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Space Shuttle Atlantis Launches On Final Flight

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the beginning-of-the-end dept.

NASA 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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Godspeed Atlantis (3, Insightful)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695276)

So goes America's dominance in space.

30 years was a good run (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695372)

a new one will take some time to get up and going.

Re:30 years was a good run (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695662)

a new one will take some time to get up and going.

That was a well known issue and the plan was to have something new before shuttle retirement. Too bad all the attempts at something new were never followed through on.

Re:30 years was a good run (1)

Xenkar (580240) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696216)

Too bad Congress managed to cut the funding on any replacement programs once they showed even the smallest glimmer of potentially being finished.

"Moneys being spent on outer space?!?! This space vehicle doesn't have any pork for my congressional district! We have sovereign nations to invade using the excuse of the month and it takes more money than we have to do it! This has to go!"

Re:30 years was a good run (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696292)

a new one will take some time to get up and going.

That was a well known issue and the plan was to have something new before shuttle retirement. Too bad all the attempts at something new were never followed through on.

more like defunded by Republicans.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695382)

Oh, NASA is shutting down?

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (2)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695616)

Might as well be.

Oh sure, they'll send satellites up, and we've all been promised Russian/Chinese/Japanese flights/space stations/moonbases.

And oh yeah, tons of private firms too!

But I'm not holding my breath. We, the human race, are pretty much done playing outside the gravity well.

If you remain one of these people who doesn't think today is depressing as fuck, I'd like some of what you're having.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (2)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695664)

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

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (4, Insightful)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695898)

If you remain one of these people who doesn't think today is depressing as fuck, I'd like some of what you're having.

I like how we've gone to bitching about how the shuttle program is to old to emo rants about the end of the space program.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695934)

its called valium. Have one and chill out :)

But I too share your feelings. Space flight is going backwards after today.

Commercial spaceflight ... (3, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Commercial spaceflight ... (1)

f1vlad (1253784) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695632)

Exactly, we're to see how things will change when it gets privatized.

Re:Commercial spaceflight ... (2)

kuzb (724081) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695734)

The same thing that happen when you privatize anything. Corporations overcharge, provide shitty service, and generally use their influence to manipulate the government.

Re:Commercial spaceflight ... (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696084)

They also like a fat return on their investment, and 'space tourism' just won't cut it in the long run.

We're done in space.

Re:Commercial spaceflight ... (3, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695766)

Commercial space flight has no vision beyond sending tourists to LEO and throwing more satellites into higher orbits. It's never going to move beyond that on its own because the economics don't work for entities incapable of thinking that long term. Every possible monetary benefit from leaving earth orbit is so far away that no commercial entity will take it on. This is why the government needs to remain heavily involved in space exploration: if it doesn't, no one else (other than foreign governments) will.

Retiring the shuttle program is good in some ways because it frees up resources to go for more ambitious goals like Mars and beyond. It's bad, though, in that it takes away NASA's primary method of staying in the public eye. People get excited about humans going into space. Most people don't get excited about sending robots into space. This sort of thing is important to an organization whose funding is subject to the changing political winds.

The projects NASA has in the works sound really exciting, but with cutting cost being the name of the game in Washington these days, NASA needs all the public support it can get to keep all of its plans from dying on the vine as its budget gets eviscerated. Removing the one thing that got it on TV on a regular basis isn't a good thing in these circumstances.

Re:Commercial spaceflight ... (3, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696188)

"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.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695442)

"Dominance in space"? The rest of the universe might argue about America ever having "dominated" it.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695454)

The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.

from http://xkcd.com/893/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (2)

d3vi1 (710592) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695464)

And I've almost finished my 6h recording of NasaTV for this historical day for a total of 2.9GBytes. I wasn't alive to witness the first launch of the space shuttle, but I was alive to catch and save this one. I would also like to thank Apple for it's HTTP Live Streaming protocol. It takes only a few lines of Bash to dump the the complete 3Mbps MPEG Transport Stream (H.264+AVC) to the hard-drive. I want to be able to watch this again.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

d3vi1 (710592) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695514)

s/AVC/AAC/

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (4, Insightful)

c0mpliant (1516433) | more than 3 years ago | (#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

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (2)

faedle (114018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695592)

So ends America's wasteful spending on a program that didn't live up to what was promised.

