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Space Shuttle Atlantis Launches On Final Flight 275

Space Shuttle Atlantis has just launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. STS-135 marks the final flight for the shuttle program, 30 years after Columbia touched the sky during STS-1. The mission summary (PDF) outlines STS-135's crew and event timeline. NASA's launch blog has been following the countdown all morning, and our own CmdrTaco has been tweeting live from on-site. NASA TV is also being streamed live. Meteorological reports for the launch looked doubtful at first, but a gap in the bad weather at just the right time allowed everything to proceed as planned. Atlantis successfully reached its preliminary orbit in what a NASA official called a "flawless" launch.
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Space Shuttle Atlantis Launches On Final Flight

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  • Godspeed Atlantis (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spidercoz ( 947220 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @11:32AM (#36695276) Journal
    So goes America's dominance in space.
  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @11:40AM (#36695402)

    So goes America's dominance in space.

    Well the American government's dominance(*), there is still the American commercial spaceflight industry. Let's hope the government does not over-regulate or otherwise screw up this emerging industry.

    (*) Dominance may be overstating things. The Russians have done a lot of important work, much of it complementary to America's work and experience.

  • Good Launch (Score:4, Insightful)

    by milbournosphere ( 1273186 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @11:44AM (#36695436)
    I just watched the launch via the live feed. 30 years of good work. Now...what's next? Here's hoping NASA will have the budget to get its next vehicle up and running.
  • by c0mpliant ( 1516433 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @11:47AM (#36695500)
    So ends America's wasteful spending on a program that didn't live up to what was promised. Maybe now space exploration can start heading back on the right direction
  • I was 3 years old (Score:5, Insightful)

    by deathcloset ( 626704 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @11:51AM (#36695578) Journal
    When Columbia launched, according to my mother, I watched 8 hours of the broadcast. All the way from the astronauts' breakfast to the press conference past the launch. I didn't move.

    I guess even at that age we humans are capable of grasping the awesome and extraordinary quality of certain events.

    I don't know why I'm posting, except perhaps that through my whole life I have felt a deep attachment to space exploration, science and technological achievement (all of which I've always considered to coincide with humanitarianism, if not cause). The space shuttle has been the icon, the embodiment of that attachment and love.

    Lief Ericson made it to america first, but managed to stay only for a short while. It would be 500 more years before explorers returned from Europe (and not in the best form, it should be said).

    I know we from Earth will return, and I hope and believe it will not be 500 more years.
  • by Tsingi ( 870990 ) <graham.rick@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday July 08, 2011 @12:00PM (#36695748)

    Shutting down? Hardly. Aren't there exciting new research programs into how to turn shit and piss into delicacies? What could be more exciting?

    I believe the program (If I remember correctly) researched how to turn piss into Coors Light or Bud. Hardly a delicacy, or even that much of a conversion.

  • by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @12:27PM (#36696188) Homepage

    "Late to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise" -- Wernher von Braun

    NASA could really do with a man like him again. Not that he was a saint, far from it as anyone who was on the receiving end of a V-2 would surely tell you, but he had the essential characteristics that made him hugely successful in selling space. He was an scientist who understood what must be done, a visionary who saw the need to do it, and a media savvy and inspiring person who could sell the package to government and the public.

    Of course his efforts were also helped immensely by the Soviet decision to give us someone to race with. Everything always seems just a bit more important when your rival is trying to beat you at it.

  • End of an era (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deadhammer ( 576762 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @12:32PM (#36696266)

    Well America, it's up to India, China and Russia now. Leave the whole "space" and "discovery" and "dreams for the future" business to the up-and-comers. They'll take over the space exploration for you so you don't need to send people up or build space telescopes anymore. You've got more pressing, practical things to worry about! Terrorism, wars, economic stuff, that sort of thing. Good run guys!

    I have to wonder... If North Korea suddenly announced that they had A) manned launch capability and B) plans to do a moon run in ten years, would America still decide that manned space travel was done and over with?

  • by SnarfQuest ( 469614 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @01:28PM (#36697148)

    You can see what to expect by just listening to the current president

    1. Rich people are pure evil.
    2. Only rich people can afford to build their own spacecraft.
    3. Therefore spacecraft are evil.
    4. Incredible increase in taxes on spacecraft.
    5. Spacecraft manufacture/jobs move out of the USA.
    6. The end of US spacecraft.
    7. Another successful economic stimulus program program for Obama!

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN