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NASA Space Science

Crew For Final Scheduled Space Shuttle Mission Selected 108

Toren Altair writes "NASA has assigned the crew for the last scheduled space shuttle mission, targeted to launch in September 2010. The flight to the International Space Station will carry a pressurized logistics module to the station. Veteran shuttle commander and retired Air Force Col. Steven W. Lindsey will command the eight-day mission, designated STS-133. Air Force Col. Eric A. Boe will serve as the pilot; it will be his second flight as a shuttle pilot. Mission Specialists are shuttle mission veteran Air Force Col. Benjamin Alvin Drew, Jr., and long-duration spaceflight veterans Michael R. Barratt, Army Col. Timothy L. Kopra and Nicole P. Stott." Reader Al points out other NASA news that the space agency's engineers have been testing a sleek new lunar rover that will be part of their eventual return to the moon. A video of the rover in action has been posted as well.
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Crew For Final Scheduled Space Shuttle Mission Selected

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  • Darn. (Score:5, Funny)

    by epedersen ( 863120 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:27PM (#29476899)
    I was hoping they would pick me, but the didn't. Darn.
    • Re:Darn. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:45PM (#29477025) Journal

      The interesting thing now, as the "space race" seems to be ending with usa, is who will take the lead with space exploration. chinese, russians or private companies?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume ( 22995 )

        Another option would be no one.

      • Re:Darn. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kestasjk ( 933987 ) * on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:08PM (#29477183) Homepage
        The "space race" ended with the fall of the soviet union. Now scientific equipment built in Europe is sent up in a Japanese rocket, plucked out of space by a Russian robotic arm and docked onto a US docking hold. Far more nations have space programs, all doing different things (even India is making contributions to lunar science these days), all collaborating, and the US too is preparing a new generation of space-ships.

        So yes the space race is long dead, but space exploration is booming like never before. There are less big things like landing on the moon, but make no mistake space exploration is so much more important than getting a human onto another lump of rock and getting him quickly back.
        • Re:Darn. (Score:5, Informative)

          by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:41PM (#29477407)

          Actually that is a Canadian robotic arm.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          So yes the space race is long dead, but space exploration is booming like never before.

          Space exploration isn't pissing around in low Earth orbit. Which is what humanity has done for the past 37 years.

          • If you think we've been "pissing around" you're too ignorant to be worth discussing space exploration with
          • by lennier ( 44736 )

            "Space exploration isn't pissing around in low Earth orbit. Which is what humanity has done for the past 37 years."

            Got a warp drive?

            Because without one, there's nowhere much we *can* go that's got a human-friendly biosphere.

            In the meantime, we've been sending robots to lots of robot-friendly places and getting lots of nice data back.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Now that America is officially a dead nation...

        The rich that destroyed the US Economy and middle class will use the money to make rockets in china.

  • by Angstroem ( 692547 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:29PM (#29476907)
    Hopefully not memorable like Challenger or Columbia.
    • by kestasjk ( 933987 ) * on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:02PM (#29477147) Homepage
      Of over 100 missions 2 disasters isn't too bad, it much better than Apollo and no-one brings up the failures of Apollo whenever it's mentioned like they do with the Shuttle.. It's a shame people will remember the Shuttle for the disasters and not for the triumphs, I don't think the astronauts who died would have wanted it this way (imho).
      • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @03:13PM (#29477959) Homepage

        Of over 100 missions 2 disasters isn't too bad, it much better than Apollo and no-one brings up the failures of Apollo whenever it's mentioned like they do with the Shuttle.

        For that matter, other than the Apollo 1 fire and the Apollo 13 fire/explosion (and maybe the computer faults on 11) - most people aren't even aware of the multitude and magnitude of the failures experienced during Apollo.
        For example:

