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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 JediJeb on 3/29/2012 11:13:00 PM , Rating: 4
and americans in general spend far more on unproductive things like beer, or cigarettes in a year than they do on the cutting-edge scientific endeavor of space exploration

Just imagine if people would put the money they spend on things like sporting events towards space exploration, we would probably already be on Mars. Think about it, $2 billion just spent to buy the LA Dodgers, how much would that do if put towards SpaceX's budget, and that is only a drop in the bucket of what is spent on such things. So few people today work because they want to have a feeling of accomplishment, but simply because they must work to fund their weekend pleasures.

If Musk can take space from a research project to a business that is highly profitable you will see a shift in corporations spending money on trivial things like sports teams and spending it on space because they will make more money from it. Of course inevitably it will be sports teams in space that will be the step that follows ;)

RE: NASA & SpaceX
By delphinus100 on 3/31/2012 9:40:56 PM , Rating: 3
Just imagine if people would put the money they spend on things like sporting events towards space exploration, we would probably already be on Mars.

Imagine all you like, it's irrelevant. Those people are paying to be entertained, and they pretty much get what they want.

Real space flight/exploration (as opposed to movies and the like) isn't done for entertainment, and shouldn't be expected to entertain. Indeed, the ideal space mission is one with no drama, one that looks easy, where everything goes exactly as intended...and all fiction (science or otherwise) requires one or more individuals with one or more problems of some kind. Without its 'problem,' Apollo 13 would already have been just one more Lunar mission. (and I'm sure that all concerned, from the crew on down, would've preferred that, to a struggle for survival)

Sports, cigarettes, what have you, they make for interesting comparison, but don't ever think people would actually give up one for the other.

The sooner human space activity (not all of which will be exploration, or even more general research) gets to the point aviation did long ago (and maritime did centuries earlier) where it will exist completely apart from anything government does, the better. Even if the majority of it is 'boring' but profitable, self-supporting commercial activity that people will directly pay for.

And so, the rest of your post is essentially correct, except that there won't be any kind of 'shift.' People will still do and watch what they always do, space merely becomes one more arena of commerce of various kinds.

RE: NASA & SpaceX
By JediJeb on 3/31/2012 10:55:52 PM , Rating: 2
I think we are both thinking along the same lines. When I said "Imagine" I was trying to point out that if people had more interest in forwarding science and exploration than simply being entertained for a few seconds we would be much further along than we are. I definitely do not believe it is something that is going to happen, because the masses have been flocking to entertainment and ignoring the advancement of civilization since ancient times, just look at what crowds the Coliseum attracted in ancient Rome. Unless space is "exciting" like it was in the Apollo days, it will never be popular with the masses.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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