:juliermiller at earthlink.net]
> Sent: Friday, November 14, 2014 06:33 PM Central Standard Time
> To: fpspace at friends-partners.org <fpspace at friends-partners.org>
> Subject: [FPSPACE] The Myth of space shuttle retirement and space station - was Re: Here's a question
> At 06:54 PM 11/14/2014, Zeger Nuyens wrote:
> >Now talking about the US,isn't it the country that abandoned a means 
> >of transportation to the ISS  back in 2003 and went all out to get a 
> >new and better one to be ready when the shuttle was (finally) phased 
> >out in 2010 (well you got a few extra years)? But even 12 years was 
> >not enough it seems.
> >Getting rid of one system before having another one ready,well...
> Actually the U.S. has _NEVER_ had the capability to support the 
> transportation for astronauts who live aboard the International Space 
> Station. It's relied on the Russian Soyuz since October 31, 2000.
> The U.S. did have the capability to have astronauts _visit_ the space 
> station via the space shuttle, which it no longer has since the 
> retirement of the shuttle.
> Visit vs. live is an important distinction.
> Only the Soyuz has the ability to support long duration crews. 
> Whether or not crews flew to the ISS via the shuttle or Soyuz, the 
> long duration crews always relied on Soyuz "lifeboat" seats.
> Per the 1998 inter-agency agreement the first 13 Soyuz lifeboats were 
> provided by Russia as in-kind contributions. 13 Soyuz x 6 months = 
> 6.5 years. When the first space station crew launched on October 31, 
> 2000 every partner knew that the Russian contribution to provide 
> Soyuz would end in April 2006 - that never changed and was never a 
> surprise to anybody who paid addition.
> The U.S. was supposed to have its own rescue capability by that 
> point. At that point it was supposed to be a version of the X-38. If 
> that rescue vehicle was only certified to return crews from space 
> then the U.S. (including European, Japanese, and Canadian) crews 
> would still need the shuttle to fly to and from the ISS and only rely 
> on the X-38 for rescue if necessary. If the X-38 evolved into a 
> two-way vehicle it could fly crews to and from ISS and wouldn't be 
> dependent on continued shuttle operations.
> The X-38 went over budget and added to ISS's increasing costs 
> resulted in its cancellation without any viable replacement 
> scheduled. That was the mistake - ignoring that the 2006 deadline 
> would not magically disappear.
> The fact that the shuttle is not flying anymore has (almost) nothing 
> to do with the U.S. dependence on the Soyuz for transporting 
> astronauts to and from the space station.
> Don't bring politics into it - Republican and Democratic 
> administrations and NASA administrators from Goldin to Griffin were 
> all very aware of the 2006 deadline and ignored that there was no way 
> for US segment astronauts to live aboard the space station.
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