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Breaking News: February 1 - 2006  FIVE months after my proposal (emailed in September 2005 to many newspapers and websites and posted on a forum in October 2005) NASA will use a remote control system for Space Shuttle's undocking from ISS, reentry and landing without crew to be used in case of emergency and Shuttle's damage!


   The CREWLESS Space Shuttle   

After the Columbia disaster it’s clear that Space Shuttles are too old and too dangerous to fly with crew. Shuttle is very dangerous at lift-off because it is NOT a “true space plane” but a “ROCKET WITH WINGS” that become a space plane only on reentry and landing. It’s a sort of “flying bomb” that may explode at every launch! This is due to bad design, with a plane side-mounted with two giant boosters and a big main tank. Unfortunately, Shuttle don’t has a valid substitute since the new SDLV will be ready in 2015. Shuttle will still fly 19 times from 2006 to 2010, to complete the International Space Station and repair the Hubble, with a crew of 6-7 astronauts each. Up to 130 astronauts that may seriously risk to die in accidents like Columbia! To-day, no other rocket can launch up to 28 tons payload in LEO. Shuttles are extraordinary vehicles but too old for to-day's technological and safety standards since they was designed thirty years ago when that kind of risks was acceptable and accepted. To-day, with many flights and hundreds astronauts that go in space, these risks can’t be accepted. Shuttle is a “multi-billion dollar machine” so, put it in the trash can is a BIG waste of money! Waiting for a new, safer Shuttle, there is a "temporary solution" that can be adopted to use the old Shuttles to restart space programs, complete the ISS, launch satellites and avoid to remain without a 28tons-launcher for TEN years or more!!! (when the new SDLVs will be ready to work...)

MY IDEA: Since great part of Shuttle’s flight is already automatic my idea is to modify a Shuttle to FLY WITHOUT CREW with the remain non-automatic part of the flight remote-controlled from earth with a cockpit duplicate driven by expert Shuttle commander same way than aboard (fig.1). At lift-off, the Crewless Shuttle will be controlled from earth and onboard computers and go in orbit near space station. ISS docking is unnecessary because it’s only a crewless and riskless 28tons space cargo! The earth-controlled Crewless Shuttle approach the ISS, open the cargo-bay, pull out the payload with its robot-arm, hook it to the ISS Space Parking close the cargo-bay and come back to earth for a new mission! ISS’ crew remain inside space station and may help the operations (with an EVA) but only if necessary. The operation will be only a little more complex than a Shuttle satellite launchOf course, the ISS’ crew will check (and repair) the Shuttle’s thermal shield (if damaged) for a perfect return to earth. The very simple and low cost “ISS Space Parking” to hook ISS module & hardware (fig.2) can be built in a few time sent to ISS (before next Shuttle flight)  with a Progress cargo and assembled with only one ISS’ crew EVA. Every 5-10 (crewless! ) Shuttle missions the ISS specialists will go to ISS with Soyuz and remain there weeks or months to assemble ISS modules and experiments with the maximum safety and without rush!!! Flights with crew must be made only when absolutely necessary and with the minimum number of astronauts!!! Of course, the Crewless Shuttle must fly in the best possible conditions because it’s a very expensive vehicle with very expensive payloads, then, despite there is no risks for human lifes, all must be made at its best like in a flight with crew! The reliability of Shuttles must be enhanced, the problems with main tank’s foam solved and the upgrade continued. Next time a Shuttle with crew will have a problem, its program will be CLOSED. With a crewless Shuttle even the biggest problem don’t kills SEVEN astronauts! NASA may fix the tank foam shedding problem but NOT the next UNKNOWN dangerous problem!!! With a crewless Shuttle disasters like Challenger and Columbia will NEVER happen!!! Shuttle was designed to fly 100+ times, so the three Shuttle can still fly  up to 200 times in total (excluding the flights done), then, while waiting for SDLV (that will be ready to work in 2015) the Crewless Shuttles can fly 50-100 times or more without risks for crews to restart near all space program, complete the ISS, send in space experiments, lunar/mars modules and rovers, satellites, interplanetary missions, etc. Crewless flights could also be useful to increase the experience about flight's problems and to improve Shuttle's reliability. When a new (safer) Shuttle (or CEV) will be ready, all the Shuttles could be transformed to space-cargo , so, without risks for crews the life of the three old Shuttles will be extended for 10+ years instead of throw them in a trash can after next 19 flights! Copyright © 2005 Gaetano Marano

September 15 - 2005

  Don't throw the $30 Billion Shuttles in the trash can!


   Una opportunità irripetibile per l'Europa   

Secondo me, le uniche a trarre vantaggio dal nuovo programma CEV della NASA potrebbero essere le aziende e le agenzie spaziali europee, russe, cinesi, ecc. Quello di abbandonare la realizzazione di un “nuovo Shuttle
(più economico e sicuro) per ritornare a una capsula spaziale tipo Apollo (solo un pò più grande, con un massimo di sei astronauti, pochissimo carico utile e la necessità di doverla recuperare, non essendo in grado di atterrare su una pista) è un errore veramente GIGANTESCO! Questo errore però dà l’opportunità all’Europa (se la saprà cogliere) di diventare LEADER ASSOLUTA dei programmi spaziali orbitali ed anche oltre! Infatti, se l’agenzia spaziale europea e le aziende aerospaziali realizzeranno in tempi brevi uno Shuttle affidabile, a basso costo, in grado di effettuare decine di missioni all’anno ed atterrare in un aeroporto come un aereo, la “NASA” dei prossimi 20 anni sarà in Europa, perché TUTTI (forse anche gli americani) dovranno utilizzare la navetta europea per poter andare nello spazio!!!

  What may happen in 2025...  click to enlarge


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