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Discovery's Final Launch Successful

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the make-it-count dept.

NASA 149

Phoghat writes "Overcoming a down-to-the-last-second problem, space shuttle Discovery made history yesterday, launching on its final mission to orbit. The most-traveled orbiter is carrying a crew of six astronauts and one human-like Robonaut, along with a new permanent storeroom and supplies for the International Space Station." The launch itself went as planned; a few pieces of foam insulation broke free of the external fuel tank on the way up, but it's not expected to be a safety concern, and they're planning an inspection to make sure. NASA has videos of yesterday's launch and a Discovery retrospective, and the Atlantic has a great collection of pictures involving the shuttle. Mike Coats, pilot of Discovery's first mission in 1984, spoke in an interview about his connection to the orbiter. Discovery comes back to Earth on March 7th.

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149 comments

Final. (3, Informative)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316094)


"Final Launch Successful"?
Even if it were unsuccessful, it still would have been Discovery's final launch.

Re:Final. (2)

jnpcl (1929302) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316132)

but it wouldn't be Discovery's Final Successful Launch, now would it?

Re:Final. (1)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316138)

If it failed to launch, I don't see how it would be the final launch, considering there are some things on there that NEED to get to ISS.

Re:Final. (1)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316180)

I was thinking of it it made it off the pad and blew up.
Kind of like the Challenger, but newer and in HD.

Re:Final. (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316318)

So, like the Columbia.

Re:Final. (1)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316360)

Columbia burned up on re-entry, Challenger was "rapidly disintegrated" (read: exploded) shortly after launch.

Re:Final. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35317064)

Neither Challenger nor Columbia exploded. Challenger disintegrated because of wind resistance, like a boat during a storm. It "turned" (for lack of better word) from the "into the wind" position which caused the aerodynamic forces to break it up (it wasn't designed to handle more than about 5G). Now, you don't say that a sail boat that sinks because it turned away from the storm as "exploded", do you?

Nothing on Challenger exploded. Even the giant oxygen/hydrogen tank didn't explode. It also disintegrated because of aerodynamic pressure, but it did not catch on fire. The cause of the entire incident was broken o-ring on the solid booster rocket that caused the rocket to tear away from the orbiter.The crew most likely survived the breakup of the shuttle, but became unconscious as the cabin lost pressure. More about this on wikipedia,

  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Challenger_disaster

Columbia disintegrated during re-entry, or burned up as you say.

Re:Final. (1)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316430)

No, not like Columbia.

Though, oddly enough, Columbia's final launch was also successful.

Re:Final. (1)

bsane (148894) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316548)

Depends on what you mean by 'successful launch'...

It sustained damage that caused it to break apart (albeit sometime later). I'm not sure I would consider a launch that directly lead to its destruction 'successful'.

Re:Final. (1)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316578)

Well, successful enough that it made it to orbit. :)

Re:Final. (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316970)

I sort of smoosh taking off and getting back as part of a successful launch. Perhaps that's not specifically correct, but you get my meaning.

Re:Final. (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316736)

If it failed to launch, I don't see how it would be the final launch, considering there are some things on there that NEED to get to ISS.

Still, it's Discovery's final launch, regardless of if it blew up after launching or was successful. It may not be the final shuttle launch, but it's Discovery's. Remember, there's also another shuttle on the launchpad too for emergencies. Atlantis, I think?

Re:Final. (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317250)

Not everyone is cynical enough to equate "launch failure" with disaster.

Re:Final. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35317752)

Not this time.

This is the last possible launch without making more parts.

Re:Final. (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316630)

Even if it were unsuccessful, it still would have been Discovery's final launch.

Yes. But this final launch was successful as the title says. I think I'm missing your point.

Re:Final. (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317462)

I don't think you missed anything at all. His only point was to say something, anything at all, even if it meant saying essentially nothing, in order to get first post. Why it got modded informative is a mystery.

Nice work by the editors (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35316150)

The delay in posting this story was the result of the editors staying up all night to review the footage for foam strikes.

Other sources rushed to judgment with yesterday's proclamations.

