Photos: Not every NASA project gets the green light


Shuttle-C; 1987 – 1990; perhaps $200 million.

Source:  New Scientist

Shuttle-C; 1987 – 1990; perhaps $200 million.

An unmanned cargo derivative of the shuttle, Shuttle-C was designed to replace the shuttle orbiter with a cargo pod atop an engine module. It was intended to carry heavier loads than the shuttle and perhaps hazardous ones (like liquid-fuel upper stages). There had been many earlier design studies, some with the same name, for shuttle-derived cargo vehicles. For a few years after the Challenger accident, NASA pursued work on the Shuttle-C project, with the initial aim of launching heavy space-station modules. But rising cost estimates for development and dwindling hopes for launch-cost savings gradually made the project look less worthwhile. Funding was zeroed out by Congress to help pay for the massive cost overruns of the space station. (Illustration: NASA-MSFC)


Facing budget and technical concerns, NASA may abandon the development of its Ares rockets. Here, amateur space historian Henry Spencer looks back at other big NASA projects that never got off the ground.
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