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NASA To Retire Space Shuttle and Possibly Replace with Buran


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NASA will soon retire its ageing space shuttle fleet. The final flight is scheduled for 2010. The Space Shuttle Endeavour, the orbiter built to replace the Space Shuttle Challenger, cost approximately $1.7 billion. The average cost to launch a Space Shuttle is about $450 million per mission. American and Russian scientists are beginning to think of ways to revive the Soviet-era Buran space programme, mothballed 20 years ago, may be revived.


The Energia / Buran combination attempted only two launches. The first launch in 1987 consisted of the Energia launch vehicle with a cargo compartment attached. The launch vehicle performed flawlessly but the cargo compartment separated badly.


The second attempt in 1988 consisted of a Buran / Energia combination. The Buran was launched, circled the earth for one orbit, and returned and landed successfully by remote control.


The collapse of Soviet Union economy could no longer support the development of Energia / Buran. The program was eventually canceled, and one of the Buran test vehicles can be seen in a Moscow park as a tourist attraction.


The USSR surpassed the Americans in technology – U.S. shuttles can only be landed by humans, while the Buran lands automatically. - Pavel Sharov


The Energia-Buran programme was started to get the capability to attack the United States, just like the shuttle was able to attack the USSR. We also wanted to take the Skylab space station from orbit. Buran was supposed to put it in its cargo bay and deliver it back to Earth for studies. - Magomet Talboev


On January 14, 2004, President George W. Bush announced A RenewedSpirit of Discovery: The President’s Vision for U.S. Space Exploration,a new directive for the Nation’s space program. The fundamental goal ofthis directive is “to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economicinterests through a robust space exploration program.” With thisaction, the President committed the Nation to a journey of exploringthe solar system and beyond, returning to the Moon in the next decade,then venturing further into the solar system, ultimately sending humansto Mars and beyond. He challenged NASA to establish new and innovativeprograms to enhance understanding of the planets, to ask new questions,and to answer questions that are as old as humankind.


On December 22, 2004, Kazakhstan and Russia signed a contract establishing the "Russia-Kazakhstan Baiterek JV" joint venture, in which each country holds a 50-percent stake. The goal of the project is the construction of the Bayterek (poplar tree) space launch complex, to facilitate operations of the Russian Angara rocket launcher. The site is scheduled to be completed in 2009.] This will allow launches with a payload of 26 tons to low earth orbit, compared to 20 tons using the Proton system. An additional benefit will be that the Angara uses kerosene and oxygen as fuel, which is less hazardous to the environment than the toxic fuels used by older boosters. The total expenditure on the Kazakhstani side will be $223 million over 19 years.


On December 30, 2005 the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 which was signed into law. NASA will be executing a series of complex ISS assembly and servicing missions using the Space Shuttle while simultaneously developing a new Shuttle-derived transportation system. Implementing a workforce transition plan that retains and nurtures critical skills is vital to these efforts.


NASA’s projected budget is basically flat. Supporting three human space flight programs (Shuttle, Station and Constellation) within it requires some very innovative planning including retiring unneeded Shuttle assets as soon as possible, thus reducing Shuttle costs while freeing up assets needed for Constellation Program (CxP). This activity has already started and will accelerate over the next few years.


CEV, Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) and related exploration architecture systems.


An early exploration development will be the CEV. Like the Apollo Command Module, the CEV will have a crew escape system and represents one building block in the exploration architecture that can send astronauts to the Moon and form the basis for exploration missions to other destinations. It will be launched into orbit using a five-segment derivative of the Shuttle's Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) with a new liquid-propellant upper stage. It will continue to the

Moon using redesigned J-2 engines originally used on the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets engines designed for the Apollo Program. Before beginning its lunar mission, the CEV’s capabilities will be demonstrated by carrying crew and cargo to the ISS.

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Given the current geopolitical situation we can't, or at least shouldn't, rely on the Russians to ferry US astronauts to and from ISS during the gap between shuttle and Orion. The Orion spacecraft effectively replaced the conceptual Orbital Space Plane (OSP), which itself was proposed after the failure of the Lockheed Martin X-33 program to produce a replacement for the space shuttle.


The contractor for the Orion is Lockheed Martin, which was selected by NASA in September, 2006 and is the current contractor for the Space Shuttle's External Tank and the Atlas V EELV.


The Orion re-entry module would weigh about 12 tons — almost twice the mass of the Apollo Command Module — and, like Apollo, would be attached to a service module for life support and propulsion. The CEV will be an Apollo-like capsule, with a Viking-type heat shield, not a lifting body or winged vehicle like the current Shuttle. It would land on land rather than water, similar to the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft. However, it would be capable of a water recovery if an emergency splashdown were needed. Possible landing areas that have been identified include Edwards Air Force Base, California, Carson Flats, Nevada, and the area around Moses Lake,

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