The Space Shuttle Program made considerable leaps in scientific discovery around the subject of space, so why did NASA stop this program? Astronauts raised their suspicions about the safety of shuttles. Most of them thought that apart from being experimental, they were unsafe. What followed after were flaws in NASA’s safety protocols.
This, however, did not hinder NASA as they decided to restructure and improve their practices to get back into preparing for space travel. The only problem they now faced was that Congress cut off their funds. The United States could no longer fund space exploration, and so the NASA space shuttle was retired in 2012.
The problems that accompanied the space shuttle led to the program’s close. In this article, we will look at some of these issues while we answer the question of why the space shuttle was stopped. We will also look at whether or not NASA will ever revisit the Space Shuttle Program in the future. So buckle in and let’s get right to it!
Reason NASA Stopped Making Space Shuttles
So far, only three vehicles can fly into orbit. The US Apollo capsule, Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft, and the Russian Soyuz capsules are among them. The NASA U.S. Apollo capsule navigated space during the 1960s and 1970s. The shuttles comprised major components with special handling requirements because they were highly toxic if not handled with care. It was very costly to manage this complex equipment all through the program.
The shuttle program was set up to take humans and equipment to space, where they would carry out scientific experiments and other NASA projects. The program was set out in three parts, with the first being the Orbiter. Parts for this were produced by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The second was the launch of the complexes at the Kennedy Space Center and Vandenberg Air Force Base. Finally, the third part was to set up Ground Support Equipment that would enable takeoff and landing.
The shuttle was large enough to convey up to seven people and comprised the pilot, commander, science technician, mission specialist, psychosocial counselor, and janitor. The training mission was called a sortie and involved the space shuttle venturing to space and making about 6 to 9 orbits before making a return trip back to earth. NASA’s shuttle had very high operating costs, which was the main reason why the shuttles were not made anymore.
Was NASA’s Space Shuttle Program A Failure?
The primary goal of NASA’s space shuttle program was to develop an affordable commercial transport system between earth and space. This space travel would be made possible for everyone at a lower cost, but this goal was not realized. Instead, the program had very high operating expenses that led to NASA’s financial constraints. Since it was not logical to keep incurring such heavy costs, the program was altogether closed. NASA has been unable to develop any other vehicle for space travel missions to other planets.
NASA had intended to use the space shuttle to replace the Apollo Program’s Saturn V Rocket. If the shuttle program had been successful, it would have been possible to carry a larger crew to space or even heavier loads at a lesser cost. This would have been much better than the smaller Apollo spacecraft. However, the space shuttle was not safe to operate, especially during turbulent wind conditions. The space shuttle was likely to lose control and eventually crash. During the program, accidents occurred with the shuttle due to the operator’s failure to comply with safety instructions, leading to the death of five people.
The NASA shuttle program began under the Nixon administration, but the agency was later defunded after making three trips. The funds were cut because of the safety concerns which put humans at risk. Even though Congress approved the continuation of funding, President Ford canceled it. The program was again brought up for discussion by President Carter with the intention of returning to the moon, but Congress did not approve this.
A vote of the majority turned down the budget proposals. President Reagan in 1985 also brought the topic of the program up, but this time with plans to visit Mars. The shuttle program was again met with obstacles and could not be revived. For some reason, there were political interferences that hindered the revival of NASA’s space shuttle program.
Could the Space Shuttle Program Be Revived?
The shuttle program would be very difficult to revive because of financial constraints. This is especially true if you analyze the cost of design, utility, management, and safety of reviving space shuttles. The original program failed to produce re-entry vehicles, which could have been a breakthrough for future space travels. However, NASA’s space program was not a complete failure as it led to great innovation and the discovery of what it will require to survive in space. Many scientists today at NASA are currently undergoing space research, and a lot has been discovered in recent times.
The Space Shuttle may not have been successful, but the program demonstrated that even with billions of dollars, it would not be a guarantee of success in sending humans to space. Whether there will be a revival of the shuttle program is yet to be determined, but we are not holding our breath on this one.
However, NASA is still actively involved in research and more discovery of how space survival is possible in the nearest future. With our advancement in technology, it is safe to say that the possibility of sending humans to space is not far-fetched. If NASA embarks on future space missions, all safety protocols will undoubtedly be followed. A lot has been learned from previous errors.
Now you know the reasons and answer to the question – why did NASA stop using space shuttles and whether they will start using them again. We hope that this has inspired you to keep doing more research into space travel, and who knows – maybe you will be one of the next humans to experience space!