        • Apollo 13 - severe POGO vibration came within seconds of reaching a magnitude sufficient to destroy the launch vehicle, averted only because the vibration caused the center J2 engine on the S-II stage to fail and shutdown.
          Severe vibration were also encountered on 11 and 12 but never reached dangerous levels. A fix was available in time for 13's flight, but management elected not to delay the flight to retrofit the fix into the booster.
        • Apollo 14
          • Docking mechanism failure after Trans Lunar Injection. Contrary to mission rules, the flight controllers directed the crew to 'brute force' the docking risking severe damage to the CM and LM.
          • Loss of Landing Radar. In violation of mission rules, crew continued with landing.
        • Apollo 15 - During landing, one parachute failed to deploy.
        • Apollo 16 - While in lunar orbit, it was discovered that the primary wiring harness for the SM's main propulsion system was damaged and inoperable. Despite a mission rule requiring an immediate mission abort and return to Earth, management and controllers elected to continue with the mission.
        • Skylab IV (Carr, Pogue, Gibson) - leaking tanks in the SM nearly caused the mission to be cut short. Management elected instead to make preparation to use the standby rescue vehicle.
        • Apollo Soyuz Test Project - During landing, crew error resulting in filling the cockpit with toxic fumes from fuel being vented from the reaction control system. The crew managed to vent the spacecraft, postflight investigations show that gas levels just shy of lethal were reached in the cockpit.
        • What that shows more about the NASA of old, is that they made choices that were gutsy and capable of killing their crew. The new NASA regularly makes similar choices and it has not always panned out (IOW, the new NASA is not that indifferent from the old NASA). But it also shows that we need to take some chances. I forget who said it, but that we NEED to kill some ppl every so often, or it is a sign that we are not pushing ourselves hard enough. More importantly, we need to NOT be afraid of this. Life is g
        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          Don't forget - Apollo 12, struck by lightning on launch.
          Gemini 8, near fatal spin. Armstrong and Scott came damn close to blacking out, which would essentially have been a death sentence.

      • by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @03:16PM (#29477983)
        You make an excellent point.

        Arguably, the STS program has contributed more to space science than Apollo did. Not to say that we didn't learn many useful and valuable things from Apollo, but Apollo was about a destination, STS was about doing useful stuff in space. We'll reap the benefits from both for a long time to come.

        I personally believe that the loss of astronauts and cosmonauts in the last 50 years has not gone in vain. They gave their lives for their country, their countrymen, their planet and for science. Because of them we have global satellite communications, GPS, advanced materials, highly developed engineering, improved cosmology and a vision of the heavens we only dreamed of.

        They knew the risks and they took them gladly - they are heros, every last one of them.

        • by khallow ( 566160 )
          Ignoring for a moment, the dubious value of "space science", it's worth noting that the only real space science, the launching of the "Great Observatories" like Hubble Space Telescope, did not require the Shuttle's unique features (other than payload size). My view is that the contribution to astrogeology and knowledge of the early Solar System by Apollo is comparable to the scientific output of the Great Observatories.

          Once we get past the Great Observatories, there really isn't much contribution to spac
      • by frieko ( 855745 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @03:23PM (#29478013)
        While I agree that the Shuttle gets a bad rap on safety, the fact that in 32 manned flights, Apollo, Mercury and Gemini lost just one crew and zero vehicles is pretty remarkable.

        Don't worry, I'm sure in time the shuttle will be remembered as a white elephant rather than a death trap ;)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sconeu ( 64226 )

        Gemini 8 had the crew closer to death than did Apollo 13.

  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:31PM (#29476929) Homepage

    Those would-be astronauts who were not chosen are welcome to join the crews of Apollo 18, 19, and 20 in the lounge, where they will receive some lovely parting gifts.

  • ... the USA won't have the ability to put its own astronauts into orbit by choice (as opposed to by circumstance after shuttle accidents).

    Way to go NASA.


    • You mean "Way to go, Congress that has no closed the pursestrings so tight that even developing nations look like they have better prospects for manned spaceflight."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      While NASA doesn't have the greatest track record, I'm not sure if we can blame NASA for all these problems. NASA's budget is getting tighter and tighter every year. In general the shuttle program was a failure, it failed to really cut costs or be any more reliable than Russia's space program and even though it did do some neat and useful things such as the space telescope, it really couldn't do more than that. If we want to have people back on the moon again, we need to make some new rockets, something we
    • To be fair human kind hasn't left low earth orbit since December 1972.

      Way to go lack of public interest and dwindling funding.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Uhm, wasn't there a six-year window in US manned spaceflights after the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975? And the world did not end.
      • by smoker2 ( 750216 )
        Unless you are significantly over 30 you won't realise what you're saying. 6 years is 6 wasted years. When you reach 40 you see that 1 year is nothing. Time speeds by, and nobody does anything ! Oh to be young and have all the time in the world. I just hope you do have the time you need. Don't expect me to stop pushing though ...
        • I don't expect you to stop doing anything. Wasted years? Some of the finest results came from the efforts that NASA made during this period, namely the Viking and Voyager probes. I do realize what I am saying. It is shameful that NASA has had no coherent vision of manned spaceflight technology since 1974 or so (no, I do not consider STS an overall succesful program, not with the eventual costs, as opposed to the original predictions), and it seems to me that market-driven companies like SpaceX, forced to sq
    • by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:46PM (#29477433)

      There was a long stretch between the end of Apollo and the first Shuttle where America didn't have the capability of getting an astronaut to orbit.

