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NASA Science

Shuttle Atlantis Lands Safely After Final Official Mission 125

saintory writes "Shuttle Atlantis landed this morning after flying its final official mission. In its 25-year service, the shuttle Atlantis has logged over 120 million miles." After a successful mission to deliver a research module to the International Space Station, the craft landed at Kennedy Space Center, and will "go through the normal flow of prelaunch preparations in order to serve as the 'launch-on-need' vehicle for Endeavour's STS-134 mission, the last scheduled flight of the Space Shuttle Program." Congratulations to the people aboard and on the ground who engineered the shuttle's successful return.
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Shuttle Atlantis Lands Safely After Final Official Mission

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  • Welcome home. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:02PM (#32351684) Homepage

    Thank you for your years of service, Atlantis. You will be forever remembered :( Billions in bank bailouts, billions in healthcare....but ~$20 billion for NASA? Out of the question!

  • Re:Welcome home. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:09PM (#32351764) Homepage Journal
    Meh, even if all of the money towards bank bailouts and healthcare went towards NASA, I'd still like to see the shuttles retired. We can make more progress in space exploration using more modern launch systems (Falcon 9, Atlas V) and on-orbit rendezvous than we can flying the Space Shuttle. Don't get me wrong, the shuttles have provided very necessary lessons in manned-space exploration and LEO operations, but the program is almost 30 years old and has been a politicized boondoggle from the beginning. If the shuttles had actually become the quick-cycle space planes they were sold as, then maybe I would say continue the program. However, as it stands now, the shuttle program had its time. Now its time for our nation (and species) to evolve in terms of space exploration. This, of course, is just my humble opinion.

    For the record, I'd like to thank the shuttle crews for their years of service as well.
  • Re:And so? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bjk002 ( 757977 ) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:11PM (#32351806)

    Not sure what scale you use to evaluate the value of /. article postings to the common nerd, but I think anything NASA has to qualify.

    The sheer magnitude of R&D and technology involved with the space shuttle, its missions, and the NASA space programs in general far exceed by any measure the level of "nerdiness" required to end up on /.

  • by mr_nazgul ( 1290102 ) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @03:15PM (#32351852) Homepage
    Space is a dangerous challenge, but the rewards will be worth it. In the end, all of man kind will benefit.
    "A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner."
  • Re:Welcome home. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bakkster ( 1529253 ) <Bakkster,man&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @04:44PM (#32353006)

    I agree the shuttle has reached its end-of-life. It did years ago, and we've been bootstrapping it for quite a while.

    The real shame as far as space exploration is that we have neither a domestic replacement craft, nor a plan to create one. We're supposed to just wait (and hope and pray) that the private sector can satisfy our manned launch vehicle needs, even though none of them are close. AFAIK, all the private space companies are looking at tourism, not rendesvous with the ISS, Hubble, or science missions. There's also no plan to incentivize this development that I'm aware of.

    We're just letting our manned space flight program slowly fade away. Such a shame.

  • Re:Welcome home. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Wednesday May 26, 2010 @07:08PM (#32354816) Homepage Journal

    AFAIK, all the private space companies are looking at tourism, not rendesvous with the ISS, Hubble, or science missions.

    Well that's not really true, no. Both the SpaceX Dragon capsule and the Orbital Sciences capsule proposals encompass a docking interface with the ISS. As for Hubble maintenance, you're probably right, neither of those craft will be able to dock with the Hubble. But last I heard, Hubble wasn't going to be fixed again anytime soon. I thought the last maintenance mission was the final one. And as for science missions, I am not sure what science missions you are talking about. So far as I know, the shuttle no longer does any science on its own. It has become a simple ferry to the ISS where larger, more controlled, longer experiments can be set up in space.

    Regarding the lack of a domestic replacement craft for the shuttle, I suggest you write to your congresscritters and give them hell for turning an engineering problem into a political boondoggle. I suggest you write to Lockheed Martin and give them hell for dragging their feet on the Orion design. I suggest you write to ATK and give them hell for lobbying to get a heavy launch vehicle design approved based on nonexistent components (Ares V and the fabled 5 stage solid rocket boosters). And, in general, I suggest you direct your ire at incompetent, over bloated national defense contractors and subcontractors that have been promising results for cheap and delivering compromises for twice the damn price. Frankly, the large players in the aerospace industry these days, are some of the most wasteful companies in existence in my opinion. Then again, I was raised with the idea that it shouldn't take three works of paperwork to change a damn screw on a piece of hardware (and yes, that last part was a personal anecdote).

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire