Shuttle Challenger Accident Part 4

AvStop Magazine Online


The Space Shuttle concept had its genesis in the 1960s, when the Apollo lunar landing spacecraft was in full development but had not yet flown. From the earliest days of the space program, it seemed logical that the goal of frequent, economical access to space might best be served by a resuable launch system. In February, 1967, the President's Science Advisory Committee lent weight to the idea of a reusable spacecraft by recommending that studies be made "of more economical ferrying systems, presumably involving partial or total recovery and use."

In September, 1969, two months after the initial lunar landing, a Space Task Group chaired by the Vice President offered a choice of three long-range plans: A $8-$10 billion per year program involving a manned Mars expedition, a space station in lunar orbit and a 50-person Earth-orbiting station serviced by a reusable ferry, or Space Shuttle. An intermediate program, costing less than $8 billion annually, that would include the Mars mission.

A relatively modest $4-$5.7 billion a year program that would embrace an Earth-orbiting space station and the Space Shuttle as its link to Earth.In March, 1970, President Nixon made it clear that, while he favored a continuing active space program, funding on the order of Apollo was not in the cards. He opted for the shuttle-tended space base as a long-range goal but deferred going ahead with the space station pending development of the shuttle vehicle. Thus the reusable Space Shuttle, earlier considered only the transport element of a broad, multi-objective space plan, became the focus of NASA's near-term future.