The Space Shuttle Program - Accomplishments Of The Space Shuttle Program

met flight flights nasa

A historical summary of all space shuttle missions conducted as of February 2006 is presented in Table 4.4.

NASA refers to each shuttle flight using an STS number. STS stands for Space Transportation System. Thus, STS-1 was the first shuttle flight into space. NASA assigns numbers to space shuttle flights in the order in which they are planned (or manifested). There is typically a period of several years between the time a mission is planned and the time of its scheduled launch. During this period priorities can change, and missions are often reshuffled or cancelled. This explains why the STS numbers in Table 4.4 do not always match the flight order number. For example, Columbia's flight in 2003 was called STS-107, yet it was actually the 113th flight of a space shuttle. The missions numbered STS-108 through STS-113 wound up launching before STS-107, because they moved up in priority as launch time approached.

Shuttle flights deployed more than fifty satellites for military, governmental, and commercial clients. In addition, TABLE 4.3 Status of CAIB recommendations, 2005 Adapted from "The Following Table Summarizes the Task Group's Assessment of the CAIB Return-to-Flight Recomendations," in Final Report of the Return to Flight Task Group, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Return to Flight Task Group, July 2005, (accessed December 28, 2005)three interplanetary craft were launched from shuttles: the Magellan spacecraft that traveled to Venus, the Galileo spacecraft that traveled to Jupiter, and the Ulysses spacecraft that traveled to the sun. Shuttles also deployed important observatories into space, including the Hubble Space Telescope, Gamma Ray Observatory, the Diffuse X-Ray Spectrometer, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Status of CAIB recommendations, 2005
CAIB number CAIB recommendation Return to flight status
SOURCE: Adapted from "The Following Table Summarizes the Task Group's Assessment of the CAIB Return-to-Flight Recomendations," in Final Report of the Return to Flight Task Group, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Return to Flight Task Group, July 2005, (accessed December 28, 2005)
3.2-1 External tank debris shedding Not met
3.3-1 Reinforced carbon-carbon non-destructive inspection Met
3.3-2 Orbiter hardening Not met
3.4-1 Ground-based imagery Met
3.4-2 High-resolution images of external tank Met
3.4-3 High-resolution images of Orbiter Met
4.2-1 Solid rocket booster bolt catcher Met
4.2-3 Two person close-out inspection Met
4.2-5 Kennedy Space Center foreign object debris definition Met
6.2-1 Consistency with resources (schedule pressures) Met
6.3-1 Mission management team improvements Met
6.3-2 National Imagery and Mapping Agency agreement Met
6.4-1 Thermal protection system inspection and repair Not met
9.1-1 Detailed plan for organizational change Met
10.3-1 Digitize closeout photos Met

The shuttle has carried more than three million pounds of cargo and more than 600 crewmembers into space. Hundreds of scientific experiments were conducted in orbit. Shuttle crews also serviced and repaired satellites as needed, particularly the Hubble Space Telescope. Between 1995 and 1998 shuttles docked nine times with the Russian space station Mir. Flights to construct the International Space Station (ISS) began in 1998. Shuttles carried major pieces of the ISS into space and traveled to the station seventeen times through the end of 2005.

Despite these accomplishments, the shuttle has not met many of the original goals that NASA set for the program. NASA planners had promised that the shuttle would fly dozens of times per year. As shown in Figure 4.10, the most shuttle flights ever accomplished in one year was nine flights in 1985. For the twenty-five-year period from 1981 to 2005 the shuttle averaged fewer than five flights per year.

NASA also promised that each shuttle orbiter would be good for 100 flights. Figure 4.11 shows the number of flights achieved by each orbiter in the shuttle fleet as of February 2006. Discovery has made thirty-one flights, the most of any orbiter. Challenger made only ten flights before it was lost. Columbia made twenty-eight flights during its lifetime.

There are only three orbiters left in the fleet: Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour. As of 2006 the Discovery shuttle is more than twenty years old, and the other two are not much younger. Most of the original facilities and infrastructure built on the ground for the space shuttle program are more than three decades old. To make matters worse Hurricane Katrina inflicted severe damage to two crucial SSP facilities during the summer of 2005—the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

CAIB's 2003 report was extremely critical of the space shuttle program overall. While the panel acknowledged the shuttle as an "engineering marvel" with a wide range of abilities in Earth orbit, it nevertheless concluded that "the shuttle has few of the mission capabilities that NASA originally promised. It cannot be launched on demand; does not recoup its costs; no longer carries national security payloads; and is not cost-effective enough, nor allowed by law, to carry commercial satellites. Despite efforts to improve its safety, the shuttle remains a complex and risky system."

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almost 9 years ago

hi my name is autumn tramble and heather chittenden we need know a couple reasons about the challenger shuttle and reasons why they should keep going up to space and exploring things. thank you


autumn and heather.

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