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Space shuttle Endeavour  (Source:
Two of NASA's orbiters in the Space Shuttle fleet will now be retired, with the third to make its final launch this summer

Space Shuttle Endeavour, which is one of the last two remaining operational orbiters in the Space Shuttle fleet of NASA, made its final launch today. 

A few months ago, NASA's space shuttle Discovery made its final flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida after 30 years of space travel. Space shuttle's Endeavour and Atlantis are the remaining two operational orbiters in the Space Shuttle fleet of NASA, but now, Endeavour has started the first leg of its final mission. 

Space shuttle Endeavour began construction in 1987 at a price of $2.2 billion. It was completed in May 1991, and embarked on its first space venture in May 1992. In total, space shuttle Endeavour has spent 280 days in space, carried 148 astronauts, and traveled 166,003,247 km at this point. It has completed 24 missions total -- its 25th mission will be its last

The Endeavour's commander will be Cmdr. Mark Kelly. Kelly's wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head in the Tuscon, Arizona mass shooting three months ago, will be in attendance today.

Kelly's crew consists of pilot Gregory H. Johnson, mission specialists Michael Fincke, Andrew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff, and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori. 

The Endeavour will embark on a 15-day journey through space. Four spacewalks are planned, where experiments will be retrieved, new ones will be placed, parts will be lubricated and tanks will be refilled at the International Space Station 

In addition, the Endeavour is carrying the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which is a $1.5 billion piece of equipment that captures space particles like dark matter so that scientists can learn more about it. Space walkers will place the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer outside of the International Space Station so it can gather these particles and contribute to our knowledge of our universe. 

Kelly noted that today will be a very emotional day for him, as he fears that it could possibly be his last flight into space.  

"Flying in space is a very difficult thing to give up," said Kelly. "I remember after my last flight thinking, 'Well, maybe this is the last time I'm going to do this.' And you know, you go a couple of months out and you're like, 'Oh, I really hope this is not the end of my flying career.'"

With two of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet orbiters in retirement, and the third expected to make its final launch later this summer, U.S. astronauts are going to have a difficult time going into space unless they utilize Russian rockets.  

"I'll be thinking the same thing, I can't really give this up," said Kelly. "I've got to figure out a way to get back into space."

Space shuttle Endeavour lifted off the launchpad at 8:56 a.m. ET. It was originally supposed to launch on April 29, but a "broken set of heaters" prevented the launch from taking place. 

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RE: Too bad...
By dgingeri on 5/16/2011 5:06:07 PM , Rating: 2
It is a little different here. If you don't want a job, you file some paperwork for welfare and start looking for a job. Then, write your resume with the most unemployable information possible, if you want to go that far, and apply for jobs. It is possible to apply for many jobs without a resume, but they pay less, so that might throw up some suspicion. Any interviews you get, make sure and wear a sports jersey and low slung jeans, and talk in the most 'ghetto' manner possible, and use as many curse words as possible. (Believe me, they do this. I've seen it, many, many times.) Make sure to obliquely insult the interviewer, racially is the most preferable. After a month or so, you'll start getting government checks, but you'll have to keep applying for at least 2 (yes, really, only 2) jobs per week. After 3 years of this without getting a job, you get declared unemployable and are qualified for $390 per week for the rest of your life. If you have kids and are a single mother, this adds $180 per kid per week.

Once on welfare, you can also apply for Medicaid and food stamps, where your healthcare and food are free in addition to the money sent per week. I don't know the exact amounts of food assistance you'd get, but I believe I heard somewhere around $100 per week if you have no other income.

Even better, the system is set up specifically to punish people for trying to get out, or for their kids for trying to get out. For each dollar you earn from another job, you get a dollar removed from your food stamps and welfare check. In addition, if you earn more than $120 per week, Medicaid declares you able to pay for your own health care and demands payback for the previous year's benefits. So, you get hit repeatedly for earning even the smallest amount of money elsewhere. On top of this, any dependent of the welfare recipient earning money also counts against the parent/guardian. (My sister got pregnant at 13 and my parents' insurance wouldn't cover her pregnancy. Since we were also fairly low income, we couldn't pay for it either. So, she had to go through Medicaid for the pregnancy and for the subsequent care he needed for the next 4 years of his life. I learned a lot about the system during this time.)

I find it funny that it is the very people the Democratic majority welfare collectors elect who put in the punishments for trying to work your way out of the system. They claim that these are to placate the Republicans and to reduce abuse of the system, but all it does is keep people in the system in perpetuity. Those same people they elected are "keeping them down." The only way out of this system is to hurt your family. It's pretty pathetic.

RE: Too bad...
By drycrust3 on 5/16/2011 6:09:56 PM , Rating: 2
In NZ the welfare system has, whether by accident or design, ended up pretty much the same. When I was unemployed my wife and I couldn't get enough from the government to even pay the standing costs of our house, but we have 10s of thousands who get regular payouts that are higher than what I get with full time employment. Once in that situation, they are unable to afford getting out of that situation, so it encourages them to stay there.
In addition, there really are insufficient jobs around, so for those who have just lost their job it can take a long time to get another one. On top of that, if you apply for lots of jobs through the agencies, then they get to know you and automatically relegate you to lowest place in their selection criteria, regardless of how well qualified you are for a job.

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