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June 14, 2008

Discovery is home

Posted: 11:20 AM ET

Discovery glided to a perfect landing under blue skies at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida today.    Commander Mark Kelly put her down right on the center line of Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing Facility, wrapping up a 5,332,723 million mile journey that began on May 31.  During their two week visit to space, they installed the main component of the Japanese Kibo Laboratory onto the orbiting outpost.

This was:

-the 123rd shuttle flight

-the 35th flight of Discovery

-the 26th shuttle mission to the International Space Station

-the 10th post post-Columbia mission

-The 98th post-Challenger mission

-There will be 10 more missions before the fleet is retired in 2010

Mark your calendars for the next shuttle mission, currently targeted to launch October 8.  Astronauts will pay a final visit to the Hubble Space Telescope to switch out stabiizing gyroscopes and install  some new instruments that will hopefully keep the Hubble operational into the next decade.

–Kate Tobin, Sr. Producer, CNN Science & Tech

Filed under: NASA • Space


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Silas Scarborough   June 14th, 2008 12:12 pm ET

People slam the shuttle for all kinds of reasons but, man, look what they built with it! Geez, this was their first try and perhaps people were expecting something with nightclubs and bowling alleys (imagine weightless bowling!) so that's why the discontent. Their achievement is stunning and who can even imagine what NASA's next trick will be.


Roger Ramjet   June 14th, 2008 4:56 pm ET

The shuttles do not HAVE to be retired in 2010. This is a NASA decision that can be changed any time they want.

It's also a stupid decision to limit this system to a set time frame. The shutle can continue to fly well up to the launch of the next generation of space vehicles.

NASA is regressing on their thinking going back to capsule systems. It's like buying a Prius when you need a cargo van.

If the next President is smart he'll scrap the manned efforts to Mars and the moon as we have robots that can do what only man could do 40 years ago.

We need a newer generation of space shuttles that can maintain the ISS and other systems like the Hubble for years to come.

Besides what do we gain by going to the moon or Mars?


Scallahan   June 14th, 2008 5:08 pm ET

Silas that was beautifully said!🙂
Welcome back!


Earl Hofert   June 14th, 2008 7:32 pm ET

I want to know the answer to this one. What was the most recent date on the calendar that there were no humans in space? None whatsoever. Was it 5 years ago? It bet it's ten or more, but somehow it's very difficult to find out.... so solve me that one, Batman.


Todd Roberts   June 15th, 2008 11:50 pm ET

Roger...do you ever travel to places on vacation? If so, why? I'm sure you can get lots of pictures from the internet or books. The reason we do it is because humans (at least most) yearn for personal experiences. A robot can take soil samples, but it can't tell us how it feels to stand on another planet.
Beyond that, there is a pragmatic reason for humans traveling to other worlds. When the next large asteroid/comet/gamma ray burst hits Earth, mankind can protect itself from extinction by having colonies outside of Earth.


Benjamin Brown   June 16th, 2008 12:14 am ET

"Roger Ramjet June 14th, 2008 4:56 pm ET

The shuttles do not HAVE to be retired in 2010. This is a NASA decision that can be changed any time they want."

No they can't, the shuttles have to be retired if they're going to switch to Orion. Why? They only have two launch pads, and 39A & 39B have to be converted to suit the Orion. The more time the Shuttles continue to be used beyond retirement, the more Orion is delayed. I agree, the shuttle is a marvel of technology but that isn't enough of a reason to keep them flying.

The main purpose of the Shuttle after all was to build a space station, and once that's done it'll be a spacecraft without a purpose.


Benjamin Brown   June 16th, 2008 12:33 am ET

"NASA is regressing on their thinking going back to capsule systems. It’s like buying a Prius when you need a cargo van."

For what? Delta rockets have taken over the job of launching satellites/robotic explorer craft and have proven more economical than the shuttle. So what exactly do we need a low earth orbit space truck for? Supplying the the ISS? JAXA, the ESA, and RKA have that covered.

Again, once the ISS is complete there will be no further use for the shuttle.

