Stardust Memories

A mission well played and an efficient use of taxpayer money too. They wrung every last bit of scientific data out of every last dollar.

Lights go out on NASA’s Stardust comet mission

Fresh off a bonus flyby of comet Tempel 1 in February, NASA’s Stardust spacecraft fired its four main engines for more than two minutes Thursday, draining its fuel tank as managers said goodbye to the well-traveled comet chaser after more than 12 years in space.

With Stardust’s single hydrazine fuel tank emptied, the craft lost its ability to control its orientation and the probe’s solar panels were expected to lose track of the sun, and officials anticipated the mission’s battery charge would be exhausted within hours.

Stardust was also programmed to turn off its radio transmitters about 20 minutes after the burn, just in case it might interfere with some future mission using the same frequency.

NASA announced the last transmission from Stardust was received at 7:33 p.m. EDT (2333 GMT) Thursday. Officials monitored the burn from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and issued commands from the Lockheed Martin Corp. mission support center in Denver.

See also:
NASA and Lockheed Martin Say Goodbye to Historic Stardust Spacecraft
NASA’s Venerable Comet Hunter Wraps Up Mission
NASA’s Stardust: Good to the Last Drop
Inside NASA’s Space Funeral for the Comet-Hunting Stardust Probe
NASA kills off comet hunter
Comet-hunting spacecraft shuts down after 12 years
NASA Retires Comet-Hunter Stardust
NASA’s Stardust set to ‘burn to depletion’
NASA’s stardust empties its tank after 12 years
NASA’s ‘Comet Hunter’ Heads Off Into The ‘Sunset’
Stardust – NASA’s Comet Sample Return Mission
NASA – Stardust
Stardust (spacecraft)

Hopefully they put some type of return address on it.

/maybe, like a note in a bottle, something out there will find Stardust and bring it back home, as long as they’re good aliens that come in peace

Going Nowhere Not So Fast

I think the old girl is trying to tell NASA something, she doesn’t want to fly.

Space shuttle Discovery’s mission delayed again

Space shuttle Discovery’s final flight keeps getting delayed.

The space station delivery mission is now off until the end of February. NASA had been aiming for an early February liftoff, but managers decided Thursday to take more time to complete repairs to Discovery’s external fuel tank.

Following a failed launch attempt in early November, cracks were found in metal struts of the massive tank. More cracks were discovered last week, after the shuttle was returned to its hangar. NASA is considering reinforcing all 108 struts on the central part of the tank for extra safety, NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said Friday.

The initial cracks were so big that the insulating foam on top of the damaged struts, or so-called stringers, split open. That’s NASA’s main concern: Cracking could cause foam to break away during liftoff and slam into Discovery. Columbia ended up being destroyed in 2003 after a slab of foam gouged a wing.

See also:
Discovery To Miss Early February Launch
Repairs Delay Discovery Launch as Shuttle Program Winds Down
Shuttle Discovery’s launch delayed for further repairs
US Shuttle Launch Delayed Again
Safety probe delays space shuttle launch until late February
NASA Pushes Space Shuttle Discovery Launch to Late February
NASA Rules Out Early February Launch for Discovery
Fuel tank woes delay space shuttle launch again
More delay for space shuttle Discovery launch
Shuttle Discovery’s launch postponed
Discovery launch delayed
Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery
STS-133 Mission Information
STS-133

Discovery is more than 25 years old and even when these space shuttles are in perfect shape they’re the most inherently unsafe manned spacecraft the U.S. has ever flown. Personally, I say pull the plug now, Discovery belongs in a museum, not on a launch pad. She obviously doesn’t want to fly, why tempt fate?

/is it really worth risking another shuttle crew to deliver some equipment to a space station that’s probably going to be abandoned within ten years anyway?