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John Glenn: Keep space shuttles flying
June 22, 2010
1:29 am
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greeney2
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3 cheers for John Glenn!

John Glenn: Keep space shuttles flying
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By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer Marcia Dunn, Ap Aerospace Writer – Mon Jun 21, 1:57 pm ET
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Mercury astronaut John Glenn wants NASA's space shuttles to keep flying until a reliable replacement is ready, no matter how long it takes.

Glenn joined the national debate Monday over America's future in space and became the latest ex-astronaut to speak out on the matter. He issued a nine-page statement in which he questioned the decision to retire the shuttle fleet and rely on Russia to take astronauts to the International Space Station.

"We have a vehicle here, why throw it away? It's working well," the first American to orbit Earth said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Glenn said he's against paying the Russians $55.8 million per person to fly U.S. astronauts to the space station and back. That's the price for a single ticket starting in 2013; right now, it's costing NASA $26.3 million and will jump to $51 million next year.

Glenn doesn't believe the general public realizes what's happening on the space front.

"Going to Russia and being, in effect, under control of Russia for our space program just doesn't sit right with me and I don't think it sits well with the American people, or won't, either," said Glenn, a former U.S. senator who rode the shuttle into orbit in 1998 at age 77. He turns 89 next month.

Glenn said little if any money will be saved by canceling the shuttle program, considering all the millions of dollars going to Russia for rocket rides. At least two shuttle flights a year could keep the station going and the work force employed, until something new comes along, he said.

The former astronaut wonders what will happen if there's an accident and Soyuz rockets are grounded. He supposes the space station — a $100 billion investment — would have to be abandoned. He also worries scientific research at the station will take a hit if experiments have to be launched from Russia and have no way of getting back to Earth in bulk.

President George W. Bush made the decision to retire the shuttles and retarget the moon, six years ago in the wake of the Columbia tragedy. President Barack Obama is holding on to the shuttle shutdown, while killing the moon effort.

Only two shuttle missions remain on the official lineup; the second almost certainly will be delayed into early next year. NASA is hoping the White House will add an extra flight next summer before ending the 30-year shuttle program.

Democratic Glenn supports Obama's plan, announced earlier this year, to keep the space station going until 2020 and to give up on a moon base for now. But the original Mercury 7 astronaut said the nation needs a rocketship capable of lifting heavy payloads — whether it's part of NASA's Constellation program or something else — if astronauts are ever to reach asteroids and Mars.

Private companies, meanwhile, interested in carrying astronauts back and forth to the space station need to first prove their capability and reliability, Glenn noted. "I'm very leery of this rush to commercialization," he said.

Glenn said he waited to go public because he thought "people would see the wisdom" of keeping the shuttle going.

"If we're going to do anything, if has to be done pretty quick," he said.

___

June 26, 2010
1:39 am
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CodeBlack
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I think the shuttle has reached EOL. It served its purpose but it needs to be replaced. But, canceling the manned space program stinks. Surely in 40 years we can some up with something better. Consider how far we went from 1949 to 1969, only 20 years. During the space shuttle years all we did was advance satellite technology and learn how to use spatulas and putty knives in space. The shuttle is the wrong machine for the job.

N2TheBlack

June 29, 2010
9:23 am
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What the hell? The space program is moving backward now? We've learned nothing in all these decades? Wow.

June 30, 2010
2:05 am
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CodeBlack
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Look who is at the helm. Spend trillions but not on anything worthwhile. We don't need the shuttle. We need a replacement for the shuttle so the space program CAN move forward. We need a craft that gets into space more efficiently. Ultimately I don't think we're going to get much further with rockets.

N2TheBlack

December 28, 2010
10:31 pm
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MrZorg
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Those shuttles were designed for 99 flights each, so why are we cutting them off now? If it's going to cost more to go from Russia, what's the point in cutting them off? Are we to let our NASA program become Russian as well? Are we not the leaders of the world? I just hate the fact that the program is being ended. I'm not a real "fan" of the shuttles, but to end their life span well short of what they were designed to do is just a waste of tax payer dollars. I know, it's all about the foam...

Cheers!

December 29, 2010
5:36 am
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greeney2
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I'm definatly predjudice thinking the shuttle should keep flying until 2020. I do not agree the shuttle has been the wrong machine, it has fullfilled many many Triumphs in our Space program, and I believe even aged, would be better flying until the replacement is actually in use. The X-33 was to have been a replacment, however several problems scrapped it. The return to the moon was going to be a 10 year plus program, but that is going quietly away. parts of the program are still going, and the Mars Mission is also in development. Meaqnwhile as the USA becomes dependent upon Russia for rides to our Space Station, other countries are emerging. Its a big mistake to stopped our manned space flights IMHO.

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