Atlantis Lifts Off
Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the STS-132 mission to the International Space Station at 2:20 p.m. EDT on May 14. The third of five shuttle missions planned for 2010, this was the last planned launch for Atlantis. The Russian-built Mini Research Module-1, also known as Rassvet, or “dawn,” will be delivered and it will provide additional storage space and a new docking port for Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. The laboratory will be attached to the bottom port of the station’s Zarya module. The mission’s three spacewalks will focus on storing spare components outside the station, including six batteries, a communications antenna and parts for the Canadian Dextre robotic arm.
Image Credit: NASA
When Atlantis returns from her last mission, there will remain only Discovery and Endeavor as operational shuttles — and each with only one flight left this year.Â After that — we buy our way to the space station we led the way on construction and funding.Â $55.8 million per seat to those moguls of capitalism, the Russians, who seizing the opportunity promoted by supply/demand, raised the price per seat to that level form the 26 million we currently pay.Â In the meantime, the command module for the now defunct Constellation program is being looked at for a lifeboat mission off the ISS.Â And an American man-rated booster is now what, 5, 10 years off?
It is enough to make a grown man weep:
And speaking of former spaceflight capabilities or the promise thereof:
Five years is a long time where spaceflight is concerned — especially when the competition is beating your brains out using your money:
and a newcomer has plans for the Moon: