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Shuttle Atlantis Finally In Orbit 96

Klaidas writes "After delays, the shuttle Atlantis has finally been launched today as expected. NASA reports: 'The shuttle Atlantis is in orbit, headed for a challenging new phase in the construction of the International Space Station. Commander Brent Jett and his five crewmates will install a new 17-ton segment of the station's truss backbone, adding a new set of giant solar panels and batteries to the complex. Three spacewalks are planned.'"
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Shuttle Atlantis Finally In Orbit

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  • Penguins! (Score:5, Funny)

    by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:38PM (#16074189) Journal
    The nickname for Atlantis is the Penguin - "What's black and white and never flies"...

    Look it up!

    ...ducks...

  • Solar panels are good and all but if I were them, I'd install the bathrooms, internet connection, and Dance Dance Revolution cuz that would be awesome in space. I just hope someone doesn't appear inside the part they're working on saying that the new part will destroy his universe with exotic particles that don't obey the laws of physics (what? that joke was worth another whirl)
    • by segfault7375 ( 135849 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @11:44PM (#16074399)

      ...internet connection...

      Silly, they don't make tubes long enough to reach into space.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        I just checked eBay and if you bought almost all the repeaters, batteries, wires, and ethernet cables, you could reach it. And then they could sign up for SBC so when they call about it constantly disconnecting, their stupid vans will have to blast off to check the line...but at least they won't be blocking off a busy city intersection to stare and point at the ground every other week.
        • yeah, but the space station orbits around the earth. Won't the tubes wind around the planet like a giant yo-yo, eventually pulling it back to the surface?
      • they don't make tubes long enough to reach into space.

        Weeelll, then again, maybe they will! [space.com]

    • by MBC1977 ( 978793 )
      "I just hope someone doesn't appear inside the part they're working on saying that the new part will destroy his universe with exotic particles that don't obey the laws of physics (what? that joke was worth another whirl)"

      LOL thanks for the laugh, I actually made home to watch that episode.

      Regards,

      MBC1977,
      (US Marine, College Student, and Good Guy!)
  • by strredwolf ( 532 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:52PM (#16074232) Homepage Journal
    It really says something when the "It's scheduled to go up" post appears when it's launching, and the "It's in orbit" post is 12 hours late, after all the comments in the former post say "It's in orbit already. Had your coffee yet?"

    I was watching MSNBC's shuttle coverage with 2 minutes left on the clock until launch when Cowboy Neal's "scheduled" post hit the front page. As Richard Hammond of BBC's Top Gear [bbc.co.uk] would say, "Oh no this is bad..."

    May I propose a "This is going to happen within X hours/in the future" option for the submit on logged-in users, sorta like what Pud does for F*ed Company? That way they can get more priority, those who abuse it get banned from using it, and makes things work better.
  • by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @10:53PM (#16074235)
    ...but isn't 10:36pm a little late for a story called, "Shuttle Atlantis Finally in Orbit"? You'd think it took 12 hours to get up there or something!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      They had to stop in the ionosphere off of exit 50 on Space Highway 7 to go to a Bob Evans because Joseph Tanner forgot to pee and were getting kind of hungry. And you know how the ionosphere Bob Evans is, it takes FOREVER to get going again.
  • tag = pointless (Score:1, Insightful)

    by isaac ( 2852 )
    Exqueeze me, but why are we still spending gigabucks on the Shuttle and ISS programs? The ISS, notwithstanding the fact that it's still under construction, is rapidly approaching the end of its design life. We won't even talk about the gruesome hack that is the modern shuttle program.

    More pointless than war in Iraq, and more deadly if you're an American. (Something like 7% of astronauts have died on the job, a significantly higher death rate than the US military.)

    -Isaac
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      We really aren't spending all that much cash on the ISS. The ISS was meant to be finished LONG ago, but politics, things like iraq, and budget cuts all got in the way. They've gotten as much done as they have so far so why not finish the job? When the ISS is finaly obsolete and ready to be junked they'll stop spending any money on it. To continue it's usefullness they must do what? Spend more money (UH DUH!).

      And 7% is a fairly good rate for something that we still aren't really good at (why were doing it!
      • by ThreeE ( 786934 )
        Please explain to me how the war in Iraq has in any way impacted the ISS assembly schedule.
        • by daeg ( 828071 )
          I think te GP was trying to make a point that NASA has faced budget crunches. During the race to the moon and for a while after, NASA had massive funding. When Hubble went up and the public was routinely wowed by images from the far reaches of space, politicians felt comfortable in fully funding NASA. But when massive budgetary items come up like Iraq or 9/11 domestic security spending, things like NASA got pinched.

