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.  After that — we buy our way to the space station we led the way on construction and funding.  $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.  In the meantime, the command module for the now defunct Constellation program is being looked at for a lifeboat mission off the ISS.  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:

6 Comments

  1. Mongo

    I hope you’ll forgive my somewhat inebriated state this lovely Friday evening, BUT, if we were able to go from zero to sixty, that is to say, from sub-orbital to park ur butt on the Moon, how the Hell is it that we have seemingly learned next to nothing since 1969? How is it that we have forgotten to go, borrowing a Star Trek expression, where no one has gone before?

    Please, someone, do explain that one to me! I’m about to say some really vile and unprintable things about such a situation, and, for the life of me, I’m having a tremendous struggle with the U.S.A being so incredibly Efff-ing incompetent and incapable of doing something so seemingly simple after all these years…Space travel may include a portion of rocket science, but hos it it that we should take so long to get somewhere besides off the plnaet?

  2. How is it that we have forgotten to go, borrowing a Star Trek expression, where no one has gone before?
    How about ‘loss of vision’?
    w/r, SJS

  3. Charley

    Heretic hat on. I would like to see more manned exploration of the oceans rather than space. It seems to me that society will benefit more from developing technology to enable exploitation of resources from under the ocean than from the mostly symbolic gains we get from manned spaceflight. But yea, I still like rockets.

  4. Charley:
    FWIW, I think we should be doing both vice either or…
    W/r, SJS

  5. Charley

    CC

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