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NASA Transportation Science

Space Shuttle Endeavour's Final Journey 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-boldly-roll dept.
daveschroeder writes "After over 296 days in space, nearly 123 million miles traveled, Space Shuttle Endeavour (OV-105) is making its final journey — on the streets of Los Angeles. The last Space Shuttle to be built, the contract for Endeavour was awarded on July 31, 1987. Endeavour first launched on May 7, 1992 (video), launched for the last time on May 16, 2011 (video), and landed for the final time on June 1, 2011 (video). Endeavour then took to the skies aboard the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), completing the final ferry flight and the final flight of any kind in the Space Shuttle Program era with an aerial grand tour of southern California escorted by two NASA Dryden Flight Research Center F/A-18 aircraft on September 21, 2012 (video). This morning around 1:30AM Pacific Time, Endeavour began another journey, this one on the ground. All Space Shuttles have traveled via road from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, CA, to Edwards Air Force Base, but this time a Space Shuttle is taking to the streets of Los Angeles for the journey from Los Angeles International Airport to its final home at the California Science Center. Getting the shuttle through LA surface streets is a mammoth logistical challenge as it lumbers along at 2 mph to the cheers of onlookers. Watching Endeavour make the journey is a sight to be seen (pictures, video)! Thank you, Endeavour!" Slashdot's Principal Software Engineer Kaushik Acharya was on hand, with camera, and took some great pictures of the event.
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Space Shuttle Endeavour's Final Journey

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  • Slashdot has a "Principal Software Engineer"?

    Who knew?

    • Yes, he administers the Student Software Engineers, and sometimes gives them harsh punishment in his office. At least, that's what it sounds like.
  • Watching Endeavour make the journey is a sight to be seen (pictures, video)! Thank you, Endeavour!"

    While I applaud the engineers' achievements, I am not sure that these space shuttles' cost has been worth it. I know experiments have been done in space...but can someone really tell me what an ordinary street walking John Doe has benefited from these shuttles? I am open minded and waiting to be convinced.

    Heck, our country is in bad shape financially. The funds used to build and maintain these shuttles could

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It doesn't help matters that Endeavor was certified to fly up to 100 missions but the cancellation of the shuttle program saw it's retirement at only 25.

    • by spire3661 (1038968) on Friday October 12, 2012 @06:27PM (#41637701) Journal
      The purpose of the shuttles was never to improve a single human life. Thats is a fools game and you are a fool for trying to play it. The ultimate goal of the Space Program is an insurance policy against an extinction level event. If we waited until all humans were clothed, fed and sheltered, we would have never gotten off the ground.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        " The ultimate goal of the Space Program is an insurance policy against an extinction level event."

        Wow. Do you have insurance against meteor damage to your roof?

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        It was more military than anything, not how we leave this rock, but how can we kill each other in space and defend against the other side. Sprinkle on some PR and make everyone feel good about it and there you go, well documented worms ... fucking in space!

        SCIENCE!

        • by khallow (566160)

          It was more military than anything

          Nonsense. If the Shuttle was meant to be a military vehicle first and foremost, there wouldn't have been a two year gap of Shuttle launches due to the Challenger accident. There's also the fact that Shuttle design predates military involvement (the military became involved only because NASA needed a lot more funding to complete their great white elephant). Finally, after Challenger and the above gap when military payloads weren't launching, the military took great pains and great costs to move as many of it

          • by Osgeld (1900440)

            funny, something an organization that grew out of the air force just magically made a space cargo van for what again?

            • by khallow (566160)
              NASA started life as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1915 and predates the US Air Force (which separated from the US Army in 1947) by 32 years.

              And frankly, the shuttle just doesn't make sense as a military vehicle. Too expensive, capabilities that the military didn't care about (like putting seven people in space), other capabilities that weren't that good (small payload capacity for the size of the vehicle), and the operator, NASA wasn't under the control of the military (as I
      • by khallow (566160)
        Huh. I'd have to disagree. For 190 billion USD, I bet we could have gotten a lot better extinction insurance than that.
        • by sysrammer (446839)

          Huh. I'd have to disagree. For 190 billion USD, I bet we could have gotten a lot better extinction insurance than that.

          Yeah, I see what you mean, but now we know. We didn't, before. And whatever we do in the future, we'll try to avoid those problems (as new ones are created).

          • by khallow (566160)

            Yeah, I see what you mean, but now we know. We didn't, before. And whatever we do in the future, we'll try to avoid those problems (as new ones are created).

            That's a rather empty thing to say.

            A lot of Slashdotters like to compare the cost of the Shuttle to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So would it make the wars and the vast sums spent on them ok, if I just observed that "Now we know, we didn't know before"? And of course, "We'll try to avoid those problems."

