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Space Shuttle Endeavor Lands In Los Angeles After Final Flight 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the an-era-ends dept.
Today the space shuttle Endeavor completed its final ferry flight, landing in Los Angeles, California after leaving Edwards Air Force Base earlier today. The shuttle will now undergo preparations for its journey through the streets of L.A. (at a cost of 400+ trees) to its final resting place at the California Science Center. It'll go on public display October 30. Endeavor spent over 296 days in space throughout 25 missions, comprising 4,671 orbits that added up to over 197 million kilometers of travel. Slashdot's own Kaushik Acharya was at the Griffith Observatory in L.A. for the flyover, and he provided some great pictures of Endeavor's passing.
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Space Shuttle Endeavor Lands In Los Angeles After Final Flight

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  • Saw It (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:37PM (#41416359) Homepage Journal
    I went on the back patio of the Space Sciences lab at Berkeley, up the hill from the Lawrence Hall of Science (the "Command Center" building in the movie "Colossus: The Forbin Project").

    Nice low-level flight right over Berkeley.

    My kid was in class, heard the sound of the low-level flight, and they all saw it right out of the classroom window.

    Gee, the end of an era. We could have had so much more. It's good that we have SpaceX doing something sensible about space flight, and NASA funding enough of that, but I think we learned one sad lesson from the Space Program: You can't trust the American electorate and their political representatives to do what's important for the future of the species.

    • by houghi (78078)

      Well, at least you have a democracy where you can vote between "doesn't" and "won't".

      • Don't be so sure. Our democracy is heavily manipulated by wealth, and not all votes have the same weight due to an antequated thing called the "Electoral College". Essentially, my vote in California will not be as important as a vote in a "swing state" such as Ohio.

        I think we mostly have a plutocracy, like most places.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't think a single line of code got written in the entire Bay Area this morning.

      My kid was in class, heard the sound of the low-level flight, and they all saw it right out of the classroom window.

      A million kids seeing their first flying spaceship, a few thousand of whom will be inspired to take on STEM careers, and a few dozen of whom will make actual breakthroughs in whatever field of expertise they specialize in by 2040, probably more than makes up for it.

    • You can't trust the American electorate and their political representatives to do what's important for the future of the species.

      For most of us here on Slashdot, space exploration is cool, exciting, motivating, and instills a sense of pride and adventure in ourselves as humans.

      But I get so tired of this idea that space travel is important to the future of our species. Even if the only way we could survive would be through an exodus to other worlds, how does that solve the problems that would lead us to such an exodus? Until we become more enlightened here on Earth and make some progress in the nature of the human heart, we will onl

      • Even if the only way we could survive would be through an exodus to other worlds, how does that solve the problems that would lead us to such an exodus? Until we become more enlightened here on Earth and make some progress in the nature of the human heart, we will only bring those problems with us.

        This is like saying that nobody should have children until we discover a way to keep them from getting cancer.

        The urge to propagate to other places (islands, continents, and now farther) is just a larger form of

      • by Onan (25162)

        > Until we become more enlightened here on Earth and make some progress in the nature of the human heart, we will only bring those problems with us.

        Really, sorting out the nature of the human heart will get rid of asteroids? I had no idea.

        Man, dinosaurs must have been assholes.

      • We are Gods in a universe filled with inanimate matter, no matter how vast. How readily you dismiss Free Will and Reason, as if they were not true super powers. Given enough energy/mass and knowledge I could stand astride the cosmos, bending it to my will.

        You are never going to 'solve' humans, we will always be somewhat irrational creatures, and thats ok. Part of irrationality drives Imagination, another super power.

        It is imperative we get a viable colony off world. Its as natural an urge and having
      • by khallow (566160)

        But I get so tired of this idea that space travel is important to the future of our species. Even if the only way we could survive would be through an exodus to other worlds, how does that solve the problems that would lead us to such an exodus? Until we become more enlightened here on Earth and make some progress in the nature of the human heart, we will only bring those problems with us.

