It’s past time to put the US space shuttle fleet out to pasture, according to John Logsdon, a member of the 2003 Columbia Accident Investigation Board. That panel recommended the US “replace the shuttle as soon as possible,” and Logsdon stands by that assessment, even though it comes with an unpalatable caveat: the only alternative is to use Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.
But sticking with the shuttle past 2010 is a dangerous way to show disapproval of Russia’s actions. NASA pegs each shuttle mission with a one in 80 chance of disaster, which would delay the program indefinitely, and the "flawed" system's $3 billion annual budget is sucking resources from developing a new space vehicle. "Get on with current plans," Logsdon writes, "which call for a US-led international effort to return to the moon and then prepare for voyages to Mars. We should not let false pride or international tensions get in the way of exploring the final frontier. "