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NASA

Atlantis Lands, Ending the Shuttle Era 256

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we'll-miss-you dept.
Early this morning Atlantis landed at KSC in Florida. I've been following the trip intently ever since my trip to Florida to see the launch of the very last Shuttle. This really is the end of an era. Thanks go out to the thousands of NASA employees who made this happen, many of whom have been laid off. A number of them emailed me directly showing me pictures and sharing stories. I wish you all the best. As for America, here's hoping that we return to space soon.
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Atlantis Lands, Ending the Shuttle Era

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  • Near SF bridge, no?

  • So long... (Score:4, Funny)

    by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @09:01AM (#36833604)
    ...and thanks for all the fish.
  • Just outside San Francisco Bay, after destroying the hive ship?

  • by BZWingZero (1119881) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @09:04AM (#36833622)
    While the Shuttle program has ended (and its been a spectacular run), I guess the only things to look forward to are the MPCV, CTS-100, Dragon, DreamChaser, and the New Sheppard.

    I think the future is looking pretty bright.
  • Irony Not Lost (Score:2, Insightful)

    by knirps (1727352)
    The US manned spaceflight program comes to an ignominious end at the same time the Texas school board votes on whether to teach evolution in science class. And people wonder why we've lost our leadership in science and manufacturing.
    • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @09:20AM (#36833744)
      Do not taunt Texas' faith based education! We will return the USA to space using "God Pods" developed with our Evangelical sciences.
    • You did miss the irony. The US manned spaceflight program continues. We are simply hitching rides with Russia the same way that we did after Columbia. While are no longer SOLELY in first in science and manufacturing, we still remain amongst the top. Our problem is that ppl skew the results, just like you did.
  • by schmidt349 (690948) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @09:11AM (#36833678)

    The fact that the Shuttle was still flying in 2011 isn't just a testament to its longevity. It's a sad reminder that, at least for now, human spaceflight is at the mercy of the schizophrenia that is the American political process.

    NASA has consistently brought together some of the finest minds in the world to do what the preceding finest minds thought was impossible. Then, because this is America, we take a bunch of mouth-breathers who probably got Cs and Ds in basic high school science courses and make them the bosses and the gatekeepers, the people who decide that it's more important to systematize the abuse of human rights at airports and buy the jokers at the Pentagon their newest murder toy than it is to push the frontiers of knowledge and ingenuity.

    I'm putting my hope for the future of space exploration in private hands. Not because I fetishize the free market, or because I think government is evil, but because human spaceflight is way too important to be put in the hands of the American electorate, which is probably the stupidest and most poorly-informed decision-making body since the Athenian ekklesia.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      I have a 1976 ford gran torino, I can drive it on the interstate for long distances, its not safe at current interstate speeds, its shit on gas but fuck has it got a large trunk ... problem is we never put that much into it

      just cause I can does not make it the only way

    • by Shadowmist (57488)

      I'm putting my hope for the future of space exploration in private hands. Not because I fetishize the free market, or because I think government is evil, but because human spaceflight is way too important to be put in the hands of the American electorate, which is probably the stupidest and most poorly-informed decision-making body since the Athenian ekklesia.

      Private spaceflight if it gets beyond the rich kid stunt level into the practical orbital level will owe much to programs like NASA that never would have found it's genesis in the private sector. But to be fair, I wouldn't put all of the blame on the American electorate. I'd say a significant amount rests with NASA's continued inability to sell itself to anyone but the Trekkies. They had piles of good material to energise the public, but they never made any use of it.

    • by smchris (464899)

      True. True. True. But as someone who vaguely remembers the concern over Sputnik, I can't stop thinking that this is the first time America can't put a person into space since I was barely 10 and John F. Kennedy was starting his fourth full month in office. I too hope private industry doesn't kill off too many astronauts coming in under a profitable budget but I also wonder whether it's just another symptom of the advancing neo-Dark Ages where some guy in the 25th century will write poetry about the "giant

      • I can't stop thinking that this is the first time America can't put a person into space since I was barely 10 and John F. Kennedy was starting his fourth full month in office.

        Apparently you're forgetting the period between Feb 4, 1974 (Skylab 4, the last Skylab mission) and April 12, 1981 (STS-1, the first Shuttle launch).

  • by jabberwock (10206) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @09:19AM (#36833738) Homepage
    ... At roughly $60 per capita annually, I think the cost of the space program is justified by its entertainment value alone.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Geez kids, get a grip! We haven't 'left space'. We have active missions out there right now (Vesta? ring a bell?), and we'll continue to send people to the ISS on Russian ships. Within 10 years we'll likely have manned capability again, but humans in space return far less than the robotic missions.

    We need better robotics to take the next step, which is picking a resource (like a large mostly-metal asteroid), bringing it into orbit and exploiting the shit out of it.

    Equating the U.S. space

    • Geez kids, get a grip! We haven't 'left space'.

      Thank you.

      Lots of people here spent the last 5 years bitching about how the shuttle was old and needed to be retired, now it's happened and everybody's making gloomy predictions about how we'll never leave the atmosphere again.

