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NASA Space

Atlantis Blasts Off On Final Mission 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-boldly-go dept.
shuz writes "Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off today on its STS-132 mission to the International Space Station — the final flight for the venerable vehicle. The mission involves three spacewalks over 12 days (PDF), during which the team will replace six batteries on the port truss which store energy from solar panels on that truss, bolt on a spare space-to-ground Ku-band antenna, and attach a new tool platform to Canada's Dextre robotic arm." NASA has video of the historic launch and reader janek78 adds this quote from the mission summary: "Atlantis lifted off on its maiden voyage on Oct. 3, 1985, on mission 51-J. Later missions included the launch of the Magellan probe to Venus on STS-30 in May 1989, Galileo interplanetary probe to Jupiter on STS-34 in October 1989, the first shuttle docking to the Mir Space Station on STS-71 in June1995, and the final Hubble servicing mission on STS-125 in May 2009."
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Atlantis Blasts Off On Final Mission

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  • by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb@@@gmail...com> on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:13PM (#32212434) Homepage Journal

    Return home safely.

  • Why, oh why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yog (19073) * on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:15PM (#32212454) Homepage Journal

    Will someone please explain to me why we can't keep the shuttles running for another few years while we figure out how to replace them? Now that Obama has canceled the Constellation manned booster, and he granted a stay of execution to the Orion capsule (but it's still basically on life support) doesn't this leave the United States with no means to get humans into orbit? For several years? How is this give the United States any kind of strategic advantage?

    Granted, the Constellation project was controversial within Nasa, but it's a science and engineering project and as we all know, engineering involves risks, trials, and redesigns. That's the way we got where we are today. Simply canceling it because we don't like spending some $6 billion a year to keep it going is ludicrous, given our willingness to pour literally hundreds of billions of dollars into nebulous goals like "stimulating" the economy or propping up banks that deserve to fail.

    Even General Motors got some $18 billion in relief, talking about an organization that deserves to fail. Without GM, we'll still have a domestic car industry--Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda are all operating in the U.S. and doing just fine--but without Constellation or the Shuttle, we'll have NO MANNED SPACE PROGRAM AT ALL. This seems like a strategic mistake in the extreme.

    To make matters worse, we are planning to rely on our old sometime friends in Russia to get American astronauts into orbit, and we're hoping that private companies will take up the slack and, almost overnight, come out with systems that are certified for human space transport. Given that none of them has done even one manned flight so far, this seems rather premature.

    Let's fund the Shuttle program for a few more years and restore Constellation to full funding. So, a few million people won't get free healthcare after all. Honestly, the economic benefits of the space program will more than make up for that. Eventually, tech spinoffs and the overall bigger economy will lift their boats--if they feel like working.

    The U.S. can't just cede human space flight to other countries who are eager to take our place up there. We're not quitters; vote this fall and again in 2012 and throw out those who are.

  • Re:And one to go (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Admodieus (918728) <john AT misczak DOT net> on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:20PM (#32212514)
    I love the shuttle program, but I would never wish something to go wrong on a mission just so they can launch another shuttle.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:24PM (#32212580)

    when we cannot afford anything on Earth

    We can afford most everything on earth. We just simply can't pay billions of dollars that we don't have to failing businesses, ruin health care and do a million other things.

    I just hope we can keep the space program close down long enough (along with many other ineffective members of the government) so as to get our country back in the black.

    The problem is, how are we going to get ahead in technology then?

    If the US government released all taxpayer-funded studies to the public to jump-start private businesses, that is one thing. But in reality everything is so classified that private businesses are starting from 1950s-era technology with very little funding.

    The US needs to take a clear stand and do one thing or another.

    A) Let a private company buy-out NASA and release all information for free to any US business or individual with an interest in producing spacecraft.
    or
    B) Continue to spend money developing new spacecraft and using taxpayer money to do great things.

