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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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  • 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) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @09:04AM (#36833624)
    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 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 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.
  • 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 Thud457 (234763) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @10:34AM (#36834554) Homepage Journal
    wrong! []

    We need to fix our budget starting by reducing spending on the biggest parts of the budget first:
    1. medicaid & medicare, 23%- get rid of the inefficiencies of a for-profit insurance and medical system. (I admit, this requires further study on my part),
    2. social security, 20% - adjust the eligibility age to properly reflect changing demographics. Make it so it automatically adjusts in the future. It's supposed to be a safety net to avoid poverty in old age, quit selling it as part of your retirement planning.
    3. military spending, 20% - try being a good neighbor instead of a raging drunken dickhead. Maybe promote Democracy, transparency and accountability instead of propping up the tin-horn dictator de jure just because he hates the guys we hate and can keep the oil flowing. Like NASA, spend the money on what we actually need, don't use this budget as a means to dispense pork.
    4. discretionary spending, 19% - once we get those first three bigger portions straightened out, then we can start looking at the piddling little stuff. With NASA getting like 0.6% of the budget, there's a lot of other things that should be looked at first.

    Anybody that doesn't tackle those items first is just pandering and re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic.
    Fix it before it corrects itself.

    no, I am not available to run for office. I will however consider calls for me to be made dictator.
  • by Bucc5062 (856482) < minus cat> on Thursday July 21, 2011 @10:37AM (#36834604)

    But in the real world, in the long term, we need to seriously focus on keeping the earth sustainable and survivable. Because it's all we have, now and forever.

    When I read comments like that I am reminded of many similar quotes by limited thinkers. Staying with the tech theme I'll go with "640K ought to be enough for anybody"...Right!

    By now, as a species, I feel we need to realize that never and forever are not terms that apply to limitations of the human mind. What we can think, what we can imagine can become real. Thought, word, and deed lead to creation. The drag on human progress is not our lack of capability, but of commitment. In some cases it takes seeing beyond our lifetime to acheive the goal; that is lacking in today's leaders and populus and a drag on progress.

    Unless we wipe ourselves out (war, natural disaster, pestulence) I know that humans will expand beyond this planet one day. Colony ships? Sustaining enclaves on other planets within our system? However the manner, we will do so because at the core of our being is the need to go past the next hill, the next mountain, beyond the horizon, outside our atmosphere, and more. Someone will choose to take that next step forward. This planet is now too small for our minds, but it is small minds that will chain us here for a long time.

  • by Burdell (228580) on Thursday July 21, 2011 @11:33AM (#36835178)

    They've been using the same guidance/control system simulation framework since X-33. However, you can't just have a re-usable guidance system for vastly different vehicles. X-33 was a lifting-body (which is an inherently unstable platform), X-34 was a delta-wing (similar to the Shuttle), and Ares I/V were stacked/staged rockets (similar to Saturn, Delta, etc.). They also had vastly different propulsion systems; while the Ares engines were based on existing traditional rocket motors, the X-33 was a linear aerospike, which required completely different control systems.

    It isn't like they started from scratch each time (they didn't); it is just that a lot of customization had to be done for each vehicle and propulsion system. If they get the go-ahead to work on the heavy-lift vehicle, they'll start with work done for Ares and evolve it for the new project.

    You wouldn't expect the same system to work on a Cesna and a B-2; why would you expect the same system to work on vehicles that have even less in common?

The economy depends about as much on economists as the weather does on weather forecasters. -- Jean-Paul Kauffmann