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NASA Space Science

NASA’s Contest To Design the Last Shuttle Patch 164

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the end-of-an-era dept.
rocamargo writes "The space shuttle program is on its way out, but the core of people who built and maintained it will live on. To honor them, NASA gave its employees the chance to design the patch that will commemorate the shuttle program, which is slated to end in September, after STS-133 flies. From the designs of 85 current and former employees, the Shuttle Program Office has selected 15 finalists. The prospective patches, presented here, will be voted on internally by NASA employees and judged by a small panel." I've been thinking a lot lately about the end of the Space Shuttle. For someone my age, the shuttle really *IS* space travel. I'm going to be really sad to see STS-133 land.
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NASA’s Contest To Design the Last Shuttle Patch

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  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @09:47AM (#30682302)
    On the bright side, commercial space flight is nearing the point of practicality.
    • by Gravatron (716477)
      Which is cool, because if we can just buy tickets into space for the mundane stuff, we are free to pour money into the pure science missions.
    • On the bright side, commercial space flight is nearing the point of practicality.

      The manned commercial ships are strictly suborbital affairs, and achieve a fraction of the velocity needed for orbital flight.

      • Not so. SpaceX Dragon was designed to be a manned capsule. The first test launch of Falcon 9 should be in March or April. SpaceX, under a COTS contract with NASA, has 12 missions booked with the Falcon 9 using the Dragon as a pressurized cargo carrier to the ISS. It appears they plan to work toward getting it officially man-rated after that.
      • Baby steps (Score:3, Interesting)

        by geek2k5 (882748)

        Figure that Virgin Galactic and SpaceShipTwo are part of the baby steps needed to get to orbital manned commercial space flight. They are kind of like the barnstormers that flew from place to place around the country back in the infancy of manned flight, taking people into the air as a thrill.

        I seem to recall reading that WhiteKnightTwo, the launch ship series for SpaceShipTwo, will also be used for launching other Earth to space vessels. I wouldn't be surprised if a version of SpaceShipTwo, with a reduce

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      On the bright side? if you mean at the point NASA was at in the early 60's doing only suborbital flights, then yes you are right.

      Call me when Virgin get's something orbiting in a stable orbit. Or better yet, can launch and get close enough to the ISS to let tourists take photos with point and shoot cameras. THEN it's practical.

      ESA, USSR, NASA, and even china are nearly 50 years ahead of commercial spaceflight.

      • by Rockoon (1252108)
        I only get to call you when Virgin gets something into stable orbit? I can't call you for all the times that private companies have already put something into orbit?

        That whole 'put something into orbit' crap is old news. Very old news. As in over 20 years. Thats 2 decades. How old were you when Arianespace was started (thats 1980.) This is a private company making launch vehicles and in 2004 was responsible for over 50% of all satellites that were ever put into geostationary orbit (thats way higher than t
        • Arianespace is not entirely private though. Governments in Europe payed significant amounts toward the development of their rockets and they also subsidize losses incurred by Arianespace so the company does not have to make a profit.
        • by Lumpy (12016)

          This is a private company making launch vehicles and in 2004 was responsible for over 50% of all satellites that were ever put into geostationary orbit (thats way higher than the ISS)

          REally... Then why is many of the EU governments FUNDING them and gave them a ton of cash.

          They are not private.

    • Oh really? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by copponex (13876) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @11:26AM (#30683706) Homepage

      Have they sent anything into orbit? Have they made a trip to the ISS? Private space companies haven't even achieved what the CCCP did with the Sputnik over fifty years ago.

      I had a conversation with one of the people who works at Canaveral. He said it's sad that they're about to destroy decades of work and knowledge of a community that knows how to build, maintain, and successfully launch vehicles into space. A lot of the real brains there are getting old, and if they aren't able to pass on their experiences to the new generation of spaceflight engineers, we are going to find ourselves severely behind in space travel and technology in general.

      It's really a pity. The American idea of progress has turned inside out. Investment in spaceflight and the technologies to improve it is apparently is not equal to a month of spending for foreign military invasions. Not exactly a way forward if you ask me.