            It's especially empty since we really did know ahead of time that the Shuttle was going to have most of the problems it had. Obviously, not the oblivious NASA managers who were forecasting a bunch of n

    • by JWW (79176) on Friday October 12, 2012 @06:51PM (#41637911)

      Nope. Ironcally nations that promise total fairness, equality and prosperity generally turn into total shitholes.

      Nations that stretch their horizions expand their frontier, and search for answers have massive opportunity and progress.

      What makes people more inspired, staring at the ground or looking at the stars?

    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Friday October 12, 2012 @06:51PM (#41637913)

      People always trash the space program in general. "What has it ever done for me?" The number one thing the shuttle program has given us is knowledge, about many things. It's pretty hard to quantify either the amount of knowledge we've gained or the value of it, or its subsequent impact on the rest of our lives. The shuttles in particular delivered many payloads to orbit, including several satellites and great observatories including Hubble, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. They also delivered the Galileo, Magellan, and Ulysses spacecraft to orbit to begin their missions. They also delivered components for Mir and the ISS. NASA also has a list of some technologies that resulted from the shuttle program here [nasa.gov].

      As far as money goes, and spending it wisely, over its 30-year run the shuttle program ended up costing us just under $200 billion in 2011 dollars, as well as 14 lives. That sounds like a lot of money. The current estimate of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is between 3.2 and 4 trillion dollars, with over 4400 Americans killed and over 33,000 wounded in Iraq alone. Afghanistan has cost us another 2100 American lives, and those numbers don't even include non-Americans or civilians. In 2008 alone Bush proposed $190 billion for the wars, just under the total cost of the 30-year shuttle program. I'll leave it up to you to decide which is the better investment.

      • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Friday October 12, 2012 @06:54PM (#41637939)

        I'll also note that the margin of error alone for the cost of the wars is 4 times the total cost of the shuttle program.

      • by khallow (566160)

        As far as money goes, and spending it wisely, over its 30-year run the shuttle program ended up costing us just under $200 billion in 2011 dollars, as well as 14 lives. That sounds like a lot of money. The current estimate of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is between 3.2 and 4 trillion dollars, with over 4400 Americans killed and over 33,000 wounded in Iraq alone. Afghanistan has cost us another 2100 American lives, and those numbers don't even include non-Americans or civilians. In 2008 alone Bush proposed $190 billion for the wars, just under the total cost of the 30-year shuttle program. I'll leave it up to you to decide which is the better investment.

        I see war cost estimates a third of that. And funding a couple of years of a war in a critical region to the US does seem to have a lot of value compared to coming up with the most expensive method possible for launching things into space.

        • The "most expensive method possible" was not used. That's why we got the shuttles in their final form in the first place. An excellent example of spending less money up front, but being forced to spend more later to work around issues on a compromised system that wouldn't have occurred if enough money had been spent on designing it right in the first place.

          • by khallow (566160)

            The "most expensive method possible" was not used.

            Well, name a more expensive method that still works and would fall within the budget.

            An excellent example of spending less money up front, but being forced to spend more later to work around issues on a compromised system that wouldn't have occurred if enough money had been spent on designing it right in the first place.

            A vast amount of money was spent up front. Keep in mind that they built a number of orbiters at roughly $2 billion apiece, plus development costs, and Earth-side infrastructure.

            The problem wasn't the lack of funds to build the Shuttle, but the design itself was too amibitious. I consider this essay [selenianboondocks.com] a great explanation of the problem.

            What if they had intentionally bitten off a smaller task at first. What if they had retired the Saturn V, and slimmed down the staff for the Saturn IB (or better yet, auctioned it off or allowed the companies involved to commercialize it), and then done a much smaller first generation âoeshuttleâ? This shuttle might have only been capable of putting a couple thousand pounds into orbit, and might not have gone straight to an operation vehicle. This wouldnâ(TM)t have been a program trying to keep as much of the Saturn team together as possible, or an attempt to replace all existing rockets in one fell-swoop. It wouldâ(TM)ve been an X-vehicle in reality.

            In other words, keep the Saturn 1B and build a much smaller shuttle capable of carrying 2

            • A vast amount of money was spent up front.

              And where did that money go? The vast majority of it, if not all of it, went to companies and workers here, in this country. Compare that with where the money spent on the wars has been spent.