I didn't hear the news.. we're pulling our troops from the Middle East conflicts?

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (2)

c0mpliant (1516433) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695736)

I was referring to the US Space Exploration budget. The United States DoD budget, farm subsidies, alternative energies budget and a handful of other massive sources of inefficent spending is a discussion for another day and another news article

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695782)

Taking a back seat to Libya, pulling out of Iraq, drawing down in Afghanistan. Did you want something more magical?

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

d3vi1 (710592) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695790)

Oh, you poor thing... One can only dream. I do applaud your child-like innocence. Who knows, sometimes south dreams might come true. Four of the hundreds of kids that 40 years ago dreamed to be astronauts, are now in orbit, so maybe, just maybe, your dream can come to life.
</sarcasm>
I'm sure that NASA would have decent funding if it wasn't for the Middle-East conflicts.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695818)

So ends America's wasteful spending on a program that didn't live up to what was promised.

I didn't hear the news.. we're pulling our troops from the Middle East conflicts?

Be careful not to confuse 'promise' with 'intent'. The US administration does not litter their promises with words about what is really going on.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695732)

Where are my mod points?

-1 flamebait.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

Sounder40 (243087) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695866)

Flamebait? Hardly. It's dead on. US space policy has been a mess since the day after Apollo 11. Before then, we had a clear mission. That mission was to land on the moon, and do it before the Soviets. We accomplished that mission. The next mission was to establish a space station, a moon base, and a cheaper way to get to them both. The shuttle could have been significantly cheaper but contractors, congress, and NASA itself got in the way. (Reusable SRBs? Really? How much did we "save" reusing them?) And there was no more sense of mission like there was before Apollo 11. Public apathy too.

So, in my humble opinion, not flamebait.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

Sounder40 (243087) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695742)

Because of stupid NASA planning, true. But only partly. NASA contractors overinflated project costs whenever possible to build their stake. And congress couldn't keep their stinking fingers out of the pie, constantly micro-managing NASA spending. It was, and still is, a mess. I watched it for 15 years at JSC in Houston before I could no longer stand it.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695826)

We need to re-appropriate NASA's budget to more important things like paying Goldman Sachs to rape our asses.

It's amusing that the future of mankind's existence relies on exploration of space, but we freak out over a few billion here and there. On the other hand, a couple financial institutions or car manufacturers face the realities of a free market and we trip over ourselves throwing trillions at them.

No one ever said it was going to be cheap. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695842)

All they promised with the Space Shuttle is that it was reusable and it could bring large payloads back down. Its just that supporters never corrected anyone when they thought "reusable" == "cheap".

Way to many man hours to make it cheap. BTW (USA man-hours => good for US economy)

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

Soft (266615) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695862)

Your comment resonates with what Arthur C. Clarke wrote in the post-Apollo preface to Prelude to Space:

Yet when, in 1947, I set this novel exactly thirty years in the future, I did not really believe that a lunar landing would be achieved even by that distant date [...] Still less could I have imagined that the first nation to reach the Moon would so swiftly abandon it again. ...

In one sense, the Apollo Project was indeed a Prelude to Space. Now there will be a short interlude; and sometime in the 1980s, the real story will begin.

The hiatus has been somewhat longer, but hopefully the rise of the commercial manned spaceflight will bootstrap a self-sustaining economic sector, which will no longer be at the mercy of the whims of governments and lobbies, and ossified agiencies crumbling under their own weight.