Re:Nice work by the editors (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317874)

Actually, the three launch videos they have on the NASA site are strategically cut so you don't see the foam strike. I watched it live and it was pretty obvious when it came off,in between SRB separation and external tank separation. But the "Discovery's Last Launch a Spectacular Sight" and "STS-133 Daily Mission Recap - Flight Day 1" videos cut off before the foam strike, while the "STS-133 Discovery is in Orbit" video picks up after the foam strike.

I'm not sure why they're trying to hide it. Seeing it live, it was pretty obvious that it was a low relative velocity impact. It was already so far up in space that there wasn't enough air to slow the foam down considerably prior to impact.

Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316154)

Yet another in a 30-year line of NASA PR flights. "Hey, look, we've got a ROBOT on this one!!"

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35316320)

Compared to what, spending it on wellfare for worthless excuses for human beings? It would be more productive just to make a big money pile and light it on fire.....

.....you know what? That is kind of like launching a rocket into space....and they got a ROBOT ON THIS ONE too!!

Turns out they were even more productive than I thought. Good job NASA!

Go take a bath elrous0, you smell of dirty hippy.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (2)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316418)

Compared to what, spending it on wellfare for worthless excuses for human beings? It would be more productive just to make a big money pile and light it on fire.....

The federal budget deficit is a trillion dollars larger this year than 2008, and we don't even get a space program out of it anymore.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316740)

Have a look at all those spending cuts to defense that are definitely needed.... oh wait...

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316966)

DoD is 20% of the budget. The other 80% could use some trimming too.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316482)

Yes, it would be better spent on crackheads. I bet the crackhead will live longer than that robot.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (0)

NoSleepDemon (1521253) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316618)

Yes but the robot's contribution to humanity is probably far greater, all humans may be born equal, but they certainly don't die equal.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

the_hellspawn (908071) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316786)

not all humans are born equal either. Some are born with platinum spoons, others with plastic spoons, and even some born without a darn spoon. Show me the equality in that?

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

atrain728 (1835698) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317030)

But contribute nothing.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317084)

Don't make such assumptions about crackheads. Charlie Sheen gave us "Young Guns" *and* "Major League. And that was in ONE YEAR.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35318950)

Plus, he got the girl. Er, I mean girls.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316372)

Or they successfully invested another $700 million into the long term future of the human race...

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316444)

And how exactly does the 133rd space shuttle launch into LEO benefit the "long term future of the human race" again?

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316580)

Because were still learning things up there. Believe it or not this rock we live on isn't going to last forever.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316668)

Because it is used to build things and support the Space Station. It is used to learn and advance. We aren't going anywhere until some very specific problems are solved, and to solve them we need a place in space to research and test them.

The shuttle was an extremely valuable asset in making it happen.

And of course, the Shuttle itself has lead to many advancements in technology. I mean the things is about 15% lighter now then when it was built due to the replacement of parts with newer material developed for the Shuttle, and then used in the private sector.

We got far more out of the shuttle, and the space agency as a whole, then we put into it.

Money very well spent.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317262)

"pure research is never wasted, it is invested"

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316432)

How has it been a waste? Other than the cost of raw materials, you can make a case that everything else is an investment into science related fields.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316500)

you might have noticed that 500 years ago some nations in europe spent a lot of money sending boats in the wrong direction, towards the ends of the earth

complete waste of money, right?

it should be a crime to display such ignorant levels of a lack of an imagination, like you do

nothing worth going into space for, right?

nothing worth sending perfectly good boats over the ends of the earth for, right?

what a pinhead

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

AmericanIndian (2003990) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316828)

To be honest, I wish they hadn't.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316924)

this is your only comment

http://slashdot.org/~AmericanIndian/comments [slashdot.org]

so you seemed to have created an account called "AmericanIndian" just to give some weird weight to a reply to my stupid post?

seriously?

btw, a real American "Indian" wouldn't call themselves an "Indian", that's the give away. i don't understand why 500 years after columbus made a mistake with his maps that we are still calling the original peoples of north america "indians", and i don't think they, or genuine real asian indians, understand why either

so i don't know why you felt so compelled to create an entire account just to reply to my dumb comment, but you are certainly a hard working troll, that's for sure

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (2)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316956)

Or it's just someone failing at being funny. No need to get so worked up :)

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (3, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316988)

Or it's just someone failing at being funny. No need to get so worked up :)

Hello, and welcome to Slashdot!

