So Long to the Spectacular Shuttles!

July 6, 2011 at 11:28 PM (Uncategorized)

The retirement of the space shuttle program has brought about a bittersweet response.  Several are glad and proud that such a successful effort at expanding the human comprehension of the truth about our world has had this capable vessel which provided a link to accessing valuable details that would not have been attained, otherwise.  This issue stands as one of a collection that offer support for the continuation of this N.A.S.A. effort.

The space shuttle program began at the end of the 1960s.  President Richard Nixon and Vice-President Spiro Agnew created The Space Task Group, to make studies of the potential for having an operating space shuttle program.  This organization drafted the initial plans for the shuttle system, which were presented to Congress, then finally approved by President Nixon.

The first space shuttle launch occurred with Shuttle Columbia.  Named STS-1, this mission happened April 12, 1981.  It lasted fifty-five hours, with Columbia orbiting Earth for fifty-five hours.  Two astronauts, Commander John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen, were the first explorers to exit the atmosphere of our planet aboard a space shuttle.  After a three-day orbit, these pioneer explorers returned to Earth at Edwards Airforce Base, at 6:20:51 p.m., April 14, 1981 .

Since then, 133 additional trips by space shuttles have been made.  These missions were important for various manners of learning, including the understanding of the human capacity for travel beyond our atmosphere, for actual-visual studies of our planet beyond the atmosphere, and for testing of the capacities of items in the realm of outer space.

The space shuttle has made several important trips for studying and collecting information.  This has included attaining invaluable details about our planet, and the manners in which our world interacts with the surrounding universe.  Additionally, the space shuttle has had interactions with the Russian/Soviet space programs taking trips to Mir and Salyut.  Voyages were made to U.S. extra-atmospheric locations that included missions to repair The Hubble Space Telescope, and to transport astronauts to and from The International Space Station

Several people do feel that it is time for the space shuttle to be retired.  The fleet of planetary orbiters now has gotten old. Columbia, the first shuttle began flying in 1981, thirty years ago.  Furthermore, the missions are expensive.  At estimates calculated this year, the average price for launching the shuttle is roughly $450 million.  With a nation holding a current debt of $1.7 trillion and rising, it is hard to justify the need for an additional expense that is being boosted through a deteriorating object that could be more costly than resourceful.

The final shuttle launch will be this Friday at 11:26 a.m., Eastern Daylight Time.  It will be the 135th launch of the space shuttle program.  The shuttles will be officially retired afterward.  Atlantis will go to The Kennedy Space Center, Orlando, Florida.  Discovery will be placed at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C..  Endeavour will go to The California Science Center, Los Angeles.  New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Musuem will receive Enterprise.

Plans for space-travelling prototypes are in the works.  Several different designs are being proposed and presented, some created by N.A.S.A., and some being suggested by private programs.  One company in particular, Sierra Nevada Corporation, is working with it’s prototype called The Dream Chaser.  It will be an orbiter meant to transport a crew of no more than eight explorers, maintaining trips in low-Earth orbit, and carrying astronauts to and from The International Space Station.

The space shuttle Atlantis rolls out to Launch Pad 39A in preparation for its final launch in July.

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