End of the Shuttle Era

With the final Shuttle flight only days away, an explosion of articles are coming out about the future of America's space program. For example, this week's cover of The Economist boldly claims that the Shuttle retirement heralds, "The end of the space age." An excellent Washington Post article discusses the uncertainty in store for NASA's astronauts. In that article, NASA's chief astronaut Peggy Whitson says she is advocating that NASA hire "nine new astronaut candidates in 2012 and six more in 2014." An even better Aviation Week article also features an interview with Peggy Whitson, where she describes more details of NASA's expected demand for astronauts in the post-Shuttle era.

"It’s important to maintain new eyes, bring new folks in on a routine basis, even if I have to pick small classes in the four-to-six range.  I would rather pick a few new people every few years, rather than have one [large] class between now and 2020... NASA is probably a year or two away from its first post-shuttle-era astronaut selection."

I'd like to write more commentary on this important turning point in history, but I'm currently traveling to begin my commercial astronaut training this week (more on that in upcoming posts).


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