      • by Teancum (67324)

        Lots of people here spent the last 5 years bitching about how the shuttle was old and needed to be retired, now it's happened and everybody's making gloomy predictions about how we'll never leave the atmosphere again.

        Those weren't the same groups of people. The Shuttle did need to be retired, and thank goodness it was. Constellation needed to be killed too, and it was. Having manned spaceflight being built by a central design bureau that doesn't care about costs is where the problem is right now.

        The really sad thing is that the people who wanted to see the Shuttle program continue should have fought for that a couple of years ago, at least spoken up when the Michoud facility which built the booster tanks was being sh

  • Thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cbcanb (237883) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @09:30AM (#36833844)

    Atlantis flew a magnificent mission, capping a great career. She, and her sisters, have been great ships and deserve to retire with honour.

    Yeah, they were expensive. Yeah, people think robots are cooler. Yeah, they couldn't go to the moon or Mars. And yeah, in hindsight hanging a somewhat fragile spaceship on the side of a booster probably wasn't the best idea.

    But Atlantis and her sisters' record of achievement is magnificent, and will probably never be matched. They launched space probes, they conducted research into materials, life sciences, earth sciences, astronomy, and countless other fields. They serviced satellites and space stations, and brought tonnes of equipment back to earth for study and reflight. They provided a convenient platform for experiments and payloads that would otherwise have had to construct their own complete satellites. They did all this 133 times successfully, with only two losses, and in the space business you'd take that success rate any day of the week.

    • by Teancum (67324)

      While I'm not much of a fan for seeing the Shuttle continue, it is a magnificent spacecraft and I do look forward to seeing Altantis and her sisters in museums in the near future. They did a whole bunch of amazing things, and prove some spaceflight ideas that will be invaluable for future spacecraft design.

      I just hope that the record of achievement will be matched in the future and surpassed in terms of tonnage delivered to orbit, items brought back to the Earth, and satellites repaired while in orbit. At

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @09:31AM (#36833852) Homepage

    Although written years earlier, Billy Bragg's "The Space Race is Over" [youtube.com] seems appropriate.

  • Those engineers can now work at Google to make office software. Sigh.

  • by blahbooboo (839709) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @09:33AM (#36833872)

    Look, it WAS a great achievement. But like most things in the USA, for the last 30-40 years we never move on to something better. I believe with the space shuttle still flying we would never get a new program moving. The shuttle a great technical achievement, but an inherently flawed design for efficiency and frankly BORING at low earth orbit capability. Furthermore, at 0.5 BILLION per launch, it was just a waste of money repeating the same thing (essentially) again and again and again. We could launch two vehicles -- one for humans and one for the cargo for far less than this single shuttle bus.

    Now lets see if we can get more practical MODERN vehicles moving forward now that this 1960/1970 vehicle is finally put out to pasture where it belonged 15 years ago.

    • by daid303 (843777)

      I hope so. I hear very little to nothing about any replacement.

      I'm European, and the USA spaceflight is one of those things that I used to look up to in my young years. I used to build little paper space-shuttles. And without a replacement there this dream is dead.

      • by Teancum (67324)

        I hope so. I hear very little to nothing about any replacement.

        There are plenty of "replacement" vehicles to the Shuttle. Nearly a dozen have been designed by NASA, some very similar to the Shuttle and some more like the Apollo capsule. There are also more than a dozen American spacecraft designs currently under development in various stages, including a capsule called the "Dragon" which has just been announced that it will travel to the ISS in November of this year. There are even some European spacecraft designs that I'm particularly impressed with, some which are

    • by Loopy (41728)

      Now if only we'd apply that to congressmen and business entities deemed "too big to fail."

  • I just heard the sad news on the radio, the United States manned space program was found dead on it's runway in Cape Canaveral this morning. Foul play is suspected.
    I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss it -- even if they didn't enjoy it's work, there's no denying it's contributions to the advancement the distribution of federal pork. Truly an American icon.
  • And since nobody died, we can celebrate!

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @09:59AM (#36834162) Journal

    This is a sad day because I see no realistic plans to replace the shuttle's capability of putting a human in space, even if it's only LEO. It looks like pretty much everything to replace it has been canceled.

    N.A.S.A, another victim of the Iraq war. Such a pity to witness it's demise.

  • and he was right. Just one shuttle launch needed how many thousands of people and billions of dollars? And for the price of 1 shuttle mission, how many Falcon launchers can you buy?

    But then that was irrelevant, since the primary purpose of the program was to generate jobs and keep the esteemed senator from Utah happy.
    • Actually, the shuttle was not originally a jobs program. But it became one. OTH, the SLS REALLY IS ONE. Thankfully, it will die within 2 years.
  • 21 July 2011 - NASA ends manned space flight program. And that's your talking point... There are so many sarcastic things to say about this and so little time.
  • by Kohath (38547) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @10:36AM (#36834598)

    Someone else said it originally, but if you play NASA's history backwards, they start out with no manned space flight capability, develop shuttles, and eventually land on the moon.

  • Only now, we will have not only the CHEAPEST launchers, but 3-4 human rated. In addition,we will not have to worry about CONgress messing things up once Bigelow has its first space station in orbit.

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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