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Space shuttle becoming history

Young Scientist, July 6, 2011
: With the launch of Atlantis, scheduled to lift off at 11:26 A. M. EDT on July 8, 2011, comes the end of the 30 year long space shuttle program of the United States. Endeavour had its final flight on May 16, 2011 and Discovery retired on March 9, 2011 after returning from its final flight started in February, 2011.

Started in 1981, the space shuttle program has a long history of success with 135 flights. Of the five space shuttles, the Challenger was lost on launch in 1986 and Discovery in 2003. Despite these heavy losses and 14 casualties, the US space shuttle program is one of the most prestigious and scientifically advanced achievement of NASA and the scientific community. The remaining three space shuttles will be displayed at Kennedy Space Center (Atlantis), the California Science Center in Los Angeles (Endeavour) and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington D. C.. Enterprise, a test-flight shuttle that never went into orbit, which is already at display at the NASM, VA, will be moved to the Air and Space Museum in New York City.

After the closure of the space shuttle program the funds will be diverted to develop a safer space transportation system that can operate in orbit and beyond.

What is so sad about ending the space shuttle program is that there is going to be an interruption in America’s access to space. Though such a gap, about 6 years, occurred at the end of the Apollo missions in 1976, the present scenario is of concern as the future plans are not yet made clear.


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