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America's mighty space fleet is sent into retirement

As a self-described space nut, it's with great sadness that I look upon these images of the remaining members of the Space Shuttle fleet being picked apart and readied for their new homes in museums. The Atlantic has posted 35 breathtaking pictures of Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour.
 
Discovery will find a new home in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum while Endeavour will make its way to the California Space Center. Atlantis will be sent to the Kennedy Space Center.
 
The first orbital mission of the Space Shuttle fleet kicked off with Columbia on April 12, 1981. Space Shuttle Atlantis made its final flight into space on July 8, 2011 and landed safely on July 21, 2011. In total, there were 135 missions and two tragic accidents (first with Challenger in 1986 resulting in the loss of its crew, and later with the Columbia and its crew in 2003).
 
For now, you can hop on over to The Atlantic to see the best that America had to offer in the modern era of space travel:
 
 
Shuttle Endeavour (L) and Shutte Discovery (R) [Source: The Atlantic]
 
For those that still wish to reach beyond Earth's orbit, we can still look forward to NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) which will eventually take astronauts to Mars.

Source: The Atlantic



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RE: NASA & SpaceX
By borismkv on 3/29/2012 5:06:47 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
the Soviets, who know a thing or two about rocket design and space flight


Actually, the Soviets relied more on dumb luck and a willingness to just strap whatever the hell they had handy (dog, cat, bird, human) to a rocket and shoot it up into the sky. When you look at the records they kept for their own programs, you get a picture that they were just throwing crap at a wall and seeing what stuck.

Not that the space shuttle wasn't a phenomenal piece of engineering. If they were to try to design it today it wouldn't get done (which is why we don't have a replacement).


RE: NASA & SpaceX
By Reclaimer77 on 3/29/2012 7:35:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Actually, the Soviets relied more on dumb luck and a willingness to just strap whatever the hell they had handy


I find this an ironic statement since we've placed our ability to get into orbit in the Soviets "dumb luck" hands because we've retired our "obsolete and unreliable" shuttle lol.

quote:
Not that the space shuttle wasn't a phenomenal piece of engineering. If they were to try to design it today it wouldn't get done (which is why we don't have a replacement).


Totally agree.

To clarify I agree with the OP about SpaceX and other capitalistic ventures. I fully believe that privatization and the same entrepreneurial spirit that spurned mankind's development here on Earth is crucial to our future in space. I just have tremendous respect and admiration for what the Shuttle was, what it represented, and what it did.


RE: NASA & SpaceX
By FaaR on 3/29/2012 8:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
Your comments about dumb luck and whatnot nonwithstanding, the most powerful rocket engine from a thrust/weight ratio standpoint is a Russian soviet-era design, unmatched by anything since. :P


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