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When the Shuttle Atlantis launched Friday ...

Displaying poll results.
I just listened, on TV or the radio.
  1879 votes / 10%
I watched, but no big production.
  3283 votes / 18%
I hosted / attended a (remote) event to celebrate.
  254 votes / 1%
I was in Florida to watch it in person.
  288 votes / 1%
I was on board.
  1968 votes / 11%
Bah, humbug --Waste of tax dollars and fuel!
  1251 votes / 7%
There was another shuttle launch?
  8518 votes / 48%
17441 total votes.
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  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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When the Shuttle Atlantis launched Friday ...

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  • A sad day (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dodgy G33za (1669772)

    Today marks the beginning of the end for the US of A. Growing up in the Space Age, during the Space Race, I have fond memories of the Apollo program, and watched avidly as first Skylab and then the ISS was build.

    Then the world got taken over by sound bites and economists and we never went back to the moon.

    Now the US doesn't even have the capability to put a man in space.


    • by amiga3D (567632)

      I think the beginning of the end was a while back. It's more like the middle of the end now.

      • by 32771 (906153)

        I assume the beginning was when we stumbled onto high energy quality fossil fuels without planning what to do with it and understanding how finite they were. Well we still have nuclear power left and that will be infinite though - HA!

        To think that people would rather go into the deep sea where they face constant loss of energy to corrosion, high pressure, and low temperature, as opposed to going into space where they face one atmosphere pressure, high initial cost, long materiel lifetime, moon dust, a polit

      • Yep. The US is definitely on the 'B' ark now.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Now the US doesn't even have the capability to put a man in space.


      That's because most the best young engineers went to work in finance or programming social media web sites. Lots of progress if you count conjuring something out of nothing, or was it the other way around?

    • Re:A sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 09, 2011 @11:18AM (#36704584)

      Would you call "hanging on to a 30-year-old program that was much less safe and more expensive than designed" progress?

      Progress is turning manned trips to LEO into a service provided a number of US companies. Progress is NASA focusing on projects and rockets that will take humans and human knowledge to heights never before achieved by mankind. That's always where NASA made progress that nobody else could.

      Let's worry about that, and making sure that happens, rather than clinging to a (relatively successful) program that has run its course.

      • by Smallpond (221300)

        Would you call "hanging on to a 30-year-old program that was much less safe and more expensive than designed" progress?

        Good point. Of course as a software engineer I'm used to things being reliable and under budget.

      • by anyGould (1295481)

        Would you call "hanging on to a 30-year-old program that was much less safe and more expensive than designed" progress?

        I'm all for retiring the shuttle in favor of a safer and cheaper alternative. Problem is you guys don't *have* the safer/cheaper alternative yet.

    • Re:A sad day (Score:4, Interesting)

      by couchslug (175151) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @11:32AM (#36704708)

      The early Cold War Space Race was driven by penis-waving (not that genital displays are a bad thing) and while putting men in space quickly was a captivating public benchmark, it's not the best way to EXPLORE space.

      Humans are merely machine operators, and we need (on Earth and in space) machines which don't need on-site human tenders.

      We can get a lot more accomplished and EVOLVE systems more quickly if we don't concentrate on shipping meat early on. Let commercial outfits ship the cattle, but do science with robots and remotely-manned systems first because we need them as building blocks.

      When people and wooden ships were totally expendable, the manned model made sense. That was on Earth. People are now functionally worth FAR LESS than the hardware required to launch and return them. That makes them a burden. We can, instead, send machines for the dull, dangerous job of exploration. Machines can be expendable, we don't need them back.

