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Shuttle Atlantis Lands Safely After Final Official Mission

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the now-it's-time-for-unofficial-joyrides dept.

NASA 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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Welcome home. (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351684)

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. (4, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351764)

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:Welcome home. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352938)

I've actually been inside the Atlantis. I was lucky enough to receive the VIP tour. I'm gonna glow your mind. The technicians there say *every inch* of wire is removed and closely examined after every launch. So yea, I would agree with OP, the shuttle basically gets gutted after launch. How much is replaced after each inspection I can't say.

Fun fact: the shuttle bay doors are only designed to be opened in space. If opened on earth their own weight would rip the hinges apart. During inspection the doors are supported by huge braces. :D
Oblig Picture:

http://imgur.com/7pBjO.jpg [imgur.com]

http://imgur.com/qzxT6.jpg [imgur.com]

http://imgur.com/2SPRA.jpg [imgur.com]

http://imgur.com/EUxbD.jpg [imgur.com]

Re:Welcome home. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355000)

I've actually been inside the Atlantis. I was lucky enough to receive the VIP tour. I'm gonna glow your mind. The technicians there say *every inch* of wire is removed and closely examined after every launch.

They're exaggerating. Removing and replacing every inch of wire is a job that would take over a year.

Speak for yourself. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32356240)

Hey, shut up, lick my balls, eat the fungus off the tip of my P3NIS, and DIE ALREADY.

Re:Welcome home. (2, Insightful)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#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. (2, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32354816)

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).

Re:Welcome home. (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355290)

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.

If you're lamenting that we didn't create and implement a realistic plan for developing a shuttle successor thirty years ago like we should have, then we're in complete agreement.

If you're lamenting the loss of the shuttle replacement program we did actually have, then, well... You should realize that private industry is quite a bit closer than that program was, even if you assume all the delays and budget overruns that have plagued that program suddenly ceased to be.

There is no scenario, starting with circumstances as they existed in 2009, where we weren't dependent on the Russians for some time, and where private industry wasn't likely to beat NASA to providing the same service.

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.

Actually, ISS resupply missions is the very first thing SpaceX is going to be doing under contract from NASA. Science missions are one of the first uses of their Dragon capsule (called 'DragonLab') that they're planning as well. There are lots of incentives to develop this stuff, at least if the proposed NASA budget passes Congress.

My personal prediction: Private industry will be ferrying people to the ISS before 2016, the first year Ares I would have realistically yet optimistically (i.e. without further delays) have been able to do the same.

Re:Welcome home. (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355004)

I just watched Atlantis return home today and I realized that after 2 more flights it is likely I will never see a winged vehicle return from orbit in my lifetime. It is unreal to watch live. Even though it's a glider you can hear it as it rips through the air on approach. One thing to remember is the shuttle program has been treated like it's 5 years from cancellation for the last 15 years. If after building Endeavour we built a new orbiter with upgrades every 5 years we would be on a 4th generation already. All of those lessons learned would have been built into each new one and the older ones could have been retired. All of the things that cost so much to maintain could have been eliminated. It's hard for people who have never seen a shuttle up close to understand how amazing they are. The payload bay could launch a bus into orbit. You could lift 2 Soyuz into orbit in the payload bay. The capabilities will never be matched in 50 years.

Re:Welcome home. (1, Flamebait)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351776)

Why waste even more money?

The whole Ares thing was just welfare for the shuttle parts manufacturers. Never send a man to do a robots job.

Re:Welcome home. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32351812)

I'll remember that if you ever need a job. I'll hire the monkey why send a man to do a job I can train a monkey to do.

Re:Welcome home. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351822)

Good.

The alternative is breaking windows to keep the glass makers in business.

Re:Welcome home. (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352216)

Never send a man to do a robots job.

So much this. Send a telepresence robot up with every launch to the ISS. Have people on the ground take shifts bolting everything together. They get to go home at the end of their shift, and we save tens-hundreds of millions per launch.

Re:Welcome home. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32356738)

Latency issue - imagine having to wait two seconds between every move. Ok, you go to the moon. Now you're waiting 8 seconds. You go to Mars - move the bot to a location - 1 hour break (30 min each way). Telepresence is a no-go for almost everything dealing with assembly unless there's a living person with the patience of Job.

