And Then There Were None

Welcome home Atlantis, a safe ending to the thirty year space shuttle program that saw the tragic loss of 40% of the fleet.

Ghostly Landing of Atlantis Closes America’s Space Shuttle Era Forever

Barely discernable in the pre-dawn twilight and appearing as an eerie, ghost like figure, Space Shuttle Atlantis and her four person crew swiftly glided to a triumphant landing at the Kennedy Space Center that closed out NASA’s three decade long Space Shuttle Era – in the wink of an eye it was all over.

Atlantis touched down almost invisibly on Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at 5:57 a.m. EDT and rolled to a stop moments later to conclude the history making 13 day flight to the International Space Station and back. During the STS-135 mission Atlantis orbited the Earth 200 times and journeyed 5,284,862 miles.

The all veteran crew of space flyers comprised of Shuttle Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim.

. . .

“Mission complete, Houston,” radioed Commander Ferguson. “After serving the world for over 30 years, the space shuttle has earned its place in history. It’s come to a final stop.”

See also:
‘Mission complete, Houston’
Atlantis’ triumphant swan song ends NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program
Space shuttle Atlantis in final dawn touchdown to end 30 year programme
Space shuttle era ends with touchdown of Atlantis
Crowd Welcomes Home, Thanks Final Shuttle Crew
Atlantis makes perfect final landing
Final Space Shuttle Crew Leaves Plaque on Atlantis
Shuttle photographers capture last landing of Atlantis
Space shuttle Atlantis’s final flight in pictures
A bittersweet end to the space shuttle program
After shuttle lands, Mission Control to go quiet
Lights go dim at Mission Control
Space Shuttle’s End Prompts Doubts About NASA’s Future
Grounding an exciting, perilous 30-year adventure

Yes, it’s sad that America’s manned space program is effectively grounded for the time being and that thousands of jobs will be lost. However, the space shuttle was arguably America’s most dangerous manned space vehicle, costing 14 lives over three decades.

/the shuttles are old, costly to fly and maintain and, in my opinion, it’s well past time for their retirement, they belong in museums, not in space, we need to move on to newer, safer, and more efficient space travel technology

A Bad Idea

The Space Shuttle is by far the most dangerous spaceflight program in U.S. history. Is it really a good idea to keep pushing our luck?

NASA: Space Shuttles Could Fly Longer With Extra Funds

The chief of NASA’s space shuttle program said Tuesday that the agency could technically continue to fly its three aging orbiters beyond their planned 2010 retirement if ordered to do so by President Barack Obama and lawmakers. All it would take would be the extra funding needed to pay for it.

Space shuttle program manager John Shannon said NASA spends about $200 million a month on its space shuttle program. That’s about $2.4 billion a year that would be required to keep the shuttle flying beyond their 2010 retirement date, he said.

NASA currently plans to retire the space shuttle fleet in the fall after flying the last of four final shuttle missions remaining for this year. The next shuttle to fly is Discovery, which is poised to blast off on April 5 to deliver vital supplies and spare parts to the International Space Station.

The fleet’s retirement would end more than 29 years of U.S. space shuttle flights and leave NASA without a dedicated American spacecraft for launching astronauts into orbit.

Some U.S. senators and members of Congress have expressed support for extending the shuttle program, with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) filing a bill last week formally seeking a reprieve for NASA’s space shuttle fleet.

See also:
Congress tries to alter Obama’s plans for NASA
NASA: Money key to more space shuttle flights
Senate Bill Proposes Extending The Shuttle Program By Another Two Years
Senator’s Bill Would Expand Shuttle Program
After 50 years of NASA, we must not leave space
Senator Proposes Shuttle-Extension Hail Mary
NASA space shuttle gearing up for big phase out
Criticism mounts against Obama’s plans to change NASA strategy
President to Defend NASA Aim
Space Shuttle

It’s a shame that Obama wants to cancel the follow on Constellation/Orion program, but extending the life of the Space Shuttle program is not an acceptable alternative.

/the orbiters are past their design life, we’ve already lost 40% of the fleet and 14 astronauts, retire them before we lose another one