Saturday, July 9, 2011

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The End Of The Space Program

                     Friday morning, the space shuttle Atlantis lifted off at 11:59 a.m., marking the end of the NASA Space Program. The 135th mission of the Program left everybody in tears, even people who are usually sober. Launch Director Mike Leinbach threw his arm around a colleague and said: "We'll never see that again."

                     The vessel Atlantis is supposed to take supplies to the International Space Shuttle. As it lifted, there was a small drop in cabin pressure, but nothing happened, as it was oxygen expanding (which happens when you near the atmosphere).

                     About a million people were there to witness the liftoff, some who were there when Apollo 11 launched. Its launch means that there's no way for the U.S. of sending someone to space in years. They will rely on the Russians to help them get there. Charles Boden had a few words to say about this:

                     "Some say that this final shuttle mission will mark the end of America's 50 years of dominance in human space flight... As a former astronaut and the current NASA administrator I want to make clear that American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half century because we've laid the foundation for success. And for us at NASA, failure is not an option."