Space shuttle Atlantis will blast off to the International Space Station on Friday, 8 July at 15:26 GMT, NASA has confirmed. Following a Flight Readiness Review, the agency has given a go for the last shuttle mission to deliver the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to the orbiting outpost, bearing supplies and spares. …
Assuming it goes ahead as planned...
...then I'll be there watching it blast off !!! Yippeeeee...
Always wanted to see one of these go up...
Will have to wait for the sequel.
Never got around to it. Dammit.
Shuttle.. is it the new staus quo?
This is about the 4th 'last mission' reported here in six months!
How many more last missions do we expect there to be?
Previous reports have only referred to "Discovery's last flight" etc. Next month's flight uses the last external tank. It is the end.
Room for Sarah?
Isn't there room for up to 7? Didn't anyone think of throwing a few journos on there for the last flight, record the whole thing, etc? Personally, I vote for Sarah Bee, as she sends most of us into orbit on occasion...only right for a turnabout.
Max = 4
For this shuttle mission (the last) there is a need to minimise the crew complement for two reasons:
1) There is no Launch On Need rescue mission should a problem develop, so in the need the crew would need to stay on the ISS, returning one at a time over a year - presumably there are limited resources. This would also put the ISS escape plan at risk as it caters for a maximum of 6.
2) The seats for crew members 5 - 7 are located in the mid-deck which has been converted to carry additional pay-load - basically they're cramming the shuttle with as much as they can.
When I was young, I always dreamed I would see the first flight of a reusable space vehicle, and I did; but I never dreamed I would see the last... (with apologies).
This is the 4th and final last mission because it's the 4th of the 4 shuttle orbiters. D'oh.
"When I was young, I always dreamed I would see the first flight of a reusable space vehicle, and I did; but I never dreamed I would see the last... (with apologies)."
As the shuttle is rather more a tear-down-after-each-flight-and-rebuild-then-add-a-bunch-of-new-parts (The ET is *always* a one shot part and the SRBs are not AFAIK permanently partnered with any *specific* shuttle) you have seen *neither* the first nor the last flight of a *reusable* space vehicle.
Just a mostly *refurbishable* one.
It's taught a *lot* of lessons to a lot of people.
I expect what you're looking for to be along sometime in the next 10 years.
What' you've seen is *barely* the start of the art.
It will not be the end.
Disaster Hits Hollywood
Unreported so far is Atlantis will be parking in low orbit the biggest ever DIVERSION sign for incoming asteroids.
This one was not confirmed until late.
Since the Columbia disaster, there has been a "contingency mission" associated with each shuttle flight. That meant that the shuttle intended for the next mission would be ready to launch within 40 days if something went wrong and the shuttle was not considered safe to reenter the atmosphere. If that happened, the astronauts would take refuge in the International Space Station, and would wait until the rescue mission was launched to come and pick them up.
Originally, the last mission was the Endeavour mission STS-134, but Atlantis was to be ready to fly as a rescue mission if necessary. However, since it was to be prepared to fly, NASA has for some time wanted to use it for one last mission. (The crew is smaller than usual to allow a rescue mission to be mounted with a Russian Soyuz if needed). Although it has been more or less certain that this mission would fly for at least six months, final congressional authorisation for the budget for the mission did not come through until very recently, which has meant that STS-134 was for a long time the "final confirmed mission" , even though STS-135 was likely to happen.
A little dig?..
From the mission website: "The mission also [...] return a failed ammonia pump module to help NASA better understand the failure mechanism and improve pump designs for future systems."
A small dig from NASA since this will be the last mission that is able to bring something sizeable back from orbit? AFAIK there is nothing on the books that will be able to do this anymore, private or otherwise?
Last chance to see
Tried to see Endeavour launch and got caught by the scrub, sadly I can't make it out to watch this one. To anyone that's going tho - get there early and pack a big picnic because afterwards the traffic will be gridlocked for hours and the food outlets will be full to bursting!
It's a great day out even when it doesn't launch so it must be immense when it does!
time for SpaceX to get on the ball
better get the Dragon system certified for passengers quick!
Not until at least 24 months after April 2011 (Oct 2013).
El Reg reported Spacex got the funding for the Dragon escape system this April and Musk's timetable was 3 years from then to fielding a fully crew rated capsule *including* a 6 month float for contingency problems)
Note that they have to launch 12 Dragons to ISS (presumably with *no* mishaps) before they carry crew. I'll guess they will be eager to launch those once COTS 2 7 3 are out of the way and I'll suspect they will use them to *gradually* implement the upgraded features to a full crew escape capability.
But we're still awaiting the COTS 2/3 demonstrator. Suggestions have been made the merged mission would fly in Oct 2011, which seems plausible as COTS2 should have been listed as a separate mission on the Spacex website by now as we are at the end of Q2.
Note both the European and Japanese cargo carriers docked with ISS on their *first* launches so Spacex's request to merge them is pretty reasonable.
I was able to see the launch of, umm, Discovery (I think) in April of 1985. Even though I was 9 miles from the pad, it was still very much worth seeing, and I'd definitely encourage anyone who possibly can to attend the final launch (especially given that we don't know when the next manned American vehicle will be!).
When it goes on display...
... will that be in place of the Space Shuttle Explorer replica? Or d'ya think they'll realise early on that they need to build another hall with other displays and interactive elements like they eventually did for the Saturn V/Apollo series?
Did the full tour about a decade back - there was a small-ish Shuttle display and viewing gantry about halfway along the crawlway which gave views of the main launchpads; that could do with beefing up a bit IMO, just maybe not the best place to park it - somewhere nearer VAB and the Saturn V/Apollo Center maybe better.
born in the wrong country at the wrong time, I'd have loved to have seen one of these or even better a saturn V take off, watching top gear trying to launch a Mini was about as close as ive ever been to a launch, although saying that, even that gave me a warm fuzzy feeling until it fell like a rock...