    • Avast ye scurvy unbelever, NASA has plans for some of the finest ships to sail the voids! Ye may think that the budget flounders but by God she'll settle straight yet! When America's budgetary concerns pick up this not having money blarney will sink and her captain keelhauled, and cash will flow from the grand admiral's treasury! ye haven't seen anything like the ships that will sail when the economic blow heads south and the seas are smooth again. Avast I say!
  • by HouseOfMisterE ( 659953 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:38PM (#29476979)

    ...they could have traded the Shuttle in towards a nice Hybrid.

  • by NoYob ( 1630681 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:42PM (#29477019)
    "Last scheduled mission"

    That's is always how it starts. The last scheduled missions are always the ones that get lost in black holes, freak accidents where they get frozen or some such then they all appear in the future with every one being apes or something or thrust into another dimension.

    I DON'T want to be them! Something's going to happen!

    • by Kufat ( 563166 )

      I just hope that nobody on the crew is only 3 days away from retirement.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      I heard the black one was showing pictures of his new boat to one of the other guys on the mission and saying "When we come back from this one, me and the wife are retiring to the islands."
  • by Hawthorne01 ( 575586 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @12:43PM (#29477023)
    Now if we only had a rocket to get it to the moon...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kestasjk ( 933987 ) *
      It's called the Ares V, and it too is still under development
      • It's called the Ares V, and it too is still under development

        Not if Congress has its way. It'll get the ax in favor of more entitlements for the rich & not famous.

        Robert Heinlein once said that humans will colonise space, but not to count on them speaking American English.

      • Ares V? That'll never fly. It's way too expensive.

        Ares V is supposed to be shuttle derived, however not a single major part is transferrable between the shuttle and Ares V. It uses a 10 metre diameter external fuel tank instead of the shuttle's 8.4m external tank (ET). The equipment in the factory that makes the ET cannot handle that diameter. So the entire factory needs to be re-tooled. The barge that is used to transfer the tank from the factory to the vehicle assembly building also cannot handle t
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kestasjk ( 933987 ) *
          Then why are they going with Ares V?
          • I have no clue. It doesn't make any sense to me. You have a heavy lift system in the STS/shuttle. It can loft the 70 metric ton orbiter plus a 25mt payload into Low Earth Orbit. If you remove the shuttle from the equation, you get a 95mt launcher, however you'd be missing the shuttle's engines. Once you add them back in, in a thrust structure under the external tank, and add a payload fairing at the top, you're down to about 65mt of payload. That's enough for a fully fueled Orion crew module (approx 2
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by camperdave ( 969942 )
            The other thing I don't get is the pro-NASA, anti-Direct attitude on Slashdot. On every other topic the crowd here is anti-Proprietary, Pro-Open-Source, yet when you point out that a bunch of NASA engineers and industry personnel band together in their spare time and essentially put together an "open source" launch vehicle which has been independently verified in terms of capabilities, engineering, budget, etc. you get downmodded. It's The Cathedral and the Bazaar NASA style, and Slashdot is a community
            • As I understand it the "Direct" thing has gone through several revisions now as problems were pointed out by NASA engineers.
              Also many people say "no not Direct, go for Jupiter or any number of competing designs. Among the unfaithful there are so many bazaars all selling such different things that any individual competitor's impact is diminished.

              When the people who built the Shuttle tell me they think the Ares V is the way to go that carries a lot of credibility.
              If Carmack says he has a great rocket, no
    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 )

      Now if we only had a rocket to get it to the moon...

      Um, there's plenty of US rockets available to get it to the Moon, just none built by NASA. It's also worth noting that all of the non-NASA rockets cost less than a billion dollars to develop, compared to the >$35 billion projected development cost for NASA's competing Ares I, which will have nearly identical capabilities to its competitors: [] [] []

  • ... seems to be a bunch of hangers on at Kennedy getting their last ride up. Per the article, they're mostly NASA management types with a semirookie pilot. I wouldn't expect any science from these guys, I'm thinking they're up there for the photo opportunities.