        It solves the actual problem, namely, that we would die, if we didn't move. And what "progress" is there to make on the human heart? The underlying problem is simply that we aren't a single organism with a single purpose. Our motives and actions naturally conflict because we all have different interests. The temptation to either force others to do what we want or to change the rules of society in a way that benefits us at the expense of others, will always exist. No amount of enlighten will change the game

    • by khallow (566160)

      Gee, the end of an era. We could have had so much more. It's good that we have SpaceX doing something sensible about space flight, and NASA funding enough of that, but I think we learned one sad lesson from the Space Program: You can't trust the American electorate and their political representatives to do what's important for the future of the species.

      Why should you? It's not the job of either one to do what you think is important for the future of the species. Frankly, public funding of manned space activities have added a lot of noise to the process, but not much of anything useful. Maybe that's just not a good tool for big, long term goals.

      • Why should you [expect the electroate and their representatives to do what's important for the species]?

        Because that is the only cause that justifies their existence. Societies exist to facilitate the survival and growth of their population. Populations don't survive and can't grow for all that long in one place or doing one thing. Endangered species are endangered because they can't move and they can't change fast enough.

        • by khallow (566160)

          Because that is the only cause that justifies their existence. Societies exist to facilitate the survival and growth of their population.

          That's not the same as "important for the species". Keep in mind both that any given current society is only a part of the "species" and that species is a vague term that will become much more vague for whatever are considered members of society in the near future.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ridgecritter (934252)

      I saw Endeavour today as it headed south to overfly Moffett Field. End of an era, yes, and I do miss our nation's having a spacecraft, even one with the Shuttle's long list of flaws and shortcomings.

      But we *are* doing quite a lot of stuff out there:

      - We just landed a nuclear powered, laser-zapping mobile lab on Mars, and it's headed off to climb a mountain;
      - Dawn recently lit up its ion drive and left orbit around the asteroid Vesta to visit another asteroid, Ceres;
      - Cassini continues touring Saturn and its

      • Yes. I think the truly important part is still rather far away, though. Probably beyond my lifetime. And that is a self-sustaining colony, where children are born who need not return to Earth.
    • by Hadlock (143607)

      A teacher friend of mine planned ahead and took the kids outside to see it fly by. Sounds like your kid's teacher needs a stern talking to about a more rounded education if she's got them cooped up while the shuttle flies by.

      • There wasn't good data on when it was coming by. I was listening to air traffic frequencies, and the controllers didn't have any data that they were giving out. They just held takeoffs and diverted landing planes for a while.
    • by khallow (566160)

      You can't trust the American electorate and their political representatives to do what's important for the future of the species.

      To elaborate on my rather vague posts earlier, the point of societies is to further the interest of society. For societies, such as ours currently, which are dominated by one species (though it is worth noting that there are a fair number of client species, namely pets, agricultural animals, and endangered species, with non-trivial recognized rights and privileges) furthering the interests of society can coincide with what's important for the human species. But it's also worth noting that society has many

      • We give "rights" to nonsentient beings to make us feel better or because we want them around for some reason: because they are a necessary part of an ecosystem or simply because we enjoy nature and we wish to see it preserved.

        But even these creatures will inevitably become extinct if we don't carry them outside of Earth's ecosystem. Most likely is that we will destroy Earth's habitability ourselves, through war or some form of pollution. But even if we don't, Earth's habitability doesn't last forever.

        A so

        • by khallow (566160)

          A society that ignores our impending extinction isn't doing its job.

          We have this society expending significant resources on the very problems you seem concerned about. Sure, they seem to have screwed up space development, but they are paying attention and throwing in funding.

    • You can't trust the American electorate and their political representatives to do what's important for the future of the species.

      If space travel was at a stage where it was relevant to the "future of the species" - you'd have a point. But it isn't. It isn't even close.

      Anything we could do today in space is the equivalent of hauling a bedsheet out into the backyard and wrapping yourself up in it... it's cool, and fun, but you're still utterly dependent on the house for everything and much less prot

      • We don't get those increased capabilities we'd need by not flying. I figure that we'd be 30 years beyond what we're currently doing with ISS, had the Americans and their representatives not lost the will. We could easily have financed it by not fighting one of the wars, and we'd be in much better economic shape.
        • We don't get those increased capabilities we'd need by not flying.