Re:Welcome home. (1)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351858)

Good luck, and ludicrous speed!

Re:Welcome home. (0, Offtopic)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352364)

That would be TRILLIONS for health care.

And so? (-1, Offtopic)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351692)

Has /. now become the Associated Press?

Re:And so? (2, Insightful)

bjk002 (757977) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 /.

Re:And so? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352158)

Has /. now become the Associated Press?

Wait... you're complaining that Slashdot is running fairly-up-to-date news?!

Re:And so? (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352580)

"fairly-up-to-date" is kind of you. I submitted this 'news' when Atlantis launched, ten days ago (http://slashdot.org/submission/1238864/Where-to-Park-the-Space-Shuttle), even mentioning that it might not be the final voyage and that there was talk about parking the shuttle at the Space Station to use in an emergency. It was rejected three days ago, I guess for being too-up-to-date.

Re:And so? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353618)

I submitted this 'news' when Atlantis launched, ten days ago...

... before its safe landing was only a statistical probability. :P

really? (5, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351700)

final official mission?

WTF are Billy-Bob and Jethro going to take it for a joyride when Ferris foolishly leaves it at a downtown Chicago parking garage?

Re:really? (5, Informative)

Binestar (28861) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351758)

Atlantis is the "Emergency Rescue" shuttle for the last 2 missions, so it is possible she could fly up and recover astronauts stranded due to tile damage in one of the last 2 missions.

Re:really? (1)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352192)

So I wonder what they would do with the abandoned shuttle... spacewalk and fix it, leave it to safely deorbit?

Re:really? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352344)

So I wonder what they would do with the abandoned shuttle... spacewalk and fix it, leave it to safely deorbit?

Almost certainly fill it with garbage then deorbit into the pacific. Would be highly embarrassing to have it survive reentry, so they'll probably do something interesting to see what happens like intentionally auger it in.

The time required to make a tile, test it, ship it up, somewhat exceeds the fuel cell fuel excess capacity, once they shut off they freeze and its all over.

Also the adhesives are best applied on the ground, hard to tell what damage there is underneath the tile inside the wing structure... its pretty much a total material loss, but at least no lives will be lost, assuming the relief shuttle makes it up safely...

Re:really? (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355278)

Isn't it more likely they would attempt a fully automated landing?

can they use it for ISS space? spare parts? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353196)

can they use it for ISS space? spare parts?

Re:can they use it for ISS space? spare parts? (4, Funny)

phaggood (690955) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353326)

It should be parked outside just beyond the 'porch' they installed a while back; preferably sans wheels and up on cinder blocks.

Re:can they use it for ISS space? spare parts? (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#32354140)

Oh so that's why they got the pink flamingos up there

Re:really? (1)

TrekkieTechie (1265532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353768)

Assuming all goes well on STS-134, we'd end up with a checked-out, launch-ready shuttle stack that's already been paid for. Atlantis's Launch On Need (LON) mission STS-335 could become STS-135 and fly a stripped-down, 4-person crew to the STS, delivering extra supplies and an additional Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. If something went wrong on STS-134, Soyuz capsules would be used in place of another shuttle LON. Source [spaceflightnow.com] .

Re:really? (1)

gamecrusader (1684024) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355604)

damaged tiles, you say a role of duck tape solves every problem

Re:really? (2, Informative)

yeremein (678037) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351766)

It's not scheduled to fly again, but it'll be ready as a "launch-on-need" vehicle to rescue the Endeavour crew if that craft is unable to re-enter.

Only 1 set of SRBs/external tank exist currently. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32353244)

The Solid Rocket Booster engine production capability for the shuttles was shutdown some time ago. Just enough SRBs were made to cover the last two scheduled launches (Discovery and Endeavour) plus one spare set for Atlantis to server as a rescue ship, and a possible, but probably unlikely post-regular-scheduled-shuttle-era final mission. Also only one more external hydrogen/oxygen tank has been refurbished and made ready for this purpose as well.

It would take at minimum 24 months for ATK to get a production facility back up and running to make these specific SRBs, as the production capability to make them has been completely dismantled already.

