NASA's youngest space shuttle left Earth for the last time Monday, carrying a physics experiment and spare parts to the International Space Station. It was a bittersweet moment for shuttle followers who watched the shuttle's picture-perfect liftoff with the knowledge that there's only one of these left.
Commander Mark Kelly had some poignant words in the moments before ignition.
Instructed by his father, 9-year-old Jose Hernandez marched up to the family television set to wriggle the rabbit-ears antenna, hoping to sharpen the black-and-white image of American men walking on the moon. It was December 1972, during Apollo 17, and Hernandez was transfixed.
"I would go outside, look at the moon, and come back inside and look at the images on TV. I remember being all of 9 years old and telling my parents, 'That's what I want to do when I grow up,'" he recalled. And he did it. He became an engineer and applied to be an astronaut 12 times before he finally made the cut in 2004. Then he made just one trip to space before hanging up his flight suit for good last month.
It wasn't because he'd realized his dream and moved on. It was because there was nothing in this country for him to fly.
This tubular spacecraft could serve as a reusable vehicle for lunar and deep-space missions, holding a crew of six and enough supplies for a two-year expedition.
Dubbed Nautilus-X, for "Non-Atmospheric Universal Transport Intended for Lengthy United States eXploration," this craft could be built in orbit and ready for space missions by 2020, according to a briefing by NASA's Future In Space Operations group.
Here’s some futurey Valentine’s Day news: Future space colonists would likely be unable to procreate because of the ionizing radiation that permeates the solar system, according to a paper by NASA researchers.
In exchange for buying American-made jets, Turkey tried to barter for a space shuttle ride for one of its astronauts, according to a U.S. State Department message released by WikiLeaks and reported by Space.com.
By Bjorn CareyPosted 12.10.2010 at 10:03 am 25 Comments
It’s never happened, and NASA feels confident that it never will. For one thing, astronauts generally don’t float free. Outside the ISS, they’re always attached to the spacecraft with a braided steel tether, which has a tensile strength of 1,100 pounds. If it’s a two-person spacewalk, oftentimes the astronauts are also hooked to each other.
Another day, another piece of bad news for space shuttle Discovery. The aging shuttle will launch on its last mission no earlier than Feb. 3, NASA announced today.
Mission managers met Thursday to discuss repairs to cracks on two 21-foot-long, U-shaped brackets called stringers, which are composite aluminum ribs on the shuttle's external fuel tank. They decided more research was needed to ensure the shuttle is safe to fly.
By Jim ObergPosted 11.16.2010 at 4:07 pm 7 Comments
When NASA retires its fleet of space shuttles next year, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft will become the only means of transporting people to the International Space Station. American astronauts have trained part-time on Soyuz craft in Moscow since the early 1990s, but recent bureaucratic struggles and outdated equipment are taking the shine off the Russian space program, once famous for its reliability.