In the first four Space Shuttle missions it was proven that two astronauts suffice to put a satellite into space (or retrieve one), yet more and more astronauts were sent along the trip and soon almost all missions included six or seven astronauts. |
For example if one looks at the crew of the Challenger-mission which ended in a desaster: There was a commander, a pilot, a "payload specialist", a "teacher from space" and three "mission specialists".
What should these seven people have done on the Space Shuttle? Planned was to put out a satellite (which would have been done mostly automatically with a robotic arm) and the observation of Halley's Comet. One might argue that an astronaut may be able to solve unforseen problems (by making a "spacewalk") yet even that is doubtable - but seven? Wouldn't one astronaut suffice and maybe a second as a backup?
An even more obvious example is the STS-51-G mission, one year earlier, on which Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a graduate of social and political sciences was chosen as a "payload specialist" and trained in a record time of two months to be an astronaut. Who was he, if not a space tourist?
And all that on a vehicle on which very expensive materials were used to reduce weight.
The Space Shuttle is an engineering masterpiece but at the same time an example of incredible waste, stupidity and decadence.
The combination of completely senseless requirements (for example horizontal landing - why?) with a naive-romantic basic concept (apparently the Space Shuttle should have become a "miniature Enterprise" from Star Trek: Commanders, pilots, chain-of-command, etc.) lead to a much too expensive and dangerous vehicle for space tourism.
On the one hand it is admirable that the engineers were able to meet the requirements at all, on the other hand it is sad how the strongest nation at that time wasted it's energy for a senseless project which eventualle led to the end of all manned-space missions.