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Space Shuttle

The Takeaway

Space Travel in the Post-Shuttle Age

Thursday, July 21, 2011

As the space shuttle Atlantis landed this morning, ending NASA's shuttle program after 30 years without another method for astronauts to get into space on American-led missions, some are asking if this is a great leap forward for the space agency, or a small step back for manned space travel.

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The Takeaway

The World's Last Remaining Taxi to Space

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This morning marked the end of the space shuttle era for the nation and the world as the Atlantis landed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. How will astronauts get to space in a world without the shuttle? They will be hitching a ride with the Russians on the Soyuz space craft. The BBC's Oleg Boldyrev has been taking a look at what it's like riding inside of the Soyuz, which American astronauts liken to riding in an old Soviet Lada automobile.

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The Takeaway

Space Shuttle Atlantis Lands, Ending NASA's Shuttle Program

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The mood was bittersweet in Cape Canaveral. this morning, as the space shuttle Atlantis landed, bringing NASA's 30-year-old shuttle program to a close. A permanent marker will be placed on the runway where Atlantis touched down just before 6:00 AM EDT. In its final mission, the 135th of the shuttle program, Atlantis brought supplies to the International Space Station. With the end of the shuttle era, NASA's involvement in future space flight has been called into question.

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The Takeaway

Launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis Marks End of Era

Friday, July 08, 2011

Today's launch of space shuttle Atlantis marks the last of NASA's manned shuttle missions. With the closing of the shuttle program comes, not only an unclear future for future space exploration, but also a sadness for those aspiring astronauts who have spent years training to go into space. Kate Rubins, a member of the astronaut class of 2009, discusses the implications of the program's end and how she'll be an astronaut in a post-shuttle world.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Reaction to Republican Transpo Bill, Auto Towns Adding Jobs, and Chicago Will Have One Transit Card To Rule Them All

Friday, July 08, 2011

By 2015, the Chicago region's three transit agencies will have a universal transit card system. (Chicago Tribune)

Atlanta whittled down its transportation wish-list -- but still has more cutting to do. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Where are the jobs in the US? In auto manufacturing towns. (Marketplace)

More about the Republicans transportation bill in the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

The New York Post reacts strongly to the new bike lanes being constructed on Manhattan's East Side.

Monthly parking in Manhattan is the most expensive in the country. (AP via WFUV)

This morning at 11am, you can watch the final shuttle launch (weather permitting) -- and chat about it -- at WNYC.

Check out this bike safety-lighting idea. (Greater Greater Washington)

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Transportation Nation

Atlantis to Fly Final Mission of US Space Shuttle Program

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Space Shuttle Atlantis (photo by Mark Simpson/WMFE)

(Orlando, WMFE)  The space shuttle Atlantis is sitting at launch pad 39A, waiting for its final mission.

This is not only the final liftoff for this shuttle, but it's the last flight of the United States' 30-year space shuttle program. The four-person crew will be heading to the International Space Station on a resupply mission.

Liftoff is set for Friday, July 8th at 11:26am, but forecasters from the Kennedy Space Center are tracking a weather system which could bring showers and thunderstorms around launch time-- and would ground Atlantis until the weekend.  Record crowds of between 750,000 to 1 million people are expected to flock to Florida’s “Space Coast” for the spectacle.  And NASA is factoring those crowds into its backup liftoff plans. If there are too many people in the area, it could be difficult for shuttle workers to make a 24-hour turnaround to liftoff in the case of bad weather or technical issues.

photo by Mark Simpson/WMFE

This is the 135th space shuttle mission --  and originally it was not scheduled to happen.  The 134th was flown by the Endeavour, and Atlantis was slated to be its rescue shuttle.  Now Atlantis has no backup shuttle to fly to orbit if problems should arise.  The plan is to use Russian Soyuz spacecraft to travel to the International Space Station, but that could leave some astronauts stranded for up to a year.

After Atlantis lands and the shuttle program ends, the US will lose its ability to launch American astronauts into space on American rockets.  Shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach said planning for private space companies to pick up some of the launch burden is a good thing, but he lamented that the next US space vehicle is not ready to go.

"If they (astronauts) have a problem, then we can't get to the Space Station, and therefore the Space Station would be in jeopardy after a period of time," he said. "I see it as a policy issue, where you're shutting down a system before the next system is up and running.  If I were in charge --  and I'm not -- but if I were in charge I'd do it the other way.  I wouldn't shut down the shuttle system until the next system was up and running so we could guarantee access to the space station."

photo by Mark Simpson/WMFE

"We're losing a bit of our American identity by shutting the system down," said Leinbach, as he reflected on the final moments of the shuttle era.  "The shuttle is an American icon.  Anywhere in the world if people pay attention to the news and see the Shuttle launch they know that's America launching that Shuttle.  No one else does that, and now we won't either."

He added that the loss of prestige is overshadowed by the large number of people who will be losing their jobs after the shuttle program ends.

Plans for a shuttle-like vehicle reach back to the late 1960s, although it took more than a decade between the initial concepts and the first shuttle launch in 1981. In terms of space transit, the shuttle is unique because of its reusable nature.  Leinbach said originally it was thought NASA would be able to put two shuttles a month into orbit, but the reality was each orbiter could be launched only about twice a year.  Still, the vehicle is special because of its cargo carrying capabilities.  The shuttle's cargo bay is about 60 feet long and has carried payloads like the Hubble Space Telescope and launched numerous satellites into orbit.

You can learn more about the shuttle program, as well as its final mission, over at WMFE.

 

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Transportation Nation

Space Shuttle Launch Postponed Because of "Technical Problem"

Friday, April 29, 2011

From the AP:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA says it's calling off today's launch of space shuttle Endeavour because of a technical problem. The shuttle was fueled and ready to go on its final mission. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords traveled to Florida to see the liftoff of a mission on which her husband will serve as commander.

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The Takeaway

Rep. Wasserman Schultz on Mark Kelly's Space Trip, Gabrielle Giffords

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Space Shuttle Endeavor is schedule to launch at 3:47 PM on today. Big crowds are expected at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida — because this is not any ordinary launch. The 14-day mission will be the Endeavor’s 25th and FINAL voyage and it is the second to last space shuttle launch in the foreseeable future. The program will be ending in June.

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Features

NASA Announces Intrepid Museum Will Get Enterprise Space Shuttle

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum will be home to the Enterprise space shuttle.

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The Takeaway

Discovery's Final Frontier?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

When the space shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center later today, its odometer will read somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000,000 miles. The shuttle has flown 39 missions in its 27 year career. After today's landing, it will retire on planet earth. With Discovery's retirement, an era of American space exploration comes to a close; and, due to political and economic realities at home, future chapters remain in doubt. Yesterday, the US National Research Council reported that two planned rover missions to Mars, which NASA intended to launch along with ESA in 2018, may be about $1 billion outside of the U.S. budget.

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Features

Intrepid Museum Tries to Land Retired NASA Shuttle

Monday, August 30, 2010

After four decades, NASA is planning to retire its shuttle program, beginning in 2011. That will leave the National Aeronautic and Space Administration's remaining fleet of three space shuttles without a home. Twenty one institutions nationwide are interested in landing one of the orbiters, and Manhattan's Intrepid, Sea, Air & Space Museum is one of them.

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