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Space shuttle Atlantis blasted off at 11:29 a.m.

Space shuttle Atlantis launched today, marking the final mission and complete retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet.

Atlantis is the last of three remaining operational orbiters in NASA's Space Shuttle fleet. In February 2011, Space Shuttle Discovery was the first of the three to launch on its final mission after nearly 30 years of space travel. Then, in April 2011, Space Shuttle Endeavour was set to launch, but was delayed due to a broken set of heaters. It took off on its final mission in mid May instead.

Now, NASA's Space Shuttle fleet will be three-for-three as Atlantis blasts into orbit for its last mission as well.

Space Shuttle Atlantis first flew into space on mission STS-51-J in October 1985. It has completed 32 missions, spent 293 days in space, carried 191 crews and has traveled 120,650,907 miles. Atlantis is the only orbiter that cannot draw power from the International Space Station while docked there. Instead, it must provide its own power for fuel cells.

Today marks Atlantis' 33rd and final mission, STS-135. It will be a 12-day mission to the International Space Station with the purpose of delivering supplies and spare parts, which will be contained in the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module.

Atlantis mission STS-135 carries a crew of four, including Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim.

"That is the most beautiful vehicle we've had to fly in space, ever, and it's going to be a long time until you see a vehicle roll out to the pad that looks as beautiful as that," said Walheim. "How can you beat that? An airplane on the side of a rocket. It's absolutely stunning."

Space shuttle Atlantis took off at 11:29 a.m. ET from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. While some reports noted that weather could be obstacle possibly causing a delay, the astronauts started boarding Atlantis around 8:00 a.m. and the hatch was closed around 9:21 a.m. for flight.

Reports have estimated that the crowd gathered in the area to see the launch ranged from 500,000 to 1 million people.


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By xyzCoder on 7/8/2011 5:46:15 PM , Rating: -1
I'm not at all surprised that my post and opinion got downrated to quickly - makes me want to laugh even more at all the fools, but regardless, let me address your points.

1) Dood, come on: there is a huge fricking difference between a human being and a robot. Although robots certainly can suffer from radiation damage, they don't get cancer or have DNA. What's more: once they are 'dead' you just add them to the pile of contaminated materials. Either way, with the right shielding, your robot is going to last 1000+ times longer and regardless won't even need to breath (clean) air. How efficient do you think the workers were, knowing that they had MAX 10 minutes to do their job before they were many times over the legal limits? What percentage of this time do you think each one spent on work vs. on just getting to the spot where they needed to work? Don't forget that once you reach the limit, you can't go back in.

2) latency: uh, hello? How much latency do you get when you make a satellite phone call to the other side of the planet? I was not talking about sending remote controlled robots to fix our telco satellites on Mars. There is less lag communicating with a near-orbit satellite than you probably get from most internet-based FPS shooters, so I think we can manage.

3) Yeah, I know they sent robots to the Japan reactors, in the end, but that's kind of my point: it took weeks for them to do it and in the end those robots were not very capable, as otherwise I doubt the Japanese would have needed to send so many poor folk in there in person (before and after the robots were briefly mentioned).

4) Mars again??? Why do we need to send people to Mars? It's just a propaganda ploy to distract people from the problems back home. It is also a very easy way to get pork spending or payola in your home state: just make sure you get NASA to do some of its incredibly inefficient 'work' on your home turf and you've done your main job as a Congresscretin.

5) Let's be frank about the importance of this extra-terrestial research: will life on earth change significantly from sending people to Mars in the next 20 years? Have we started mining or otherwise getting anything from having some boots on the moon several decades ago? There is no point to knowing 5% more about any of these planetary bodies when we are so far from the technological level needed to extract resources from them. More importantly: it is orders of magnitude cheaper to send a machine rather than people (even if it is less fun for the operator to be at a desk rather than in space).

That being said, I think much of the unmanned stuff we have done is very cool. The Hubble telescope has been one vastly bright point amidst the rest, scientifically-speaking, and as such IMO it was certainly worth the hundreds of millions of $ spent. Sending unmanned craft to Mars and other outlying planets has also given us significant information, as well as being 'cool' and new. I just wish they would stop sending people into the most deadly environments available, just for kicks and at my expense. I also wish people would stop cheer-leading all this, but whatev's.


By xyzCoder on 7/10/2011 4:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously, you lame-o's are just going to keep trying to push these valid points under the rug?

I think I have more 'replies' available to me than you have 'downrates', so keep it up - just another example of how 'free speech' works in America.

I don't mind being downrated, but at least give me some argument for it. the previous attempt at arguing against my points obviously failed, and yet Maven81 is at 2 and I'm at -1...

Have you really no shame at all? Are you scientists or just insecure individuals living in denial? You don't like the question I raise, so you try to hide it from people. LAME.

Our American 'science' is far more Gestapo and pork-spending than it is truth.


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