GovBytes: How Do You Feel About the End of the Space Shuttle Program?

A week ago today, Space Shuttle Atlantis rocketed into orbit for the last time, marking the beginning of the very end of NASA’s Space Shuttle program. The decision has been cause for celebration for some, anger for others, sadness and introspection for many who saw the Space Shuttle as a crowning achievement in inspiration for the United States.

[P]erhaps the Shuttle’s most important accomplishment was — for a time — inspiring young Americans to dream of becoming astronauts, engineers and scientists. And that is what is so bitterly disappointing about President Obama’s space policy.

Last year, the president essentially killed off the Constellation Program, NASA’s next generation of manned space flight. Constellation was by no means perfect. Some would argue it was fatally flawed for borrowing so heavily from Apollo-era technology. Yet for a president who came to office in part by championing technology education, eliminating Constellation without offering an alternative does irreparable harm to U.S. space exploration. More importantly, Obama’s policy, which essentially defers space operations to private industry, has diminished one of America’s greatest exports — the belief that in America anything is possible.

Space Shuttle Was Expensive, Deadly and Inspirational to All

A number of people (including, one might say, Government Technology’s Chad Vander Veen, the author of the story above) feel the program ran its course and that in difficult times, there are better uses for taxpayer dollars than playing in space. That’s certainly a valid position to take. But there’s also been a pervasive sense this week that giving up the Space Shuttle is at best a shame and at worse the wrong decision. Many important developments have come out of NASA programs like this one.

How are you taking the end of the Space Shuttle program?


“GovBytes” is a blog series created by GovLoop in partnership with Government Technology. If you see great a story on Gov Tech and want to ask a question around it, please send it to [email protected].

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Sterling Whitehead

I’m happy the program is over; it lets America focus on the future of space: deep space travel. NASA should be the organization taking the risks to push us beyond Low Earth Orbit and go deeper into space. Private sector’s role should be to follow NASA pioneering, commercialize the technologies NASA developsfor deep space exploration and, most importantly, make deep space exploration afforable to all Americans. (Most money is spending on escaping Earth’s gravity).