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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 paulpod on 3/29/2012 5:25:18 PM , Rating: 2
Just to add a bit more history people forget. The shuttle program cancelled itself when they let foam keep hitting the orbiter and destroyed Columbia. And when it was clear fixing just that one flaw that made the system no safer.

Remember that most wanted the program cancelled outright but a compromise was made to carefully launch only the most necessary missions. All other payloads and missions were cancelled by Bush (yes, Bush).

There is NO WAY the shuttle can be used just to send astronauts to the space station. Two accidents made it orders of magnitude more expensive than initial goals.

But now you have people insanely underestimating Nasa's contribution to the commercial programs. Is Musk purchasing land for his lauch pads? Is Musk designing and constructing his launch pads? Is Musk purchasing recovery ships and paying for them and their crews to be on hand 365 days a year? Is Musk paying for a range safety system, telemetry systems, launch photography systems, etc. to be built from scratch? Is Musk designing engines, guidance systems, etc. from scratch? Is Musk inventing and designing all the QA procedures from scratch? No!!

The commercial launch systems are all built on Nasa technology and assets except for the final flight hardware. SpaceX is the most heavily subsidized company in history. That combined with the highly derivative Nasa plan means almost nothing Nasa has spent in the past is being wasted.

RE: NASA & SpaceX
By RufusM on 3/29/12, Rating: -1
RE: NASA & SpaceX
By Reclaimer77 on 3/29/12, Rating: 0
RE: NASA & SpaceX
By FaaR on 3/29/2012 8:25:01 PM , Rating: 2
Reclaimer, you really are a super loony.

Calling Clinton "radical left" is ludicrous enough in of itself (he's anything but, really - no mainstream US politicians are), but criticizing "the war" (lol wut?) on freon, which is a known and well documented environmental hazard of huge proportions... Jebus what have you been smoking, man?

RE: NASA & SpaceX
By Reclaimer77 on 3/30/2012 12:09:15 PM , Rating: 2
Huge proportions?

Let's have some common sense here please. You're talking about a rocket craft which puts millions of metric tons of pollutants directly into the atmosphere, and you're concerned about the aerosols used in the foam that seals the fuel tank for that rocket? Also weigh that against the human lives lost DIRECTLY from making that decision. And you ask what I'm smoking?

RE: NASA & SpaceX
By Calin on 3/30/12, Rating: 0
RE: NASA & SpaceX
By Manch on 3/30/2012 7:36:23 AM , Rating: 2
You got them swapped

Challenger = bad seal on the booster rocket

Columbia(recent)= foam striking the wing, cracking the thermal tiles.

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