      • Re:Oh really? (Score:5, Informative)

        by FleaPlus (6935) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @11:51AM (#30684104) Journal

        Have they sent anything into orbit?

        Um, yes, much more often than NASA. For example, the United Launch Alliance has commercially launched 36 rockets in the past 36 months [satnews.com], SpaceX has had a number of successful launches (and seems to have worked out of their growing pains), and Orbital also launches regularly.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_spaceflight#Commercial_launchers [wikipedia.org]

        Have they made a trip to the ISS?

        If you're include non-US companies, Arianespace has used their Ariane 5 rocket to launch an ATV to the ISS. If you're only including US companies, SpaceX will be launching a prototype of their Dragon capsule this month, with two missions to the ISS this year: http://www.spacex.com/updates.php [spacex.com]

        Any other questions?

        • by copponex (13876)

          The ULA uses government funded rocket technology (Delta II, Delta IV and Atlas V) to launch satellites by combining two teams from the largest recipients of government grants and contracts, Lockheed and Boeing. I'll cut you a little slack - this is the definition of "private" research and development in the United States.

          The rest of SpaceX and Orbital only engage in sub-orbital flight, as I previously said. Restating that they launch suborbital flights isn't going to help the fact that they have never launc

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by icebrain (944107)

            The rest of SpaceX and Orbital only engage in sub-orbital flight

            That's funny, because I distinctly remember SpaceX putting a payload in orbit [wikipedia.org] recently, with many more flights planned.

            Orbital has been doing, well, orbital missions for a long time. See Pegasus, Minotaur, Taurus, etc.

            • by copponex (13876)

              That's funny, because I distinctly remember SpaceX putting a payload in orbit recently, with many more flights planned.

              Ah. After the first three exploded, I really didn't follow them. They have put one sat into orbit, which is a huge accomplishment. However, keep in mind it's a max 165kg payload. The max payload of the shuttle is 24,000 kg, though the Falcon 9 is supposed to match that this year.

              Orbital has been doing, well, orbital missions for a long time. See Pegasus, Minotaur, Taurus, etc.

              Ah. Well, I was flat wrong on this point. Though it seems their rockets are based on the Minutemen and Peacekeeper rockets. In fact, you cannot use their Minotaur rockets for private purposes because they use military parts and thus

              • by khallow (566160)

                Ah. After the first three exploded, I really didn't follow them. They have put one sat into orbit, which is a huge accomplishment. However, keep in mind it's a max 165kg payload. The max payload of the shuttle is 24,000 kg, though the Falcon 9 is supposed to match that this year.

                Falcon 1 sends up to 650 or so kg to LEO. Falcon 9 can do 10k kg. The Falcon 9 Heavy is the one comparable to the Shuttle. SpaceX claims they will be able to send almost 30k kg to LEO. I don't know when they expect to launch a Falcon 9 Heavy, but I gather it's not in the next few years.

                Ah. Well, I was flat wrong on this point. Though it seems their rockets are based on the Minutemen and Peacekeeper rockets. In fact, you cannot use their Minotaur rockets for private purposes because they use military parts and thus are not available for resale.

                That's a bogus legal requirement used by Congress to screw an earlier attempt by E-Prime Aerospace [eprimeaerospace.com] in the late 90's to use the Peacekeeper missiles. I don't know who was responsible for it other than it most likely wasn't Orb

          • Re:Oh really? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by FleaPlus (6935) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @01:55PM (#30685904) Journal

            First off, SpaceX and Orbital don't "only engage in suborbital flight," but has designed and launched orbital rockets; in contrast, NASA hasn't successfully designed and launched a new orbital vehicle in around 30 years, despite plenty of attempts which have become case studies in poor program management.

            Additionally, you're confusing two different issues: having space exploration entirely privately funded, which hardly anybody is advocating, with the issue of having transportation to low-earth orbit handled commercially (i.e. NASA, scientists, tourists, etc. buying trips to orbit), which many people are advocating. Even if a portion of the R&D for the rockets has been paid for by the government, what's important is that there's a competitive commercial marketplace for manned launches. That way multiple new approaches can be tried in parallel, proving new and more efficient systems with unmanned launches before transporting humans on them. Government-controlled monopolies tend to be suboptimal, to say the least.