Only when spaceflight reaches that point, will that story begin.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695518)

One shot of the launch control center after the launch showed one guy quietly cleaning out his desk, putting his stuff in his backpack, and walking out.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695544)

So goes one of the biggest wastes of money America has spent in the space program. Seriously, shoulda been at least phased out starting 15 years ago. Very few other fields that still use 30+ year-old tech (more like 40 when you consider development time), half of which has catastrophically failed. Granted, thats a pretty low rate considering the number of launches and the technical difficulty of every launch... but still, time for something new. Especially when that time was ten years ago.

Maybe now commercial space flight will really take off (pun definitely intended) and we can see those tickets to the moon actually being fulfilled. Or not, but one can dream. Technology has advanced enough that its at least within the realm of possibility.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (0)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695990)

I somewhat agree. About the only truly insightful thing to ever come directly out of the Shuttle program was Feynman's analysis of how NASA's modus operandi is seriously broken. And it was promptly forgotten, so Columbia happened. And I'm sure they'll forget it again in whatever the next big program is going to be.

Of course Shuttle has contributed to many useful missions -- it's hard to tell, for example, what would have happened to Hubble mission without Shuttle. The reasonable thing to do would have been to launch another one with a fixed mirror, since a Shuttle launch costs way more, but people don't always to the economically sensible thing (sigh).

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695610)

America is quickly becoming what used to be known as a third world nation. Our space program is now below the Russians and Chinese in terms of capability. We are selling our roads, power plants, ports and other basic infrastructure. So it goes.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695784)

It was inevitable, anyway. We're more interested in fixing potholes and bailing out commercial entities with plants in the government for trillions of dollars than pursuing the most basic human (and, arguably, America) endeavor -- exploration. Yes, there are still individuals and organizations that care about this, but there was a time (sadly, before my years) when everyone was captivated by it.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696112)

We still launch unmanned rocket on a pretty frequent basis. We are temporarily pausing a manned missions.

Re:Godspeed Atlantis (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696186)

Only 2 countries now capable of launching humans into orbit - Russia and China - communism has won!

Good Launch (3, Insightful)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Good Launch (2)

kbolino (920292) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695700)

The crews of the Challenger and the Columbia might disagree with your assessment of the quality of NASA's work.

Re:Good Launch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695910)

Feynman had something to say about that

Re:Good Launch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696050)

Re:Good Launch (1)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696040)

Make no mistake, space travel ain't easy. Yes, those accidents were horrible. But over the course of thirty years, they put the Hubble telescope into orbit, repaired said telescope, built the international space station, launched three probes and carried many people and satellites into orbit. All of these tasks increased our understanding of the world and worlds around us, and has shown that countries can cooperate in space. These efforts were expensive and dangerous; yes, there were accidents and yes, there were budget over-runs. But NASA and all the people involved work towards the genuine improvement of mankind, and some people have died for it. I'd say that's good work, and I tip my hat to everybody involved.

Re:Good Launch (2)

sstamps (39313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696042)

No. No, I don't think they would.

Considering the difficulty to achieve manned spaceflight with so few actual failures, they knew and accepted the risks gladly. I don't think they would disagree at all.

Anyone expecting perfection in such a cutting-edge and hugely risky endeavor is kidding themselves.

Re:Good Launch (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695718)

I'm hoping NASA stops developing "day to day" vehicles and starts working on next generation technologies. They can do the research while the private industry takes the existing, proven, technology and keeps man flying into orbit. I invision NASA as the R&D arm of the space sector. They can make new and interesting satelites, plan new missions out past orbit, plan habitation on other planets, and plan straight up new tech.

Re:Good Launch (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695972)

+1 on this.

It strikes me that some 50+ years later NASA should be beyond LEO vehicles. If at this point NASA were to develop any sort of LEO capability, it should be a rapid-response rescue vehicle to go to the aid of commercial spacecraft - kind of like the Coast Guard.

Other than that, I'd like to see NASA starting on true space flight - vehicles assembled in orbit that are never meant to get any closer to the Earth. (I was starting to thing that the rescue vehicle mentioned should be space-only until I remembered that reaching any arbitrary orbit is technically easier to do from the ground.)