      • Re:A sad day (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chardansearavitriol (1946886) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @02:19PM (#36706202)
        While technicly true in every regard, you do what I and so many other sciency folks do: You leave humanity out of the equation. While i am in every way in favor of expanding probes/robotic systems, the fact of the matter is...Thats a whole lot of space. And this planet isnt. And there are other planets. We NEED to land on another planet, a human needs to set foot on it. Theres only one planet thats feasible for, and thats Mars. We simply cant survive on any other. BUT. If we do get someone on mars, a real person, I guarantee you interest in space exploration will skyrocket (God that was a lame pun. I apologize.) I am not gonna make a prediction of when we should do it, or how we should go about it. And I am in total agreement of the importance of unmanned exploration. But the human spirit, Demands to see the sun rise on another world. Live, with our own eyes. Mars is the only place we can do that in any resaonable time frame. It should take secondary importance to our major unammed exploraiton, but it is a necessary event. We need to. It would represent something far bigger than all that has come before it. And thats the sort of thing that gets funding.
        • UT. If we do get someone on mars, a real person, I guarantee you interest in space exploration will skyrocket

          Yes, it will increase while there's still novelty value. However once a Mars base becomes everyday (say after a couple of weeks) then it will fade from the news and from popular consciousness unless something dramatic happens. That is exactly the si5tuation with Antarctic bases. We all know they are there but so what? They just carry on doing whatever it is they do there, and we just carry on doing whatever it is we do here. There's no reason to continue being enthusiastic about them, they're mundane.


          • I keep saying, the Antarctic is a tropical paradise in comparison with Mars, and has breathable air, water, and gravity to support human physiological processes. Yet I don't see passionate arguments that the Spirit of Exploration requires colonization of Antarctica.

            Aside from PR for science, why send humans to Mars? The only role I can see for humans on-site on Mars is to repair the robots that do the actual exploration.

            The only way I can see colonization of other planets making any sense is in some future

        • The general public watches until they hear a few words that sound scientific, then their eyes glaze over, and switch the TV back to football or Real Housewives of Tulsa.

        • So you're in favour of spending a few hundred billion dollars on a PR exercise? Personally, I'd rather see that money spent on R&D that will benefit people on Earth. There's always the argument that space research will have useful spin-offs, but the converse is also true: non-space research has a lot of space-related spin-offs too. For example, being able to pack more processing power that the whole of NASA had in the '70s into something that can be radiation hardened and is about the size of a thumb

          • So you're in favour of spending a few hundred billion dollars on a PR exercise?

            Speaking of money, I now know why all the shuttle launches are so freaking expensive. With 11% of slashdot on board, no wonder it is expensive to get up to LEO....
        • by couchslug (175151)

          The US, specifically, can WAIT and LEVERAGE the work of others instead of doing all the heavy lifting.

          All that romance is because few humans have spent time in the utterly hostile environments offworld, where they will always have no choice but to interact through mechanical barriers that keep them from dying instantly.

          In such utterly hostile areas, man MUST have machines so capable that human labor isn't necessary.

        • Re:A sad day (Score:4, Interesting)

          by FishTankX (1539069) on Monday July 11, 2011 @03:50AM (#36717812)

          I just thought i'd toss this out there, but there is another inhabitable planet in the solar system. Venus.

          At first glance this may sound positively absurd. Acidic atmosphere, ultra high pressures, temperatures that could flash fry you in a second.

          But what's really interesting is that part of what makes venus uninhabitable (ultra high pressure) also makes it a prime candidate for colonization.


          Venus, at an altitude of around 50km, has comparable qualities to earth.The gravity is similar, the atmospheric pressure is similar, and the temperatures are similar. This means that we could make colonies with normal earth air (which is a strong lifting gas in the veneutian atmosphere). Since the pressure inside and outside the balloon is similar, if a leak was sprung you'd merely repair it as quickly as possible,since leaks would only result in mixing at normal atmospheric rates.It's also been suggested that more habitats could be built out of carbon sifted from the CO2 atmosphere.

          So there are 2 possible planets in the solar system that can be colonized. You could probably power the colony by solar, wind, or nuclear and already being 50km above the surface it'd be much easier to escape the gravity well. Venus is also closer to earth.

        • by itsdapead (734413)

          If we do get someone on mars, a real person, I guarantee you interest in space exploration will skyrocket

          ...for the first two landings. Then - as history shows - all those people will get bored and switch back to China's Got Talent!* unless something goes horribly wrong. Space travel as a source of "bread and circuses" will not be sustainable.

          In terms of contribution to science, the robot probes have massively out-performed manned spaceflight and made huge contributions to engineering know-how (which probably comes in useful when you want to design a comms/navigation satellite or a remote drone for hazardous

        • We NEED to land on another planet, a human needs to set foot on it.

          Uh, why?

          And even if we do.... the earth and mars are both over four billion years old, humans are roughly 100,000 years old. What's the burning rush? If we took a 50 year break from space exploration, and spent the money in other ways, what would be the problem?

      • For initial exploring, I agree, send the machines. They can do the one way trips.

        We do need the ability to put humans in space. If nothing else, we need a way to maintenance items in Earth orbit.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          If nothing else, we need a way to maintenance items in Earth orbit.

          It's much cheaper/easier to just send up another one when something breaks.

      • by dadioflex (854298)
        Entirely surrender space exploration to machines and you lose two things. You lose the public interest and you lose the technological high-ground when the machines eventually revolt. The only, and the BEST reason for manned space exploration is that if we don't get there first, we will be destroyed from orbit by mass drivers. Fact.
      • Re:A sad day (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Sunday July 10, 2011 @11:46AM (#36711756)

        I disagree, for some things like going to Mars it makes far more sense to send a machine to do that. But most of the work that's being done on the ISS and was being done onboard the shuttles was far better than what you'd be doing with machines. If it really were that easy to do science with machines, then why precisely hasn't most lab science been turned over to machines at this point? Given the toxic and or infectious materials that are routinely involved with lab work, robots should be doing it. The main reason that they aren't doing it is that machines are still nowhere near as capable of conducting experiments as humans are.

        You just lose out on way too much going that route. Sure you get a result that's free of mistakes and readily repeatable, but you also lose out on the mishaps that occasionally warp us forward or the insight into why we're doing something in a particular way.

        • ISS is manned because pictures of people in space are good when you request funding. An automated lab in space would be far less impressive, even if it generated the same amount of scientific output. It's also manned because it's being used to conduct research on the long-term effects of being in space on humans - research that is completely pointless if we're not actually going to put humans in space for a long time.

          The ISS is only 355km up at apogee. That's easily close enough for teleoperation of sci

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 09, 2011 @02:09PM (#36706112)

      Well, given the entire space program through Apollo was just sabre rattling to show off "big rocket" ICBM technologies that were already irrelevant before they launched I'd say we've made progress since we've stopped that aspect of it. STS was suppose to reduce the cost to space for payloads. It didn't, it was an abject failure and should have been canceled two decades ago. That it is finally gone is indeed progress, the same way that removing a malignant tumor is progress.

      There are problems with space development in the US, but the end of STS isn't one of them. Larger issues have been surrendering the lead in commercial space development with myopic ITAR restrictions and a repeated squandering of money on half-baked human spaceflight follow on ideas.

      Anyway, it might not seem like progress at first and we could certainly have hoped for more but the reality is the end of STS is the closest thing to progress we've seen since Challenger blew up and the DoD was finally released from the requirements to use the STS. While it was tragic that people lost their lives the Challenger accident saved the US space program by allowing sane launch platforms to once again be developed for both national security and commercial interests. STS should have ended then, the tragedy is that it bled the space industry for another 25 years. Good riddance, our adversaries and competitors couldn't have done anything worse to us through sabotage than we did ourselves by dragging a bad idea along for so long.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        The reason STS was held on to for so long is that there has never been a clear successor. If NASA retired the shuttles 20 years ago they wouldn't have got extra funding to develop replacements. Better to hold on to the funding they did have.

      • During the design phase of the Shuttle, when it was found that a large winged manned booster could not be funded, they should have gone back to the drawing board. Both shuttle disasters were caused by the launch system. The shuttle was meant to fly horizontally. It was a bad idea to stick it vertical on a rickety bomb. Development of the large winged manned booster would have been smarter. We should have kept space capsules and put their rockets on a big aircraft - not the other way around.
    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      Yes because the United States doesn't have a commercial manned program that gets people to suborbital much cheaper per kilo and will go orbital soon in Scaled Composites/Virgin Galactic.

