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Ear to the Ground

Bon Voyage and Farewell, Atlantis

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Posted on May 13, 2010
NASA

Oct. 3, 1985: The space shuttle Atlantis embarks on its first mission, carrying a classified payload for the Pentagon.

The space shuttle Atlantis is prepped and ready to launch into space one last time, the first of three final flights for each of NASA’s soon-to-be-retired shuttles. She will carry with her six veteran astronauts, a Russian module bound for the International Space Station and a heap of unanswered questions about the future of the manned space program.

Christian Science Monitor:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.—NASA has cleared the space shuttle Atlantis for its final planned launch on Friday afternoon as the U.S. space agency prepares to retire its aging three-shuttle fleet later this year.

Atlantis and a crew of six astronauts are poised to launch toward the International Space Station in what will be the 25-year-old shuttle’s 32nd and last planned spaceflight. Liftoff is set for Friday at 2:20 p.m. EDT (1820 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center here.

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By gerard, May 14, 2010 at 8:08 pm Link to this comment

One thing I have heard scientists say recently is that manned space exploration is too expensive because the environment is so hostile to human beings. Better to do it with robots that are becoming increasingly sophisticated etc. etc. 
  Anyway it’s been an extremely expensive deal for many years, taking money out of federal coffers which meant denial of human welfare such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care for desperately needy people who have thus been made to suffer unnecessarily.  That last NASA stunt—bombing the moon for water (to assure the possibility of human exploration using the moon as a way sation) just about did it for me.  Enough already. 
  Luxury in the face of destitution is an insult to the human spirit and redcues us all to the extent that we do not correct our priorities. As proof of the truth of the horror behind this statement, some scientists have even been known to justify space exploration by saying the world as a human habitatioin is a goner anyway and we need to develop a refuge.
  Who is “we”, do you suppose?

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By felicity, May 14, 2010 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

Good news.  It’s about time that we quit taking the ‘shuttle’ to the airport and actually board a plane.  The space program that got us to Mars, sans people, should be where we concentrate our brain-power and money.

By the way, watching the Apollo 8 mission to the moon broadcast recently, all I could think of was how come we could successfully pull that off decades ago while today we can’t figure out how to build, or repair, a gushing oil well.  Could it be because profit wasn’t the end game for the Apollo mission while profit today has become the only reason we do anything?

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