Space Shuttle Issues: Round Two
How best to take advantage of the shuttle program’s successes while also dealing with its problems and with the shuttle’s appropriate role in the nation’s space efforts would continue to be a continuing theme in Reagan administration space policy. NASA had to deal with the increasingly evident gap between the promises that had accompanied the shuttle’s approval and its actual performance. It continued to press to increase the shuttle’s flight rate and to market the shuttle to fare-paying customers, even as there were some “close calls” on specific missions. The price for a shuttle launch was adjusted to reflect early experience but also to keep the shuttle competitive with the European Ariane. This action threatened the viability of a U.S. commercial ELV industry. A decision was made to fly nonastronaut citizens on the shuttle, first of all a teacher. The national security community began to express its doubts regarding the wisdom of making the space shuttle the sole means of U.S. access to space for critical national security payloads.