IT IS sad the Globe had nothing positive to say abut NASA’s space shuttle (“A long overdue, but bittersweet end to NASA’s shuttle program,’’ Editorial, July 8). Your editorial portrayed the whole program as a failure because of NASA’s inability to turn its many incredible engineering achievements into an inexpensive commodity. As if the space shuttle should somehow resemble the Delta Shuttle!
Each launch is a nearly miraculous feat of engineering. NASA not only built a fleet of shuttles, each comprising over 2 million parts, but made this miracle a regularly repeating event. Welcoming space travelers from 16 different nations, collecting invaluable scientific data, rescuing, repairing and retrieving satellites, deploying and servicing the Hubble telescope, constructing an entire space station, module by module - the shuttle has done it all.
Of course it is expensive to do things in space that have never been done before. What a surprise! The hoped-for economies of a reusable shuttle proved elusive, and the commercial demand did not develop as anticipated. But to judge the program merely on cost, while disregarding the myriad benefits, not to mention the heroic sacrifices of the crews who did not return, is a gross misrepresentation of the true value of NASA’s shuttle program.
James A. Cochran