Amid worries that the weather down in Florida would delay the final Space Shuttle launch until Saturday, the Atlantis soared into the sky, rockets blazing, on mission STS-135 to ferry supplies to the International Space Station.
Space shuttle launches, missions, and landings are what get all the press, but there's an immense amount of work that's necessary to get a shuttle ready for space. Each orbiter is built from more than 2.5 million parts, all of which need to work together to make the mission go smoothly from launch to landing, and it takes lots of very skilled people several months to make sure that everything checks out. In the gallery below, we'll take you through some of the major steps involved in prepping a shuttle for orbit, from getting it home from the runway all the way through to the final seconds of the countdown.
At the end of this week on July 8, the final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle program launches from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The program's thirty year history is familiar to space-watchers, but less is known of the program's pre-history. Before there was a Space Shuttle program, there was an initial twenty-five period filled with sci fi-like proto-spacecraft. It turns out that our familiar Shuttle program is just one of many "space plane" projects that were sketched out over the years, both by the U.S. Air Force and by NASA. In this piece, we'll take a look the various shapes those space planes took, and the awesome artwork our space ambitions produced, too.
One of the experiments heading into space when Atlantis launches at the end of the week is a magical bag that can turn any kind of liquid (any kind of liquid) into a tasty electrolyte-filled sports drink without needing any energy input at all.
Here we go, folks! NASA has locked in July 8 as the date for the last launch of Atlantis, and indeed the last ride for the Space Shuttle program itself.
You know it, I know it: there's only one Space Shuttle launch left. Atlantis is scheduled to go up on July 8th, and after that, well, who knows. In the meantime, we've been soaking in galleries like the one you see below. Looking at the Endeavour crew performing their final round of spacewalks really pulls at the heartstrings. Just look at that shuttle: humanity made that thing, and it's in orbit. I'm sure centuries from now that'll be something to chuckle at as one looks out a spaceplane's window at a passing planet. (We can only hope.) STS-134, Endeavour's final hurrah, lasted 11 days, 17 hours and some change. During the course of it, the six-person crew traveled over six and a half million orbital miles and performed four separate extravehicular activities (or EVAs). Below, contributed to DVICE by Keyla Wardriver, is a visual timeline of those spacewalks. We miss the shuttle already.
On June 2, 1984 Discovery's flight readiness firing (FRF) was successfully performed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
That serene photo you see above is the space shuttle Endeavour's last landing at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. After 16 days in space, its touchdown on the tarmac signals the beginning of the end for the shuttle program as NASA preps the Atlantis for its final journey in July.
Somewhere out in space, something is causing comets to fly out of the Oort cloud towards the inner solar system. New computer models suggest that it could be a giant planet larger than Jupiter that we've never seen before.
The first module of the ISS was launched in 1998. 13 years and somewhere between $35 billion and $100 billion later, the final assembly of the ISS was officially completed today with the installation of a laser-equipped extension boom for the station's robot arm.