Monday, May 17, 2010

Newsy: Shuttle Atlantis Lifts Off, Only Two Shuttles Left

NASA prepares for the retirement of its shuttle fleet as space shuttle Atlantis blasts off.
"Three, two, one -- and zero and liftoff of space shuttle Atlantis, a picture of its historic achievements in space. And Houston, Atlantis is in the roll."
Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off on its last mission after 25 years in operation. NASA will conduct only two more missions under it's space shuttle program -- and due to government budget cuts, its future in space exploration remains unclear. 
Fox News outlines Atlantis's mission at hand and its history in space: "1985, October 3rd. That is when Atlantis made her debut. She has flown many missions since then. This will be the entirety, the 32nd mission. Once it gets underway. The crew all men, all veterans, no rookies on-board. But they will go down in history as being the last crew to fly on Atlantis. It's a 12 day mission. Three space walks, installing some equipments and batteries up on the International Space Station."
MSNBC's Veteran Space Correspondent highlights this bittersweet moment: "I realize that after these final two that it'll be the last two launches I will see in my lifetime. Because we'll probably be at least seven years -- most people think ten years before we have another astronaut launched from the United States."
Former President George W. Bush decided to cancel the shuttle program in 2003. InformationWeek explains why some people are critical of the decision: "President Obama has stuck with the cancellation plan. Critics of the plan to end the shuttle program insist its cancellation would leave the U.S. dependent on foreign countries for transportation to the ISS until a replacement vehicle is ready."
PBS breaks down Obama's plan for NASA: "Mr. Obama's plan would boost NASA's budget by six billion dollars over five years. Focusing on spurring the private space transportation industry. While NASA looks to develope rockets."
"Armstrong and fellow former astronauts Eugene Cernan and Jim Lovell released a statement calling the decision devastating."
NASA's Chief Technologist tells CNN NASA's list of ambitions for the future: "It includes flights to a near Earth asteroid, a destination well beyond the Earth's gravitational boundaries, certainly outside the Earth's system, if you will, in the 2025 time frame. And then a flight to Mars, to go in orbit about Mars and to return safely in 2035 with an eventual landing on Mars to follow."
Does Atlantis mark the beginning of the end for United States space exploration or will NASA find resources to journey on?

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