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (2)

treeves (963993) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317528)

First UID I'd seen above 2E+06.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

gilbert644 (1515625) | more than 2 years ago | (#35318152)

Keep it to reddit.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316944)

It should be a crime to be as naive as you, falling for the common Star Trek "Final Frontier" misconception that exploring the impossibly vast, empty, radiation-bombarded, vacuum of cold space is in any way analogous to exploring different parts of the planet earth.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35317382)

it should be a crime to write douchier-than-thou commentary.

It's not a bad idea to keep trying to learn how to push across that vast, empty, radiation-bombarded vacuum. We have people that argue the opposite extreme, that we should spend no money on trying to get into space. That we should spend all our money on feeding the homeless instead or fund an art project or something. I hope you're not one of those people. Honestly, 700 million is almost nothing compared to the rest of the government's budget.

You don't really belong on slashdot if you don't realize the true value and goal of this, which is to gain knowledge. Of course it is expensive, because of the type of knowledge we're going after. If it could be solved by someone here on the ground rubbing two sticks together, it's already been done. 500 years ago, they had to build a boat. These days. to answer a question we must build a cyclotron, or space shuttle, or anti-matter container. Or, fucking robots n' shit.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317666)

there is no use in trying to argue with someone with such a complete lack of wonder and curiosity about the value of a pursuit that is all about wonder and curiosity. suffice it to say that every great discovery of mankind in every single field of endeavor is due to people with the exact opposite quality of mind as you. you: you're a pinhead, a dolt, of little more use to science and technology than a doorstop

you really are posting on the wrong website, pinhead

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317862)

there is no use in trying to argue with someone with such a complete lack of wonder and curiosity about the value of a pursuit that is all about wonder and curiosity.

So long as it's 'all about wonder and curiosity', spaceflight will be restricted to a tiny number of people who can raise the money to indulge their curiosity. If you want to get a lot of people into space, you need to figure out how to make money up there.

And making enough money from manned spaceflight to justify the cost of the trip is much harder than making enough money in America was for Columbus and friends. Figure out how to do it and you'll have investors lining up.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317980)

who the fuck cares about sending the maximum number of people into space? why the fuck do you think that is the goal?

look: the most important discoveries science has ever made stemmed from basic research: research for research's sake. not an economically driven pursuit. yet all of those amazing discoveries from basic research has resulted in trillions in economic development

the point for going into space is not about following the money, its about basic research. you of course will poopoo that, because you don't see the immediate economic benefit of it. which only means you are a pinhead who stop fucking talking about a subject matter predicated on a sense of basic human wonder you apparently don't understand

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

electron sponge (1758814) | more than 2 years ago | (#35318624)

the most important discoveries science has ever made stemmed from basic research: research for research's sake

You misspelled "research into how to kill people more effectively". War is the single greatest catalyst for scientific discovery (and application) in our shared history.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319158)

look: the most important discoveries science has ever made stemmed from basic research: research for research's sake. not an economically driven pursuit. yet all of those amazing discoveries from basic research has resulted in trillions in economic development

And changes to our lives that go way beyond just merely more wealth, but things can't even imagine. There's no way the people researching quantum tunneling in the early parts of last century could have possibly foreseen us having this conversation today, but without that research, the computer age would have never began.

Which is why I love to hear people making arguments against the value of basic research on the Internet. It's like they don't even realize that the very medium for their message is proving them wrong.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35318048)

Yes, there is nothing out there except more ocean. I mean space. So we know that it makes no sense to go out there.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35318688)

Funny you say this because it seems to me that when colombus began his journey to india, the common knowledge was that there was nothing, far to the west, except the end of the world. Well, at least in our case, we know that there is something within our reach, in the general direction of space... (and obviously, there is no need for a prime for the first to spot "earth")

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319084)

Funny you say this because it seems to me that when colombus began his journey to india, the common knowledge was that there was nothing, far to the west, except the end of the world.

