ASEE Prism Magazine - May/June 2003
The Graduate
Engineers, Start Your Engines
Magnetic Fields
All The President's Friends
ASEE 2003 Annual Conference - HItting a High Note in Nashville
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WHAT THE SHUTTLE DISASTERS SHOULD TEACH NASA

Admiral Harold Gehman will lead an independent panel selected to find out why the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated (Prism, March). While the shuttle fleet is grounded, the International Space Station (ISS) will have to rely on a limited inventory of expendable Russian spacecraft to deliver fuel and supplies and to rotate the permanent crews. Gehman said, "The astronauts who will fly in future orbiter missions need to know we have done everything we possibly can to come to the bottom of this and fix it." However, the destruction of the Challenger and Columbia in 113 shuttle flights has demonstrated that the shuttle lacks the safety and reliability to carry human passengers. Additional lives should not be placed at risk on future shuttle flights. Instead, NASA should convert the shuttle into an unmanned, heavy lift, cargo vessel. Unmanned shuttles could deliver the major components needed to finish building the ISS. In addition to Russian rockets with Soyuz spacecraft capsules, NASA can invite other rocket manufacturers, such as Boeing, Lockheed, and Arianespace of Europe, to design, for their respective booster rockets, spacecraft capsules capable of carrying astronauts.

Theodore J. Sheskin
Professor of Industrial Engineering
Cleveland State University

 

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