How about advanced propulsion, like VASMIR and niftier stuff like that fusion thing that used lasers and a boron target?
How about a cycler to get to the Moon or Mars in comfort? (and better radiation shielding)

bring back NACA (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696254)

1. We need an agency to to scientific research and develop new technologies. It was a mistake for NASA to get ensnarled in running daily operations of getting payloads into orbit.
2. Congress should just provide the goal and the budget, not specify the means of accomplishing the goal. (no gerrymandering the pork across districts to buy votes) This should go for the military, too.
3. The shuttle program is a camel and a fiscal failure. But it was what we had.

Happy and Sad day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695438)

While the state of Florida was virtually covered in clouds one beacon of blue sky shined above the Launch pad. It was a beautiful launch. There was much joy and many tears. I think I speak for many when I say, I hope that we go back to manned missions again in the not too distant future. Good luck to the crew of Atlantis, and come home safe.

What happened at T-0:31? (1)

SLot (82781) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695452)

Noticed there was a long delay, but I have no speakers at work, so couldn't hear an explanation.

TIA.

Re:What happened at T-0:31? (3, Informative)

kalpol (714519) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695528)

Noticed there was a long delay, but I have no speakers at work, so couldn't hear an explanation.

TIA.

Sounded like they said the sensor noting retraction of the cone dome thing wasn't working so they had to verify visually (that was the camera 62 shot).

Re:What happened at T-0:31? (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695840)

Apparently the computer couldn't tell if the LOX tank vent arm had properly retracted (probably a bad switch or something like that), and stopped the count. They quickly swung a camera into place to verify that it was fully retracted, then resumed the count.

Re:What happened at T-0:31? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696044)

They had to verify the vapor recovery arm had fully retracted.

Depressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695476)

I'm very sad right now. I've never been able to witness a launch in person, and now I never will. =(

Re:Depressed (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695522)

NASA'll come up with a new vehicle. The best part is when that day comes you'll be able to catch that first launch!

Dragon Spacecraft (2)

Danathar (267989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695532)

SpaceX should have it's Dragon module with a crew within 3 years hopefully. They've already fired the thing in to space and retrieved it. It's just a matter of finishing off the crew support and contingency systems.

Re:Dragon Spacecraft (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695706)

Oh, is that all.

If they have a launch into space with a crew in 3 years, I'll eat my hat.

Your last sentence might as well read:
"It's just a matter of doing the most difficult and hardest stuff."

Rockets aren't hard, launching a rocket into space isn't really hard. It's expensive, but not hard.

Re:Dragon Spacecraft (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695892)

Rockets aren't hard, launching a rocket into space isn't really hard.

Yeah. Come on, SpaceX! This is Rocket Science, not Brain Surgery!

Still "the Future" for me. (2)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695554)

Its hard to believe that they have mothballed such a big part of my childhood's imagination.

Growing up with James Bond movies like Moon Raker and X-Men comics using the iconic imagery of the Space Shuttles means they will forever be my idea of futuristic space travel.

It makes it harder to let go without a new, better, faster, inspiring vehicle to latch on to. I mean the Soyuz is rock solid, but it doesn't scream "next gen space travel...

Re:Still "the Future" for me. (1)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696090)

I forgot to mention Airplane 2

Only the second I've watched live (3, Interesting)

Alioth (221270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695568)

I've watched two shuttle launches live:

The very first, Columbia, when I was a child at a friend's house.
The very last, today's launch.

All the others I've only seen after the fact. I did watch a re-entry live in person once from a Cessna 172 at about 11,000 feet over the north of Houston at night. It left a plasma trail across the sky from horizon to horizon. It was funny to think when we got back to Houston Gulf airport (formerly called Spaceland, hence its identifier KSPX, sadly now demolished and covered in identikit McMansions) only 40 or so miles away, the shuttle crew had already landed in Florida, disembarked, and were probably halfway though their first cup of coffee.

I was 3 years old (4, Insightful)

deathcloset (626704) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695578)

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.

Re:I was 3 years old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696208)

Don't worry. You will be inspired again: China and India will be there shortly.