          Given that the technologies required are likely decades to a century or more off... A few years not flying matters very little one way or the other. Given how many of the technologies require advances in parallel fields (like computing), the balance of your post is just wishful thinking.

          • What technologies are those?
          • I've thought about it for a few minutes, and I'm not really coming up with anything other than solvable engineering problems for a start on the moon and evolution to other solar system locations. Getting away from the sun, rather than the earth, would be on a longer timeline.
          • by khallow (566160)

            Given how many of the technologies require advances in parallel fields (like computing), the balance of your post is just wishful thinking.

            I have to agree with the other replier. What Earth-side technologies are you referring to? For example, we've already demonstrated that we can navigate the Solar System on the computing power of the 60s (Apollo program and the Pioneer spacecraft). Chemical rocket engines already operate near optimal efficiencies. We've already demonstrated that we can launch and assemble complex structures in orbit.

    • The entire rationale of a reusable spacecraft was predicated on the assumption that we'd have weekly launches. The initial concept of the program foresaw 50+ launches a year [wikipedia.org]. That was the only way to justify the cost of the massive support organization needed to inspect and refurbish the orbiters after each flight, vs. ordinary single-use rockets. Unfortunately, we never came close to that, averaging 4.5 launches per year. Consequently, the Shuttle became the cadillac of launch vehicles. Its lifetime p
      • The military very quietly runs its X-37B program, which gives them the capabilities they wanted from the shuttle, and doesn't look to be infrastructure-heavy at all. I wonder what a scale-up would be like?
  • Saw the landing @LAX (Score:4, Informative)

    by JoeF (6782) on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:40PM (#41416383)

    I was @LAX, and saw the fly-overs and the landing there. Great crowd.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://youtu.be/qV_nNPX7qUo?hd=1

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Thanks... brought a tear to my eye to watch it though. To think my country did this before we inevitably succumbed to the greed of Wall Street, the corruption of Congress, and the ineptitude of the FED.

      This is the same link.. just wrapped with the HTML to make it clickable.

      Space Shuttle Endeavour lands at LAX [youtube.com]
      • by sconeu (64226)

        Mod AC up.

        We used to strive for greatness. We used to "go to the Moon, and do the other things; not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

        I'm a child of Apollo. I was 6 when Apollo 7 launched. I'm sure there will be a moon base, or a Mars mission. But not in my lifetime. This saddens me to no end.

      • Thanks... brought a tear to my eye to watch it though. To think my country did this before we inevitably succumbed to the greed of Wall Street, the corruption of Congress, and the ineptitude of the FED.

        What's really a shame is what a miserable decline in our space program I thought the shuttle was when it was announced and put into service. Now all these years later I long for the days when it was in service. Our space program has become an embarrassment in regards to manned space fight. Hell, we took pride in the times the Russians had to hitch a ride on the shuttle. Now we can't even put a man in LEO our selves. One the flip side, the unmanned exploration programs are still quite impressive. For now.

        • by tsotha (720379)

          SpaceX could put a man in LEO and higher if the need was there.

          But it isn't, and that's the entire problem with manned spaceflight. There's no reason for it.

          • They're building a crew vehicle. They have a USD$75 Million Space Act contract to build the launch escape system, which is integral to the vehicle (not a tower like Apollo) and would also be usable for precision soft landing on ground rather than water. They are contracted to finish in May, at which time it is very likely they would get a larger contract for manned development.
            • by tsotha (720379)
              I understand that. What I'm saying is they could send up people in the Dragon capsule they have on the pad if there was some kind of emergency. There wouldn't be a launch escape system, but then again shuttle didn't have one either.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday September 21, 2012 @06:51PM (#41416495)

    They seem to be the only ones capable of doing anything anymore. May as well let them do that too.

    • The Russians have the same capability that we would have today if we kept building and launching Apollo command and service modules on Saturn 1. If you want to see how bad things are there, look at what happened to the one remaining Buran.

