Friday, May 14, 2010

Last Space Shuttle Atlantis Launch: More of a Beginning, Than an End

"Shuttle Atlantis Soars Into Space on Final Mission" (May 14, 2010)

"The space shuttle Atlantis launched majestically into space Friday on its final planned orbital trek before NASA retires the reusable space plane and its two sister ships for good.

"Atlantis soared into clear skies from Launch Pad 39A here at Kennedy Space Center at 2:20 p.m. EDT (1820 GMT).

" 'The folks have given us a great launch,' said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for space operations, said after the launch. 'The vehicle looks like it's in really clean shape, ready to go do a pretty challenging mission in front of us.' [See Atlantis' launch photos.]..."

(from NASA TV, via, used w/o permission)

This is a pretty big deal, actually: and, I think, more of a beginning than an end. I was excited when the first Space Shuttle rolled to a stop on a runway, because I was seeing the first spacefaring cargo ship.

A little nostalgia aside, I'm not at all sad that the Space Shuttle has been retired - because now there are other cargo carriers in service, and many more in development. The International Space Station won't be abandoned because there aren't ways to get materials there - and it looks like it'll have company soon, as private interests put commercial facilities in Earth orbit.

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