“The Nasa administrator is in a dog-fight, and he knows it.”

Another spectacular early morning launch for the Space Shuttle Discovery today on Mission STS-131 – one of the last 4 scheduled missions of the 30-year-old shuttle program. The BBC’s Spaceman blog has a great, but unembeddable, clip of “a tear-filled-but-determined” Nasa administrator Major-General Charlie Bolden discussing what happens next for Nasa. For the International Space Station it means Russian Soyuz rockets ferrying astronauts to the station while the US develops its new era of commercial launchers and capsules. From the Spaceman blog

[Charlie Bolden] “It is time to move on. It’s incredibly important for Nasa to try to get to the point where we can begin to explore again. [That’s] not to say that what we’ve done in low-Earth orbit is not exploration. It is, but it’s a different kind of exploration; it’s scientific exploration; it’s medical, it’s biomedical research and the like. There are planets and other heavenly bodies out there waiting for us to come, and we can only do that if we move away from shuttle, [and] move on to a heavy-lift launch vehicle and the type of vehicle that will enable us to get away from low-Earth orbit, and do the types of things that people thought we were going to be doing in the Apollo era.”

Launch video via NASAtelevision

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  • joeCanuck

    This is really quite a sorry place for the USA to be. But it is self-inflicted. NASA lost its sense of direction many years ago and, insofar as manned space flight is concerned, is finished, deceased, stuffed, dead.
    They are now going to have to rely on the USSR and China until the commercial business can build itself up. Shaming for them.

  • Pete Baker

    “insofar as manned space flight is concerned, is finished, deceased, stuffed, dead.”

    Not entirely true, joe.

    As Charlie Bolden alludes to, the idea is more of a refocus of time and money, and eventually astronauts, away from low-Earth orbit activity.

  • joeCanuck

    I know he said that Pete, but think it will be under contract, at best.

  • Pete Baker

    “but think it will be under contract, at best”

    It won’t be any more under contract than the Saturn V/Apollo program, joe.