Atlantis at Dawn

Illustration for article titled Atlantis at Dawn

Enjoy this beautiful image of the space shuttle Atlantis, ready for today's 2:26pm EST launch, because you are not going to see it many more times: Sadly, it is Atlantis' second to last launch. Update: Successful launch! Godspeed Atlantis!

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This will be the last shuttle launch in 2009. Then we will only have five more launches:

• STS-130 Endeavour: ISS assembly flight 20A: Node 3 and Cupola. February 4, 2010
• STS-131 Discovery: ISS assembly flight Utility and Logistics Flight 4: Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo. March 18, 2010
• STS-132 Atlantis: ISS assembly flight 19A: Mini-Research Module 1. Final planned flight of Atlantis. May 14, 2010
• STS-134 Endeavour: ISS assembly flight ULF6, ELC 4, ROEU, Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. Final planned flight of Endeavour. July 29, 2010
• STS-133 Discovery: ISS assembly flight ULF5, MPLM Leonardo, (to be left pemanently attached), ELC 3. Final flight of Discovery. Final Shuttle flight of the program. September 16, 2010.

All good (and bad) things have to end one day. It will be sad to see the last flight of the old space beasts from the Reagan Era. [NASA]

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DISCUSSION

geekymitch
geekymitch

You know, I'm sad to see the shuttle go...but quite honestly, I'll be even sadder to see whatever they come up with next. As interesting as all of this is (fascinating to a gadget geek like myself), aren't there other things we could be spending tax payer and government dollars on? Minor things like, oh I dunno, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and whatnot? I mean, I know we have cash dedicated to those things but, dear lord, think of all the good the millions of dollars we're spending on this could do...again, I find the space station fascinating, but long term what is it REALLY doing for us? #space