International Space Transportation System
Brief History
The Root
ISTS Concepts
Ascent Roadmap

ISTS has been deprecated in favor of the more ballistically orientated and realistic Ascent Roadmap

Remembering the Space Shuttle 

Ride the Shuttle

OV-099 Challenger STS-33/51-L

Destroyed on its 10th flight, 25th in the Shuttle Program.

Francis Dick Scobee (CDR), Micheal Smith (PLT), Ellison Onizuka (MS1), Judy Resnik (MS2), Ronald McNair (MS3), Gregory Jarvis (MS4), Christa McAuliffe (SFP)

A leak caused by an improper field joint design in the Solid Rocket Booster, exacerbated by cold weather and flawed test procedures, burned a hole in the external tank, causing a progressive explosion which destroyed the orbiter 73 seconds into the launch.  The crew was killed when the intact crew cabin hit the water 3 minutes and 28 seconds after lift-off


0V-102 Columbia STS-107

Destroyed on its 28th flight, 113th in the Shuttle Program

Rick Husband (CDR), William McCool (PLT), Kalpana Chalwa (MS), Laurel Clark (MS), David Brown (MS), Micheal Anderson (PC), Ilan Ramon (PSb)

A failure occurred early in entry, leading to progressive shedding of the Thermal Protection System until the Columbia disintegrated over Texas 15 minutes before it was scheduled to land.  The crew was killed when the cabin broke up over Nacogdoches in the stratosphere, still traveling at Mach 6.


Missions: 113

Critical Failures: 2

Reliability: 98.2%

Cost (approx.) per launch (2003): $600 million

Cost per kg of payload (approx.): $22,500


Gentlemen, this is not acceptable.  After 42 years of human spaceflight experience, we should not be happy with these numbers.  To honor the names, we need to do something about it.  The Space Shuttle is the most versatile orbital service system in existence, but it is anachronistic, expensive, unreliable and was not an efficient design in the first place.  It was built by politics, not engineering.  Part airplane, mostly missile; pretty, but not practical; capable, but not spectacular; functional, but not efficient.  As much as I like the Shuttle, it can not and will not take us back to the next level of spaceflight.


Excellent resource: