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The shuttle Discovery made its last flight before being added to the Air & Space museum this morning. I was at the Capitol, and got some shots.

--Bob Collum
 

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Nice photos, thank you!
Sad end to the only "real" spaceship flown. I guess we are now back to the future with capsules, if we even get back to that point.
Don't we understand the technology spin-offs of a robust space flight program? The Apollo program put us ahead of the world in technologies we are still leading on.
Oops sorry for the side trip here, again, nice photos!
 

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US Space Program

Thanks, James.

I grew up in St. Louis, with many of my friends' fathers working at McDonnell, on the Mercury & Gemini capsules. (Yes, I'm old.) I watched with fascination, all the space missions, climaxing with the moon landings. We need that sort of goal again, and the many, many products that spin off of it are just gravy.
 

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Sad I find....End of an era. We are in desperate need, as a nation, for a common healthy goal, inspiring and positive. Space race provided that for decades and now we are back down to earth :(
 

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Nod RBH,
I felt it sad that this was the shuttles last time to touch the sky before it is shuttered away in a building under artificial light.
 

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It was entirely predictable, thanks Barry.

The real crime is that the Constellation program which was in full development was killed in the name of building a replacement for the Shuttle. Constellation WAS the replacement. So now we go cap in hand to Russia and beg for access to space.
 

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It was entirely predictable, thanks Barry.

The real crime is that the Constellation program which was in full development was killed in the name of building a replacement for the Shuttle. Constellation WAS the replacement. So now we go cap in hand to Russia and beg for access to space.
2 sides....

fed funded programs can not compete. USPS, amtrak, etc...

privatized is a good option to find advancement. earth orbital payload is now becoming a privatized venture.

the shuttle needs to be decommissioned, the next solution is probably best to not be under the burden of congress.... imagine if a federal agency built our airliners?

where the feds should be investing is on leading edge science. and unfortunalty while earth orbital payload will soon be commodity, particle physics, deep space exploration, and maned planetary exploration warrants investment. so i am not sad to see the shuttle go, i just hope we pick up on the other end, but... not really confidant of that, because - who in politics makes money on scientific research?
 

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Little argument with that, the plan was to retire the Shuttle and replace it with Constellation which was capable of filling the LEO needs until private industry was up to speed and conducting those missions beyond the capability of private industry, namely manned exploration. The problem is that the Constellation was killed and the Shuttle retired anyway.

The master problem is that a program on that scale takes about 10 years from start to execution, and political favors change every 8 years at a minimum and often every 4.
 

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2 sides....

fed funded programs can not compete. USPS, amtrak, etc.......who in politics makes money on scientific research?
I must disagree with this. I think that the space program is exactly the kind of thing that the government should fund. Things like transportation, health, energy, technology have tangible values here and now. These things have value to the private sector. Thats what drives them.

But space is unknown. There is no financial future in space as we know it. And there never will be until we go out there and see whats out there. Once we find a resource that has value here on Earth or we discover that a sustainable culture can exist on another planet, then yes absolutly, the private sector will get involved.

Only 12 human beings have ever set foot on another planetary object. And not one of them was looking for a business prospect. How can we expect that the private sector will find value in the great unknown?


Its not politicians fault entirely. Must of the public does not believe that space research is a valued public investment. Many doubted it in 1969. And with the long absence, even more today believe the same. I think everyones just waiting for aliens to come down here and just give us the answers. Asking the questions is just to bothersome.

I'm 31. I think space exploration is the most important adventure mankind has ever had the opportunity to take part in.
 

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The master problem is that a program on that scale takes about 10 years from start to execution, and political favors change every 8 years at a minimum and often every 4.
Kennedy gave the directive to go to the moon in 1961. In 1969 we landed on the moon. In 8 years we conquered the greatest task mankind has ever taken. The progress we've made in the last 40 years has been pathetic.
 

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westrock - oh i agree with you, my point is that the shuttle mission capability no longer represents space exploration (in the sense of the Apollo accomplishment), the shuttle mission is on the verge of becoming a commodity. so divesting from that is a correct strategy, IMO.

now investing in the next bigger thing, is another question... and i am skeptical of that as are you.
 

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westrock - oh i agree with you, my point is that the shuttle mission capability no longer represents space exploration (in the sense of the Apollo accomplishment), the shuttle mission is on the verge of becoming a commodity. so divesting from that is a correct strategy, IMO.

now investing in the next bigger thing, is another question... and i am skeptical of that as are you.
 

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Kennedy gave the directive to go to the moon in 1961. In 1969 we landed on the moon. In 8 years we conquered the greatest task mankind has ever taken. The progress we've made in the last 40 years has been pathetic.
We also had a nearly unlimited support and financing at the time. I have worked in space flight my entire career and I can assure you that we wish we had the Apollo resources and support on anything! Unfortunately quite a few programs since then have fallen victim to the 4~8 year cycle hence the last 40 years of half completed efforts.
 

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When we realized the physics ruled out any chance of getting a human farther than Mars it sort of took the wind out of the sails. And who really wants to go to Mars anyway? Yep, we're stuck here. My feelings in Haiku:

Spaceman risked his life,
so I will always give thanks
for Velcro and Tang
 

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I had the opportunity to see a night launch of Endevour a couple years ago from the private viewing area. I must say it was one of the top ten things I have ever seen or heard. Nothing can compare to the sound of it not even an F1 race and that is tough to beat! I have it on video but nothing can capture real life. I am glad my kids and nephews got to see it as well for I fear they may never experience it again.
 

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Sad to see the shuttle go (doubly sad Columbia wasn't around as well, and I remember watching the Challenger launch/explosion in school.) However, it's the right thing to do - shuttle launch costs are *insanely* expensive (~$500M round trip I believe). Private launches are nearly here and while we can argue a bit about having to use Russian launches in the interim, it's just that - an interim solution. We'll have commodity launches in no time.

I've always been a big fan of manned spaceflight, but lets be very realistic here - it's highly risky and unreasonably expensive for many (but not all) of the missions one might undertake. For those missions where a human is *necessary* one should really be forced to justify the need for humans at all. As many scientists will tell you, our robotic probes are actually quite capable now and getting better. For most of our missions, robotics is the best way to go, and it's a lot easier to get buyoff on such missions (not to mention it doesn't take government-level money to launch one in some cases).
 
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