      Commercial spaceflight is really the only hope. And so far we have one company that appears to be capable of doing it, and a very large number of failed efforts, which I guess is what is to be expected. We're really lucky to have that one company.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        "Commercial spaceflight is really the only hope.
        no it isn't. Stop being stupid.

        • by jfern (115937)

          Agreed. This wait for commerical spaceflights that will charge us less than the Russians to hitch a ride is a pretty lousy strategy. The Chinese are probably the future of manned spaceflight.

          • The Russians are commercial spaceflight right now. But we don't see them doing it with new engineering, so in general they are not looked upon as a future path.

            You are expressing a whole lot of confidence that the Chinese will not have a revolution or economic failure, and will succeed in bootstrapping a program that hardly exists today.

        • If you're not going to bother to write a rationale for your argument, you should just use the moderation button, and not bother us with postings of simple contradiction and abuse.
      • by ackthpt (218170)

        The Russians have the same capability that we would have today if we kept building and launching Apollo command and service modules on Saturn 1. If you want to see how bad things are there, look at what happened to the one remaining Buran.

        Commercial spaceflight is really the only hope. And so far we have one company that appears to be capable of doing it, and a very large number of failed efforts, which I guess is what is to be expected. We're really lucky to have that one company.

        The minute private interests lose people on their own ventures you'll see how interested they remain in pursuing it.

        One thing to have Ronnie make a heartfelt speach, another to hear a CEO anguish over it (and how it will affect the business, what with lawsuits, etc.)

        Still feeling the way forward is through NASA, but perhaps with some partnership on these things.

        • The minute private interests lose people on their own ventures you'll see how interested they remain in pursuing it.

          If this were the case, we wouldn't be riding jet planes everywhere.

          The only time something is shut down in connection with an air crash, it's something that was already on the edge of economic failure. Like the Concorde and Pan Am.

          • by loshwomp (468955)

            The minute private interests lose people on their own ventures you'll see how interested they remain in pursuing it.

            If this were the case, we wouldn't be riding jet planes everywhere.

            I'm not sure that's a good analogy. Rocket launches are several orders of magnitude riskier than commercial aviation, and while we can expect modest improvements, I don't see the trend changing much. Launching rockets is hard.

            • I'm not sure that's a good analogy. Rocket launches are several orders of magnitude riskier than commercial aviation, and while we can expect modest improvements, I don't see the trend changing much. Launching rockets is hard.

              In 10 years, more than 500 commercial fishermen (3% were actually women) died on the job in the United States alone. An employee who works 10 years has over a 1% chance of dying on the job.

              Yet, liability doesn't kill the industry.

      • Commercial spaceflight is really the only hope. And so far we have one company that appears to be capable of doing it, and a very large number of failed efforts, which I guess is what is to be expected. We're really lucky to have that one company.

        This is a pet peeve of mine. People need to stop equating commercial manned space with commercial space. Space is extremely commercial already. US based launch capability is provided entirely by commercial entities, and there's no shortage of them-- Boeing, Lockheed, Orbital, and SpaceX. There's also ArianeSpace, Eurockot (bargain launches), and a number of other international groups, plus foreign governments. There's a ton of commercial stuff in space-- mostly telecom, imaging, and nav satellites. Ev

        • Give us a good heavy launch capability, and it will be man-qualified. The money for that hasn't dried up, or we wouldn't see all of the most credible companies other than Orbital Sciences with signed contracts in that market or attempting to get them.
          • Russia has cheap reliable man rated stuff that they're willing to take any paying customer on, and there's not all that long a line of commercial customers waiting for rides on it.

            • Yes, but because they're Russia nobody is willing to depend upon them. And that means countries pay a lot for another option.
              • The US gov't has been depending on them for a quite a while, and the current model Soyuz are among the most reliable launch vehicles you can get. And Eurockot is cheap enough (and capable enough) for a shared launch that you almost can get a bunch of your friends together, build something in the garage, and fund the launch out of bake sales and kickstarter.

                But really, my peeve is about equating "commercial space"=="commercial manned space". Space has been *very* commercial for decades, and the terminology

                • Yes, I understand that commercial space != commercial manned space.

