This article about redundant fuel gauges on the Space Shuttle highlights many of the reasons why the aging behemoth should be cancelled and its budget reallocated towards newer technologies and contracts for private space developers.

Deputy shuttle program manager Wayne Hale said the fuel gauge problem has been a vexing one - engineers still don't know exactly what caused it - and he's asked himself, "Are we taking care enough to do it right."

"Based on the last 10 days' worth of effort, the huge number of people and the tremendous number of hours that have been spent in testing and analysis, I think that we're coming to the right place," he said. ...

"These are rather arcane matters, I would admit. They're rather difficult and sometimes they don't always present well," Griffin said. "But in the long run, I think if it's the right thing, we can explain it to you and you want us doing what's right, not what necessarily is obvious or popular." ...

"My observation is that when the weather is good, you have vehicle problems. If the vehicle works, you have weather problems," he said, smiling. "Since we have some weather concerns, I'm confident the vehicle is going to be OK."

The Shuttle is 1970s technology and it had always been precariously balanced between nail-biting success and horrendous disaster. For $5 billon per year our country could fund 500 prizes similar to the Ansari X Prize -- or hundreds of larger prizes for more difficult accomplishments -- and allow the private market to select the best, most promising technologies. Everything the government runs is wasteful and inefficient, and the Shuttle Program is no exception. By redirecting our tax dollars towards private research, the public would be assured of funding only the best and most successful technology, and humanity would be assured of actually returning to space.



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