Besides, what we need is a system that can work flawlessly, and cheaply. A workhorse, the shuttle meets none of these requirements. If we spend too much time worrying about getting up, and getting back down we'll never have the time to focus are goals else where.

"If the next President is smart he’ll scrap the manned efforts to Mars and the moon as we have robots that can do what only man could do 40 years ago." I guess it depends, I can certainly agree with that, but only if its because a manned mission to Mars and a return to the Moon is likely to kill funding towards the more important robotic missions (which actually do science that can be of a real benefit). If we can do both, go ahead. I suspect not though.

"We need a newer generation of space shuttles that can maintain the ISS and other systems like the Hubble for years to come."

No we don't, the ISS can be maintained easily enough with Orion and the various supply craft. That is, if we don't abandon the ISS. Five years isn't enough time for the shuttle to have been any use, especially when its been under construction for a decade.

"Besides what do we gain by going to the moon or Mars?"

It can be argued that we do gain something with manned space flight. Though its probably not knowledge as we know it, facts and the likes as we explore our solar system and beyond. No, what we gain is something more human. The ability to dream and push ourselves to our potential? I dunno.


Benjamin Brown   June 16th, 2008 12:35 am ET

Eh, ISS rather... O.o


Benjamin Brown   June 16th, 2008 11:53 am ET

Anyway, think about it, nobody has actually died in space. Nobody. Apollo 13 was about as close as it came, but nobody has ever died in space. Its always during the launch or the reentry. Which means we seriously need to get those two things down pat before we do anything else. The shuttle, even if it did have a purpose after the completion of the ISS, isn't the vehicle to make that happen.


Benjamin Brown   June 16th, 2008 11:55 am ET

Anyway, think about it, nobody has actually died in space. Nobody. Apollo 13 was about as close as it came, but nobody has ever died in space. Its always during the launch or the reentry. Which means we seriously need to get those two things down pat before we do anything else. The shuttle, even if it did have a purpose after the completion of the ISS, isn't the vehicle to make that happen.


Joe SpaceGuy   June 16th, 2008 12:09 pm ET

What is with you people against the space program?? We gain knowledge by solving problems doing these incredible tasks.
Look in front of you. YES that PC is a side benefit of the Space Program.

If you talk about costs about a week ago a B1 bomber crashed and it cost 1.2 BILLON dollars. The shuttle cost 2 Billion. Which would you perfer?

Why go to Mars or the moon? You're right lets take that same idea and stay home during vacations and look at pictures of Hawaii.
Give me a break. We need to progress not just stay home, whine ,and support the lazy.


ANTONIO GRACIA   June 16th, 2008 3:08 pm ET

NOW THAT THE SPACE SHUTTLES THEY DO THEIR JOB; WHY IT IS NECESSARY TO REPLACE SUCH WONDERFUL MACHINE?.
ANTONIO


Mikey B   June 16th, 2008 9:31 pm ET

The shuttle program was an amazing program. But human space flight needs a more stable vehicle. The Russians have been using capsules since the start of their space program. We can use unmanned space vehicles to send supplies and equipment to the space station and orbiting satalites. Then shortly after send a capsule with astronauts to assemble / install the equipment.

Human space exploration is essential to the survival of humanity in both mental and physical terms. We learn so much from our experiences as humans in space that it is silly just to send robots. But most importantly space travel is a goal of all mankind. Humans at nature are explorers, and we are quickly running out of places to explore on Earth. Lets, together, look at the sky and reach for it!

The shuttle has been an amazing feet of engineering. Let's learn and build apon it to build the next generation of space vehicles to take us throughout the solar system and beyond!


bob   June 16th, 2008 11:29 pm ET

who cares??? nasa is just another non-accountable us government agency wasting 10's of billions of taxpayer $$$... close its doors and put the money to good use!!!


josh   June 17th, 2008 1:30 pm ET

the shuttle had it's time, but it is no longer efficient. When you're getting 3 yards of dirt delivered, do you use a 10 ton dump truck to get it to your house? And the shuttle is the equivalent of a dump truck. The new capsule design will not only be safer (no falling foam chunks to worry about), but more economical.

Do you know why we have so many shuttles? Because it takes a long time to repair all of those ceramic tiles each time they come back. More maintenance = more cost.

