Last Shuttle launch scheduled for today

The Shuttle Atlantis will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center this morning - the last Shuttle mission and the last US manned mission for many years:

For tens of thousands of past and present shuttle workers, including more than 3,000 expecting layoffs July 22, the traditional "wheels stopped" call when the space shuttle Atlantis returns to Earth will signal the end of an era.

Atlantis is scheduled to take off at 11:26 a.m. ET today, weather permitting, on NASA's final shuttle mission after three decades and more than 130 flights, with a landing at the Kennedy Space Center set for July 20.

"After the wheels have stopped and the displays go blank and the orbiter is unpowered for the final time...there will be a rush of emotion when we all finally realize that's it, that it's all over, the crowning jewel of our space program, the way we got back and forth from low-Earth orbit for 30 years...we'll realize that's all over," said shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson. "That's going to take a little while to deal with it."

Atlantis' landing will come seven-and-a-half years after President Bush, responding to the 2003 Columbia disaster, ordered NASA to complete the International Space Station and retire the space shuttle fleet by the end of the decade.

NASA has lost its way. The manned space program that was supposed to replace the Shuttle - Constellation - has been canceled due to extraordinary cost overruns. Congress is still funding rocket development for the program, however, at a cost of about $2 billion a year. This is pure pork because there's no chance the program will be revived. The funding is more to keep workers employed in states represented by powerful politicians than any realistic goal for manned space flight.

From here on out, we have to beg a ride to the space station from the Russians -a turn of events dripping with irony when one recalls how far ahead of them we used to be.

Before only blaming Obama, we will want to include Clinton and George Bush too. Bush, at least, tried to impart a vision for space exploration. But his failure to follow through agressively once the Space Station was operational doomed the follow up to the Shuttle.

The Chinese will probably get to the moon before we get back to it. That is the level to which American superiority in space has sunk. The one bright spot is our private sector space industry that is making huge strides. But it will be years before even private outfits like SpaceOne will be sending people into space on a regular basis.

Get used to second place in space, America.



The Shuttle Atlantis will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center this morning - the last Shuttle mission and the last US manned mission for many years:

For tens of thousands of past and present shuttle workers, including more than 3,000 expecting layoffs July 22, the traditional "wheels stopped" call when the space shuttle Atlantis returns to Earth will signal the end of an era.

Atlantis is scheduled to take off at 11:26 a.m. ET today, weather permitting, on NASA's final shuttle mission after three decades and more than 130 flights, with a landing at the Kennedy Space Center set for July 20.

"After the wheels have stopped and the displays go blank and the orbiter is unpowered for the final time...there will be a rush of emotion when we all finally realize that's it, that it's all over, the crowning jewel of our space program, the way we got back and forth from low-Earth orbit for 30 years...we'll realize that's all over," said shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson. "That's going to take a little while to deal with it."

Atlantis' landing will come seven-and-a-half years after President Bush, responding to the 2003 Columbia disaster, ordered NASA to complete the International Space Station and retire the space shuttle fleet by the end of the decade.

NASA has lost its way. The manned space program that was supposed to replace the Shuttle - Constellation - has been canceled due to extraordinary cost overruns. Congress is still funding rocket development for the program, however, at a cost of about $2 billion a year. This is pure pork because there's no chance the program will be revived. The funding is more to keep workers employed in states represented by powerful politicians than any realistic goal for manned space flight.

From here on out, we have to beg a ride to the space station from the Russians -a turn of events dripping with irony when one recalls how far ahead of them we used to be.

Before only blaming Obama, we will want to include Clinton and George Bush too. Bush, at least, tried to impart a vision for space exploration. But his failure to follow through agressively once the Space Station was operational doomed the follow up to the Shuttle.

The Chinese will probably get to the moon before we get back to it. That is the level to which American superiority in space has sunk. The one bright spot is our private sector space industry that is making huge strides. But it will be years before even private outfits like SpaceOne will be sending people into space on a regular basis.

Get used to second place in space, America.



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