      Nor does the US have Space X who are about to test a manned space capsule, much cheaper per kilo.

      Nor is the US sending a probe to Jupiter and a rover to Mars this year.

      Nor does the USAF have a robotic space plane that is currently in space, a program NASA stopped working on which was then transferred to Air Force. A space pl

      • by ultranova (717540)

        Yes because the United States doesn't have a commercial manned program that gets people to suborbital much cheaper per kilo and will go orbital soon in Scaled Composites/Virgin Galactic.

        How many people have these two actually gotten into orbit thus far, and at what cost?

        Because talk is cheap, and I can't help but notice the Shuttle was marketed with pretty much the same terms too.

    • by reboot246 (623534)
      It's not so sad because it's only temporary.

      SpaceX is coming on strong in the next few years and I think everybody will be surprised and pleased with their work. Manned space flight will be much better when we have a cheaper, more dependable, bigger fleet of spacecraft.

      I'm 58, so I've lived through the whole history of NASA. I'm as enthusiastic now as I was back in the 1960s. It's only going to get better.
    • by Morty (32057)

      Our gap in manned launch capability is scheduled to be smaller than the gap between Apollo-Soyuz and the shuttle.

    • Deep space exploration was decoupled from the Shuttle when the Challenger exploded, because after that the Shuttle was banned from carrying fuel payloads. So from that point on going beyond LEO required a new capsule, which NASA is finally going to build. The fact is that LEO is cheap to access for cheap satellites, while most of the really interesting exploration would take place at altitudes which the Shuttle could never reach.

      So the Shuttle has to go, but think how great the Apollo architecture was. It c

    • Quite possibly the end of the end. The end of the beginning came with Apollo 17. The beginning of the end came with the shuttle. It's now about a 50::50 reckoning that NASA will ever manage to get another manned vehicle into space. Everything else will be done by the military, who have no interest in putting people into space or by commercial outfits who will only do it if they can see a return - which in hard-nosed terms is very unlikely without government subsidies.
    • by ultranova (717540)


      Sure. You wanted a small government and big business; you got them. Congratulations.

    • Then the world got taken over by sound bites and economists and we never went back to the moon.

      If the world had been taken over by economists -- or competent ones, anyway -- we'd be so flush with resources that our space program would be flourishing with accomplishments that exceed everyone's expectations.

      • by Kittenman (971447)

        Then the world got taken over by sound bites and economists and we never went back to the moon.

        If the world had been taken over by economists -- or competent ones, anyway -- we'd be so flush with resources that our space program would be flourishing with accomplishments that exceed everyone's expectations.

        competent economists? Don't you read what you write? Goodness me ...

        • Define competent. Economists that support right-wing neo-conservatism get posts in the IMF, the World Bank and high ranking universities. Economists that don't, don't even get published in obscure journals. Since the last Nobel-Prize-winning economist to demonstrate the fallacy of the Free Market (in the late 80s) the banks have taken good care to reward "their" people.

          The economists are competent. They study economics and learn how to get rich.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday July 10, 2011 @05:44PM (#36714594)

      Now the US doesn't even have the capability to put a man in space.

      That is so not true. SpaceX is readying the next crew vehicle.

      We are going from being a nation that can only have one monolithic government entity send people into space, to one where ANYONE can send a man into space if they desire to form a company and build a launch vehicle. No more astronauts only and handful of selected special guests, this is the start of the real vision of space brought to life where eventually ANYONE can go.

    • by rve (4436)

      Now the US doesn't even have the capability to put a man in space.


      Neither does the US of A have a fleet of ships of the line or the capacity to mass produce bronze cannons any more, the production capacity of mechanical type writers has dwindled to almost nothing and they don't make amber monochrome monitors like they used to.

