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Space photo for July 5. Japanese Kibo complex of the International Space Station

Backdropped by Earth’s horizon and the blackness of space, the Japanese Kibo complex of the International Space Station was snapped by a NASA Expedition 23 crew member while the space shuttle Atlantis was docked with the station in May.  NASA/AP


Space shuttle extended to 2011

Space shuttle extended to 2011

Image: Working on Discovery


Technicians install a main engine on the space shuttle Discovery in NASA’s Orbiter Processing Facility on Wednesday. The engine was removed to give technicians time to replace a suspect turbopump in a different rocket engine, which encountered an issue during torque testing.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/1/2010 5:35:20 PM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA has confirmed that the space shuttle program will keep going until next year.

The space agency made its final decision on Thursday, after weeks of indications that the program would be extended — including an official request from launch managers last week.

The managers agreed to postpone what is currently the next-to-last shuttle launch until Nov. 1. Discovery had been scheduled to fly to the International Space Station with a load of supplies in September, but NASA said more time was needed to get the payload ready.

The very last mission now has a Feb. 26, 2011, launch date. Tble replacement.

See full article at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38039490/ns/technology_and_science-space/

This report includes information from The Associated Press and msnbc.com.

© 2010 msnbc.com

NASA Shuttle program mission history (1981-present)

Shuttle program mission history (1981-present)

See all the135  Shuttle badges at this link


The shuttle Atlantis rises no more. Or leave it all to the Russians, why don’t we.

Technicians search for possible systems leaks Wednesday, May 26, 2010 after space shuttle Atlantis on STS-132 landed for the last time at Kennedy Space Center after completing its last mission. NASA has two more launches and landings before the space shuttle program retires. (RED HUBER, ORLANDO SENTINEL

“It was the last shuttle flight for all six astronauts on board — mission commander Ken Ham, pilot Dominic “Tony” Antonelli and mission specialists Garrett Reisman, Piers Sellers, Stephen Bowen and Michael Good – though some will likely get trips back to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft or maybe a new generation of U.S. commercial rockets that NASA may hire as space taxis./ May 26, 2010)”


There are two more missions slated but not with Atlantis. Then access to the Space Station will be all up to the Russians or entrepreneurs?  Have I said “stupid” before?  (Yes, I have).

Talk of going to Mars.  Great! I am all for that. But you better have an intermediate station too for any outward exploration. Moon, Mars or otherwise. And leaving the Space Station entirely in the hands of another country – refer to the adjective above.

Shuttle Atlantis follows the Space Station across the sun.

This close-up of photographer Thierry Legault’s snapshot zooms in on the space shuttle Atlantis and International Space Station as they transited across the sun on May 16, 2010. This photo was taken from Madrid, Spain. Full Story. Credit: Thierry Legault

Wow! Shuttle and Space Station Photographed Crossing the Sun
By Tariq Malik
SPACE.com Managing Editor
posted: 20 May 2010
06:48 pm ET

An eye-popping new snapshot taken by a Florida photographer has caught the International Space Station and shuttle Atlantis in silhouette as both spaceships crossed in front of the sun.

Photographer Thierry Legault took the stunning photo on May 16 from Madrid, Spain at 13:28 GMT (9:28 a.m. EDT) shortly before Atlantis docked at the space station.

In the photo, the shuttle and space station can clearly be seen as two separate spacecraft.

They appear as dark silhouettes in the upper right region of an otherwise bright yellow sun. Even the wings of Atlantis can be discerned along with the station’s expansive solar arrays as both flew 200 miles (354 km) above Earth.

When Legault took the photo, Atlantis was flying below the space station and about to perform an orbital back flip so astronauts inside the station could snap high-resolution photos of the thousands of heat-resistant tiles lining the shuttle’s belly.

Catching the scene is can be extremely tricky, Legault said.

“For me, besides having the right equipment for such a shot, the difficulty is to be perfectly prepared,” Legault told SPACE.com in an e-mail. “This includes a lot of training and serious preparation.”

It took just 1/2 a second for Atlantis and the space station to zip across the face of the sun. The solar crossing, called a transit, was only visible from a 3-mile (5-km) wide corridor beneath the flight path of both spaceships, Legault said.

“The excitement is like during a total eclipse, except that the [viewing corridor] is much smaller and the duration too,” Legault explained. “So there is no chance of mistake. The possibility comes once only and if you miss it, it’s over.”

Legault learns of spacecraft transits from the website Calsky.com, which forecasts exactly when the events are visible and from where. He then carefully synchronizes his clock to Calsky’s and heads out to the viewing area, which he selects using Google-Earth maps.

Weather forecasts for the region play a big part is selecting a prime viewing area, he explained.

When the actual transit time comes, Legault is not even looking through the camera. He looks at the clock, and then hits the shutter button to try and catch the spacecraft in flight.

“Also, there is a big excitement when I check all the images of the sequence … to see if the space ship appears on one or two images (it cannot be on more than two),” Legault said. “At this moment, the image is just here for me and I can enjoy, before publishing it.”

There are several chances for skywatchers in the United States see the shuttle and space station together with their unaided eyes. The two spacecraft have been docked since May 16 and can appear as bright as the planet Venus, weather permitting, to observers on Earth who know where to look. [How to spot the shuttle and station].

This isn’t the first time Legault has captured the space shuttle Atlantis’ silhouette as it flew before the sun, but it might be the last.

Atlantis’ current mission to deliver a Russian room and spare parts to the space station is the orbiter’s 32nd and final planned spaceflight. NASA plans to retire Atlantis and its two other shuttles after just three more missions, including this one under way now.

Legault last photographed Atlantis in front of the sun in May 2009, when it pulled up to the Hubble Space Telescope during NASA’s final visit to overhaul the famed space observatory. Legault had watched Atlantis blast off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida a few days earlier.

“Atlantis is not especially my favorite for such shots, it’s chance,” Legault said, but added that Atlantis does feel special because he saw it launch in person last year. “And it’s all the more special because it’s its last flight.

Stupid Decisions in Higher Places

The Shuttle Atlantis last launch occurred today at Cape Canaveral. Turning manning the Space Station over to Russia? China?  I would sit here and try to find fancy words but stupid says it all.

Go and read Rick’s post at


Quotes from  http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100514/us_nm/us_space_shuttle_16

After Atlantis returns, NASA plans just two more trips to the space station with its shuttles.

“It’s a shame to be seeing it going away, but after 30 years it’s probably time to move on,” said Atlantis astronaut Stephen Bowen.

What will follow the shuttles is not yet known. Former President George W. Bush proposed a return to the moon under a program known as Constellation but shorted its funding. Congress approved the plan, but did not allocate enough money for the $110 billion project.


And then what? Indeed. There is (was?) supposed to be a new design in the making.  But everyone keeps under funding it. NASA is really a very small portion of the budget, but it is one area that pays back for dollars spent, unlike other areas of government spending. Like wars, etc.  )

I will have to go and compile some data on what NASA contributes  to our society (over and above good jobs, that is.)

Stupid, stupid, stupid.