                  I think it was easier for other countries to deal with Russian aerospace before Putin started moving Russia back toward an authoritarian regime. At this point, they are nervous that they are bankrolling what is ultimately a military capability that can be used against them.

  • I've never heard of a Space Shuttle named Endaevor .

  • by nrozema (317031) on Friday September 21, 2012 @07:01PM (#41416579)

    I just happened to be on US 50 in the Sacramento area when it flew overhead. Traffic slowed to a crawl to get a peek, some people just stopped. Very cool that these things can cause that type of reaction - even as they're being mothballed.

    Unfortunately the spectacle caused more than a few fender benders.

    • Traffic slowed to a crawl to get a peek, some people just stopped. Very cool that these things can cause that type of reaction

      I hate to break it to you, but a few cars parked in front of a cop can cause the same thing.

  • No NASA manned flights. We're stuck hitching rides from the Russians. The Chinese will be sure to be kicking our asses in 10-20 years.

    • Well, would you rather be spending $500 million to send a few guys up to the ISS when you could be spending $50 million to do the same task?

      I'm a huge fan of the Space Shuttle. But it's time is up. It's expensive to run and can't really do anything that can't be done on ISS. Dragging it out with more launches just to drop off a few astronauts and pick up the trash eats NASA's budget. I'd rather NASA spend the money on more interesting things in both the manned and unmanned realms. I mean, LEO? Been th

      • by trout007 (975317)

        Let's check your Math.

        The Russians charge $50 million per seat or for Progress 4000 lbs of payload.

        At $500 million per shuttle launch you get
        7 seats = $350 million
        40,000 lbs = $500 million

        So you have to pay the Russians $850 million to do what we could do with the Shuttles for $500 million.

        • I don't think there were many years when a shuttle launch was $500M. Typical program cost was closer to $4B/year for 4 launches/year, and if you divide total program cost by the number of launches it's about $1.5B/launch. And it didn't really cost less if you didn't launch it. It never really lived up to its promise, partly because reusability doesn't save you much when you're going to space unless you can avoid all the rework and retest. The cost of a piece of hardware is often incidental compared to t

        • And that's great, if you want to do that.

          However, we're not sending 40,000 lbs of material to ISS. We're not sending seven people to ISS (figure, also, that two of those seats belong to NASA--the pilot and commander). We're sending a couple of people and some supplies. That's it.

          Again, I'm a huge fan of the Space Shuttle. But it's a waste of money to run it for what we're doing. To use a car analogy, it's like using the Hummer SUV to drive to the grocery store down the block to pick up a load of bread.

          • by twosat (1414337)

            One reason the space shuttle was so expensive was because of its size, a requirement from the US Air Force to have a huge cargo bay. What we need to reduce shuttle cost is something like a "baby shuttle" that only carries crew and a little cargo. It should be based on the "lifting bodies" that were being researched before Apollo diverted attention to the Moon, and to be made of modern materials like carbon-fiber - maybe something like Dream Chaser?
            http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/09/the-long-complicate [arstechnica.com]

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday September 21, 2012 @07:35PM (#41416861) Homepage Journal

    Twitter was nearly useless, with all the chaff and incomplete information "It's over my house! #spottheshuttle" Where is your house?!? Blah blah blah I'm standing on a roof and NASA coverage, which was replays of the previous day's flight. We finally found a USTREAM from Ames and after watching it pass out of the frame we all scampered outside to wait, as it wouldn't be long. Finally spotted it and I got a few pictures. Probably the most photographed object in the world, today.

  • I just wanted to say that I am really surprised, but happy, at how much interest the last shuttle flight has caused. I thought this nation had forgotten about space exploration, but apparently I was wrong. It's nice to have a little bit of my faith in the future of this country restored.

  • by hawkfish (8978)

    I can't believe that they chopped down all those trees just to move it from the airport. It's not like LA has a lot of trees to begin with. Unlike Seattle... except that if the shuttle had been awarded to the Seattle Museum of Flight, they could have just rolled it across a treeless 6 lane road from Boeing field to the Museum's external display area - right next to the Concorde.

