Jul. 8th, 2011

Last Launch

Jul. 8th, 2011 11:46 pm
With Tom Uncle at Johnson Space Center and Lily Highlights at Cape Canaveral, I'm Sam Growl, and this is the Nightly Noose's Special Report on the final flight of the Space Shuttle program. Today _Atlantis_ successfully lifted off in Florida, making this the one hundred and thirty fifth space shuttle mission. When _Atlantis_ returns, it will mark the last time that a shuttle will see space. The fleet of space shuttles, now more than thirty years old, will be retired, marking the end of a dramatic chapter in manned space flight. Lily?

Sam, the important thing about this particular chapter is that, as far as anybody definitively knows, this could be the end of the entire book. NASA has no manned missions planned at the present time for any point in the future. Given the depth and severity of the current economic crisis, and the high cost of sending human beings into space, there is no reason to believe that expensive missions outside Earth's atmosphere will be scheduled any time soon. Many concerned observers of America's space program are wondering: is this the end of our nation's grand adventure beyond our planet? Over to you, Tom.

Thanks, Lily. Here at Johnson Space Center, the answer to your question is yes: America is done with space. Spokespersons for NASA are now saying that they have no plans to meddle further with anything extraterrestrial, and indeed are wondering if there's any point to continuing to recognize that space exists at all. When _Atlantis_ lands, America will officially wash its hands of anything going on in a generally upward direction. We now return to Sam Growl in Washington.

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