          • Restating that they launch suborbital flights isn't going to help the fact that they have never launched anything into space.

            Not so. Space-X has done orbital flights with Falcon-1. In fact, last year they delivered a Maylaysian sattelite into orbit. True, they haven't done a *manned* orbital flight yet, but they have ground tested all the hardware, and are ready to make their first attempt next month.
        • by Blakey Rat (99501)

          If you're include non-US companies, Arianespace has used their Ariane 5 rocket to launch an ATV to the ISS.

          What do they need a 4x4 for on the ISS?

      • Have they sent anything into orbit? Have they made a trip to the ISS? Private space companies haven't even achieved what the CCCP did with the Sputnik over fifty years ago.

        Private companies have been launching (and owning) satellites since the early 60's.

        That is, if you use the usual definition of private companies which equates to public ownership. (E.G. Boeing.) Private companies have only 'not accomplished anything' if you use the NewSpace/new speak meaning that equates to "only space fanboi ap

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eln (21727)
      Depends on your definition of "nearing". Private companies have, so far, sent a man into suborbital flight (technically "space", but not high enough to do anything useful, like sustain an orbit). That was almost 6 years ago. Since then, there's been a lot of talk about space tourism, but nothing concrete has materialized. Sure, some companies have taken deposits from people who want to go up, but it's still all suborbital, and it's still unknown when they'll actually make even that happen. They've talk
  • Number Three... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GypC (7592) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @09:50AM (#30682336) Homepage Journal
    ... is the best by far. Most of those entries won't embroider well at all.
    • Re:Number Three... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by llZENll (545605) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @10:11AM (#30682552)

      Only a few are good, but patch #3 is the best design, five shuttles, and each star represents a lost crew member. An excellent design. Its clean and stylish and represents several ideas.

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        A number of the patches incorporate the idea of stars representing lost crew members, but I agree #3 is the best overall. The clean design is very appealing, and I like them showing all five shuttles*. #8 is flashy, but not in a meaningful way -- the shape is supposed to evoke a fine diamond or jewel? Who cares? #10 has a nice concept, the shuttle returning home, with stars showing missions and other stars showing lost astronauts. But the space field is too cluttered with random stuff yet would look to

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @09:53AM (#30682364)

    What bugs is it supposed to fix?

  • How Many shuttles? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frith01 (1118539) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @09:58AM (#30682402)

    Some patches only show 5 shuttles, and dont count Enterprise, but the others do ?

    • by Kolie (1012967) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @10:02AM (#30682436)
      To quote wikipedia "The Space Shuttle Enterprise (NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-101) was the first Space Shuttle orbiter. It was built for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to perform test flights in the atmosphere.[2] It was constructed without engines or a functional heat shield, and was therefore not capable of spaceflight. Originally, Enterprise had been intended to be refitted for orbital flight, which would have made it the second space shuttle to fly after Columbia.[2] However, during the construction of Columbia, details of the final design changed, particularly with regard to the weight of the fuselage and wings. Refitting Enterprise for flight would have involved dismantling the orbiter and returning the sections to subcontractors across the country. As this was an expensive proposition, it was determined to be less costly to build Challenger around a body frame (STA-099) that had been created as a test article.[2] Similarly, Enterprise was considered for refit to replace Challenger after the latter was destroyed, but Endeavour was built from structural spares instead.[2][3]"
      • by frith01 (1118539) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @10:07AM (#30682514)

        I knew that Enterprise never made it to space, I was just surprised that internally at NASA they werent counting it. ( The same as some of them start the project in 1976, instead of 1981)

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Kolie (1012967)
          I would indeed count it among the other shuttles in the program, it seems that some at NASA found it meaningful as well. Others though find it as only an incremental footnote of history.
      • At this point it's necessary to mention that the Enterprise is on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Annex at Dulles International Airport. The annex is a few miles down the road from the main terminal. In addition to Enterprise, there's also the Enola Gay, an SR71, a JSF, (F-35?) and a whole pile more. My wife said she liked it better than the Air & Space downtown.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        BTW, one can't help but wonder why do they call it an "orbiter"...