          I really don't think NASA cuts have really impacted IIS construction, though. Columbia was th
      • by EvanED ( 569694 )
        The ISS was meant to be finished LONG ago, but politics, things like iraq, and budget cuts all got in the way

        Don't forget Columbia's disintegration and the subsequent shuttle program delays. That probably cost a couple years.
    • Re:tag = pointless (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DrKyle ( 818035 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @11:31PM (#16074367)
      More pointless than war in Iraq, and more deadly if you're an American. (Something like 7% of astronauts have died on the job, a significantly higher death rate than the US military.)

      The main difference is that they need to use the same astronauts over and over again because they are highly trained, and they either have a safe mission or a deadly catastrophe. Soldiers on the other hand are easily replaced (it's not like there are only 10 people in the world to do the job) and way more likely to get non-lethally injured. It is stupid to make the comparison looking at a sample of a couple hundred astronauts to millions of soldiers. If you want ridiculous comparisons, 8 Presidents out of 43 have died in office, that is a nearly 20% chance you will die if you become President, now who would be stupid enough to want to take that risk?
      • I can't believe no one is biting on the "who would be stupid enough" ?
      • Astronauts (Score:2, Troll)

        by pipingguy ( 566974 ) *
        The main difference is that they need to use the same astronauts over and over again because they are highly trained

        I call bullshit. How many PhDs does one have to have in order to push a button (which is essentially all they do)? Is optimum physical fitness required for working in weightless space? "Astronauts" are just technicians that have been idolized and aggrandized by the myth and hero-making marketing machine. Yes, the original guys (who were actually test pilots - true daring and fearless men) w
        • It's unfortunate that you were modded as a troll, because I think you bring up some good points.

          The parent argued that astronauts were "reused" because of the amount of training they received. You replied:

          How many PhDs does one have to have in order to push a button (which is essentially all they do)?

          A decent sized chunk of astronauts do not have PhDs. Having a PhD is simply used as a measure of what an astronaut candidate has already accomplished and their ability to learn. Most astronauts don't really
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rei ( 128717 )
          Is optimum physical fitness required for working in weightless space?

          Why yes, it is.

          1) On ascent, you face the launch G-forces.
          2) In space, your body starts breaking down. If you're weak when you go up, and you stay for a long time, you might well be wheelchair or even bed-bound when you return.
          3) To minimize this effect as much as possible, astronauts spend long periods of time in space every day exercising. ISS astronauts burn about 3,000 calories per day every day, despite being in a zero-G environment
    • Re:tag = pointless (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:57AM (#16074705) Homepage
      In general, ISS's lifespan is more dependent on funds to maintain it than on the actual lifespan of its parts. We're looking at reboost costs, crew and supply delivery/waste removal costs, etc . Some parts will wear out, but in general, ISS is not expected to structurally fail until we let it reenter the atmosphere. I believe it is expected to be 1.3B$/yr, and we've only budgetted $13B (ten years). Many of the modules have lifespans of 30+ years, and as we see on (still operating) Spirit and Opportunity (and many other probes), the real, physical lifespan may well be much longer.

      I really hope we don't do the whole Skylab thing again. "Okay, we've burned a ton of money and fixed all of the glitches. Lets let it burn up now!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dclatfel ( 2737 )
      I wouldn't call it more pointless than the war in Iraq. That's pretty damn pointless. But clearly - the value in the space station, and probably the space program in general isn't from it's direct research value, but from the spinoff from it. Here's what I think the indirect benefits are:

      1) Pumping large amounts of money into defense contractors - particularly important for those contractors during peacetime. FWIW - I say take the 100's of billions of dollars we're pumping into Iraq, and divert it to NA
  • Good luck and Godspeed to the crew on their current mission.


    Being an astronaut is an incredibly hard job and I salute the brave men and women who risk their lives (and sanity) in the name of science. There's a reason something NASA related is a recurring theme in PopSci's "Worst Jobs in Science. [popsci.com]"

    • Good luck and Godspeed to the crew on their current mission. Being an astronaut is an incredibly hard job and I salute the brave men and women who risk their lives (and sanity) in the name of science.

      Easy, chief. Don't hurt your flag-waving hand too much.

    • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:55AM (#16074702) Homepage

      Being an astronaut is an incredibly hard job and I salute the brave men and women who risk their lives (and sanity) in the name of science.

      As a job, being an astronaut today is not that great. The guys who go up on the ISS are being worked really hard for their whole tour, because it's now so hard to get people up there. The workload has increased substantially since the number of flights declined. There's a good chance the tour of duty in space may be longer than expected, due to problems on the ground. (The Soviet-era cosmonauts had it even worse; one guy was up on Mir for 438 days, being unfortunate enough to be up during the collapse of the Soviet Union.)

      But that's not the worst part. NASA has too many people for the flight slots, so many of the "astronauts" will never fly. Right now, there are 100 flight-eligible astronauts, most of whom are doing mid-level management jobs. (NASA's phrase is "will serve in technical assignments until assigned to a space flight.") Or worse, filling the daily "lunch with an astronaut" [kennedyspacecenter.com] slot. NASA is no longer training new astronauts.

      Being an astronaut doesn't make you famous any more. Here's the list of active astronauts. [nasa.gov] How many have you heard of?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by DrKyle ( 818035 )
        From your link: There are two astronauts, Gregory C. Johnson and Gregory H. Johnson. Both are pilots, both started in 1998. Did NASA get some help from aliens to make a clone or something?
      • But that's not the worst part. NASA has too many people for the flight slots, so many of the "astronauts" will never fly.
        Never say never. Many of the younger astronauts from the Apollo and Manned Orbiting Labrotory programs waited 10 or 15 years to fly on the Shuttle. What will the manned spaceflight program look like in 15 years, and who will be first in line?
      • I was happy to see Vance Brand, of Apollo Soyuz fame as well as the backup CMP for Apollo 15, listed as active. I was hoping to find John Young but I forgot that he retired 2 years ago.
      • Driving the truck. [floridatoday.com] That's what the job looks like. Those guys even look like truck drivers.

        Then when they get there, they have to unload the truck. [usatoday.com] ""There's an awful lot going on, and it's going to be non-stop work from start to finish ... with virtually no time for breaks."

        That's the reality of the job.

  • Anything fall off? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Che Guevarra ( 85906 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @11:11PM (#16074305)
    Seriously, did anything go wrong? It almost always does. Near misses, falling foam, inspections ... Hate to troll, but everytime I watch a launch now my heart races and I break out in a cold sweat whenever I see a thruster flare or a t.v. screen artifact near the shuttle. NASA tries to project confidence, but don't we/they really want a next gen orbiter without all the worries?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      don't we/they really want a next gen orbiter without all the worries?

      And they're getting it with Constellation. The Orion crew module is going to be more like an Apollo capsule. It will sit on top so nothing can fall on it, and it will have traditional escape rockets to get out of danger in an emergency launch situation. I mean space-gliders are awesome, but part of me thinks they made them mostly to show off. I mean, how else are you supposed to top the Saturn-V?

      I think the current estimate is 2
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think the current estimate is 2012 for test flights, but don't quote me on that. It still puts it years after the end of the shuttle program in 2010, so they need to keep getting flights up to finish as much of ISS as possible.

        I've heard that they are going to test a 5 segment SRB (with one stage being a dummy stage) with a dummy second stage and a dummy Orion spacecraft unit in early 2009. This will be the first of 4 test flights. It doesn't use all 5 segments because the manufacturer ATK won't have a

    • by cyclone96 ( 129449 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:20AM (#16074635)
      NASA tries to project confidence, but don't we/they really want a next gen orbiter without all the worries?

      We (I'm a NASA engineer, and I work on manned systems) absolutely do. The Orion vehicle will be a lot safer since it will have realistic abort options through all phases of flight, not have the complications of a winged vehicle, and will have an escape rocket. The crew will be on top of the vehicle away from falling debris (where, as Mike Griffin said, God intended them to be).

      That being said, human spaceflight is never going to be "worry free", at least not for awhile. Riding rockets to orbit is still a very dangerous business, with even the most reliable launchers in the world turning in a 1% failure rate (imagine if aircraft had that...). Most rockets (including the shuttle) carry explosive charges to terminate the flight. The requirement to have those range safety packages are a reflection of the relative immaturity of the launch business.