In other words, once the final Discovery and the Endeavour missions are completed, there only even exists the technical capability/possibility of one and only one more flight, and Atlantis would be the one to do it.

The Shuttle Program is done. Finito. Stuffed and mounted. Stick a fork in it. Game over, man. The Fat Lady is walking out onto the stage right now.

Re:really? (1)

nomorecwrd (1193329) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351784)

I think that is because an emergency rescue launch is not considered "official"

Re:really? (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351842)

"Hijack the starship" - Paul Kantner

Re:really? (1)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351884)

It may fly one more time, but the final decision won't be made for a few weeks.

After serving as the rescue vehicle for the last two shuttle missions, NASA wants to use Atlantis for a final re-supply flight. It will already have a fuel tank and set of boosters ready to go, so a lot of the cost is already sunk. By only taking up four crew members they could hang out at the station and be rescued via soyuz capsules if something went wrong.

Re:really? (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351986)

I was wondering about that as well... parsing the statement implies it's flown un-official missions...

Re:really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352266)

I was wondering about that as well... parsing the statement implies it's flown un-official missions...

Look, don't tell anyone about about this, okay? There was this one time when a NASA scientist absent-mindedly left the keys in the ignition...

Like the time is saved sg1? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353242)

Like the time is saved sg1?

Like the time it saved sg1? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353264)

Like the time it saved sg1?

blue book value sucks (4, Funny)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351704)



Should have sold it way sooner. With that many miles, it's going to be hard to sell on Craigslist. Best might be to sell it to an unwary eBayer sight-unseen. "broken odometer"

Seth

Re:blue book value sucks (1)

socz (1057222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351762)

They're just happy it has lasted this long... remember the Challenger? I remember watching lift off live in school. That particular year we teamed up with N.A.S.A. to come up with a name for a new robotic device we didn't understand (mars rovers!).

Re:blue book value sucks (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355324)

I remember watching it lift off while I was in school also.. walking to the restroom (I was in st petersburg, the school had open hallways) and it was shooting up... splintered into 3+ lines.
Yep, pretty memorable, when your in the 4th grade and have to hear teachers balling as the tv plays for the rest of the day constantly showing what I've already seen...

Re:blue book value sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352784)

Came in looking for just this comment... Thank you for not disappointing me!

Altantis Landing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32351780)

Whose gonna fight the Wraith in Pegasus now?

Re:Altantis Landing (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352062)

Ronan! Alone.

For Sale (5, Funny)

KiwiCanuck (1075767) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351792)

1985 Space Shuttle (Atlantis), good condition, auto, A/C, seats 5, 52,250lbs payload, 120 million miles ("highway"), very fast ride 17,320mph, many new upgrades, serious enquiries only.

Re:For Sale (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351868)

you jest, but both Discovery and Atlantis -are- planned to be up for sale again (they have been previously on sale for figures from $50M down to about $25M). They plant to keep the Endeavour.

Re:For Sale (4, Informative)

exley (221867) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352050)

The cost to pick up one of the shuttles is almost $30 million. They aren't being sold (at this point anyway); that number is allegedly just the cost to clean up the shuttle (removing hazardous materials, etc.), get it display-worthy, and transport it to its final location.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/05/25/space.shuttles.retirement/index.html [cnn.com]

Re:For Sale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32357020)

I just hope they don't wind up in an amusement park like the Buran did.

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/buran-00a.html

Re:For Sale (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 4 years ago | (#32357282)

That one is the lucky Buran. The one mentioned at the end of the article as currently being stored in a hanger ended up being destroyed a couple of years later when the hanger collapsed.

http://www.buran-energia.com/bourane-buran/bourane-fin.php [buran-energia.com]

Re:For Sale (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352122)

Discovery is going to the Smithsonian

Atlantis and Endeavor are being sold.

Re:For Sale (2, Funny)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351900)

City (atmospheric) mileage: abysmal. Highway (orbit) mileage: near infinite.

Re:For Sale (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352036)

Seats 7 I believe.

Re:For Sale (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352654)

        Yup.

    Two in the front of the flight deck (mission commander & pilot).
    Two in the rear of the flight deck (mission specialists)
    Three on the mid-deck.

