Wed, Apr 15, 2009
But Holds Out Hope For Funding One More Mission
It's time to start shutting down
NASA's historic space shuttle program. The idea that the US will
spend five years dependent on Russia for service missions to the
International Space Station has brought furrowed brows and blustery
rhetoric from Washington politicians... but so far, no additional
money to extend the shuttle program.
The Bush administration previously called for an end to the
program by the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30,
2010. The Obama administration has extended that deadline to the
end of the calendar year 2010, and talked about one additional
mission to deploy the already-built Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer...
but, again, there has been no money appropriated to make either
CNET reports NASA managers are meeting this week to plan the
wind-down that must begin in the lack of funding. CBS News reports
it obtained a memo, sent from shuttle program manager John Shannon
to project engineers and managers, which says NASA must start the
shutdown process now in order to assure successful completion of
the missions currently on the manifest.
"You have heard me say that 'hope is not an effective management
tool' on many occasions," Shannon wrote. "It is my position that we
cannot continue to spend money to retain the capability to fly
additional space shuttle missions, hoping that someone will
recognize the national assets we are giving up.
"We have to take our destiny in our own hands and manage within
the limited budget we have been given and ensure that we will fly
the full manifest and leave the International Space Station in the
best configuration possible."
A program manager who spoke on condition of anonymity added, "If
we're going to make this thing work, we've got to focus 100 percent
on those nine flights and make sure we get them done... And that's
what we're going to go do."
CNET reports the cost of leaving options open for adding more
flights could cost NASA $90 million.
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