Er, well, actually, "common knowledge" at the time was that there was nothing to the west except for, eventually, Asia. People didn't think Columbus was a ninny because he thought the earth was a globe, they thought he was a ninny because he thought the globe was smaller than it actually is and sailing all the way around it to India was a practical idea. That's why the doofus thought he'd landed in India when he'd traveled less than half the distance everyone else thought he'd have to.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

villageidiot357 (808966) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317290)

That's funny I thought they were looking for gold and spices not exploring as an end in itself?

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35318958)

They ended up killing a lot of people in the lands they 'discovered', but let's not pay attention to that.

However I say to this shuttle launch: good riddance. An old, massively inefficient and expensive piece of crap that serves no purpose to push any boundaries forward at all.

How about gov't stops with the wars and everything else they do and let people decide how to spend their own money? Is that too much to ask?

Clearly NASA's budget is insignificant compared to everything else, but AFAIC whatever NASA is getting in budget, that should be the ENTIRE budget of the federal gov't, and not a cent more.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316638)

You're mistaking running PR on the sexy part of a mundane but critical mission with making up a mission to do something sexy just to get PR.

If NASA weren't publicly funded, it couldn't give a crap about how the proles view its scientific mission, it would only try to please the science.

Enjoy the robot. You paid for it, and it's spectacular.

Re:Yeah, they successfully wasted $700 million (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316662)

Yet another in a 30-year line of NASA PR flights. "Hey, look, we've got a ROBOT on this one!!"

Well of course it's just PR for people who are only interested enough to learn that there is a robot, and not anything more. You can't blame them for sound-biting when you're the one restricting yourself to a sound-bite.

so (2)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316178)

Do Endeavor and Atlantis also have one last turn,each or is that it?

Re:so (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316286)

Yes.

Re:so (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35316334)

On NASA's web page, Endeavour is scheduled for one final mission this April and Atlantis for June. However, I seem to recall some controversy about whether the Atlantis mission would be funded. Also, I have to wonder if the months of delay on this recent Discovery launch will allow affect the timing of Endeavour's final mission.
http://www.nasa.gov/missions/highlights/schedule.html

Re:so (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317050)

Apparently NASA has to fly Atlantis, so it's definitely going ahead: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/launch/orbiters.html [nasa.gov]

The way people were talking, I thought STS-133 was the final shuttle mission but now I realise there are two more chances to see a launch. Back in the 90s we had a family holiday to Florida during which there was a Shuttle launch window. Unfortunately the launch was delayed, so we didn't get to see blast off.

I'm now really thinking about taking a week to fly over there, it's not like it'll happen again....

Re:so (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35319046)

Heck I'd be happy as a clam if I get to watch the launch close to the giant countdown clock (where exactly is it, anyone know?

Taking Off vs. Landing (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316198)

Which is the more dangerous phase for the Space Shuttle (where "more dangerous" means "likely to blow up"): taking off or returning?

So far it's 1 for takeoff (Columbia) and 1 for returning (Challenger).

I wonder also what the general answer is for all manned spaceflight (at current technology)...big rocket filled with explosives shooting into the air, or coming back through reentry...

Re:Taking Off vs. Landing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35316296)

So far it's 1 for takeoff (Columbia) and 1 for returning (Challenger)

I believe you have those switched.

Re:Taking Off vs. Landing (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316484)

So far it's 1 for takeoff (Columbia) and 1 for returning (Challenger)

I believe you have those switched.

Yes. Sorry.

Re:Taking Off vs. Landing (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316302)

Both.
Actually if you look at total deaths it is probably re-entry. There are multiple abort modes for the shuttle and conventional rockets that are survivable. Plus if you have an issue you do not have to launch.
As the old saying goes. Take off is optional landing is not.

