The three remaining Space Shuttles (Discovery, Atlantis and Endevour) are scheduled to be retired in 2010 when construction of the International Space Station is complete. The replacement space vehicle, Orion and its lauch vehicle Ares, is scheduled to start service in 2015. The Orion vehicle will be more cost effective than the shuttles and will allow trips to not only the Space Station but also the Moon. During the five years between the Shuttle's retirement and the start of Orion operation, the plan is to use Russian Soyuz spacecraft for transporting crews to and from the International Space Station.
Yes! They Are Too Expensive and Unsafe.
Main Reference:
  • The Columbia Accident Investigation Board concluded that the shuttle either should be retired in 2010 or be recertified. The overhauls required to allow the shuttles to be recertified would be very expensive time-consuming projects.
  • According to NASA, it would cost between $2.5 Billion and $4.0 Billion per year to keep the shuttles flying beyond 2010. That amounts to between $22 and $35 per year per average family.
  • Continuing shuttle operations will siphon off money and resources from the NASA's efforts to build and purchase new transportation systems that are less complex, less expensive to operate, and better suited to serving both the space station and the exploration missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
  • As much as it hurts our national ego, in the interim between 2010 and 2015 when Orion will be ready, it is cheaper and safer to transport our astronauts in new Russian built Soyuz capsules than using our 20+ year old shuttles.
  • With the completion of the Space Station in 2010, there is little need for the heavy lift capabilities of the space shuttles.
  • It is hoped that the retirement of the shuttles might spur the development of private commercial space companies that could provide supplies to the International Space Station and possibly even crews.
  • NASA Administrator, Michael Griffin has told a Senate panel that if we continue to operate the shuttle for five more years, that there was a one in 12 chance we would lose another crew.

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No. We Must Keep Them Until Orion Is Ready.
Main References:
  • The country can not rely on Russia to transport American astronauts. Their invasion of Georgia proves they are not trustworthy. We could end up with only Russians occupying the International Space Station.
  • Extending the shuttle will shore up our dominance in space.
  • We can not bank of Ares/Orion being ready as scheduled. Historically, major projects, like the Ares/Orion vehicles, rarely meet their promised delivery dates.
  • It will save the jobs of some of our most talented space workers until the workers are required for Ares/Orion projects.
  • The expensive recertification recommended by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board is not necessary if there only two flights per year or if the recertification rules are relaxed.
  • Congress has not passed a waiver to a law forbidding purchase of certain types of technology from Russia. Consequently, NASA unable to purchase the Russian made Soyoz vehicles being considered as a bridges between the end of the shuttle and the start of Orion.
  • The decision by President George W. Bush to implement the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's recommendation of shuttle retirement in 2010 was arbitrary. The shuttles did not just suddenly become unsafe. NASA has learned how to manage the risk of flying the shuttles.