Space: February 22, 2001

Archives

: NASA is planning a series of improvements to the Space Shuttles that it considers to be "crucial" for the safety of astronauts. Money to solve these problems, however, is in short supply and the crucial improvements will take years to fund. These include:

1. Replace the hydrazine-fueled auxiliary power unit that runs the hydraulics with an electric unit, eliminating the dangerous and toxic hydrazine. This will cost $224 million, of which $39 million has been approved.

2. New sensors to monitor the main engine will reduce the chances of a catastrophic failure by 25%. This will cost $108 million of which $18 million has been approved.

3. Improved controls will reduce workload during ascent. These would cost $380 million, of which $40 million has been approved.

4. Advanced vector controls for the solid boosters would eliminate the hydrazine-fueled hydraulic pumps. This would cost $208 million of which $11 million has been approved.

5. Changes to the main engine would improve reliability. These would cost $400 million, but no money for this (or any later projects on this list) has been approved to date.

6. Improvements to the solid booster hold-down hardware would remove the chance of human error for a mere $5 million.

7. Changes to the solid rocket booster fuel would improve performance and reduce the risk to the ground crew for only $10 million.

8. Changes to the welding methods for the external tank would improve reliability and quality control for $20 million.

The shuttles have used 25% of their service lives in ten years, and could in theory keep flying until 2030 if the upgrade program continues at a steady pace.--Stephen V Cole

 


Article Archive

Space: Current 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close