    STS-71 and STS-61A had 8 on board. STS-71 used special seats on the mid-deck. I don't know where the 8th person sat on STS-61A. I kinda doubt it was "just have a seat on the floor there, and hold on." :)

Re:For Sale (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355210)

The mid-deck is pretty big and the seats stow away anyway. It wouldn't be hard to get an extra seat in there. The flight deck is a different matter. That place is cramped especially if you are on the ground. I am told in zero-G it's not that bad but I wasn't smart or lucky enough to fly in one.

Re:For Sale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352116)

Some assembly required. External Tank and SRBs (2) not included.

Re:For Sale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352258)

I am very interested in your used vehicle for sale. Can I send you a check for over the amount, and you can send me back the difference via western union? That will help me as I am currently out of the country on a mission in Nigeria.

This transaction is 100% risky-free!

-Usman Bello

Most Qualified Party For The U.S. Shuttle Is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352282)

  S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia [energia.ru] .

I hope Energia takes over the U.S. Shuttle Program. It's better than letting these so-called U.S. "start-ups" wreck it.

Yours In Akademgorodok,
Kilgore Trout

Re:For Sale (1)

bjk002 (757977) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352302)

What's the m/cu ft. rating?

Do I need Ultra-Premium fuel?

Re:For Sale (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352736)

You've obviously never placed classified ad in a regular old newspaper. "Spc Shtl Atl, PS/PW/PDL, tint, cold AC, lo miles, FAST. 321-867-7819 eves" :-)

Re:For Sale (1)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353358)

You forgot: "Boeing 747 companion tow vehicle available."

Space derby (1)

Massacrifice (249974) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351800)

First car analogy post : Shuttle Atlantis is NASA's old beaten 1985 Ford F-350. They should have a space demolition derby with their rockets once they're done with em. Invite the Russians! Fun for all!

Re:Space derby (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352254)

She may be a beaten up old 1985 Ford F-350... but she's the only Ford that we have of her kind.

Sad (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351804)

A shuttle launch is one of those things I always wanted to see, and as a child was always amazed when they'd show it on TV (back when every shuttle launch was special). I'm sure there will be something else to come along,but the image of the shuttle standing there, waiting for launch, is just an amazing sight to me.

Re:Sad (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351912)

Watching a launch in person is just about the coolest thing I have ever seen. Will never forget that. Glad I had the good fortune to witness it.

Re:Sad (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352342)

The one time I went to see a launch in person, the launch was scrubbed due to winds at an alternate landing site. I ended up seeing the launch from my plane back to Chicago from 200 miles away (pilot turned the plane so you could see it). While sad, I'd give a vital organ to be at the first manned SpaceX launch.

/Hopefully Elon reads slashdot
//aguy can hope

Re:Sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352170)

I feel lucky to have both seen a Shuttle launch and to have seen one arrive at Canaveral on the 747.

Re:Sad (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353634)

I was going to go to Vandenberg for the first launch from there in October 1986. Then Challenger had what was "obviously a major malfunction".

Note that Atlantis may not be done (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351826)

Atlantis will be on standby for the remaining shuttle missions as a rescue vehicle. Atlantis may yet fly again, but we should all hope it does not.

Re:Note that Atlantis may not be done (1)

TrekkieTechie (1265532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351918)

Actually, we can hope she will fly again with clean consciences.

Assuming all goes well on STS-134, we'd end up with a checked-out, launch-ready shuttle stack that's already been paid for. Atlantis's Launch On Need (LON) mission STS-335 could become STS-135 and fly a stripped-down, 4-person crew to the STS, delivering extra supplies and an additional Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. If something went wrong on STS-134, Soyuz capsules would be used in place of another shuttle LON. Source [spaceflightnow.com] .

It will all be worth it... (5, Insightful)

mr_nazgul (1290102) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351852)

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."

Hmmm... (3, Funny)

JasoninKS (1783390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32351926)

I wonder if any of our astronauts ever tried turning those miles into frequent flier miles.... Of course, now-a-days 120 million miles would probably only get you bumped up from sitting on the wing to being shoved in an overhead bin.

Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352044)

Good, now chop it up and throw it away to make sure nobody ever repeats this stupid mistake ever again!
Shuttles were the stupidest idea ever. Capsules and robots FTW!

How much of the it is 25yrs old? (2, Interesting)

L3370 (1421413) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352134)

We know that it's a reusable craft/frame, but how much (if any) of it is original parts?

I imagine that the shuttle has been torn, gutted, refitted, retrofitted, and modernized many times over the 25 years. You think there's anything on the it that still has "matching serials?"

That would be neat to know.

Re:How much of the it is 25yrs old? (2, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352244)

I'm guessing its like a classic airplane, so most of the airframe, most of the wiring, most of the hydraulic system.

Pretty much if its a simple bar of metal, a pipe, or a wire, its probably original. The rest of it, wellllll....

Re:How much of the it is 25yrs old? (4, Interesting)

the_macman (874383) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352656)

I've actually been inside the Atlantis. I was lucky enough to receive the VIP tour. I'm gonna glow your mind. The technicians there say *every inch* of wire is removed and closely examined after every launch. So yea, I would agree with OP, the shuttle basically gets gutted after launch. How much is replaced after each inspection I can't say.

Fun fact: the shuttle bay doors are only designed to be opened in space. If opened on earth their own weight would rip the hinges apart. During inspection the doors are supported by huge braces. :D
Oblig Picture:
http://imgur.com/7pBjO.jpg [imgur.com]

  http://imgur.com/qzxT6.jpg [imgur.com]

  http://imgur.com/2SPRA.jpg [imgur.com]

  http://imgur.com/EUxbD.jpg [imgur.com]

Re:How much of the it is 25yrs old? (1)

decsnake (6658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353170)

Fun fact: the shuttle bay doors are only designed to be opened in space. If opened on earth their own weight would rip the hinges apart. During inspection the doors are supported by huge braces. :D

That's typical for any mechanism of any real size on a spacecraft. Operation in a 1g environment require "g negation" "mechanical ground support equipment" -- the yellow structures in your pictures of the doors. Other common places you'd find this sort of thing would be for operating the antenna booms and solar panels on a typical satellite during testing.

Re:How much of the it is 25yrs old? (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355180)

In the old days entire rockets could not self support their own weight unless they were pressurized. I might be wrong but I think SpaceX Falcon Rockets are the same. They are just strong enough to self support their weight for ground handling but they are not designed to self support during launch. They require pressure in the fuel tanks to keep the skin from buckling during flight loads.

Re:How much of the it is 25yrs old? (3, Informative)

trout007 (975317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355144)

I think you might be mistaken about the wire. In 2005 we had a problem with some Kapton insulation so at that time the wiring that could be reached was fully inspected visually. The high wear areas were protected with Teflon and Kapon Tape. We were developing instruments that could detect insulation breaks but that was canceled when the program was scheduled to end in 2010. So now it's just visual inspection of places that we know to be potentially high wear areas.

Re:How much of the it is 25yrs old? (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355420)

Thanks for sharing that... I've never been lucky enough to be close to it...
It's good to see real pictures taken by a real person and not custom shot.

120 million miles!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352160)

120 million miles = 1.29093491 Astronomical Units says Google!

It's gone far enough to get to the sun. It's gone to Mars with miles to spare!

So long, America. It was a bumpy ride... (0, Offtopic)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352210)

This is the end of an era and more evidence of the ever increasing downfall of our country.

enjoy working 2 jobs to pay your bills... if you can find one. If you're married... thats 4 jobs. get to work.

Re:So long, America. It was a bumpy ride... (-1, Offtopic)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352334)

You won't have to look far for that second job. You'll get one digging holes from the new WPA that Congress is working on. Your neighbor will get a job filling holes.

Re:So long, America. It was a bumpy ride... (3, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352380)

Your neighbor will get a job filling holes.

Another tiger woods joke on slashdot?

Cost-Benefit Analysis (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352298)

Anyone? Bueller... Bueller?

