Space Shuttle Atlantis Set To Launch, Friday 8th July 2011


Champion Elect
This is it folks. The final Space Shuttle mission, Ever!

For those that are unaware (Where have been? The story's on the BBC website now! ;)), the date has been set for the planned launch of Atlantis, making the final Shuttle mission into space. As the thread title states, it's on Friday 8th July, at 16:26 BST.

So, come on everybody, get ready to watch a piece of History in the, err, process of it actually happening, and tune into NASA tv to watch the launch. (That is, if you can't actually be there in Florida).
Not only will you be able to watch the launch on the 8th July, but there may also be some atmospheric sequences featuring shots of the Shuttle standing still on the launch pad! :popcorn:

Just over a week 'til launch, as long as everything stays OK between now and then...
And very probably the last manned space flight for a very long time........
I think Mother Russia will "quietly" continue to service the ISS with supplies and crew shift changes with little fanfair as they have done throughout the ISS programme. Manned missions to Mars are also in the pipeline though, perhaps suspended for the duration of the current economic difficulties being experienced in the "developed world".

The shuttle, although a remarkeable achievement, was always a compromise in terms of design. It was effectively designed around the cargo bay but it has been, in the main, a solid workhorse, probably for a lot longer than originally intended. Howevver, the constraints placed on the designers meant that that has not been an evolution of the craft into a truly 21st century version.

Burt Rutan's company are getting closer to realising their dream of space tourism and near Earth Orbit space business and Russia already supplements their space efforts by providing the occasional ride for individuals with a few million to spare for a ticket. NASA and the USAAF continue to work on mysterious designs spotted only by ufologists hanging out near White Sands, Edwards' or Area 51. I doubt I'll be around to see whether or not more ambitious manned exploration of space ever comes to fruition but our younger compatriots on this forum may one day witness events those of my generation have only imagined. The best science fiction has a habit of becoming science fact, so who knows what the future holds for spacefarers of tomorrow.

I really wish I could be there to see it but at the current rate of progress I'd need to live to be around 120years old!
As the US space program passes into the private sector and becomes a tourist experience for the ultra rich up steps China

And India has big plans

Remind anyone of HTOL? Think that was the name of British idea, long before the space shuttle.
Belated like in return since I posted the link you liked to back up your post which I liked!:)
Long time reader, first time commenter, but I had to sign up and comment on this thread.

I have just got back from Florida where we were fortunate enough to be at Kenedy during the dress rehearsal for the launch on Friday. Just seeing the shuttle on the pad was an amazing experience for me as I can still remember when we were all hearded into the school hall to watch the first ever launch on TV.

NASA are very open and honest in their briefings about the future. The shuttle was kept in service due to the continuing need to supply large parts to the ISS, crew rotation etc has been carried out by the Russians for some time now and that is their way forward. Nasa still has unmanned launches planned for deployments of satelites/scientific equipment but they are even now in the planning stages of passing the design/build/maintenance of these crafts over to the private sector and effectively for the short term becoming a development and launch centre only.

The facilities they have for the shuttle ill be dismantled once this launch is completed (launch site B is already a pile of scaffolding and not much more) as the design of the launch platform is not consistent with their designs for their next generation crafts. They are committed to returning man to the moon, though this time with a view to long term development of a station there, with a view to using the moon as a launch point for deeper space exploration. Their current expected timescale for the first launch of a new craft is currently 15-20 years away, though they are hoping that they will be able to reduce both the timescale and costs by NASA becoming a truly international organisation in terms of staffing and funding through co-operation with other national space agencies. The time of talking of returning America to the moon is truly at an end as no-one at NASA thinks like that anymore.

Being such a huge nerd about space travel I was tempted to delay our return until after the launch to be able to see it first hand, but to be anywhere near the Space Centre for the launch is tightly controlled and invitation only, and the surrounding county are bracing themselves for the expected 1,000,000 plus visitors for that day. So I decided I would get a better view on TV here at home :)

I have to say though that if you have even a slight interest in the history of NASA and what it has achieved then the trip there is well worth it (though unless you are really bored avoid the Astronaut Hall of Fame which while you can gain some interesting history from it, the whole thing is badly laid out, confusing, out of sequence and a lot of the time self congratulating sacharine rubbish).
Apparently storms could ruin the launch :(

They should be fine at 11:26 AM local time. The storms don't usually roll in until the afternoon. We're going on 2 1/2 weeks of afternoon storms/showers right now, which is pretty standard for the Florida summer.
I've wanted to do this for a while now but usually too late. Welcome aboard, canis, have a moustache:moustache:!

LOL Nicely done, Fenderman. :goodday:

And welcome to CTA, canis. :wave:

The mission management team had a meeting yesterday, apparently, and the weather guru amongst them, Kathy Winters, said the weather's looking a bit iffy... not only for the launch on Friday, but also for filling the tank with fuel...

"We have a tropical wave that's out in the Caribbean," explained Winters. "That wave is actually going to come into Florida along with a lot of tropical moisture that's down to the south, and it's all going to roll into Florida in the next couple of days." Based on these conditions, Winters predicted an 80 percent chance of weather preventing tanking operations, with a 70 percent chance of it standing in the way of launch at 11:26 a.m. EDT on Friday. The forecast for the following days improves to 60 percent no-go on Saturday and 40 percent on Sunday.

Will the launch go ahead tomorrow, or will it be delayed..? :unsure:
Thanks for the welcomes :)

I actually hope they get the shuttle off on schedule this time, mainly as their prefered launch times are around 6:30am to 8:30am local time, which could put the launch right into the time window for Quali or the race this weekend, not sure I would be able to pick between the two of them :unsure:

I will admit to what is probably my ultimate defining moment of geekery in my life during our trip to NASA. As you leave the museum you have to go through the gift shop, and they have a t-shirt which has the NASA logo on it with the words of "what part of :- lots of complicated equations Do you not understand", I am in no way a physicist (I didn't even take it for A-levels) but out of the 12 equations shown I did identify 8 of them, the ones I missed were to do with orbit decay and lifetime in orbit of a specific massed object (I had to look them up as soon as we got back to the house) :embarrassed:

Strangely enough they had the same t-shirt at the NASA shop in the airport as we were leaving, and the Mrs just couldn't resist buying it for me :embarrassed:
The problem with lightening strikes is purely that you have a bunch of astronauts sat in what is effectively a huge tank of highly volotile and combustible fuels. One strike anywhere near the shuttle while it is fueled and the heat/charge from the strike could cause a catastrophic reaction. Think of a formula 1 car with a burning rag added to the fueling point and you are not even close to how sensitive and potentially combustible one of those things are :twisted:
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