    We can't continue to have an under-funded NASA. If Obama wants to waste taxpayer money on bailouts and such thats one thing, however then let the taxpayers have their money spent in research fulfilled, let a private company take over all of NASA and release information to the public. We can't move on with a crippled NASA and a crippled private sector. It just doesn't work.

  • Re:Obsolete ! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Volante3192 (953645) on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:27PM (#32212620)

    Yeah, curse old technology. Why haven't we moved on from this 'wheel' shape, by the way? Surely, new = better...

  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:29PM (#32212638)

    I worked on mission 51J (first Atlantis flight) and now it's done. Man, I am old...

  • Re:Why, oh why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jeng (926980) on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:29PM (#32212648)

    When people post "Oh I'm posting as AC to preserve my karma." I usually think how idiotic it is because most of the time their post isn't nearly as much flaimbait as they think.

    You sir have made a wise decision in going AC, your post is wrong in just about every detail.

  • by morgauxo (974071) on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:35PM (#32212706)
    It's so sad that some people think this way. The space program is not stopping the country from getting into the black. The money required to pay off all the debt and solve the counties problems is orders of magnitude greater than the money required to properly fund the space program to do great things. Complaining that we shouldn't be spending money on a space program is like complaining that some kid playing on the beach shouldn't remove a bucket full of water from the great lakes because global warming has lowered water levels. It is ridiculous.

    Poverty will exist so long as mankind is mankind. There will always be good, hard working poor people so long as there is greed. There will be lazy poor people so long as there are people who are neither motivated to better their lives or crafty enough to cheat. There will be disease so long as there is life. There will be natural disasters so long as we live on a planet. To wait for humanity to solve all it's problems before expanding into the universe is to wait for extinction.
  • Re:12 days? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:39PM (#32212758)

    Do it in an antique deep sea diving suit, upside down.

  • Re:Why, oh why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Coren22 (1625475) on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:39PM (#32212764) Journal

    Even General Motors got some $18 billion in relief, talking about an organization that deserves to fail. Without GM, we'll still have a domestic car industry--Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda are all operating in the U.S. and doing just fine--

    Minor nitpick, GM repaid the money already. I agree fully with the rest of your comment though, we should be pouring funding into NASA after all the things they have brought us in so many fields.

  • by Jeng (926980) on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:40PM (#32212772)

    Information is classified to help slow down the development of weapons by countries we are not happy with such as Iran and North Korea.

    If you can think of a way around that I'm sure someone would like to listen to you about it.

  • Re:Why, oh why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:43PM (#32212816)
    If you think NASA's problems are entirely attributable to this administration, you have obviously been asleep for the last 40 years. Nixon slashed NASA's budget after Apollo and, for all their talk and hollow promises, no President since (Republican or Democrat) has ever restored it. Obama is just the latest in a long line of Presidents who've made NASA what it is today (i.e. a shell of what it was in the 60's).
  • Re:12 days? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:45PM (#32212848)

    More like "without up or down".

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:52PM (#32212948)
    But eventually we have to realize that Iran and North Korea are going to get rockets. We need to diplomatically (or, if it hits a point, forcefully) make sure that they don't aim the rockets at us or any other country. Both Iran and North Korea have made getting WMDs and the launch vehicles needed to use them a top priority. Even though both countries are rather poor economically, they are not above starving their citizens to achieve their goals.

    We already use a lot of scattered contractors for NASA, if we can consolidate them into one efficient company in essence, we could do great things. The information is already out there, it is just scattered throughout various offices. If we make a few requirements needed to get the information, we would be running at about the same risk we already are running at. Such as if we make sure that they don't disclose the information under an NDA (corporations are great for this because with competition comes closely guarded secrets, look at Apple, and an iPhone is a lot harder to conceal than large amounts of blueprints and such).

    As a nation, we need to face the facts, assuming that Iran, North Korea and all other dictatorships don't get WMDs and launch vehicles is unreasonable. They will get them eventually. What is needed is to prevent unstable rulers from controlling nations. If Kim-Jung-Il wasn't ruling North Korea, there would be very little reason for us to be worried if there was a sane person ruling, but instead we have a cult of personality mixed with lack of reasoning and total isolation.