        • And funding a couple of years of a war in a critical region to the US does seem to have a lot of value

          Try that again. We're going on a decade and counting of war, not "a couple of years". Let's stick to facts, there's no reason to bring hyperbole into this. Might as well ask though.. what have those wars done for me? You seem to see the value, what is it? Is it worth 4 trillion dollars and almost 7,000 American lives? From what I can tell our mission in Afghanistan is finished, so why did my brother in law just leave for his 4th deployment?

      • by sysrammer (446839)

        Good post, mod parent up.

      • The current estimate of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is between 3.2 and 4 trillion dollars [...]

        Yeah, but at least we found Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons! [worldpublicopinion.org]

        Oh, yeah... [factcheck.org]

    • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Friday October 12, 2012 @06:54PM (#41637951)

      I actually used to think like you - I thought most of the space program was wasted taxpayers money on ego until someone on /. pointed that (paraphrasing) ...

      One nice benefit to the space program was essentially a big R&D. A lot of interesting tech was developed as we tried to solve new problems.

      You'll want to read these links as they fully answer your question:

      http://www.nasa.gov/50th/50th_magazine/benefits.html [nasa.gov]
      http://www.spaceexplorationday.us/benefits/technology.html [spaceexplorationday.us]

      • by khallow (566160)
        It's interesting how many NASA "spinoffs" described in those links fall in the category of "would have done anyway". But why research it yourself when you can get NASA to overpay for that research?
        • That's the same silly argument that all of Apple's iPod/iPhone/iPad innovations (NOT inventions) "would have happened anyway" by other companies. Bottom line is, just like with NASA-funded research... in many cases other companies didn't do it anyway, they were crap, or development would have happened many years later than they actually did.

          It took private enterprise over 50 years to replicate what NASA did in the early 60s, and they had that 50 years of experience to draw upon--back then many things about

          • by khallow (566160)

            That's the same silly argument that all of Apple's iPod/iPhone/iPad innovations (NOT inventions) "would have happened anyway" by other companies.

            Well, in my defense, most NASA spinoffs are by other parties which were already conducting research in the areas in question. That alone brings it out of the silly category, even if you do choose to ignore that your argument was a fallacy by virtue of the original statement being false. Most Apple innovations would indeed have happened anyway.

            It took private enterprise over 50 years to replicate what NASA did in the early 60s, and they had that 50 years of experience to draw upon--back then many things about rockets and space were still being researched and discovered through trial and error, that's why many early attempts ended with an exploding rocket.

            And for an order of magnitude lower cost than NASA could do the same now.

            Space is far too expensive up front, with not enough profit to justify it.

            If that were true, then it wouldn't be worth doing. The amazing work that companies like Space

            • That's the same silly argument that all of Apple's iPod/iPhone/iPad innovations (NOT inventions) "would have happened anyway" by other companies.

              Well, in my defense, most NASA spinoffs are by other parties which were already conducting research in the areas in question. That alone brings it out of the silly category, even if you do choose to ignore that your argument was a fallacy by virtue of the original statement being false. Most Apple innovations would indeed have happened anyway.

              You left out the tail of my paragraph: "in many cases [...] development would have happened many years later than they actually did". It's not that the "would have happened anyway" argument is false, it's that such a statement refuses to credit Apple/NASA with pushing or jump-starting many areas of R&D. It's like saying a Google Maps-type web application "would've happened anyway" by incumbents like Mapquest, so Google doesn't deserve any credit for modern online map UIs.

              It took private enterprise over 50 years to replicate what NASA did in the early 60s, and they had that 50 years of experience to draw upon--back then many things about rockets and space were still being researched and discovered through trial and error, that's why many early attempts ended with an exploding rocket.

              And for an order of magnitude lower cost than NASA could do the same now.

              The "than" makes it hard to pars

              • by khallow (566160)

                Are you saying private enterprise can do the same as NASA can now (or could have up til recently), but for an order of magnitude less? That has yet to be proven, since NASA's mandate extends beyond launching satellites into orbit, and humans into sub-orbital space.

                Sure. I've seen a number of cases where private companies have done stuff like what NASA has done in the past. SpaceShipOne was another example which vastly undershoot the corresponding NASA program in development costs, the X-15.

                I was responding to the general assertion that everything NASA did would've happened anyway by private enterprise, not specifically the spinoff applications linked to by UnknownSoldier. I refer more to "pure" research that typically lack short-term ROI (Hubble, environment monitoring satellites, Mars and other probes/landers), as well as manned orbital and lunar spacecraft.

                Of course not. A number of things NASA did, such as fly the Space Shuttle had negative value. Who thinks a private group would fly a white elephant for thirty years and consume a fifth of a billion current dollars over that time? It just wouldn't make sense.

                Note that without the ISS (thanks to taxpayers of many countries) as a destination, it's unclear why a private for-profit company would even want to develop a manned orbital craft.

