Shuttle News: June 2011 Archives

Into the sunset, Economist

"Disasters apart, the shuttle generally succeeded in at least one aspect of its mission: its regular launches (not to mention stunts such as flying a 77-year-old astronaut, and assorted senators and congressmen) made space travel seem routine, almost mundane--which helped to dampen public interest."

The end of the Space Age, Economist

"But the shuttle is now over. The ISS is due to be de-orbited, in the inelegant jargon of the field, in 2020. Once that happens, the game will be up. There is no appetite to return to the moon, let alone push on to Mars, El Dorado of space exploration. The technology could be there, but the passion has gone--at least in the traditional spacefaring powers, America and Russia."

Atlantis: The Grand Finale Photo Special at Launch Pad 39A Part 1, SpaceRef

"The Grand Finale of NASA's three decade long Space Shuttle program is less than two weeks away. Recently NASA allowed reporters unprecedented access to photograph the Space Shuttle Atlantis while it waits on the pad. Here is part one."

STS-135 Launch Date Set

NASA Sets Launch Date For Final Space Shuttle Mission

"Space shuttle Atlantis' Commander Chris Ferguson and his three crewmates are scheduled to begin a 12-day mission to the International Space Station with a launch at 11:26 a.m. EDT on July 8, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-135 mission is the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program. The launch date was announced Tuesday at the conclusion of a flight readiness review at Kennedy. During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle and station's equipment, support systems and personnel are ready."

Keith's note: Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach recently spoke his mind (audio file) as Shuttle Discovery was being prepared for launch - the last time anyone will prepare a Space Shuttle for launch. "We're all victims of poor policy out of Washington, DC - both at the NASA level and the executive branch of the government. ... I'm embarrassed that we don't have better guidance out of Washington, DC. Throughout the history of the manned spaceflight program we've always had another program to transition into. .. we had that and it got cancelled and we don't have anything ... frankly as a senior NASA manager I would like to apologize that we don't have that."

Let's see, NASA is still building Constellation's Orion (MPCV) human spacecraft, is about to announce its new SLS heavy launch vehicle design (pretty much an Ares -V variant), and SpaceX is gearing up to launch humans and cargo to the ISS aboard Dragon spacecraft a few miles away from Leinbach's office with NASA as a customer. Yes, its the end of this particular government-operated human space flight program and a lot of people will be laid off (despite working their butts off for years), but it is rather inaccurate for Leinbach to state that "we don't have anything".

NASA abandoned the Saturn V because trips to the Moon were over and the Space Shuttle was to be used to build things in low Earth orbit. The ISS is now completed, so the continued rationale for the shuttle is a hard case to make. Now we need a way to use the ISS with vehicles better suited to the task - at a price lower than NASA can do on its own while getting ready for what comes after ISS.

Despite the steady progression from one program to the next that Leinbach suggests, he forgets to mention that there was a 6 year gap between the Apollo-Soyuz flight and STS-1. Dragon will be flying people much sooner than 6 years - and certainly much sooner than NASA's Ares 1 would have flown crews in Orion.

Things change Mike. The shuttle's retirement was announced 7 years ago. This is not exactly a surprise.

Payload Readied for Trip to the Pad as Tanking Test Wraps Up, NASA

"During the tanking test, the main fuel valve for Atlantis' No. 3 space shuttle main engine recorded temperatures below normal levels, indicating a possible liquid hydrogen leak. Teams isolated the engine and continued to fuel Atlantis with no issues and temperatures returned to normal readings. Technicians can gain access to the engine area once it is cleared from tanking test operations, and engineers will evaluate any necessary work on the fuel valve. If the valve needs to be replaced, managers expect that the work could be done early next week at the pad and still support Atlantis' July 8 target launch date."

Last Ever Shuttle to Haul Raffaello Logistics Module to the International Space Station, Ken Kremer for SpaceRef

"The primary goal of the STS-135 flight is to haul the "Raffaello" multipurpose logistics module (MPLM) up to the International Space Station. The 21 foot long cylindrical module is mounted inside the shuttle cargo bay during launch and landing.

Raffaello is a space 'moving van' and loaded with some 12 tons of critical supplies, spare parts and science equipment to stock up the station before the shuttles are retired forever, despite the fact that they have many years of service life remaining."

Boeing lays off 260 shuttle workers in Houston, Houston Chronicle

"Boeing today sent layoff notices to 510 employees - including 260 in Houston - involved in space shuttle work. The notices give 60 days advance notice of an expected job elimination. The workers' last day would be Aug. 5, pending the completion of the final space shuttle mission, STS-135. Boeing said in a statement that is working to keep as many workers as possible by moving employees to program such as the International Space Station work."

Boeing plans to lay off 150, Florida Today

"The Boeing Co. will lay off 150 of its 515 remaining Kennedy Space Center workers on Aug. 5. The layoffs would come later if the final shuttle launch, scheduled for July 8, is delayed. Nationwide, 510 Boeing employees were issued layoff notices Friday, including 260 employees in Houston and 100 in Huntington Beach, Calif." What goes up, also comes down: Space Shuttle jobs ending, Washington Post

"[John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management] said OPM will sponsor a job fair in Cocoa, Fla. in late July, which will include training on seeking positions listed on Also, NASA has created a Web site,, where federal agencies can post jobs and "find additional information about the skills of the available workforce."

Just one flight: Impending loss in shuttle family, AP

"And now there is only one. With Wednesday's landing of Endeavour, just one more space shuttle flight remains, putting an end to 30 years of Florida shuttle launches and more than 535 million miles of orbits controlled at Houston's Johnson Space Center. Now a sense of melancholy has permeated the community that calls itself "the space shuttle family."

Space Shuttle Endeavour Sails To Home Port For Final Time

"Space shuttle Endeavour and its six-astronaut crew sailed home for the final time, ending a 16-day journey of more than 6.5 million miles with a landing at 2:35 a.m. EDT on Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. STS-134 was the last mission for the youngest of NASA's space shuttle fleet. Since 1992, Endeavour flew 25 missions, spent 299 days in space, orbited Earth 4,671 times and traveled 122,883,151 miles."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Shuttle News category from June 2011.

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