    Would it be worth it to us if we had never started our space program so the Soviets could not gain the information? No, of course not. But we are still shooting ourselves in the foot by looking to countries who are going to get rockets and such no matter what we do.
  • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Friday May 14, 2010 @04:53PM (#32212970)

    The money required to pay off all the debt and solve the counties problems is orders of magnitude greater than the money required to properly fund the space program to do great things

    Just so - especially when you consider the trillion dollars going into defence spending every year. Some people may argue that defence spending stimulates economies and provides jobs but it strikes me as absurd that those same people couldn't be equally gainfully employed developing similarly advance technology for peaceful space exploration.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:11PM (#32213230)

    60's: Country + Government + NASA = Man on the Moon

    10': Country vs. Government vs. NASA = Bum a ride with the Russians

  • Re:Falcon 9 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:16PM (#32213272)

    Yea, and some people still want to plunge billions into old inefficient tech instead of lending space to _much_ more productive and forward-leading research. Whatever, who cares if the russians are doing a few flights, they are more cost effective then NASA, which both gives more money to other more interesting and opens space for any private guys who want to come in, leading to private space development, something that have been done ages ago.

  • So why not (Score:1, Insightful)

    by NEDHead (1651195) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:57PM (#32213748)
    It seems to me that one shuttle (even the Enterprise) is enough museum pieces. The shuttles are fully capable of autonomous flight. The horrendous expense of each flight is at least partly a function of maintaining the man-capable condition/reliability of the machine. So, strip out all the life support, all the seats, and the toilet, and use them as trucks at a greatly reduced cost until they blow-up or crash. Added benefit of greatly increased cargo capacity. Also can possibly use a more efficient launch profile as there would be no G force concerns for the passengers (not sure about this - just guessing). And if you ever need to send up people you can mount a life support module in the cargo bay.
  • Re:Falcon 9 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by confused one (671304) on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:06PM (#32213832)
    Been pushed back to no earlier than May 23, according to this [spaceflightnow.com]
  • Re:Why, oh why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by caseih (160668) on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:06PM (#32213848)

    This comment is very ignorant. As I look at the projected budget deficits for the next few years I'm struck by the fact that the vast majority of this deficit is really the war coming due. Things like the health bill don't even figure in (the CBO calculates the health bill is paid for from other budget savings). So basically the Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which countries we now have a huge moral obligation to fix things, have cost us trillions of dollars, and continue to cost u, that we haven't really paid for yet, and can't afford to pay for.

    The republicans are big on the idea of tax cuts, but they are traditionally the ones who run up spending and increase government size (goes back to Reagan). The hypocrisy coming out of that party is mind-blowing. Bush simultaneously decreased taxes, increased spending by a staggering amount, and increased the size of reach of government by an unprecedented amount, more than at any other time in recent history. The party of small government I think not.

    Honestly, if we had plowed even some of the money we've wasted in Iraq over the years (IE if we'd not gone to war) into things like NASA, we could have paid for constellation several times over and covered social programs and other important things easily. Scientists are clamouring to send new robotic missions to the planets. As one scientist involved put it to me, 3 days of war in Iraq and Afghanistan could pay for an entire mission to Europa. Three days!

  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:27PM (#32214086)

    So basically the Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which countries we now have a huge moral obligation to fix things, have cost us trillions of dollars, and continue to cost u, that we haven't really paid for yet, and can't afford to pay for.

    I'm pretty sure it was John Candy who said, in 'Planes, Trains, and Automobiles', "I've never seen a man helped up by hist testicles before".

    Given the kind of "help" we've given them so far, they would probably be better off without our "help" than with it.

    -- Terry

  • Re:Why, oh why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:35PM (#32214182) Homepage Journal

    You know, you'd have a really interesting point there, if what you wrote had any relation whatsoever to reality.

As long as we're going to reinvent the wheel again, we might as well try making it round this time. - Mike Dennison

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