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Special Report

The End of the Space Shuttle Program

The space shuttle era draws to a close with the successful launch of shuttle Atlantis

  • July 6, 2011

Final Shuttle Launch Occasions Anxiety about Future of U.S. in Space

There is a certain sense of unreality as I sit this morning at the Kennedy Space Center press site, with Atlantis on the launch pad just over three miles away awaiting its last mission (STS 135), NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver finishing a briefing on NASA's ambitious plans for the future, a hundred enthusiastic young people from all over the country gathered for a "Tweetup" to communicate their impressions of being at a launch—while in Washington, D.C., the House Appropriations Committee apparently is intending today to cut almost $2 billion from NASA's budget.

July 7, 2011 — John M. Logsdon

Astronaut Love: An Interview with Spacewalker Stanley Love

On the eve of the launch of the penultimate space shuttle mission, STS-134, Scientific American astronomy editor George Musser talks to veteran astronaut Stanley Love about being in space and the future of spaceflight

April 28, 2011 — Steve Mirsky

Space Shuttle a Go-Go--NASA's Atlantis Successfully Lifts Off [Video]

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER— Atlantis lifted off Friday at 11:29 A.M. Eastern time after a last-moment hold at 31 seconds on its 33rd and final mission—both for it and NASA's 30-year-old manned space shuttle program, putting on hiatus the era of human access to low Earth orbit on board U.S.

July 8, 2011 — Michael J. Battaglia

Truckin' Up to Low Earth Orbit, Part 2: Deadly Reality-Check: Challenger and Columbia

This is the second of a three-part series that looks back at the 30-year history of the U.S. space shuttle program. Any summary of the shuttle program cannot go on without mentioning 14 lost astronauts and two doomed vehicles— Challenger on launch in 1986 and Columbia on reentry in 17 years later.

July 5, 2011 — Michael J. Battaglia

Truckin' Up to Low Earth Orbit, Part 3: The Shuttle Gives Science a Boost

This is the third of a three-part series that looks back at the 30-year history of the U.S. space shuttle program. Before the 1986 Challenger disaster made safety paramount and new constraints had been established, the shuttle could carry fueled upper-stage rockets to launch space probes, which embarked for planetary destinations.

July 6, 2011 — Michael J. Battaglia

NASA's shuttle program counts down 'til the end

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER—If I'd jumped, I could have touched the belly of the Discovery. Of course, I would have then been escorted unceremoniously from the Orbiter Processing Facility.

April 27, 2011 — George Musser

Status Report on the Launch of Atlantis: A Perfect Liftoff

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER— Shuttle a Go-Go Atlantis lifted off Friday at 11:26 A.M. Eastern time after a last moment hold at 34 seconds on its 33rd and final mission—both for it and NASA's 30-year-old manned space shuttle program, putting on hiatus the era of human access to low Earth orbit on board U.S.

July 8, 2011 — Michael J. Battaglia

Notes from the Ground: Launch Day Wrap-Up

Atlantis Launch Notes: July 8, 9:00 P.M.KENNEDY SPACE CENTER—What a day it was. One to which I’ll dedicate lots of long-term memory neurons.

July 9, 2011 — Michael J. Battaglia

Notes from the Ground: A Visit to the Launch Pad

Atlantis Launch Notes: July 7, 6:00 P.M.KENNEDY SPACE CENTER—At T-11 hours and holding all day (as usual, a planned halt). Just got back from the launch pad—and just in time, seems lightning hit within a third of a mile from the shuttle.

July 7, 2011 — Michael J. Battaglia

Notes from the Ground: One Day to Go to Final Shuttle Launch

Atlantis Launch Notes: July 7, 9:00 A.M.KENNEDY SPACE CENTER—As of now, NASA's final space shuttle launch is still on for Friday at 11:26 A.M. Eastern time, but a gathering storm bearing down on Florida's Space Coast remains a major concern.While waiting on a go/no-go decision from the mission managers yesterday afternoon, I decided to take a little field trip thrown by the people at SpaceX, the builders of the Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule, slated to carry cargo—and later up to seven crew members—to the International Space Station (ISS).Interviews and tours for the press brought me face to face with the Dragon capsule, which, at least in appearance, recalls both Apollo and the new Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.

July 7, 2011 — Michael J. Battaglia

Space shuttle Discovery lands in Florida, capping its 39th and final mission

It took space shuttle Discovery several months to get off the ground on its final mission, but the shuttle's landing came off without a hitch. Discovery touched down on schedule, just before noon March 9, putting an end to its 26 years of service, in which the orbiter made 39 trips to space and logged more than 230 million kilometers.

March 9, 2011 — John Matson

Next Generation: We Want a Spaceship, Not a Freight Truck

CAPE CANAVERAL -- I took this picture last night, and I don’t like it very much.

Let’s set aside discussions of artistic merit and admit that it’s a pretty dreary view of the last functioning space shuttle perched on its launch pad.

July 8, 2011 — Dave Mosher

Dad, the Apollos and the End of Space Shuttle Era Sadness

I can't even recall a time that I wasn't cognisant of the fact that I lived in a country that actively pioneered space exploration. I remember sitting on wicker hassock in my Dad's study, as a child and asking lots of questions.

July 9, 2011 — Susanna Speier

At the #NASAtweetup for the Last Shuttle Launch

Imagine a dark haired little girl of not quite four years old, playing outside in a cotton dress in the warm dusk of July 30, 1969, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

July 13, 2011 — Joanne Manaster

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