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Space Shuttle Discovery
The six-member crew will deliver materials to the International Space Station aboard the Discovery for the last time today at 4:50 p.m. EST

After nearly 30 years of space travel, NASA's space shuttle Discovery will make its final flight today from Cape Canaveral, Florida.  

Discovery was first launched in 1984, and is one of NASA’s three operational orbiters in the Space Shuttle fleet. It has spent 352 days in orbit and circled the Earth 5,628 times. It has also carried 246 crewmembers, which is more than any other space vehicle has before. After years of International Space Station assembly missions and research missions, Discovery is now the oldest orbiter in service, and will be retiring after today's launch.  

Today's launch, which will be Discovery's 39th journey, was originally set for November 5 of last year, but the launch was delayed due to vital repairs to the external tank's support beams. NASA released the new launch date, February 24, just a few weeks ago.  

"Discovery has been a really remarkable vehicle for us and the program," said Jeff Spaulding, NASA test director. "She still has a few more miles to go before she sleeps, though."

Discovery's final flight will carry a six-member crew for an 11-day mission. The mission objective is to deliver a science rig, a storage module, and spare parts to the international Space Station. In addition, Robonaut 2, a humanoid robot assistant, will be traveling on the Discovery to embark on a permanent stay at the International Space Station.  

The six crew members aboard the Discovery's final flight will be commander and veteran NASA astronaut Steven Lindsey, NASA pilot Eric Boe, and mission specialists Alvin Drew, Michael Barratt, Steven Bowen and Nicole Stott. Originally, astronaut Tim Kopra was supposed to be apart of the six-member crew, but endured a bicycle accident last month that has prevented him from joining the others. Bowen was a last-minute substitute for Kopra. 

At 7:25 a.m. EST (1225 GMT), NASA technicians began filling the Discovery's 15-story, 550,000 gallon tank, which is a three-hour process that consists of pumping liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the tank. The launch is set to take place at 4:50 p.m. EST (2150 GMT). 

"We are really looking forward to a very action-packed, successful mission," said Mike Moses, NASA's shuttle integration manager.

In addition to the Discovery's final launch, space shuttle Endeavour, which is also one of the three operational orbiters at NASA, is set to embark on its final launch as well on April 19. 



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RE: The end of an Era
By MrBlastman on 2/24/2011 4:59:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but they are of a smaller magnitude as the years pass by.


Are you kidding? Please say you are. What do you call World War 1 and 2? What about the millions of people that died? They weren't smaller, at all. Also, what about the collateral casualties not directly related to the wars (civilians and the holocaust).

You can not feasibly look at the total death count from wars and compare them over a small period of time as say that of a few decades or a century. You have to compare numbers over milennia for an accurate perspective. With greater technology comes greater ways for man to kill each other. We might have nuclear weapons right now, but I am absolutely certain someone will figure out, somehow, to kill even MORE people with a more devastating weapon than those that we have currently. I'd bet all my money on it, every single dime, if I knew I'd be around long enough to collect on the bet.

quote:
Sheesh! How many murderers do you hang out with?


We are the top of the food chain. If you look around the wilds, you'll see species after species with various means on them (claws, teeth, tails, spikes, poisons) that enable them to kill things. Man is the ONLY carnivorous animal that by default, is weaker physically than the majority of other mammals out there.

The big difference between man and other animals in the food chain is our brain. Our brains have enabled us to develop tools which we can use to kill other animals, putting us at the top of the food chain. Man did not get to the top of the food chain by being peaceful with the rest of the animal kingdom. We got here through force and flexing our mental muscle.

Sure, not all man wants to kill their best friend or neighbor, but, driven to the brink, all man will do what they have to do to survive. Those who don't will perish.


RE: The end of an Era
By The Raven on 2/28/2011 3:08:04 PM , Rating: 2
How many dictators, monarchies, or emperors were around during WWI/II? If you adhere to American philosophy, you believe that freedom begets peace. More people are free today than ever. Therefore we should be less worried about crazy people getting hold of the reigns of gigantic militaries. Are there still such crazies out there? Yes (Kim Jong Il, Hu Jintao, GWB, BHO...;-). But the fact is that there are less, and less chance of another WW.

You didn't address the question:
quote:
Well I do agree that if your aim is to ensure the survival of the human race that is the way to go. But if your view of the human race is such a pessimistic one then what is the point of ensuring the survival of such a self-destructive species?

You just went off on this...
quote:
Sure, not all man wants to kill their best friend or neighbor, but, driven to the brink, all man will do what they have to do to survive. Those who don't will perish.
Yeah people don't want to kill their neighbors, because they usually help each other to survive. That is why most people in this world don't have to indiscriminately kill other humans. Plus, how will you procreate and continue to "evolve" if you kill everyone around you?

Anyway, it just sounds like you are looking for a ticket off of this hell hole subsidized by "your neighbors" so you can be the only one there out on Planet X with your mob of dehydrated Martians. Am I right?


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