      You remember when we were young, we would laugh at our elders who were starting to see any kind of change as decadence rather than progress?

      You're getting old ;)

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Unfortunately there hasn't been any great progress in human space activities since the mid 80's.

      However in robotic space exploration there have been great progress. And that is also important. The Voyager probes were a great success, just too bad that there weren't more of them - so that we at least could have gotten a close look at Pluto too. And the rovers Spirit and Opportunity did last a lot longer than expected on Mars, which definitely is a good sign.

      As for the space shuttle - it has been a great tool

  • None of the above. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nationless (2123580) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @10:56AM (#36704440)

    I knew about it.

    I don't think it was a waste of tax money.

    I just didn't watch it.

  • by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @11:16AM (#36704570) Homepage
    Having grown up with the shuttle launches it is kind of sad to see the end of an era. The shuttle may not have turned out to be all it was promised and may not be necessary any more, but it is still sad to see it go. I never did get to see one live which I think is what I will miss most.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      I wish I had taken the time when I was in FL a decade ago to see one up close, I did however see it from the hotel room by accident, but it's still not quite the same.

    • by Slider451 (514881)

      I had a chance a couple years ago, staying at Daytona Beach. But the launch was postponed. I would love to have seen the look on my boys' faces. Who knows when another opportunity to experience wonder and inspiration will come along.

  • See all those votes for the last option? Clearly we need to send another average schmoe into space to boost launch ratings!

    • by godrik (1287354)

      Well, I selected the last option because I knew there was a launch coming but did not care too much about it. Still I believe it is important so the second to last did not carry the right idea.

    • I knew about the launch, I thought about it and what it meant... but I didn't need to experience it live.

      You know, way back when I was 12, I watched Enterprise let go and fly, on TV. A few years later I saw Columbia launch the same way, and I watched in replay-after-replay as both Challenger and Columbia and their crews were lost. But I have a lot of other things going on in my life, and participating live in an event just for its historical value doesn't rank at the top of my priority list. So my answer

  • Good Riddance (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712)
    That thing never really did meet its design goals. The intention was a reusable spacecraft that was less expensive to launch than the old rockets. Instead we got a reusable spacecraft that was more expensive to launch than the old rockets. Then we used it for 30 years because of the bull-headed stubbornness that comes from not wanting to admit you wasted billions of dollars designing and building them.

    Materials science and computers have come a long way in the last 30 years, so now we can do better than t

    • Materials science and computers have come a long way in the last 30 years, so now we can do better than that pork-laden flying deathtrap.

      We can, but we won't, because more people would rather spend money nation-building on another continent and prosecuting people here at home for "moral failings" than actually learning something about the universe, especially when said knowledge conflicts with their current dogma.

      Might as well start replacing science books with the King James Bible, the Christian Taliban won't have it any other way, and as they're the ones currently carrying the "fiscal responsibility" banner, that means space exploration is

  • Before the first launch, I did software design and quality testing on backup software for the shuttles. This was a rush-rush job for the U.S. Air Force because the powers that be at NASA didn't realize until almost too late that, with human lives at risk, some sort of backup for NASA's computers was necessary.

    I was much more involved in the design and testing of software for some of the satellites that rode into orbit via the Shuttle. I think every one of those satellites could have been launched via unma

    • by tsotha (720379)
      That's the problem with manned spaceflight in general. There isn't anything people can do up there that machines can't do for a tiny fraction of the price.
  • I answered in Florida... which is true, though I live here, and can see the launches (at quite a distance) from the windows in the back of my house... and despite the poll rules. Whatever happened to our Cowboy Neal options!?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Version cued to video [].

    What other rock band would do a song about a shuttle launch with real NASA chatter in the background? You sure can tell Rush are a bunch of geeks at heart.