Not really 120 Million Miles (1)

kitezh (1442937) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352310)

It was falling most of the time. It's like me pushing a car over the edge of the Grand Canyon and claiming that the extra kilometer is wear on the vehicle. Considering the peak for low earth orbit [wikipedia.org] is around 350 km, so actual travel done by the shuttle would be about 700 km per trip. At roughly one launch per year, that's still less than 20,000 km. I drive more than that in a year.

Re:Not really 120 Million Miles (2, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352448)

Considering the peak for low earth orbit is around 350 km

ISS is around 380km... just saying. Also despite appearances at launch it doesn't pop straight up and down like an elevator, so the actual path traveled under power is somewhat longer than you'd think. And on landing, a crappy 3:1 glide ratio or whatever doesn't sound very impressive, but it starts from so very high altitude, that it does add up (err, multiply up, or you know what I mean)

Re:Not really 120 Million Miles (1)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352514)

While the car is falling in freefall over that cliff its not suffering much wear and tear....the sudden stop at the bottom sure causes plenty.

Likewise, while the vehicle itself is falling back to earth, its going through reentry and its heat shields are getting blasted that in no way could be called easy. I realize its hard to understand, but you dont just fall back tword earth and park in the driveway, it does take a little more then that.

This thing has gone much, much further then you ever will in all the cars you'll ever drive, under conditions that would destroy any car you've ever owned full stop.

Re:Not really 120 Million Miles (2, Funny)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352848)

under conditions that would destroy any car you've ever owned full stop.

I reckon my Hummer could take it.

Re:Not really 120 Million Miles (2, Funny)

quacking duck (607555) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355532)

under conditions that would destroy any car you've ever owned full stop.

I reckon my Hummer could take it.

Your Hummer certainly uses more fuel...

Re:Not really 120 Million Miles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32356942)

1035 gallons per second, I think not.

Re:Not really 120 Million Miles (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353402)

While the car is falling in freefall over that cliff its not suffering much wear and tear....the sudden stop at the bottom sure causes plenty.

You reminded me of an old commercial [youtube.com] .

Re:Not really 120 Million Miles (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353710)

This thing has gone much, much further then you ever will in all the cars you'll ever drive, under conditions that would destroy any car you've ever owned full stop.

What about KITT from Knight Rider?

Re:Not really 120 Million Miles (1)

quacking duck (607555) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355566)

IIRC, KITT was "destroyed" no less than three times.

Re:Not really 120 Million Miles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32352528)

It was falling *all* the time it was in orbit as well as on the way down.
Also, does orbiting the planet a few times per trip not count as distance travelled?

When the're gone ... (1)

daveywest (937112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352556)

What will we do when Bruce Willis needs to take his mining crew to the giant asteroid threatening to destroy the earth?

Re:When the're gone ... (1)

L3370 (1421413) | more than 4 years ago | (#32352630)

One way trip on a russian rocket?

What's a goal-less country to do ? (1)

bobjr94 (1120555) | more than 4 years ago | (#32353510)

I see no reason why private industry would just step up and take over the US manned space program as the president is hoping. There would be almost no return for the massive amount of money they would spend. They could get a few million from the super rich for space tourism and a few more million for painting the Pepsi or Coke logo on the side of their spacecraft but it probably wouldn't pay for gas. The only way it would happen is to get hundreds of billions in loans and grants from the govt. so that would eliminate any cost savings. What it would do is give tons of money to the top 1% of the management of these new space companies while they would boot out all the NASA old timers and hire back minimum wage workers and outsource the rest of the work to other countries. In terms of the national budget, nasa only gets about 0.52%, half of what it got in the early 90's. Social security & defense together get about 40%. Just increasing the budget back to 1% would have a huge impact and keep or create hundreds of thousands of high paying jobs requiring highly skilled workers. The current administrations (both local and national) seems to be turning America into an overworked, underpaid, goal-less, over taxed lower class society. Cut Parks, cut NASA, tax everyone to drive on the roads there soon will be little to do but work and go home and pay taxes.

she still purrs like a kitten! (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32355070)

sure theres some stickiness between second and third, the rear brakes are shot the drivers seat has a crack in the headrest and the color has completely faded out of the 'commie go home' bumper sticker but shes still good for another 5000 miles or the subversion of 2 more foreign governments through propaganda, whichever comes first
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