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NASA Science

Space Shuttle Atlantis Last Night In Space Orbit 108

techtribune writes "Tomorrow will be a bittersweet day for the crew aboard the NASA Space Shuttle Atlantis as they begin their return home to Earth. This will be the last space shuttle re-entry, the last landing, and the very last crew to pilot the shuttle in U.S. history. The Atlantis Space Shuttle undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday after delivering a lot of supplies, batteries, and other hardware to the station. They are bringing a lot of trash and everything else that needs to be brought back to Earth, as it's the very last opportunity for NASA to do so on its own." In a related topic, MarkWhittington wrote in with a story about why we stopped going to the moon and why there are no plans to go back.
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Space Shuttle Atlantis Last Night In Space Orbit

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @03:34PM (#36827236)

    Mr. Whittington's article is written with very little depth. He doesn't even answer his own question. Nixon siad it was too expensive... really? that's it?
    Sure the space shuttle program ended up being truly massively expensive, but the entire world surrounding the space program also changed in the mean time and far more valuable things occured in science than "going to the moon"
    Going back to the moon from then until say now... wouldn't have had half the scientific value of say Hubble or zero G experiments of the 80's.

    It's exciting... yes. And we should go back. There's a pratical side to a moon base that would be extremely valuable in the future. Far less fatigue for atronauts, a fantastic opportunity at power and heat generation at the boundary between the near and far sides of the moon. the ability to use local building materials for some things. A grand opportunity indeed. I'm just scratching the surface.

    Is any of this in his article? No. It's just whining.

  • by yoghurt ( 2090 ) on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @03:39PM (#36827294)

    People stopped going to the moon and skylab because they ran out of useful things to do there.

    The reason for people in space is because it makes for better marketing.

    All the science is done by unmanned probes. The Mars rovers have been a huge success. Sure they are less capable than a human, but they are much cheaper, they can stay there a long time, you don't have to bring them back and if something goes wrong on Mars at least nobody gets hurt hence you can tolerate a modest risk of failure.

  • Risk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Princeofcups ( 150855 ) <> on Wednesday July 20, 2011 @03:53PM (#36827454) Homepage

    The reason that our space program is dead in the water is that we are pathologically afraid of the risk of anyone dying. If there's an accident, the entire program shuts down. Not for a couple of weeks, but for nearly a decade while congress has meeting after meeting, and even more bureacracy is put into place to hamper all programs. The solution is a lean, mean, risk taking NASA that can get a new vehicle out there flying every year to test out the technologies and toughen up the astronauts for the conquering of space, which will be the most difficult thing that the human race has done to date.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.