  • I followed CmdrTaco's tweets!
  • by neiras (723124) on Saturday July 09, 2011 @04:16PM (#36706996)

    I've grown up with the Shuttle. I tried to make it down for the last two launches, but it just didn't work out. One day I will take my son to see an orbiter at a museum, and I'll tell him all about it. He'll know all about Challenger and Columbia, the same way my parents told me about Apollo 13 and CM-012. We'll take a trip to the Cape to see a launch of whatever they're firing into orbit in ten years. I'll teach him to watch for the ISS if it's still in orbit by then.

    I don't care about the politics or the money; it was still only a fraction of the defense budget. We have learned a lot from the STS. It's a beautiful machine, and an incredible achievement. Dangerous and expensive? Sure it was.

    It's still very early days for us as a spacefaring people. We're talking Vikings crossing the Atlantic early. My only regret is that I have less than half a century left to live and probably won't see much more in the way of big progress in space.

    Thank you America and NASA. I know you'll get through the current political and monetary challenges to lead once more.

  • Where is "I didn't watch"?
    • by mrxak (727974)

      Yeah, I just didn't watch it. I knew it was happening, and I support human spaceflight, but I don't need to see the thing go up. If anything, I wish these spaceflights were so routine and frankly boring that they got no coverage at all. In other words, we should be sending up one of these every day.

      Ultimately though, the space shuttle was a terrible program, as is the ISS. We retreated from the moon, and got stuck in near orbit as a species for far too long. What's more, we viewed Challenger and Columbia as

      • by ultranova (717540)

        We need to explore and conquer this solar system, and beyond. There is nothing else that matters more. Earth orbit is a waste of time.

        Getting into Earth orbit is the hard part of the problem. Once we have a way of getting lots of stuff there and back down again safely and cheaply, we can use solar sails or ion engines or simply the good old interplanetary transport network [] to get anywhere on this solar system with relative ease. Once you can reach orbit realiably, our current (actually, 60's) technology ev

  • No time to watch or listen to it, unfortunately.

  • by ignavus (213578) on Sunday July 10, 2011 @01:05AM (#36709260)

    Wow - there were 484 people on board the space shuttle AND they get Internet access.

    And they used it to post on Slashdot.

    It's a good thing us guys on Mars don't like to brag about where we are posting from.

  • I think they missed the option "I was there, and shot my own video of it. []" option. :)

  • I flew over from the UK to watch your tax dollars at work ;)
  • I cried a little...
  • by 32771 (906153) on Sunday July 10, 2011 @09:06AM (#36710702) Journal

    If Fred (?) Hoyle was right:

    "It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing high intelligence this is not correct. We have, or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only. (Hoyle, 1964)"

    How close are we to failure?

    • Given Hoyle's other nutty ideas [] , I take many of his ideas with a grain of salt. You should question his various assumptions.

  • I just started a new job Tuesday and was in training. Just no option to see it.
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <> on Sunday July 10, 2011 @08:43PM (#36715812) Homepage

    963 people were on board? I really don't understand why the US would scrap the thing; that's an amazingly efficient design.

  • He has been obsessed with all things space this summer. We have been using his telescope to look at stars, and the the moon.
  • Other (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I knew about it.
    I looked at pictures and read articles about it.

  • What a lousy bunch of nerds.
  • There were a great number of folks to went outside to watch the launch from our current locations, but due to much cloud covered skies we could not see it from our vantage point. But we were true fans, each and every launch, we step outside and watch the launch whether we can see it or not. This time we could not and being that it was the last shuttle launch, our minds were sad for the loss of the visual memory, but our hearts are full and proud of our Shuttle program.

    We will miss the launches that drew s

  • [x] Was aware of it, but chose not to watch.

    So just to be cheeky, I selected "on board". It's the geek version of being "on the bus".

  • by ktappe (747125)
    1567 votes for "I was on board." Can someone please alert Houston that they've got a large # of stowaways?
  • I was at work, so couldn't listen or watch live, yet I did pay attention more than "there was a launch?" or "waste of dollars".

  • Crowded up here, innit?

  • Sad that it's over, but didn't watch or listen to the launch...due to missing it, being at work, etc.

FORTRAN rots the brain. -- John McQuillin


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