You probably didnt know, but Russia had a shuttle, "Buran." It could be controlled completely by remote. It only flew once into space (unmanned); but ever wonder why the Ruskies never made more of them? They realised that it was a dumb idea to go on a milk run with a greyhound bus...


biggles   June 17th, 2008 3:21 pm ET

The discovery of science technology is very intriging. Who knew that a vibrating chair with surround sound could put you in the hot seat while giving you rapid heart bead and chills. Or the cartoon network sending veiwers subliminal messages to shock fear into our systems. Or the association of colors with time and diretion. Next you'll be telling us that there will be a season premiere of an hour long show that will air the end of this summer. and it will be a show that made history hard to forget. Our lesson: its more expensive to pay for the membership than it is to be an actual member. Thanks for the help Bush.


Adam   June 17th, 2008 3:35 pm ET

The shuttle was suppose to be cheaper alternative from the saturn V. It failed to meet the goals orginally put in place, cost, reusability, safety, ect.. Russia had a design very close to ours, but money issues killed it. Really I'm amazed the shuttle has lasted this long. It's an old design, with computers 30 years old, and no real point. The titan 4 could haul almost as much weight at a fraction of the cost. The space shuttle is by far the coolest vehicle ever made, but there is no justification for it.


Franko   June 18th, 2008 3:03 am ET

Space Shuttle to the International Space Station is a political statement.
The far corners of the Global Empire are welcome.

Significance is the ability for long stay in space, even if just in parking orbit.
Add large boosters for heavy lift of cargo, and nuclear rockets for long range.
Trip to Moon, Mars, Asteroids ?


Dayahka   June 19th, 2008 12:05 am ET

If a clumsy thing like the shuttle can "glide" to a smooth touchdown, why don't planes use the glide method and save on soaring fuel prices? Couldn't we, perhaps, fly up using power and fly down in a powerless glide to our destinations?


The World that We Live In » Blog Archive » Discovery is Home - SciTechBlog from cnn.com   June 19th, 2008 8:55 am ET

[...] Discovery is home [...]


Randy   June 20th, 2008 6:35 pm ET

Ultimately, folks, it gets down to this: how do you get a ham sandwich into space for under ten bucks? Sending one up on the shuttle is a cost approaching six figures–with or without the mayo. The Shuttle took out two crews because of very minor design problems. The pre-flight safety check off reads like war and peace. It's like using an F1 racer to go pick up the morning paper at 7/11. Getting into space and coming back to earth–dealing with the combination of incredible delta v and a thickening atmosphere is where the problems arise. It's called the gravity well, folks and it costs a lot to go up and come down. Orion does it cheaper, and safer.
The Russians had the shuttle Buran, and after one unmanned flight, put it in the hanger till the hanger roof fell on it–reason–it cost too much to operate. Remember that ham sandwich–never forget it. The day we get one up there for under $10 bucks, you can start booking vacations in LEO on your favorite travel agent. The fantasy of Startrek may never happen, but if we can make it cost effective to get off the Earth, the resources of an entire solar system are ours for the taking. Imagine never having to smelt minerals into metal, or worse smelt sand into glass within the earth's environment. Imagine doing all the dirty work, up there, where there is no environment to wreck. You wanna clean up the earth, without eliminating 60% of the worlds human population? Get heavy industry out into space. No glamour shots, no heroics–just hard cold economics that could save this planet.


sanjosemike   June 23rd, 2008 10:24 am ET

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Randy's right about the expense of the Space Shuttle. It simply costs too much to operate. It was "supposed" to be cheap, but turned out to be the most expensive part of the space program, and it took out two crews.

It's safer now, no doubt about that, but the chances of getting killed on it are still about 1 in 100. The Russians have proven that there can be safe, inexpensive rockets to get us up to 17,000 mph, which escapes Earth gravity.

Follow the money. It's also like that in space exploration too.

sanjosemike


scitech.blogs.cnn.com   April 20th, 2011 7:55 am ET

Discovery is home.. Dandy🙂


Basil Glanz   April 14th, 2013 2:41 am ET

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