    • The Shuttle "Pathfinder" wasn't designed to fly either . . .
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathfinder_(Space_Shuttle_simulator) [wikipedia.org]
      it was used to check clearances in places where the shuttle would be in the future.
  • Agree with you, CT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Camaro (13996) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @09:59AM (#30682404)

    It's really quite sad to see another step backward in human spaceflight. I grew up in the '80s when the shuttle was exciting but thought we'd have progressed beyond it by now. As a child a space station meant a large circular wheel with a central hub that thousands of people were living on and which was stepping off point for missions further out. Much as I appreciate the science going on with what we have, it sure would be nice if mankind was a little bolder.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      it sure would be nice if mankind was a little bolder

      It's a conspiracy. We've been held back by English majors complaining about split infinitives. If wasn't for their constant whining we'd be boldly going across the galaxy by now! But no, you split one little infinitive and they'll bring down an entire space program just to keep the government from repeating and thus sanctioning it.

      Whoops, forgot my meds this morning.

    • I disagree. I think unmanned spaceflight is the REAL future, and will provide us with far more useful information than putting meat sacks in a tin can and blasting it into a vacuum.
      • OK, but I don't think six billion people would fit in the Fertile Crescent.

        Oh, wait...we had explorers that had the courage to take to the stormy seas in fragile craft without accurate navigation. Unmanned space missions are good for gathering information but there might come a time when we need to get out there to make use of what we learn whether it be for science or for commercial use.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khallow (566160)

        I disagree. I think unmanned spaceflight is the REAL future, and will provide us with far more useful information than putting meat sacks in a tin can and blasting it into a vacuum.

        Ok, here's a challenge for you. How much would it cost to duplicate the scientific output of the Apollo program with unmanned missions? Your budget is a heady $130 billion dollars (the inflation-adjusted cost of Apollo program, possibly including Skylab). Key things you need to be able to do:

        1) return 382 kg of samples from the Moon in at least six missions. You can conduct far more missions, if you desire.

        2) At least three of those sample return missions must use rovers capable of traveling up to 40

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      The shuttle had a fundamental design flaw: it put the vehicle carrying precious human cargo beside the huge disposable booster instead of on top of it like every previous spacecraft. This made the shuttle vulnerable to being damaged by foam dislodging from the booster. While the concept of a reusable launch/reentry vehicle seems laudable, in practice the shuttle's implementation of this idea was far from being economically competitive with less sophisticated methods of getting cargo into orbit. As such, I c
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        In defense of the shuttle, I believe it was originally designed to be launched from atop a 747 (much like SpaceShipOne), and the decision to switch to strapping it to a cheap booster instead of an airplane was made at the last moment. Perhaps the shuttle would have fared better had NASA scientists actually been able to bring the original design to fruition.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by icebrain (944107)

          Err, no. Been watching Moonraker too many times lately?

          Most of the original shuttle designs involved two-stage launchers where the first stage flew back to the launch site with wings. They did carry the second stage piggyback, for the most part, but they still flew like rockets the whole way up (vertical launch off a pad, rocket powered, etc). There have been a couple of "back-of-747" style proposals, but none were actually built.

          Very good book on the subject: http://www.amazon.com/Space-Shuttle-National [amazon.com]

    • it sure would be nice if mankind was a little bolder.

      Don't tell slashdot - slashdot can't do anything about that problem. Tell your US representative. Tell your US Senator. Send a letter to the VP and POTUS. Contact every federal-level elected politician that represents you. The budget - and hence the missions - for NASA are dictated by congress. The NASA budget keeps getting cut because the politicians believe the American people are OK with that happening. If you are not OK with it then you owe it to yourself, your representation, and the rest of th

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)

      Much as I appreciate the science going on with what we have, it sure would be nice if mankind was a little bolder.