Re:Taking Off vs. Landing (1)

bryantthesmith (862805) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316406)

Take-off seems to be where most problems occur. If you remember, the reason that Columbia burned up in re-entry was because of a problem that occurred at take-off (foam flying off and ripping a hole in the wing). If Columbia would have had a successful take-off, they most likely would have had a successful re-entry. I think take-off is more dangerous because you are not strapped to millions of pound of explosives when you re-enter.

Re:Taking Off vs. Landing (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316660)

Take-off is more stress on the physical components because the forces are bigger.

Re-entry is a glide, even the part at several thousand mph with the flaming heat-shield isn't that forceful or jarring.

Re:Taking Off vs. Landing (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316812)

If you pull in all spaceflight, including the Soviet program, I'm guessing blast-off is more dangerous. IIRC, the Soviets had a rocket blow up and kill not only all cosmonauts, but dozens of ground observers who were too close.

It's a close race though. Don't forget testing as an also-ran. There's the Apollo oxygen fire, and recently there have been deaths during the test phase of some private rockets, I want to say it was Armadillo Aerospace, but I don't recall off the top of my head...

Re:Taking Off vs. Landing (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317116)

IIRC, the Soviets had a rocket blow up and kill not only all cosmonauts, but dozens of ground observers who were too close.

They didn't kill anyone in the rocket, because no-one was dumb enough to sit in there while they tried to fix it.

I don't believe the Soviets ever lost a crew during launch, even the one time they had to use the escape tower. All their losses were during re-entry, and I believe those were all due to design flaws or manufacturing defects.

Re:Taking Off vs. Landing (1)

CapOblivious2010 (1731402) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317698)

If you pull in all spaceflight, including the Soviet program, I'm guessing blast-off is more dangerous.

That's because if a rocket is defective enough to fail during launch, it never gets a chance to fail during re-entry!

armless babies worldwide applauding our prowess? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35316250)

maybe they're just waving, trying to bring our attention to their (last) plight? they're not unnoticed.

Re:armless babies worldwide applauding our prowess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35318822)

Go feed them and let us work!

"it's not expected to be a safety concern" (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316292)

"a few pieces of foam insulation [breaking] free of the external fuel tank on the way up" weren't expected to be a safety concern on Columbia's [wikipedia.org] final mission, too.

Re:"it's not expected to be a safety concern" (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316326)

The difference is that this time, they are planning on performing a thorough inspection on-orbit instead of relying on that expectation. Furthermore, I am sure that the limits of what is tolerable are much tighter now than they were then.

Aikon-

Re:"it's not expected to be a safety concern" (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316504)

did they pack more foam?

what if its not safe and they dont have more on hand, do they just hang out at the space station till the next taxi?

Re:"it's not expected to be a safety concern" (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316674)

Yup. Suddenly it's not the shuttle's last mission after all...

Re:"it's not expected to be a safety concern" (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317170)

Yes, but more likely would by the emergency Soyuz capsule currently docked there, and then a series of Soyuz launches until everyone is down that is supposed to be. Much cheaper than scrapping STS-134.

Aikon-

Re:"it's not expected to be a safety concern" (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317330)

Well, if the damage is the same as the last time, there's a chance they could patch it for re-entry using parts sent up from Baikonur. Maybe not even have to use the escape capsule.

Just a chance, though. I highly doubt the structure of the vehicle was designed for that sort of maintainability. But you never know. Duct tape works extremely well in space.

Re:"it's not expected to be a safety concern" (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317822)

I have never personally tested it on reentry, just for extra safety I would use gorilla tape, though I have confidence they have gorilla tape, after all the cost's of this (do what again? oh yea add a storage shed to the station) mission I doubt they bought the cheap stuff.

Re:"it's not expected to be a safety concern" (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316700)

And they hadn't been a concern for every mission preceding it.
It happens on every flight. The risk, while real, is extremely low.

Re:"it's not expected to be a safety concern" (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317142)

"a few pieces of foam insulation [breaking] free of the external fuel tank on the way up" weren't expected to be a safety concern on Columbia's [wikipedia.org] final mission, too.

