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The Last Space Shuttle Tank

Illustration for article titled The Last Space Shuttle Tank

Sadness. With only two missions to go after the last launch, this is the latest shuttle tank ever to be manufactured. Designated E-138, it rolled out NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, to the beat of the Storyville Stompers.

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Illustration for article titled The Last Space Shuttle Tank
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As the traditional brass band played, hundreds of tearing employees—many of whom have been there for the entire 37 years of the program—said goodbye to the tank today, as it headed to its 900-mile sea journey to NASA's Kennedy Space Center. When it arrives, it will be attached to Endeavour for mission STS-134.

Flight number 134 will be the last trip of Endeavour and the space shuttle program, marking the end of the United States' manned space program for the foreseeable future.

Read that again and let it sink.

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DISCUSSION

While I'm sad the shuttle program is over too, it's certainly well beyond its time...it was never designed to fly this long, and the safety record speaks for itself. For all those people with posts about "exploration" and the rest of it, let's be honest, the shuttle did some great things to be sure, but nothing that could be called exploration. It toured the Earth. And it definitely had some great triumphs. But its time has come. Let it go. Did we really think this would go on forever? I mean, did we all boo hoo when the Gemini missions were cancelled? No, it was a stepping stone to something else, just as the shuttle was. Let's just be happy we got the extra years that we got (mind you, at the expense of the Columbia crew) and leave it at that.