      Well, the USA are already working on it, increasing the average weight of mankind all the time - and given that many Americans are already heavy and a sizable number of them are black I think they're making good progress.

      Plus, and I know this is a fairly oblique statement, for everyone tracking the progress of spaceflight it's justified to say that the leading position of the States is actuall

    • When the Space Race was basically ending, it was clear there won't be so many resources anymore for space travel. And what NASA did for the next 3 decades? Flew a spacecraft wasting almost 100 tonnes of cargo in each launch. A spacecraft that was not only a result of compromise, but properties of which weren't really utilized. Those 100 tonnes wasted in each launch meant no circular space station. No mission further on.

      Heck, even Russians got sucked in and wanted to have a spacecraft with comparable capabil

  • I also grew up as a big fan of the shuttle program, but as I've gotten older and wiser, I can see what a boondoggle this program was. It never lived up to its goals of reusability and was over the projected costs by orders of magnitude.

    Frankly, I'm now glad to see the shuttle retiring and I'm greatly looking forward to the impending launch of the first SpaceX Falcon 9 this spring ( http://www.spacex.com/updates.php [spacex.com] ) . Space will not be conquered with government programs, but by private enterprise and ind

    • by Markvs (17298)
      It never could! In order to get Nixon to sign off on the Shuttle Program, NASA promised a launch of every three weeks -- something they knew full well would never happen. While it was reusable (well, the orbiter and the boosters anyway), it really was meant to work with a space station -- that is, Skylab. But it wasn't ready in time, so we sat out of space for years.
      Now we have a new station that took way longer to build than we expected, which they want to deorbit soon. Frustrating!

      IMO, the US should
  • by PHPNerd (1039992) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @10:25AM (#30682708) Homepage
    ...because it names Enterprise among the ships. #10 runs a close second due to this fact as well. Either way, Enterprise needs to be on the final patch as it played a crucial role in the program. (and it must be honored for nerdiness sake)
    • I liked the first one a lot, but #5 was my favorite of all of them anyway - for a patch you have to keep the design more on the simple side, with less photorealism and cleaner elements.

      Also, I liked seeing the major things the shuttle worked on during the years of service - Hubble and space station.

      Overall it was a great patch design.

  • How practical is it to travel to Florida to see a shuttle launch in person? It seems like most of the launches these days are delayed weeks or longer from their originally-scheduled dates. I'd like to see the last one, but obviously if it means renting a room there for a month it's not really something I could do.

    • by neurovish (315867)

      How practical is it to travel to Florida to see a shuttle launch in person? It seems like most of the launches these days are delayed weeks or longer from their originally-scheduled dates. I'd like to see the last one, but obviously if it means renting a room there for a month it's not really something I could do.

      Sounds like you've already worked that out. If you were going to do it, you should clear out about a week and plan something else to do in Florida, then work around the shuttle launch. If you're planning on taking a couple days off to fly down, see the launch, and fly back, then there is a pretty good chance that you won't see it. It's kind of hard to tell until the day of the launch what the chances that the window will be clear are. Florida also tends to have hurricanes and thunderstorms during this t

    • by raddan (519638) *
      Depending on how far you live from FL (<1000 miles), and how fuel-efficient your car is, you could drive there, with the intention of tent camping when you get there. There are lots of places to camp in FL. If the weather turns sour, sleep in your car. If it gets really bad, drive home (they won't be launching a shuttle in a hurricane anyway).

      Most of the time, I try to do without my car, but this is one of those cases where using one is probably the most economical solution. As another poster ment
    • That depends... (Score:3, Interesting)

      How do you define

      see a shuttle launch in person?

      I was at Kennedy over the summer, and I was fortunate enough to be able to see likely the last time we will ever have two shuttles on platform simultaneously. However my timing down there was incompatible with seeing a launch, and I learned something from our NASA tour guide about the launches that I did not know before.