    And yeah I'm bitter that they didn't pick me.

    • Not really. Many astronauts get assigned that sort of managerial duty between flight assignments. You gotta keep them busy when they aren't training for a flight. Three of them are recent/current residents of the ISS.

      As for science, it's not a science flight. In fact, the last science flight was STS-107. It's a final delivery flight to the station. So the crew composition makes sense for the tasks.

      • Not really. Many astronauts get assigned that sort of managerial duty between flight assignments.

        Middle management, yeah. But not department heads. Col Lindsey is chief of the Astronaut's Office. Col Drew is currently Director of Operations at Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center at Astrograd.

  • America's fall from grace, causes humanity's fall from space. Will all progress be backwards from now on?
  • Progess (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wowsers ( 1151731 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:38PM (#29477377) Journal

    Retiring the Shuttle programe is called technological progress!?! Look at us mere mortals still flying supersonically in Concorde. Oh wait, now we all have to use slow subsonic 747's and Airbus'. THAT'S progress for you.

    • Look at us mere mortals still flying supersonically in Concorde. Oh wait, now we all have to use slow subsonic 747's and Airbus'. THAT'S progress for you.

      Just because we are capable of supersonic flight doesn't necessarily mean it is viable economically. Let's use cars for example.

      Many cars nowadays can reach speeds in the 100+ mph range. Few of us ever reach those speeds in a car, and even fewer of us manage to make long trips at that speed. Sure, it'd be nice, but the fuel/tire/maintenance costs at that speed might not make it worthwhile for most people.

      I think the Concorde would have done much better if random people here in the States hadn't complai

    • Re:Progess (Score:4, Insightful)

      by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @02:18PM (#29477639)

      Technological progress doesn't always equal "going faster".

      We don't _need_ supersonic aircraft for passenger use, the public didn't want to pay for it, so Concorde is history. We need to haul people in bulk at low cost per seat, low fuel expense, and with as little pollution as practical.

      We don't _need_ to hurry putting _people_ in space, because the rest of our supporting technology can be developed less expensively (and without the loss-multiplier effect when expensive manned systems crash). We do _need_ robots and to develop remotely-manned systems for use on and off-world. Never send a human to do a machines job. Just as we use ROVs under the ocean because the environment is hostile and they are cheaper than manned systems, so we should deal with space exploration. The purpose of space exploration is to learn about the universe. The purpose of human sustainment experiments is only to learn how to sustain humans. These things are not the same.

      The commercial world will eventually develop ways to send rich tourists to space, which is perfectly appropriate.
      NASA should be doing pure research, not romantic tourism. So what if other countries put up more people sooner? We do the very same thing they did with our previous research and exploit it later.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jabithew ( 1340853 )

        We don't _need_ supersonic aircraft for passenger use, the public didn't want to pay for it, so Concorde is history.

        That, and the fact that it was banned from flying supersonically over the US (ostensibly for environmental reasons), reducing the number of routes it could take dramatically, and the fact that it had that crash in Paris. Plus it was an Anglo-French project and the British and French flag-carriers were the only ones who could ever be persuaded to fly the damn things.

        • by smoker2 ( 750216 )
          Not "that and" anything. Concorde had one crash, ever, a good 20 odd years after the stupid woman in NY complained about the noise. You wouldn't hear it over the cars these days. Concorde was making a profit. Politics took that bird down, the same as every other British technological advance since the US became the saviour of the human race. Our rocketry was part of the space race, our technology and innovation helped create satellites, manned rockets, computers and the atom bomb, and yet here we are buying
          • I'm British too, before you start blaming me for the ills of our relationship with America!

            Concorde had one crash, but flew so few flights with so few people that statistically it was more dangerous than the 747. In addition, the safety record was blemished by other major incidents that were hushed up by the airlines and airports. I know this sounds like a conspiracy, but my source on this was Private Eye at the time, who pointed out that Concorde had previously suffered the same problem as caused the Paris

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        We don't _need_ supersonic aircraft for passenger use, the public didn't want to pay for it, so Concorde is history. We need to haul people in bulk at low cost per seat, low fuel expense, and with as little pollution as practical.

