Geek Space: Shuttle Enterprise October 26, 1977

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From Science is a verb‘s Facebook:

On October 26, 1977, NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise completed its fifth and final Approach and Landing Test free flight. Enterprise was released from the back of a modified NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and had a two-minute glide back to the runway at Edwards Air Force Base.

The Approach and Landing Test program demonstrated the orbiter’s capability for safe approach and landing after an orbital flight from space. It also validated crucial onboard control systems necessary for the Shuttle Program’s next step: the launch of Shuttle Columbia into orbit on April 12, 1981.

To learn more about Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests , visit:

The Lady and the Enterprise

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The Space Shuttle Enterprise is on it’s way to New York’s Intrepid museum by barge.  It has been lifted onto the flight deck of the U.S.S. Intrepid, the retired aircraft carrier now permanently on display in New York Harbor.  The Enterprise was the first Shuttle built, and used for flight and landing tests in the late 1970’s.  It was originally planned to be retro-fitted for spaceflight, and be the second orbiter, but structural refitting to bring the Enterprise to acceptable specifications became to expensive.  The decision was made that it would be cheaper to build a new orbiter (Challenger) than to disassemble and rebuild Enterprise.  Enterprise has been on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport since 2003.


Earthbound forever more

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August 11, 2011

Outside the Vertical Assembly Building

Earthbound forever more.

Atlantis lands, Shuttles retired, NASA’s next mission is… what?

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Space Shuttle Atlantis lands at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the pre-dawn hours of July 21, 2011.  42 years and one day after Apollo 11’s Eagle landed on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility, the last shuttle to fly touches down on KSC’s runway 15.

It’s appropriate that this image shows the shuttle touching down in the dark, because the United States now has no manned access to space.


End of an era: Last Shuttle launch

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An era ends.  The last Space Shuttle lifted four astronauts and tons of supplies into the Florida sky today, enroute to the International Space Station.  The first Shuttle launch, of Columbia, occurred on April 12, 1981.  That launch was a mere 20 years to the day after the first manned space flight, by Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union.  In those 20 years, we went from the first dangerous launches on modified ICBM rockets, to the Saturn 5 that took us to the Moon six times, to the “space truck” that is the Shuttle.  The last Shuttle mission, flown by Shuttle Atlantis, is scheduled to land on July 20, the 42nd anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing at the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon.

Once Atlantis lands, the United States has NO way of launching astronauts into space.  We hope to have private industry doing so “soon”, but that “soon” could be a decade away.  In the meantime, we buy rides on the Russian Soyuz.  “TAXI!”


Display Sites Chosen For Retired Shuttle Fleet

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NASA Administrator (and former astronaut) Charles Bolden, in a ceremony at one of the Shuttle Processing Facilities, announced Tuesday the locations where the retired Space Shuttle Fleet will be displayed.

Enterprise, the first Space Shuttle, used as a test platform which never went into space, will be moved from the Smithsonian Institution‘s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport, to New York’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Shuttle Discovery will be displayed in Enterprise’s place at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Shuttle Endeavour will be at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

Shuttle Atlantis will remain at the Kennedy Space Center, on display at the Visitor’s Complex.

Retirement of the Space Shuttle Fleet leaves the United States without the capability to send people into orbit.  Any access by astronauts will be on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.  The Constellation program, which was to be our follow-up to the Shuttle has been defunded, leaving the United States hoping that successful commercial vehicles can be developed in the future.  Until such vehicles are developed, at an unknown point in the future, the United States can only send unmanned rockets into space.

Shuttle Retires At 30

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From the first flights of the Enterprise, to the final voyage of Endeavour,  it’s been a grand 30 years.  Over a hundred missions, the construction of the International Space Station, the launching and servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope, and the tragic loss of two Orbiters and 14 astronauts,  the Space Shuttle Program has always been a part of my adult life.  It’s difficult to imagine it not being there any longer.

NASA Geek – Starry Starry Night, at the pad

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Photo Credit: Terry Corbin USA/NASA

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.

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.

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