                Why do you think the ISS

    • While I applaud the engineers' achievements, I am not sure that these space shuttles' cost has been worth it. I know experiments have been done in space...but can someone really tell me what an ordinary street walking John Doe has benefited from these shuttles?

      Here's an interesting one [nasa.gov] regarding software developed to determine the size of debris falling off the external tank and how it's also being used by contractors and homeowners to measure things for construction projects.

      If you're looking for more, check out NASA's Spinoffs page [nasa.gov].

    • In addition to the things already listed, here are two more sites that give some of the technologies that were originally developed for the Space Shuttle specifically or NASA in general, and then found more widespread commercial use:

      http://spinoff.nasa.gov/shuttle.htm [nasa.gov]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_spin-off_technologies [wikipedia.org]
      http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/ten-nasa-inventions.htm [discovery.com]

      A quick list of some of the interesting ones: An artificial heart, video stabilization software, material used in p

      • by bogaboga (793279)

        I do not try in any way, to belittle these spin-offs in any way. I guess the better questions to ask would be:

        Are all these inventions really worth all the cash that has been spent on NASA and the shuttles?

        Are proponents saying that these inventions would not be in existence had it not been due to NASA's work? I doubt it.

  • the National Museum of the United States Air Force that is amongst a massive history of aerospace development and milestones located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the largest base of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
  • Incredible sight (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Friday October 12, 2012 @06:43PM (#41637837) Homepage Journal

    I work near LAX, so I was able to watch the landing last month and walk out to see it on the ground today. They let the crowd get a lot closer to the shuttle than I was expecting: just one parking lot aisle away.

    My own photos from both events: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kelsonv/sets/72157631590634138/detail/ [flickr.com]

    • Very cool photos. I wish I could have come up from SD to see it landing (well, piggy-backing during a landing) or to see it land-crawl to the museum.
  • Something in common (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sysrammer (446839) on Friday October 12, 2012 @08:34PM (#41638571) Homepage

    I am impressed about the wide range of people that watched Endeavour and its carrier come in, and are watching the spacecraft move to the museum.

    It was a beautiful sight as they swung around the downtown skyscrapers. The roar from pedestrians in the street reached me up the the 23rd floor, and I looked out and saw the majestic aircraft gleaming in the sun as they banked around us.

    About half of us rushed to the windows and got out our cellphone cams. Yeah, we all knew we'd be getting shit video out of it, but it was more of a "You Are There" moment that was being captured.

    Later that night my son had some twenty-something friends over, and we all spent some time telling our particular stories about how it was. We had something in common.

    Today I was in the elevator & the monitor was showing the status of the spacecraft's progress. I rode it up & down a few times to catch the whole story. On my last ride down, a delivery guy got on and saw the video. He looked a little hassled, and said his company was on the route and it delayed him, so now he was humping to catch up. And then his face lit up and he said "but I did get to stand 20-30 feet away", and he proceeded to show me his pics.

    I'll probably never see him again, but, for a moment, we had something in common.

  • by juventasone (517959) on Friday October 12, 2012 @09:15PM (#41638797)

    I've watched a lot of different videos about the shuttles, and by far the most moving for me was one created last year by Nature to celebrate the completed shuttle program.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=II7QBLt36xo&hd=1 [youtube.com]

  • Because Houston didn't have anything to do with the space program...

    • by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Friday October 12, 2012 @10:24PM (#41639075)

      It was built in Southern California. Houston let their Saturn V rot outside. The Houston team thought they were entitled to a shuttle and didn't put together a decent bid.

      So it goes.

      • by sysrammer (446839)

        Yeah, I went through Houston in '75, and I stopped by the JSC museum. The museum was ok, some cool capsules, etc. I don't remember it too much, but I still remember the big Saturn V laying there, rusting. What should have been a centerpiece of the museum was more like a jalopy on blocks.

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      I agree that Houston got burned. There are two shuttles in the upper east US and zilch in the middle. That's stupid.

  • than Spain's Franco.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Friday October 12, 2012 @11:14PM (#41639253) Journal

    ...neighborhoods, the first thing I thought was, "Apple really did screw up their map app".

  • Well, as big projects tend, things are a bit behind schedule. Supposed to be done by 2030PDT, it's 0200 now and they're just getting around to tacking up MLK blvd. I hadn't really planned to go watch, but, I'm up, it's Saturday night, and there's a full moon.

    I believe watching them tack up the blvd to avoid cutting down the pines will be slick. I watched "The Rock" as it made its way a few blocks from where I live earlier this year. Incredible engineering and teamwork, but I've seen big stuff move along the

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