Just out of curiosity... (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695582)

Just out of curiosity, is NASA hanging onto any of the shuttles just in case? Back when DIRECT [launchcomplexmodels.com] was promoting an STS-based heavy launcher, they mentioned that there were enough fuel tanks and SRBs to do quite a number of flights - more than the shuttle has done. Could they just park the thing in a hangar somewhere and dust it off if the need arose?

Re:Just out of curiosity... (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695646)

No. Maintenance is too expensive, and you can't just put a sheet over this type of equipment and then let is sit.

Re:Just out of curiosity... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695884)

Well, Atlantis's last mission was over a year ago. Surely these machines don't need a year of maintenance between launches. Looking at the flight manifest, the shortest turnaround was just under two months, and the longest was a month shy of four years. I may be wrong, but I suspect that most of that time was spent sitting in a hangar with a proverbial sheet over it.

Re:Just out of curiosity... (1)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696336)

About 10 years ago I was at the VAB when all 4 orbiters were at KSC. There are only 3 bays in the Orbiter Processing Facility, and at the time the fourth shuttle was usually in Palmdale on a maintenance rotation. On the rare occasion where all four were at KSC, one had to be left in a corner somewhere waiting for it's turn in an OPF bay.

So, as I walked into the VAB (which is essentially a 50 story open bay, with a lot of open space) off on the left is Discovery, engines out, parked in the corner with a huge tarp suspended over it to protect it from stuff falling from above. It looked a little forlorn over there - literally "parked with a sheet over it". It was sort of surreal, because it was like seeing someones old project car in the corner of their garage, except it was an orbiter.

Anyways, even in this sort of storage you wouldn't be able to fly it again. The engineering and manufacturing infrastructure which supports the shuttle has been dissolved or is in the process of being dissolved. The physical orbiter was only a small piece of that infrastructure, which ran the gamut of things from trajectory analysts, simulators, manufacturing facilities for tanks, a control center staffed by trained personnel, etc. etc. It's not like pulling an aircraft out of storage, restoring it, and flying it. The space industry and space systems are still very specialized and rely on significant amounts of engineering, specialized equipment, and specialized knowledge on the part of the engineers and technicians supporting a particular system. Hopefully that will change soon.

Re:Just out of curiosity... (1)

Rogue974 (657982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695844)

Not sure how you missed all of the press releases, but the shuttles are being decommissioned and sent to various locations to be part of museum exhibits. Was a bit thing when they were trying to decide where. A bunch of cities put in bids for them and showed what they would do. The final decision was, one would go to NY, one to DC, one to Kennedy Space Center in Florida and one to just outside of Los Angelos.

http://www.khou.com/news/Sources-Houston-will-not-get-one-of-the-retired-space-shuttles-119699914.html [khou.com]

They made the decision and announcement back in April You can google and find where they are dissecting the shuttles and removing many components that contain hazardous chemicals prior to sending them to their final museum homes.

Re:Just out of curiosity... (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696350)

The one in LA is not "just outside" Los Angeles, it's about as close to downtown as you can get. The California Science Center is right next door to the Coliseum.

The city of Los Angeles is frickin' huge.

Re:Just out of curiosity... (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695982)

Just out of curiosity, is NASA hanging onto any of the shuttles just in case?

And what exactly do they expect to do when Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones need to get into orbit to save the earth from a disabled soviet nuclear satellite? They'd better leave a battery charger on at least one of those things or we're in big trouble.

Re:Just out of curiosity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696332)

They are actually dismantling (destroying) the launch towers and parts to make sure nobody can pull something like that out of their sleeves... the program is definitely done!

Schedule these to be cancelled as well! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695600)

Hopefully it will be followed by other wasteful major works--preferably of the kind that are entirely worthless, as opposed to NASA. I'm thinking of these as a start:

* The Department of Paranoia and Machinegunning Citizens
* The Department(s) of Not Really Authorized by the Constitution
* Operation Desert Deficit
* Operation Enduring Body Count
* "Bailing out" the housing market distortion paying meaningless imaginary debt with the fruits of real labor
* The War on Body Orifices

One can only hope...

