Splitting Cargo and Crew Astrobiology Magazine

The next generation space shuttle, like its predecessor, will serve many masters, as a cargo ship, a scientific laboratory, a docking platform, and a crew habitat. But according to Mark Fisher, Marshall Space Flight Center’s manager of Exploration Systems, the next shuttle will be designed to “separate cargo from crew.” That change is one lesson learned from flying the current shuttle for the last quarter century: human spaceflight has made cargo more expensive, and cargo can potentially make human spaceflight less safe. By splitting these basic tasks, it is hoped that a more robust shuttle, called the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), will emerge for its first unmanned flight test between 2008 and 2011.