The Space Review: Shuttles, HLVs and Lunar Sex

Image Credit: NASA/Carla Thomas

This week in The Space Review….

The decision to retire the Space Shuttle
When the shuttle Atlantis lands later this week, it will mark the end of the Space Shuttle program, an ending tinged with regret and controversy. Dwayne Day looks back at how the decision to retire the shuttle was reached in the aftermath of the Columbia accident.

Heavy-lift limbo
Congress has mandated that NASA develop a heavy-lift launch vehicle, but in the eyes of some the agency has made little progress on the Space Launch System (SLS). Jeff Foust reports on when a design for the SLS might finally be ready, and possible funding and schedule issues for the program.

Did space exploration sow the seeds of its own demise?
Space exploration has ushered in a number of major technological advancements, including microelectronics that led to today’s information-saturated age. Bob Mahoney worries that this space-enabled advance, ironically, may undermine the future of humans in space.

On survival, goals, and human space flight
The uncertainty many people feel about the future of human spaceflight with the imminent retirement of the Space Shuttle leave many wondering how to sustain a long-term human future in space. Donald C. Barker says that future ventures much be sold and sustained on the survival of humanity.

Review: Sex on the Moon
In 2002 several co-op students at NASA’s Johnson Space Center stole a vault containing rocks returned from the Moon by the Apollo missions, only to be quickly apprehended. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a dramatic, if not sensationalized, recounting of that theft.