Earthbound forever more

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August 11, 2011

Outside the Vertical Assembly Building

Earthbound forever more.

Discovery Makes Final Landing – Will Be Retired

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Photo Credit: NASA

OV-3, Discovery,  made it’s final landing today at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, ending it’s career as the most historic member of the Space Shuttle fleet.  39 missions, 365 total days in space, first to return to space after the Challenger and Columbia disasters, Discovery completed it’s last mission by delivering supplies and the last habitable component to the International Space Station.

The Shuttle now heads to museum duty, to be displayed as a monument to the United States space program.

Star Trek Geek – Captain Kirk wakes the crew of Discovery

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They Came From Outer Space

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Actually, they didn’t come from outer space.  They came from Earth.  Florida, to be exact.  It’s a bit much to even say they are in “outer” space.  They were just a couple of hundred miles from me tonight.  That’s closer than friends in the San Francisco Bay area.  In fact, they were closer to me than most of the rest of humanity, right at that moment.  But they were in orbit, and I was standing in my driveway in Visalia, California.

I didn’t take this picture.  It’s not of the sight from tonight.  It gives only an idea of what I saw streaking across the sky above my home.  Two points of light (streaks here due to shutter timing) floating silently overhead.  The Space Shuttle Discovery, followed by the International Space Station.

I subscribe to a service that will send me a message by Twitter about Space Station transits viewable from my home.  Today’s message told me a “very bright” ISS would be visible.  I set the alarm on my iPhone.  They neglected to mention that it would be a double whammy on this pass!

It was, literally, a once-in-a-lifetime event.  I can’t begin to describe how I felt as I saw it.

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NASA Geek – Discovery departs ISS on last mission

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Discovery departs from ISS. Photo Credit: NASA

Space Shuttle OV-103, Discovery, pulls away from the International Space Station on Monday, March 7, 2011.  This is the final voyage of Discovery, after 39 missions in 27 years.  NASA is retiring the Shuttle fleet this year, due to concerns regarding the stresses on the vehicles from repeated launching and landings.  While designed, built, and maintained for multiple missions, the Shuttles are, like any heavily used machine, subject to wear and tear, and at some point become a safety risk above and beyond the dangers inherent in space flight.  Endeavor, OV-105, is being prepped for it’s final mission in the VAB at Kennedy Space Center.

More Space Geek – Space Station/Discovery photographed by amateur – from the ground!

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Photo Credit: Rob Bullen

Another incredible Space Geek photo from Bad Astronomer Phil Plait.  This photo taken in the United Kingdom, from the ground!  The telescope is an 8.5 inch model, which is not all that big as far as telescopes go.  This image captured Saturday February 26, 2011.

NASA Geek – Discovery’s Last Launch

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Photo: NASA

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