This time it hit the underside of the shuttle at a low relative velocity, in Columbia's case it hit the leading edge of the wing (the most delicate part of the heat shield) at a few hundred miles per hour. Not only that, but this time we have pretty good video from the external tank showing no obvious significant damage.

Plus, as mentioned, it will be inspected in orbit just in case.

HELLO?? YESTERDAY CALLED !! IT WANTS ITS NEWS BACK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35316312)

Dozing off while at the wheel is a recipe for exciting times, I always say.

Farewell and Good Riddence! (2)

avatar139 (918375) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316374)

I'm continually surprised by the number of people mourning the loss of the Space Shuttle as a major blow to space exploration considering if anything, the Shuttle program did more to kill space exploration than any other singular factor!

While I disagree with Michael Griffin's views on a lot of issues, the scathing paper he wrote in 2007 criticizing the merits of the Shuttle program should be required reading for both present and future NASA employees as it provides a substantial contribution to the case for why the Space Shuttle did more to kill our ability to explore space than any other factors did by wasting so much money, time, and resources away from the development of ELVs.

ELVs to this day remain a far more flexible, reliable and cost effective means of getting payloads into orbit and beyond than the Shuttle has ever been.

To be fair, the loss of both shuttles can be attributed a great deal to the culture shift at NASA, as there was a time when the organization prided itself on having the best engineers in the world, however all too often they have now been ignored in favor of the overly unrealistic views of scientists and management, the latter have shown a clear trend over the past several decades of ignoring safety concerns in favor of maintaining launch dates despite the inevitably fatal consequences of such an attitude.

More than one former NASA employee that I know has plans to hold a party during the launch of Atlantis' final flight in June (if funding for the mission goes through, if not, it will be at Endeavour's launch in April) not to commemorate the Shuttle program but rather to celebrate the future potential of Space Exploration when the Shuttle program finally dies!

Re:Farewell and Good Riddence! (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316758)

I disagree. Without the shuttle, and the orbital missions it enabled and was needed to service, most of NASA would have simply shut down, and other launch endeavors would have moved into private development, which they mostly have anyway. And a much smaller NASA, without a primary mission as big as the shuttle's, would have likely ended up being killed or further reduced to a few boffins and a coffee machine.

Even with a big NASA and a known end to the shuttle program, we don't have a realistic plan to go to Mars. And really, there ain't much for us on the Moon. We really were making up shit to do by the last couple of missions.

What the shuttle and orbital missions have done in the meantime is take all of the skunk-works engineering that went into Apollo and morphed rocket science into a profession of verifying the reliability and safety of the product. And it's allowed us to develop a much better sense of what it takes to survive long durations in space. Things that are absolutely critical for future missions to other planets.

I went to the original Nov 1 launch date (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316386)

Postponed 11 times, four months and 4 minutes. It was interesting to tour the NASA complex and see all the excited waiting watchers. For unclear reasons, last minute airfares werent available this week. I think it was due to people visiting Disney World during Presidents week and backlog from last weeks cancelations.

Re:I went to the original Nov 1 launch date (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35317202)

For unclear reasons, last minute airfares werent available this week. I think it was due to people visiting Disney World during Presidents week and backlog from last weeks cancelations.

Try the NASCAR 500. Orlando is a good hour from Daytona and you still can't get hotel rooms there on race weekend for all the race fans.

Re:I went to the original Nov 1 launch date (1)

woozlewuzzle (532172) | more than 2 years ago | (#35318212)

I drove down to view it from Titusville (great show, btw) and couldn't find a hotel within 30 miles with vacancies (I started looking earlier this week once I saw the weather was going to be good). Ended up in Daytona Beach Shores (35 miles away). Not a racing fan, so wasn't aware of any Daytona scheduling affecting things. Oh well.

Inspirational (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35316604)

I watched it, not planning to, after a friend posted it on Facebook. I didn't even know it was happening at that point.

Then I watched the live video. And I was gobsmacked. Amazed. I didn't realise that human endeavour involved something travelling at 14,000 (fourteen thousand) miles an hour after 7 minutes in flight. I just didn't know quite how incredible it was.

