Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Preparing for Final Flight

The last space shuttle mission is about a week and a half away. The Space Shuttle Atlantis is gearing up for launch on July 8th. The 'Final Four' astronauts are on site and conducting practice runs while Atlantis is being a thorough examination in preparation for launch.


But Atlantis sure does look amazing in the morning light. NASA recently released the above photo of the Sun rising behind Space Shuttle Atlantis, taken on June 23rd.

Meanwhile, the crew of STS-135 (the designation of this final mission) have been hard at work. The 'Grande Finale' of NASA's shuttle program is approaching fast. This is one time where we do not want 'bombs bursting in air.' The end of the Shuttle Era is less than a month away.

STS-135 crew at a Q&A session with journalists at base of Launch Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center. From left; Mission Specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus; Pilot Doug Hurley and Commander Chris Ferguson. Credit: Ken Kremer

It is an uncertain time in human space exploration and no one is going to be expected to preform higher or undergo more scrutiny than these four brave people. The STS-135 team consists of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus.

In a bittersweet moment, Commander Ferguson has this to say to journalists greeting the astronauts; "We are incredibly proud to represent this, the final flight. I speak on behalf of the crew, everyone in the astronaut office, and I’m sure everybody here at KSC in saying that we are just trying to savor the moment. As our children and our children’s children ask us, we want to be able to say, 'We remember when there was a space shuttle.'"

After three decades of missions, it will be sad to see the shuttles retired. But, we can hope it is not a permanent set back. We have barely tested the vast ocean of space, merely gotten our feet wet. Plans are being made for much needed replacements. The shuttles have provided a wonderful amount of workforce, but they are not without fault, as the multiple delays have shown. It is even likely that Atlantis will be delayed. Hopefully replacements come swiftly and effectively. The plans for new capsules right now seems to be working, they are expected to be 300% safer than the shuttles. It is hoped to be a safe and effective means of transporting man to the next frontier.


19 comments:

MRanthrope said...

hopefully the next class of ships will have a warp core and teleporters =p

DIYgamer said...

Sad :(

Zombie said...

To space!!

Jay said...

an end of an era...

here's hoping for more awesome things in the future of space flight! :D

Major.Mack said...

im with MRanthrope. I require warp engine technology!

Aaron M. Gipson said...

I like how you end this post on optimistic note, and to be honest I haven't heard of any of the potential replacements. I'd like to know more about them, as myself and many other Americans are under the impression that the entire space program is pretty much over with the death of the shuttle program.

Astronomy Pirate said...

@Aaron, right now they are working on a capsule replacement. I made a post a while back with an infographic on it. You were probably busy at that point in time. Anyways check out this post: http://astropirate.blogspot.com/2011/05/multi-purpose-crew-vehicle-infographic.html

Necroticism said...

Ohhh, the last one, the end of an era. Let's see how far the new ships can go.

The Liquor Guy said...

This is such a sad event really. My father is an engineer who works on the external tanks at the Michoud Facility in New Orleans East.

Melanie said...

This is so sad to me. I remember all the excitement when the shuttle program first came to be, and I certainly hope (though I doubt)that it will get an equal send off. Here's looking toward the future!!

The Dawg said...

I wonder what's going to happen now?

Astronomy Pirate said...

Well, from the sounds of it, they are planning a huge Grand Finale for the shuttle launch and they are going to do everything to launch Atlantis on either the 8th, 9th, or 10th. They have a launch attempt available for each day.

They are expecting between 500,000 and 750,000 visitors. I imagine the shuttle team is doing everything around the clock at T -10 days until launch.

Also, Liquor Guy, that sounds like an awesome job. Hopefully they will have something to keep him around on after the shuttles retire.

The Angry Lurker said...

Let's hope it continues but I'm sceptical.

LasseEA said...

I hope you have a good trip :D

Bonjour Tristesse said...

That first image at dawn is outstanding.

Here's to the end of an era!

lunatic said...

wow big machines

Banacek said...

I think it's pretty cool that we are going back to capsules.

RedHeadRob said...

Hopeful!

Internet Catch Of The Day said...

Farewell to the shuttle program, it was fun while it lasted and I hope that we keep on going up there as much as possible, if anyone is interested, NASA is doing souvenirs for the last flight, go to https://faceinspace.nasa.gov/index.aspx if you want to put your name and photo in the last mission and print out a souvenir flight certificate!

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