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The Space Shuttle: A Horizon Guide

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Ratings: 7.86/10 from 7 users.

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The Space Shuttle: A Horizon GuideIt was 30 years ago that the first space shuttle, Columbia, was launched. It was such a triumph of technology, engineering and organization that it's easy to forget the programme was primarily the product of an economy drive. The disposable Apollo missions had cost billions. A reusable craft was deemed more expedient.

Its story has been characterized by incredible triumphs, but blighted by devastating tragedies – and the BBC and Horizon have chronicled every step of its career.

This unique and poignant Horizon Guide brings together coverage from three decades of programmes to present a biography of the shuttle and to ask what its legacy will be.

Will it be remembered as an impressive chapter in human space exploration, or as a fatally flawed white elephant?

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9 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Dalek Spliff

    kinda cheap - a cut-up of all the other shuttle-related bbc docs out there... I recognised some "Miracle in Orbit" or the earlier "New Star in Orbit", some of the space-station stuff from "Red Star in Orbit", the Challenger O-Ring thingy also got a whole documentary on its own etc...

    Nothing new here. But I guess it was very easy on the budget.

  2. wald0

    I am not sure what possible thing could be new to us on a space shuttle that we have operated for years, and is now ready for retirement. I suppose they could have gone into what they would use next or the future of NASA but that is really a whole other documentary in my opinion. In the end I suppose I am quite happy they didn't just discover something new about a ship they are ready to retire, it wouldn't exactly bolster confidence would it? Of course to each his own, your opinion is just as valid as mine I suppose.

  3. marcosanthonytoledo

    The piece of junk has finally been put out of it's misery. It was screwed up from the beginning nickel and dime to death like the Hubble was nearly was NASA should made two shuttles a unman cargo vehicle and a maned passenger vehicle for ten to twenty passenger plus crew. Then to make things worst add bad management and not constructing the shuttle all in Florida which might have prevented the O ring problem since the solid fuel boosters would made in one piece instead of sections the new unman military craft is what the space shuttle should have been but as we all know the military gets the good stuff. As for the civilian they get the left overs. Which is why NASA for the last forty years has been doing a dog and pony show throwing the country's money to the wind what a wast and a shame.

  4. SillyWillyOneNut

    Yet NASA has shown us Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Venus and now Mercury in exquisite detail,.. and has shown us the most amazing wonders of the Universe via Hubble, Kepler and other sophisticated research platforms,.. these efforts undertaken by thousands of scientists and engineers from around the globe only inspire us, and our youngsters, make us believe that we can grasp the Universe and maybe venture into it.

    My advice to you is to continue with your bashing of NASA, and to stay away or avoid entirely experiencing the knowledge brought to us from these efforts.

    If you agree to ignore these efforts and only bash them from the sidelines then great, since the rest of us will be pleased to know that you WILL be left behind.

  5. wald0

    Wow man, I agree with you but that was a little harsh I think. You have to admit NASA has made some awesomely huge yet simply avoided mistakes. Things that seem like common sense got somehow twisted and distorted by their bureaucratic infrastructure and it makes them appear simple and careless. I think even NASA will admit this but, they have also redeemed themselves and learned hard earned lessons that will benefit us in the future. All I am saying is I can see how people feel this way, even if it isn't justified in my opinion once you really study what happened.

    What concerns me is that NASA will be privately operated in the near future. This means it will be a business whose main objective of course is to make a profit. We all know that common sense, environmental concerns, long term sustainability, etc. is often abandoned in the name of more profit. The very nature of what NASA does makes it a very complicated business model with so many different angles that could be exploited and such huge capitol needed, it just seems inevitable that it will become more corrupted and less efficient. I really hope I am wrong though, cause it seems the only way to move forward with it. The government simply can't afford it anymore and it must continue of we have any hope of a long term future for our species or gaining the answers to the questions that have defined us since we have been able to think.

  6. marcosanthonytoledo

    Yes NASA unman programs have been great and I am looking forward to the Pluto fly by in 2015 but the billion dollar Mars explorer that was to settle the Cydonian question once and all conveniently disappeared before reaching it's target leaves a lot unanswered questions and what do we have in the maned space program to replace the shuttle but a Apollo capsule on steriods that was almost fifty years ago as I have said before this is like fighting WW2 with metal versions of WW1 airplanes. We have had forty years to come up with something better and more advance by now that was the point of my critic.

  7. SillyWillyOneNut

    When the Wright brothers flew for the first time the world rejoiced,.. yet behind that flight was over 30 designs that did not fly. Success is predicated upon the ability to learn from your errors. The accomplishments and failures of NASA are inline with this process.

    Is it easier to create a great tasting candy bar, or land a probe on the surface of Titan and send back pics of that primordial world.

  8. marcosanthonytoledo

    I share your concern waldO where NASA is going but the solution to it's financial problems was nip in the bud on November 22,1963 when President Kennedy was killed for on that day Nikita Khrushchev had accepted Kennedy's idea of combining both countries space programs for the Man Luna landing that would have spread the risks and costs what a missed opportunity due to this tragedy for which all the world is still paying dearly for.

  9. wald0

    I think that would have been a hard sell in the time Kennedy was president. The government had already built such a consensus in this country that communism was evil and Russia was our enemy, people would have freaked if Kennedy was like o.k. now we can combine our space programs. Plus he had built the space program up to be some kind of symbol of American progress and ability and hyped the space race idea. I think it would have been great if he could have done it, if it saved money and helped build a relationship between our countries, but their would have been so much resistance from congress, the public, and a lot of people in NASA- I just don't think he could have ever have gotten it done even if Khrushchev did agree.

    Or is that what you are suggesting- that they killed him because he was trying to make peace with Russia? You may be right, but I think his stance on Vietnam had something to do with it as well- among other things. He had openly said he would end the CIA's mini wars and covert actions, that we would change our policy in Vietnam, he had went after the mafia and organized crime, had the whole Cuba thing going on, etc. It makes it hard to guess who all might have been involved. In fact the only one you can reasonably say is probably innocent is Oswald, that's sad man.

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