1994-03-01

What Should the United States do after the Space Shuttle? 941037

In the past decade, the space shuttle has been the key factor for the United States manned space exploration. In fact the space shuttle is the only means in which the United States government can send humans into space. However, the space shuttle's life-expectancy is due to expire around the year 2005. In preparation for the end of the space shuttle era, we, as a country, must decide what type of future space vehicle is appropriate to accomplish our future national goals in space.
There are many public policy alternatives to the question: ‘What will replace the space shuttle?’ First, the United States could try a conservative approach to space exploration by developing and using an unmanned vehicle. Second, the government could opt for utility by developing a mixed fleet of launch vehicles. Third, the United States could try to modify and update the current space shuttles with new technology. Fourth, the United States could choose to invest its money in more ‘exotic’ space vehicle programs such as the Single-Stage-To-Orbit(SSTO) space plane and the Two-Stage-To-Orbit(TSTO) space plane. Lastly, the United States could try to initiate talks with other countries concerning an international space agency that could pool the finances and resources into one unified space program.
In my final recommendation, I would first look into a possible international cooperation for future funding and operation of space transportation. However, if this first objective is unable to produce any type of cooperation within a couple of years, I would initiate a parallel future space vehicle program that would involve most of the modification of the space shuttle option and all of the mixed fleet option. Along with these main public policy recommendations, I also recommend some administrative suggestions that could prove vital in trying to carry out the public policy of future space vehicles.

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