back to article Discovery on countdown for Thursday launch

Space shuttle Discovery is on countdown for lift-off on Thursday to the International Space Station, with NASA's weather forecast predicting "80 per cent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time". NASA test director Jeff Spaulding yesterday described the venerable vehicle as "in good shape" to blast off on its 39th and …

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Terminator

Robots to rule in space.

It was a shame that no second generation manned spaceplane ever came to fruition. We all know the shuttles were a flawed system, but that shouldn't mean the idea was a bad one, it just means you learn from your mistakes and do better next time.

If only something like the x-37 spysat / space UAV had been built first, then the experiences from operating that had been applied to a manned spaceplane... A cheap system that you can throw up into the skies just because you feel like testing the latest modifications to its hardware is a good way to learn.

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Unhappy

Sad news its coming to an end

It was bad enough when we lost Concorde due to its retirement, as that felt like we were taking a step backwards in progress, but now we are nearing the end of the Shuttles as well, it feels like we are going even further back. :(

Shuttle Endeavour's last planned flight (STS-134) is on April 19, 2011

Shuttle Atlantis's last planned flight (STS-135) is on June 28, 2011

Good luck to them all, but its sad its all coming to an end. :(

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Unhappy

The future...

...ain't what it used to be.

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Good luck Discovery

Fair winds and safe travels, old friend.

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Thumb Up

Fingers crossed

I am off to Florida tomorrow to see Discovery launch.

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Unhappy

The Right Stuff

Space was the ultimate test of [American] mettle.

I dare not even think of what our failure to stand tall in the face of uncertainty and adversity says about us. I've become convinced that we've regressed as a society as the dreams of the 20th century have come crashing down around us at the close of the decade of fear, paranoia and the manipulation thereof. It's a minor regression, mind you, and I remain forever optimistic that one day we'll all look beyond the heavens to even greater wonders unknown, but it is a regression nonetheless, putting us on the back foot and giving us undue pause. Our inability to translate the space age daydream into a tangible reality remains our greatest failure at a time when failure seems to be aplenty.

Dreamers dream, always have and will continue, ad infinitum. When we move beyond the need for such abstract human constructs as race, sex, identity, politics, economics, class and the worst parts of religion, then, and only then, perhaps, can we treat space with the respect and awe it rightly deserves. Then, and only then, perhaps, can we begin in earnest the start of our next evolutionary phase: that of living beyond the heavens, and beyond all our petty Earthly neuroses.

Few people have ever had "the Right Stuff," but to those who have, and to all those who were true believers enough to support the work they did [at NASA and elsewhere]: salut [or, if it's more fitting to your own personal beliefs, God-speed]. You are those most deserving of our adoration and admiration and it is to you that we should all look up and from you that we should learn. Without wishing to tarnish my message with negativity (ahem), perhaps we'd be ever more closer to living the dream if we envied and idolized astronauts, scientists and the engineers who support them instead of thug basketball players, racist hick baseball players, narcissistic rock stars or vapid movie Gods. Perhaps. One day. A man can dream, can't he?

Lastly, it is only fitting that Atlantis shall make the last manned journey in an American space-fairing vehicle - at least for now - before our independent manned space program is proverbially lost under the sea. Robots and satellites and telescopes are a fine and an integral part of the overarching plot that is our space endeavor, but they don't carry with them the same mystique as launching a human being off our planet and into the great beyond. A fitting, if bittersweet, end to an era.

It carries with it an optimistic note to the future, though: Atlantis shall rise again.

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oh dear

Space exploration is neat and everything, but I don't think there's a need to treat it with this sort of near-religious awe.

Space isn't going anywhere, the International Space Station is still flying, and space exploration will continue. If not by Americans, then by someone else.

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Re: The Right Stuff

I believe that eliminating poverty and unnecessary deaths through malnutrition and ill-health a far more worthy goal than putting people into space.

After that is done, probably a similar budget, then I will be first in the queue to be an astronaut.

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money

The money used in space exploration is only a tiny fraction of the money used on weapons and militaries. If you want to point out to unconscionable waste of money, please look elsewhere.

Another point: a lot of the money put into space nowadays goes into the vital infrastructure of communications, weather, and land-use satellites, which are helping to avoid unnecessary deaths, for instance though better weather reports.

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