      While great strides have been made in the nearly 50 years orbital launches have been occuring, once or twice a year we have an explosion or failure to reach orbit that reminds everyone it's tough to get into space. Everyone I know in this business (whether their payloads are robots or humans) spends a great deal of time worrying about the ride uphill.

  • I'm going to step back and argue from the opposing side of this issue (from my opinin, as I support the ISS).

    What is the purpose of the ISS?
    1. No major scientific gains have come from this project except from the few things we have learned about biology in space (while here I aside that this alone is valuable information and will be useful over the next few decades).

    2. There is no economic value of such a object at current time (aside: I agree, but see my last aside; science doesn't always have imme
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Otter ( 3800 )
      anyone think Gregor Mendel would have thought he was pioneering a multi-billion dollar industry with those peas?

      Sure, but Mendel's work proceeded from a clear scientific question about the nature of heredity. He wan't just casting around for an experiment to do to justify the expense of a super-cool high-tech pea patch.

    • by Free_Meson ( 706323 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:35AM (#16074752)
      2. There is no economic value of such a object at current time (aside: I agree, but see my last aside; science doesn't always have immediate economic uses: anyone think Gregor Mendel would have thought he was pioneering a multi-billion dollar industry with those peas?).


      If there was immediate economic value to the ISS, the government wouldn't (and shouldn't) be doing it -- private industry would be doing it instead.

      For whatever reason, a lot of people complain when the government "wastes" their money on projects unlikely to be profitable in the short term. That's clearly the only thing the government should be spending money on, as anything likely to be profitable in the short term will be accomplished by private industry, likely more quickly and more cheaply. If you are mad about high taxes being spent on botched, potentially profitable ventures, blame the $400Bn pork barrel project also known as the Department of Defense.
      • Good points, exactly how I would have argued 2 if I had had the time to put down my own opinions.
      • If there was immediate economic value to the ISS, the government wouldn't (and shouldn't) be doing it -- private industry would be doing it instead.

        So, by parallel reasoning: If there was immediate economic value to the Interstate Highway System, the government wouldn't (and shouldn't) be doing it -- private industry would be doing it instead?

        ...come to think of it, the ISS is kind of like a highway rest area (and hotel, restaurant, lab, etc) in the sky.

        And for comparison, someone above quoted ~$1.3 b

  • by Will_Malverson ( 105796 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @11:25PM (#16074355) Journal
    1960's: We sent people to the moon
    1970's: We put a space station into low earth orbit
    1980's: We had frequent flights to LEO with a reusable craft.
    1990's: We had occasional flights to LEO with a reusable craft.
    2000's: We managed to get people into orbit with a craft that might get used two more times before the end of its life.
     
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Not quite reverse, but perhaps cyclic:
      2010: Project Constellation comes online with a >130 t heavy lift rocket. Dates on internal documents are adjusted to -48 years for consistency. Man returns to the Moon.
      2020?: A nuclear rocket is designed (Prometheus?): Surviving NERVA and the original Project Orion designers go on a killing spree in their nursing homes.
    • Not really, just aging equipment that they don't want to trust worth a damn.

      Ok, it's a given that the Apollo missions were with a different rocket, but after that...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      2010's: Where are those f#$%$#@ Apollo tapes that showed how we made to the moon 50 years ago?
    • You forgot: "1991: Cold War and Space Race over."
  • by antdude ( 79039 ) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @11:31PM (#16074368) Homepage Journal
    For those who hates streaming video and want to see the launch, here is a 14 MB MP4 file [nasa.gov] that can be downloaded.
  • Great (Score:2, Funny)

    by gregTheBald ( 764458 )
    Great, They get it in orbit just before the ZPM gets completely drained
  • ... The researchers at the Inquirer reveal that Nostradamus actually predicted the flight of both the craft and the continent. We have yet to find out where the continent went.
  • Harry Carey: Hey! So they shot the shuttle Discovery up into space!

    Linda Ham (NASA flight director): Yes.

    Harry Carey: Is that thing ever coming back?

    Linda Ham: Uh, it landed a week ago.

    Harry Carey: How many survivors?

    Linda Ham: Everyone survived, Harry.

    Harry Carey: Oh. That's a relief. [ long pause ] Hey, Linda! What was it like inventing the space shuttle?

    Linda Ham: Uh.. I didn't invent the shuttle.

    Harry Carey: Well, I wonder, whoever did, made a lot of money! And then, I bet he tried to invent something e

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