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Space shuttle Atlantis   (Source: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Atlantis landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 5:57 a.m. EDT

Space shuttle Atlantis made its final landing early this morning, marking a successful mission as well as the end of an era.

NASA has now officially retired its entire Space Shuttle fleet, which consisted of Space shuttle's Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis. Space shuttle Discovery made its final mission in February 2011, Space shuttle Endeavour completed its last jaunt to space in June 2011, and now, Space shuttle Atlantis has returned home to enjoy retirement as well.

Atlantis landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 5:57 a.m. EDT. The 13-day mission to the International Space Station was nearly flawless, with only a few computer glitches that were easily managed. This was Atlantis' 33rd voyage.

While the crew was happy to be home safe, it was also an emotional arrival due to the fact that NASA's Space Shuttle program, which began on April 12, 1981, is now closed after 30 years of service.

"The space shuttle changed the way we viewed the world, and it changed the way we view our universe," said Chris Ferguson, Atlantis' commander. "There's a lot of emotion today, but one thing is indisputable: America is not going to stop exploring. Thank you Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavour and our ship, Atlantis."

Ferguson led a crew of three, including pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim. Their mission to the International Space Station provided supplies, equipment and food as well as over 9,400 pounds of spare parts and other supplies.

"We're going to put Atlantis in a museum now, along with the three orbiters, for generations that will come after us to admire and appreciate," said Ferguson. "And hopefully, I want that picture of a six-year-old boy looking up at a space shuttle in a museum and saying, 'Daddy, I want to do something like that when I grow up,' or 'I want our country to do fantastic things like this for the continued future."

The retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet means that the U.S. has no way of sending humans into space. Russia is the only means of getting to space for American astronauts at this point.

The curtain has closed on NASA's Space Shuttle fleet, but we haven't stopped looking through our telescopes and asking, "What if?" quite yet. The next step is to travel to an asteroid by 2025, and Mars in 2030.

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RE: The future doesn't look good.
By JediJeb on 7/21/2011 3:56:46 PM , Rating: 4
In thinking about this I realized that the rich are becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer mostly because the poor no longer have any desire to be more than that. I'm not sure what has taken away the drive that almost everyone had to become better in their life. People used to want to improve their situation in life, or at least make it easier for their children to have a better life after them. Seems no days people are saying to heck with their kids, let them live the crappy life we have and turn down any opportunity to advance if it means a little more work.

Maybe is it because even the most lazy in our society can now live as comfortably as those who work themselves to death, or maybe even live a better life than the hard working people. Schools fill our children's heads with the idea that every one of them in Number One, which is a fallacy since there is only one number one, one number two, ect in any given thing. They teach children "you can be anything you want to be" but leave them thinking they can be that with out having to put any effort into it, then the children go out into the world and demand to be great while wanting others to do the work for them. I wonder if we would become a nation of over achievers again if there was more bite put back into under achieving?

RE: The future doesn't look good.
By 91TTZ on 7/21/2011 4:09:46 PM , Rating: 1
I wonder if we would become a nation of over achievers again if there was more bite put back into under achieving?

I really think so. We're basically paying people to sit around and do nothing. They're not living the best life but they're not starving, either. They can just sit around and have kids (which you have to pay for). The handouts need to stop. It may have started out with good intentions but in reality it just creates an entitlement generation. These people act like it's someone else's responsibility to keep them alive.

If anything, the only thing the government should be able to hand out is work. If you're jobless and need someone to put a roof over your head, someone should hand you a broom and make you sweep the street or do some other task that needs to be done but nobody wants to do. If they can't work because they have a bunch of kids that need to be raised, there should be places to bring these kids for the day to watch them. At least the kids can be raised right by someone who can provide them structure in their life; someone who is working and not a lazy bum.

RE: The future doesn't look good.
By Jeffk464 on 7/21/2011 6:28:29 PM , Rating: 1
Germany is more socialist that the United States and they have been kicking our ass in pretty much all indicators, so how do you explain that?

By thisisaname on 7/22/2011 1:11:36 AM , Rating: 2
The welfare/social security system was originally intended to help people that really needed it, for those truly disabled or temporarily unable to work. But the vast majority just suck of the tits of lady liberty because it's an "entitlement" program, their needs are met, and there is no desire at all to better themselves.
How do I know this? Because I was in the welfare program several years ago because I was unable to work. I lived in low income housing, and saw the kind of people these places bring in. I saw time and again people who sit on their asses all day, party until all hours of the morning. I noticed the partying was especially heavy around at the beginning of every month. There was no atmosphere to better themselves, they were perfectly happy with a roof over their heads, food in their stomach, their booz and the casino, and going to payday loan places every other week, getting their furniture and tv's from Rent-A-Center and the like.
Me, I finally got off my ass and got a job and went to school part time and got a degree. Finally several years later I'm working for a local hospital making over $40k a year as a nurse, and got the hell out of that welfare system.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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