    • by GrahamCox (741991)
      I agree, it's nuts to cut down the trees (which will take years to replace, if ever) when they could have removed the wings temporarily. It's not as if it needs to be put back into flying condition.
      • NASA would have given it to Texas, which had a runway near the museum and would not have had to chop anything. LA was only going to get the shuttle if they didn't abuse it further than NASA already has in making it "museum ready".

        Street trees last about 50 years and then are in general too sick to remain. Some of these went sooner than that, but the museum is replacing 1000 trees that will live 50 years now.

    • by petsounds (593538)

      They've promised to replant twice the number of trees. It was part of the deal.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:47PM (#41417513) Homepage

    Some pics of the SCA and Endeavor flying over KSC and the rocket garden [dvfreelancer.com].

    The guy next to me was shooting video, watching it today I forgot how loud it was. It was a great moment.

  • by fructose (948996) on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:52PM (#41417541) Homepage
    I was at Edwards AFB yesterday when it landed. I can get to a couple great spots, so I took some great pictures. Here are some of the highlights. [shutterfly.com]
  • by trout007 (975317) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:39PM (#41418313)

    After taking off from the Shuttle Landing Facility runway at KSC the Shuttle and Shuttle Carrier Aircraft looped around and did a 200 ft flyby down the runway. Pretty neat.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOYoiIxZgO4 [youtube.com]

  • by FrankDrebin (238464) on Friday September 21, 2012 @11:33PM (#41418563) Homepage
    It's named after a British sea ship, so British spelling applies, as reflected on the actual craft.
  • by petsounds (593538) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:54AM (#41418883)

    I was at LA's Griffith Observatory today for the flyover, and the crowd was not only massive (not only was every Griffith Park parking space filled, but also the nearby Greek Theater's parking lot), but it was very diverse. Young, old, in-between. A broad mix of races and probably economic level as well. Let's not forget, these people, and everyone else who went to a flyover area, were pumped for NASA, and for a symbol of an America that they can be proud of. Yes, certainly there was a novelty factor at play of a Space Shuttle flying around on top of a frickin 747, but regardless it was capturing their attention and imagination.

    Looking at these people around me, it really struck me that there's a giant disconnect in how they view NASA in comparison to how Congress and the President(s) view it. People see NASA as a tool for exploration, a window to discovery, and a symbol of America's leadership and greatness in technological innovation. Our government often sees NASA at best as a way to put jobs in local districts, and at worst as an organization they try to starve because they can't get rid of it. Thank the universe that Curiosity landed in one piece, because it shone light on a NASA that was half-buried in the backyard. On the other hand, NASA recently chose to send another geology mission to Mars instead of sending a lander to float in a Titan sea. NASA needs to capture the public's imagination. The Curiosity Twitter account has been inundated by questions from the public on why Curiosity doesn't include a microphone in order to listen to the sounds of Mars; the stock answer is that a microphone doesn't fulfill a science need. Well half of the Apollo missions included activities by their astronauts that had no science goal. The goal was capturing the spirit of wonder. NASA must keep that in mind if it is to stay viable, let alone flourish, in the harsh budgetary environment it finds itself in.

    • Yes, certainly there was a novelty factor at play of a Space Shuttle flying around on top of a frickin 747, but regardless it was capturing their attention and imagination.

      Sure, it captured their attention and imagination - for the brief span of the flyover it was the "flavor of the moment", all but forgotten by Monday.

      Looking at these people around me, it really struck me that there's a giant disconnect in how they view NASA in comparison to how Congress and the President(s) view it.

      No, the discon

  • ...who realizes that flying a modified 747 in landing configuration carrying a 75 ton payload on its back with wheels up at low altitudes over populated areas is extremely dangerous, totally irresponsible, and completely illegal if anyone other than NASA did it? Thanks for risking hundreds of lives to show off Mr. Biden. Your incompetence is only outweighed by your arrogance. BTW, I love the space program, and I want people to learn about its history, but this really was a questionable stunt that has me

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