Shuttles Land at Museums

NASA announced the four museums which will receive the space shuttles Discovery, Endeavour, Atlantis, and prototype shuttle Enterprise at a press conference held on the fiftieth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight and the thirtieth anniversary of the first launch of Columbia. Discovery has already flown its final mission. Endeavour‘s final launch is scheduled for April 29 and Atlantis‘s final launch for June 28.

The disposition of the shuttles is:

  • Discovery: Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
  • Endeavour: California Science Center, Los Angeles, CA
  • Atlantis: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
  • Enterprise: Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, NR

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Last Flight for Endeavour Postponed

STS-134, the final flight for the space shuttle Endeavour has been postponed from April 19 until April 29. The delay removes a scheduling conflict with a Russian Progress supply vehicle scheduled to launch April 27 and arrive at the station April 29.

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Mercury from Orbit

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has achieved Hermian orbit and has sent back the first photograph of Mercury from Orbit, an image that shows an Debussy crater with ejecta rays. In the first six hours after orbital insertion, MESSENGER took more than 360 images. It will be photographing portions of Mercury not captured by three previous flyby missions. MESSENGER main science mission, which includes a complete surface mapping, is expected to begin on April 4.

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Obituary: James Vanover

James Vanover (b.1957), an employee of United Space Alliance, fell to his death from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on March 14. Vanover was helping prepare the space shuttle Endeavour for its final launch, scheduled for April 19. Vanover had worked at NASA since 1983. According to NASA officials, Vanover is the first launch pad fatality since 1981, shortly before the maiden launch of Columbia. More details have not been released pending a safety investigation.

Final Landing of Discovery

The Space Shuttle Discovery completed its final mission at 11:57 AM ET on March 9, 2011. Discovery has flown 39 missions since it was first launched at 12:41 PM on August 30, 1984. Discovery has spent 365 days in space traveling 148,221,665 miles in 5,830 orbits. On its final mission, Discovery was crewed by Alvin Drew, Nicole Stott, Eric Boe, Steven Lindsey, Michael Barratt, and Steve Bowen

Obituary: Mike Lounge

Astronaut John Mike Lounge (b.1946) died of liver cancer on March 1. Lounge flew on three shuttle missions between 1985 and 1990, including the first mission after the Challenger disaster. From 1989-1991, Lounge served as the Chief of the Space Station Support Office. After leaving NASA, he worked for SPACEHAB and in 2002 became Director of Space Shuttle and Space Station Program Development for Boeing.

Discovery Cleared for Launch

NASA has cleared Discovery for its final launch on Thursday, February 24 at 4:50 pm. Discovery is the most traveled manned spacecraft in history, having traveled nearly 143 million miles in its 38 missions since its first launch in 1984. This mission will take Discovery to the International Space Station.

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Comet Tempel Flyby

The Stardust-NExT probe flew to within 112 miles of Comet Tempel I on February 14, taking a series of photos of the comet. Comet Tempel had previously been visited by a NASA spacecraft in 2005, when Deep Impact collided with the comet. This is the first time a comet has been revisited after a complete orbit. Photos have shown that erosion has changed the face of the comet, but the impact crater left by Deep Impact appears to have partially healed itself.

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Kelly Go For Shuttle Commander

Mark Kelly, whose wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head during a public meeting on January 8, has confirmed that he will command the final scheduled flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, currently scheduled for an April 19 launch. Kelly has flown three previous shuttle missions and his brother is currently on the ISS.

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Second Life for Shuttles

United Space Alliance has proposed the Commercial Space Transportation Service, which would keep two orbiters in the space shuttle fleet, Atlantis and Endeavour active and flying two missions each year from 2013 through 2017 while the United States gets a new generation of manned launch vehicles ready. NASA has not officially commented on the USA plan and is publicly stating that the current plans to send the three orbiters to museums.

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