        That's not the correct lesson. The public was willing to pay for faster service, it wasn't willing to pay enough to generate sufficient profit (I gather not enough to cover costs even) for Concorde. That's not the same as "didn't want to pay for it". Suppose hypothetically that a next generation supersonic transport has exactly the same costs per seat as a 747 and similar quality of service. Are people going to pay a little extra to cost significant time off of their long flights? Yes. The problem was simpl

    • In a way it is. We, joe public, want cheap airfares and only cheap airfares. So expensive planes like the Concorde were no long a good long term investment (supersonic flight is always going to cost more fuel than subsonic). The development is that almost anyone, and almost everyone in the western world now travels all over the world. Its no long just the rich jet setters... *Thats progress*!

      The shuttle costs ~500M per flight... Thats one expensive first class ticket.... Getting back to normal people is
      • by smoker2 ( 750216 )
        I hate to break it to you but people were taking package holidays on jets way before Concorde first flew. Cheap air fares are not a result of the failure of concorde. Concorde was profitable, and it was only the decision of the airframe maintainers that lead to its withdrawal from service. Not because it was unsafe, but because it was old and politically unsound. It may have cost 5000 to fly on concorde, but that was because there were only a few of them. If there had been hundreds, then the per flight cost
        • They never got close to recouping R&D cost on the Concorde. Not even slightly. The French and British governments footed that bill.

          Flying was becoming "common" in the 60s, but it wasn't till the late 60s that the "common" man was flying anywhere over a decent stretch of water. It was still expensive. In the 80s my Father flew often to LA from NZ. It cost about 2000NZD. Today you can get the same flight for about the same price. Considering inflation, its *much* cheaper to fly these days. And thats th
  • "Space, the Final frontier...

    Its last mission, to Boldly go where no man will go again.

  • This is not how the Face of Boe got his name.

    Or maybe so.

  • Viewing the rover video has convinced me the US will go throuh with this space program. Real work, real schedules, real tests, capable technology. I wish NASA and the US all the best with the upcoming establishment of the lunar base.
    • Viewing the rover video has convinced me the US will go through with this space program. Real work, real schedules, real tests, capable technology. I wish NASA and the US all the best with the upcoming establishment of the lunar base.

      Viewing the Congresscritters in office at the moment, I tend to believe that it won't go through. The 'Spacer' faction is just too small to defend the budgets.

      What Shuttle could have given us was a delivery of a couple 'transfer stations', modular components for a small stat

  • Didn't he really mean analogous environment, as in 'our desert terrain and texture is analogous to the surface of the moon'. Or did he mean the moon isn't really digital after all?
  • So what happens to those astronauts after this? They've got training and a skillset that has essentially been forced into obsolescence. Will NASA sell the shuttles to other countries and then perhaps those countries will bring in astronauts as consultants? Will the astronauts continue to go up, affiliated with NASA, but guests in other countries' programs as we have had guests in ours? Or will they sign on with private programs to help/lend their experience (Are they even allowed, or is there a non-compete
    • by beckett ( 27524 )
      There are always openings at the Astronaut Ice Cream plant. i think nowadays you can just show your flight patch and they'll give you at least an interview.
  • it's interesting how both the Moon and the Earth will be getting electric vehicles at about the same time. That first lunar dealership will have a tough time with initial sales, but it should pick up when moon people realise it's one of the few places to get oxygen too.
    • Will be getting? Learn some history. The Moon had electric vehicles back in the 1970s with the lunar rovers. Of course, Earth had electric vehicles back in the 1830s.
  • by FlyingGuy ( 989135 ) <flyingguy&gmail,com> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @09:43PM (#29480317)

    Nicole P. Stott - Uhm, oh yes indeed.

    FULLY qualified, smart, intelligent and yet still Saaaamokin!

  • What's with the "space race is over, now it's time for the space exploration race"? We've been exploration space for decades, people. 'Exploration' does not SPECIFICALLY mean going out into space and physically exploring it with our bodies. Exploration is gaining a better understanding of something through scientific means (such as space probes, cameras, satellites, and robots), which is something that is not at all new. The race that will be starting would be more of a "who can land a dude on another plan
  • The entire crew will face odds of about 1 in 200 of returning on a soyuz or being killed due to a catastrophic failure.

    The shuttle is great and all but really has a few serious weaknesses so its time to move on.

  • by RealGrouchy ( 943109 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:47AM (#29482787)

    TFA says the rover is Lunar-Electric. I assume this means it's a hybrid that runs partly on electricity and partly on lunacy.

    - RG>

  • by RogueWarrior65 ( 678876 ) on Sunday September 20, 2009 @12:33PM (#29483355)

    I dare the pilot to do a barrel roll on reentry.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.