I was sad that it was at night in the UK, because otherwise I wish that schools would stop so that children could watch this incredible achievement. Just amazing.

But where is the next achievement like this after the final shuttle launch after this? Shuttles are gone, Concorde is gone. What's going to inspire our children to reach past our current achievements? I worry we're become a society of "now, next minute" rather than "what we could be".

Re:Inspirational (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316788)

There's always the coming revolution against the Conservatives who are buying up and tearing down our democracies.

Re:Inspirational (1)

Frangible (881728) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317606)

Those are teabaggers, not even conservatives; Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, and even George W Bush all supported the shuttle program. And public education, for that matter.

How can anyone who wants to defund the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) call themselves a member of the party of Reagan? Madness.

But yes, it's quite sad to see regardless. If our educational system is gutted to save a couple of bucks, it doesn't bode well for the future of our country, our economy, or prosperity. And things like moon landings and space shuttles will seem like part of an unbelievable past.

I don't give a damn what political party you're a member of, that's a future every American should fear.

Re:Inspirational (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317934)

If you think the teabaggers are not conservatives, or that the conservatives are not behind the teabaggers, you're falling for it.

Re:Inspirational (1)

Celarent Darii (1561999) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316838)

Welcome to the dark ages, where people will now believe that even landing on the moon was a conspiracy (like 'magic') as even the very ambition to do such a thing has long decayed.

I bet more people watch Giligan Island's reruns than watched the shuttle take off. Humanity has reached a certain zenith and is now decaying into illiterate hordes who like the barbarians of Alaric can't even understand indoor plumbing.

Look at the public schools of today and it is absolutely frightening to think what these children will be doing in just 10 years.

your ignorance is astounding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35316864)

I was gobsmacked. Amazed. I didn't realise that human endeavour involved something travelling at 14,000 (fourteen thousand) miles an hour after 7 minutes in flight. I just didn't know quite how incredible it was.

get the fuck out now.

Re:Inspirational (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317018)

I wish that schools would stop so that children could watch this incredible achievement. Just amazing.

I still remember my grade 8 science teacher trooping us all into the library and firing up a television so we could watch Columbian land back on terra firma for the for the first time (April 14, 1981).

Re:Inspirational (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317082)

If you thought STS-133 was impressive, how about 45m of slow-motion shuttle launch footage in HD?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFwqZ4qAUkE [youtube.com]

Re:Inspirational (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317570)

Every space geek ought to memorize that footage. Absolutely astounding. I just wish one could get a high res version in DVD format. They edited an enormous amount of film to get the video. I'd just as soon stare at the whole thing for hours.

Fake! (0)

warrax_666 (144623) | more than 2 years ago | (#35316846)

Clearly this was faked by our martian overlords. Whom I welcome, by the way.

Pete Townshend of The Whom (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 2 years ago | (#35318198)

Clearly this was faked by our martian overlords. Whom I welcome, by the way.

Our overlords are displeased with subjects who fail to use "whom" correctly...

Incredibly sad day!!! (1)

BudAaron (1231468) | more than 2 years ago | (#35317940)

We've fallen to a second rate nation with the cessation of this program. I'm 83 so probably won't be around to see how far we fall. What I hate most is this is the legacy I'm leaving my granddaughters and it sucks!!!

I see they've taken a passenger along with them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35318844)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:STS-133_Official_Crew_Photo.jpg

Sickening.

So a white man doesn't get to go into space because the Marxist nutcases at NASA just HAD to make the crew 'diverse' - i.e. an all white crew is NOT ALLOWED.
Damn those intelligent white people for inventing space travel, and just about EVERYTHING ELSE.

Are you sick of this shit yet? You soon will be.
Imagine if NASA was 100% BLACK.

How far do you think they'd get? Do you think there are sufficient intelligent black people in the world to put a shuttle into space?

Honest answers only please, and only answers based on FACTS, not wishful thinking.

Think about it - this is the world YOU are leaving to your children. A third world hellhole.

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