      Very, very, few people are allowed to get even somewhat close to the launch. Granted, you can get close enough to feel some of the shockwave, you won't be able to get

  • ...I made a few comments about this End of an Era on my blog a few days ago. Follow the link in my signature.
  • #8 appeals to the art deco aficionado in me, and #12 is just beautiful. As others have pointed out, however, it is likely that neither of them will embroider particularly well.

  • by thrich81 (1357561) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @10:52AM (#30683174)
    "For someone my age, the shuttle really *IS* space travel. I'm going to be really sad to see STS-133 land." -- Well for someone MY age, the Shuttle with its false promises of cheap access to space is what destroyed the Apollo-Saturn progression of vehicles and stagnated real manned space exploration for 30 years. Good riddance; it is time to get back to business with Constellation or some other Apollo type vehicles which will take us beyond LEO.
    • by sir_eccles (1235902) on Thursday January 07, 2010 @11:21AM (#30683650)

      Or was it Apollo-Saturn with its promise of quick and dirty into space before the Soviets what destroyed the progression of the X-15/X-20 spaceplane program and stagnated space exploration for years.

      • Hmmm, interesting, the little bit of wisdom at the bottom of this particular slashdot page for me was:

        Many aligators will be slain, but the swamp will remain.

        Coincidentally fitting for the nostalgia I would say, don't you all think? Space will remain. If you want to get there, go buy a book about orbital theory and help us get there =)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Or was it Apollo-Saturn with its promise of quick and dirty into space before the Soviets what destroyed the progression of the X-15/X-20 spaceplane program and stagnated space exploration for years.

        This.

        My father was a NASA engineer for Apollo. He and his colleagues were almost unanimous in their opinion that what they were doing was a neat trick, but a distraction from their real business of building spaceplanes. He also worked for what was then Martin Marietta on the early stages of the Shuttle design,

      • by FleaPlus (6935)

        Or was it Apollo-Saturn with its promise of quick and dirty into space before the Soviets what destroyed the progression of the X-15/X-20 spaceplane program and stagnated space exploration for years.

        Indeed. If you haven't read it already, aerospace engineer Rand Simberg has a really great piece titled "A Space Program For the Rest of Us" [thenewatlantis.com] which goes into detail on how the Apollo program, structured to beat the Russians to the Moon at any cost, had the unfortunate side effect of creating a space program which

  • "For someone my age, the shuttle really *IS* space travel. I'm going to be really sad to see STS-133 land."

    Reading that, I feel lucky to have grown up watching the space program when we were testing the limits of our abilities and every flight brought us closer to landing on the moon. There was a sense of adventure that's been missing since then.

    • And what generation has been behind all the budget cuts since those days of adventure? When the world has become boring, see wether you voted for the guy who promised lower taxes.
  • I'm going to be really sad to see STS-133 land.

    As opposed to something.... more spectacular? They've already done that a couple of times.

  • I've been thinking a lot lately about the end of the Space Shuttle. For someone my age, the shuttle really *IS* space travel. I'm going to be really sad to see STS-133 land.

    .

    And for someone as old as me, "space travel" was the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, when we put men on the moon in less than a decade. That was when NASA wasn't afraid to take risks -- yes, to put it bluntly, when we accepted that there would be some casualties.

    I'm not making light of the shuttle program, but "Space travel" ...

  • Safe Landing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 4pins (858270)
    "I'm going to be really sad to see STS-133 land."
    Challenger breaking up on re-entry hit me very hard. I will be happy to see it land, safely.
    • by nbvb (32836)

      That would be Columbia. We lost Challenger just 73 seconds after she lifted off.

  • by rwa2 (4391) *

    I already missed all of the Saturn V launches, now I'm probably going to miss seeing the last shuttle launch as well? I need more vacation time :P

  • by PPH (736903)
    A graphic of one hand closing a door while the other reaches through the remaining opening to switch off the lights.
  • But it would suck even worse if it _didn't_ land. We've already had two shuttles that didn't. Here's praying that the remaining flights _do_ land as intended.

  • > I'm going to be really sad to see STS-133 land.

    Me too, but nowhere near as sorry as I would if it didn't.

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