Atlantis launched yesterday, May 15, on it’s last mission. The mission, to fly replacement and spare parts to the space station, is expected to last 12 days. It is the 32nd mission for Atlantis and it’s last. It ends 25 years of service for the orbiter. It launched at 2:20pm EDT from pad 39A at Cape Canaveral.
The launch appeared to be normal, with no debris striking the orbiter.
Part of the payload is the Russian Rassvet docking module. Other items being delivered include a dish antenna, a package of batteries and the MRM or mini research module which contains about three thousand pounds of equipment, supplies, an airlock and a robotic arm.
While this is the official last flight of Atlantis, there remains a possible extra flight for the vehicle. Atlantis will be ready to fly during the remaining shuttle flights, as a ‘rescue’ vehicle. As such, prepping it for an additional-and very last-shuttle flight so getting it ready for one last flight-to service the space station a final time-is not out of the realm of possibility. Senator Bill Nelson, who flew on Columbia in 1986, is trying to convince President Obama that it should happen. No word on how open the President is to the extension of the shuttle program.
While I don’t necessarily agree with the previous President’s decision to kill the shuttle program-there are lots of reasons to kill it and many more not to-I don’t agree at all with the current administration’s position on our space program. Yes, we do need private industry to come in and lead, but we should not abandon the moon nor should we relegate what should be the shuttle’s replacement to a rescue boat. Our program will become the biggest joke on the planet.
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