back to article Discovery crawls to launch pad

Space shuttle Discovery reached Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A this morning after a seven-hour, 3.4 mile crawl from the Vehicle Assembly Building. Space shuttle Discovery during its crawl to the launch pad. Pic: NASA The venerable vehicle is set to blast off on its final mission to the International Space Station on …


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  1. Smallbrainfield

    I for one will be sad to see it go.

    It might not have been the millennium falcon, but the shuttle is still the best piece of kit NASA ever spaffed it's cash on. I had several models of it as a kid, including a Moonraker version and always thought it would be my ticket into space when NASA had got round to building a few hundered or so. Back when it first launched, it still looked like we might be out exploring the solar system by 2001, just like in the film, except without the homicidal computers. And I could live on the moon.

    Instead we're all here, on the internets. This is the reason why we don't have flying cars.

    1. Shakje

      "Instead we're all here, on the internets. This is the reason why we don't have flying cars"


    2. Adus

      Me too

      I too will be sad to see the shuttle retire. As a child it grabbed my imagination and fueled an interest in Science, eventually resulting in my decision to do my degree in Physics.

      As it turns out, I ended up being a Software Developer, not all dreams come to something, another valuable lesson :D

      I find it hard to believe that we will see anything like the shuttle again in our lifetime,

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "best piece of kit NASA ever spaffed it's cash on"?

      Whilst the Shuttle has been a fine and versatile piece of kit, it is still limited to Earth orbit. I would have thought the Saturn V gives it a run for its money as NASA's finest vehicle to date.

      1. Aaron Em

        The Saturn V wasn't limited to LEO?

        Hell, the only part of it that even *made* orbit was the S-IVB, and they discarded that as soon as they were done with TLI burn and LEM extraction.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Sure, strictly speaking the Saturn V (and multi-stage parts thereof), were components to *enable* getting out of Earth orbit, rather than getting out of Earth orbit themselves.

          I guess people at the time would point at the big tall pointy thing on 39/A and say "wow, that Saturn V is big/impressive/expensive" whatever, rather than "wow, that Saturn V + CSM is big/impressive/expensive", or even "that Saturn/Apollo".

          BTW, LM extraction (pulling a car out of a floating garage whilst hurtling through space) is one of my favourite parts of the mission, but there's very little information written about it, and very little footage.

          Finally, another reason why Saturn/Apollo was "better" than the Shuttle (not that it's a competition, and they're both wonderful) is that it had a decent escape facility at, or soon after, launch. The Shuttle, from what I've seen, has an extremely crap escape facility, and not even for all on board!

  2. Kay Burley ate my hamster
    Thumb Up


    I saw Discovery on the pad back in October (before all the hassle with switches and tanks), thinking I'd be watching it go up in November (via internets) can't wait to see it finally take off.

  3. SnowCrash

    Trade in

    Can they trade it in for half a nimrod after the mission?

  4. Annihilator

    Will say again

    Just utterly mental. If you're retiring a vehicle, you should have its successor in the development pipeline. Given Constellation was cancelled, at least extend the Shuttle programme until you know what you're doing next. Bear in mind the last one to retire was the Saturn IB as part of the Apollo–Soyuz programme - even though the Shuttle was in development, it was still over 7 years before US manned flight could happen again. So give it at least 10 years before NASA is launching humans into space.

    All eyes on China or the private sector then..

    1. Aaron Em

      And we need humans in space why again?

      Science projects like ISS aside, of course, and I see no reason why we can't send our people there via Soyuz.

  5. Avatar of They
    Thumb Down

    Sad day.

    As with concorde and supersonic passenger flight, the 'progress of humanity' takes another backward step.

  6. cnapan
    Thumb Up

    We are exploring space.

    "Back when it first launched, it still looked like we might be out exploring the solar system by 2001"

    We were back then, and still are... sending probes into space, peering into the nature of matter with ever larger earth-based experiments or staring into the history of the cosmos with ever more powerful telescopes.

    So much more can be achieved by these things than can be achieved by a few US soldiers sitting in a tin-can for 15 months hoping that the loo doesn't break down.

    1. Smallbrainfield

      Yes, but probes are not sexy.

      Just ask any UFO abductee. ;)

      I know it's more dangerous and more expensive, but I'd still rather be exploring Mars myself than sending Big Trak's bastard offspring to do it for me.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    "multi-purpose logistics module"

    Is that NASA speak for "garden shed" ?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Waste of money

    Unfortunately, the money spent on the Shuttle would have been put to better use if used if they'd kept it in the Apollo program and further developments instead of pissing around in near earth orbit for 3 decades.

  9. Banther dodo

    Space camper

    Yes sadly no replacement, but they could not keep the fat old birds flying any longer. Would you like to be flung into oblivion in a '70's VW camper van? Me neither.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      'Couldn't keep the fat old birds flying any longer'?

      Does that mean that a Friday night out in Leicester will be a very quiet affair in the future?

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