Re:Schedule these to be cancelled as well! (1)

spaceplanesfan (2120596) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695750)

There is slight difference between these and Shuttle program.
Shuttle program despite all that pork still had something useful, and thus must be canceled.
Other program have nothing useful, thus will never be canceled.

Re:Schedule these to be cancelled as well! (1)

DynamoJoe (879038) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695764)

Nice to see that they're diverting the funding to the Department of Witless Trollery.

You know (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695628)

A post 20 minutes before the launch might have been nice.

Re:You know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695942)

You mean like this?

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/07/08/0210258/CmdrTaco-at-Kennedy-Space-Center

White Room (0, Troll)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695660)

It irked me immensely that the white room crew held up a 'God Bless America' sign. Is there not corner of civilization where we can escape the idiotic God-bothering horseshit of "mainstream America".

Seriously -- its a space craft! And as Gagarin said "I don't see any God up here."* Can we please just give that sentimental nonsense a miss and focus on the science and engineering?

*Yeah, I know, he never said it, but it fits well.

Re:White Room (1)

Gohtar (1829140) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695758)

wow, what did God do to you?

Re:White Room (0)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695800)

Nothing, because he doesn't exist.

Re:White Room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696118)

It takes more faith to believe that God doesn't exist than it does to believe it. In the end you die and either nothing happens or you go to hell. The aftermath is irreversible. Perhaps you should give the subject more critical thinking and an open mind than to arrogantly lockdown and never deal with the subject again like an intelligent and mature thinker would.

I recommend giving Ravi Zacharias (philosophy and apologetics) at http://www.rzim.org/ [rzim.org] a couple or so listens. If reason and logic is what you are looking for, Ravi Zacharias is worth it.

Re:White Room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695770)

Meh. That's pretty much taken on secular status at this point in the US. Even atheists (generally) think nothing of it.

Re:White Room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695874)

Just ignore it. You're making it out to be a problem, but who really cares? Do you get upset when athletes point to heaven after making a play? Religion is a big part of some people's lives. Don't hate them for it (unless they also use it as an excuse to be assholes).

I've always wanted to see an athlete visibly blame God when they fail, shaking thier fist toward the sky or something. That would be hilarious.

Re:White Room (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696002)

Heh. It would be hilarious if athletes blamed God.

But, no, I don't give a shit when athletes give credit to God...but...they are not scientists and engineers. I hold them to a higher standard. ;)

Re:White Room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695926)

Gob bless you and your post!

Re:White Room (1)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696032)

I'd take it more as the white room crew making a patriotic statement than a religious reference. In many of the employees, there is a pretty significant sense of national service, both on the part of the government and contractor employees. I would say the majority of employees (at least the ones I worked with, who were mainly engineers) were primarily motivated by things other than a paycheck, which in most cases was smaller than a similar private sector position.

One interesting thing about the "God" reference - I'm not particularly religious, but to some it was not all about the science and engineering when there are people onboard. I've worked manned and unmanned launches. When there are people you actually know and work with daily onboard, it's got a whole different sense about it - and it would cause religious feelings to well up in some people who ordinarily were fairly agnostic.

Re:White Room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696094)

Seriously, isn't there a corner in this country where there won't be a post or something from an atheist who gets all PO'ed about someone mentioning God in public? As a group (and perhaps poster exempted), I find atheists to be the most intolerable people. For cryin' out loud they got all bent out of shape about a cross in a dessert that hardly anyone had ever seen.

Re:White Room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696122)

What, scientists and engineers are supposed to be atheists who never believe in any philosophy or patriotism? They're not allowed to give into some sentimentality over the end of a 30 year era for the place they work? Don't get me wrong, you have the right to be annoyed and to express that, but they also have the right to express themselves and they aren't required to run it by you first. Besides, just because the sign said "God Bless America" doesn't mean anything really. That's become a phrase that expresses patriotism in this country and isn't necessarily associated with the actual Christian concept of God. What else would they have on there, "America, its a cool place to live"? That'd be kinda boring don't you think. You don't complain about the "mainstream American" God bothering horseshit when someone says, "God damn it" do you?

