What Shuttle to Recommend?
On December 27, Low met with those at NASA headquarters involved in the shuttle program “to discuss the various options of payload size and shape, payload carrying capability, booster options, etc.” On the next day, he held individual meetings with his senior associates to get their frank assessment of the best course to pursue. The decision coming out of these meetings was to accept a slightly less ambitious shuttle design; Low reported that “as a result of these meetings, we decided that we should proceed with a Shuttle that has a 14 x 45′ payload [bay] and a payload carrying capability of 45,000 pounds. We further decided that we should hold open the option of a liquid vs. a solid
booster for another two months.” Jim Fletcher had not been involved in the December 27-28 meetings, but quickly accepted their conclusions. Low observed “from NASA’s point of view, and not necessarily out in the open, the size and weight we picked could do most NASA missions and some of the DOD missions, but particularly would have the growth capability to the full size Shuttle should such a decision be made at a later date.”2