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Old 09-19-2012, 08:26 PM
Bonnie Bonnie is offline
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Here's what I copied from Wiki about the retirement of the shuttle program, Dave. You can click the link for the history of the program, etc..

Quote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_program

Retirement

Main article: Space Shuttle retirement

The Space Shuttle program was extended several times beyond its originally-envisioned 15 year life span because of the delays in building the United States space station in low Earth orbit — a project which eventually evolved into the International Space Station. It was formally scheduled for mandatory retirement in 2010 in accord with the directives President George W. Bush issued on January 14, 2004 in his Vision for Space Exploration.[8]. However, the final Shuttle launch was that of Atlantis on July 8, 2011. According to the Vision for Space Exploration, the next manned NASA program was to be Project Constellation with its Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles and the Orion Spacecraft; however, the Constellation program was never fully funded, and in early 2010 the Obama administration asked Congress to instead endorse a plan with heavy reliance on the private sector for delivering cargo and crew to LEO.

NASA originally planned to make the Hubble a Smithsonian museum display, but decided to keep it in space until a successor is launched.[9][10] Since the space shuttle fleet has retired (while Hubble still has many years of service life ahead), there will be no existing or planned spacecraft capable of returning the Hubble to Earth intact, so it is now very unlikely it will ever be on the ground again.

In an internal e-mail apparently sent August 18, 2008 to NASA managers and leaked to the press, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin stated his belief that the Bush administration had made no viable plan for U.S. crews to participate in the International Space Station beyond 2011, and that Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) were actually seeking its demise.[11][12] The email appeared to suggest that Griffin believed the only reasonable solution was to extend the operation of the shuttle beyond 2010, but noted that Executive Policy (i.e., the White House) is firm that there will be no extension of the shuttle retirement date, and thus no U.S. capability to launch crews into orbit until the Ares I/Orion system becomes operational in 2014 at the very earliest. He appeared to indicate that he did not see purchase of Russian launches for NASA crews as politically viable following the 2008 South Ossetia war, and hoped the new US administration will resolve the issue in 2009 by extending shuttle operations beyond 2010.[11] However, according to an article by former Space Shuttle program Director Wayne Hale on his official NASA blog, the space shuttle program, in preparation for the 2010 shutdown, has already terminated many specialty parts and materials contracts, many with small businesses whose only customer may have been the shuttle program and who closed shop and retired upon receiving their termination letters; as a result, it would be difficult and expensive at this point to extend the shuttle program, and there would be a lag of at least a year (without flights) before exhausted exotic parts and supplies could be replaced. The loss of talent from dismissed employees is another obstacle to program extension.[13]

On September 7, 2008, NASA released a statement regarding the leaked e-mail, in which Griffin said:


"The leaked internal E-mail fails to provide the contextual framework for my remarks, and my support for the administration's policies. Administration policy is to retire the space shuttle in 2010 and purchase crew transport from Russia until Ares and Orion are available. The administration continues to support our request for an INKSNA exemption. Administration policy continues to be that we will take no action to preclude continued operation of the International Space Station past 2016. I strongly support these administration policies, as do OSTP and OMB."

—Michael D. Griffin, [14]

A $2.5 billion spending provision allowing NASA to fly the space shuttle beyond its then-scheduled retirement in 2010 passed the Congress in April 2009, although neither NASA nor the White House requested the one-year extension.[15]
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