There are not going to be too many more of these:
Space shuttle Atlantis and its six-member crew began an 11-day delivery flight to the International Space Station on Monday with a 2:28 p.m. EST launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The shuttle will transport spare hardware to the outpost and return a station crew member who spent more than two months in space.
Atlantis is carrying about 30,000 pounds of replacement parts for systems that provide power to the station, keep it from overheating, and maintain a proper orientation in space. The large equipment can best be transported using the shuttle's unique capabilities.
It's time for a manned mission to Mars.
"There are not going to be too many more of these:"
Damned shame that there are plans for a generation 2 shuttle that will not be used or put into service. Is this an additional American retreat from the sciences and engineering?
Retreat from what sciences? In nearly 30 years little to no science has been done. What was done was insignificant.
The shuttle program and the ISS are huge money pits. Extremely wasteful. Draining funds from true space science programs.
Drop the ISS into the sea and scrap any remaining shuttle launches.
I see here, like everywhere else, has a collection of rocket scientists and NASA administrators who know exactly what manned space flight is about.
That's my 0.02% of the budget, anyway.
(Can you tell I'm a NASA guy who's tired of hearing people bitch about how the shuttle and ISS supposedly haven't done a thing for them, and how it's such a huuuuge waste of money compared to, say, the military, who's clearly giving everything to the community for a paltry 20% of the budget?)
Spiv, how about a guest post on that topic?
I really need to see one of these live before they stop.
Thank you so much for posting this. I found it to be both informative and moving. Some years back (1996, I think), I attended a conference in Orlando with a group of grad school friends. There was a nighttime shuttle launch while we were there, and we went out onto a dark golf course at 2 am to see it. It was an incredible sight.