Re:White Room (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696294)

"Oh, he's an angry elf". No but seriously, he still loves you even though you currently choose to reject him.

Re:White Room (1)

jensend (71114) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696326)

Why do you say a blatant politically motivated lie "fits well"? Khrushchev made that up as part of his campaign to enforce state atheism; Gagarin and his family were Russian Orthodox. Many of the people involved in space exploration have been deeply religious; many have felt that their experience has deepened their appreciation for God's creation and that their relation to the Creator was a driving force in their quest for scientific discovery.

Two quotations from Werner von Braun, a Lutheran without whom we probably never would have put a man on the moon:

Science and religion are not antagonists. On the contrary, they are sisters. While science tries to learn more about the creation, religion tries to better understand the Creator. While through science man tries to harness the forces of nature around him, through religion he tries to harness the force of nature within him.

My experiences with science led me to God. They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun?

For more about Von Braun's faith see here [adherents.com] .

One of the main people responsible for the Shuttle program was Dr. James C. Fletcher, NASA administrator for 9 years, who was a faithful Mormon.

Atheists who fancy themselves armchair rocket scientists may not like it, but the space program has not only always been wrapped up in this "sentimental nonsense" - it would never have been possible without it. The men who had the vision to lead America to space were men of faith. In today's world, where militant and brash atheism is on the increase and where "spirituality" and saying "Lord, Lord" (cf Matt 7:21) have displaced real devotion and discipleship among many who claim to be religious, this nation no longer has the vision and the willpower to continue to blaze that trail.

Does anyone know what they are doing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695694)

They would have been better off working out how to make a space elevator. Seems like a lot of money and time was spent with super massive rockets and this is both dangerous and wasteful. I mean why not have a super high flying helium balloon, that you can then fly to a geostationary satellite, to then be 'winched' to the next satellite? How many would you need?

LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE !! MORE MONEY FOR WARS !! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695720)

Goddamn you gotta hand it to the war pigs !! If anything fuels elite biz it's a fucking goddamn commie*arab) killing war !!

Cheney said it best: FUCK WITH ME and I'll shoot you in your goddamn face, punk !! And you'll thank me for it !!

RIP childhood dreams (1)

slashpot (11017) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695760)

And so it ends.

To The End of an Era (1)

nevermore94 (789194) | more than 3 years ago | (#36695798)

I grew up with the shuttles and I am just old enough to remember the first launch. I want to say something really profound, but I just find myself really sad and numb feeling and very disappointed that we do not already have a better replacement ready to fly.

What has happened to us? If feels like despite the tremendous technological breakthroughs that have occurred since the first shuttle flight we have actually gone backwards some how.

Once I built a spaceship (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36695856)

Once I built a spaceship, made it run. Made it race against time. Once I built a spaceship, made it run. Brother can you spare a dime?

http://jendelainformasi.info/ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696098)

makasih bos bcklink dofollownya.....
mantap2 smua........
terima kasih banyak.

http://jendelainformasi.info/

why only four astronauts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36696220)

any explanation why only 4?

Re:why only four astronauts? (1)

Tteddo (543485) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696368)

It had something to do with the fact there is no backup shuttle and space needed if an evacuation was necessary.

End of an era (3, Insightful)

deadhammer (576762) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Watching STS-135 was bittersweet for me. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36696298)

I watched the STS-135 launch with my teenaged daughter a few minutes ago. I was only a few years older than she when I watched the STS-1 launch with a couple of my friends who stayed over my house for the even. We still had the Apollo era habit of watching all the televised launches.

It really did feel like a new beginning, the dawn of the era of (mostly) reusable spacecraft, just like in science fiction. The Shuttle may have turned out to be an abortive step toward the future, but it also accomplished a great deal and has important lessons for us, if we only have the will to learn them.

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