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Submission + - Atlantis blasts off on final mission (theregister.co.uk) 1

shuz writes: Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off today on its STS-132 mission to the International Space Station — the final flight for the venerable vehicle.

The mission involves three spacewalks over 12 days, during which the team will replace six batteries on the port truss which store energy from solar panels on that truss, bolt on a spare space-to-ground Ku-band antenna and attach a new tool platform to Canada's Dextre robotic arm.

Moon

NASA Vets & Administration Clash Over Moon Plans 158

mattnyc99 writes "There's a serious feud brewing this week over the Bush administration's plan for a manned mission to the Moon as an eventual stepping stone to Mars. The Planetary Society, a top group of former mission managers, space-based scientists and NASA astronauts argues, is set to rebuke the Moon plan at a conference next month in favor of hopskotching an asteroid on the way to the Red Planet. Agency chief Michael Griffin issued an abnormally strong response to the society, calling it an overly political criticism of Bush for a plan that he says was 'the best legislative guidance NASA has ever had.' Either way, it's clear that the stars are aligning for the whole space race to be reconsidered as a new administration steps into the White House. So far Clinton and Obama (who just added his) are the only contenders with space proposals."
Mars

NASA's Instrument For Detecting Life On Mars 88

Roland Piquepaille writes "With the financial help of NASA, American and European researchers have developed a new sensor to check for life on Mars. It should also be able to determine if traces of life's molecular building blocks have been produced by anything that was once alive. The device has been tested in the Atacama Desert in Chile. It should be part of the science payload for the ExoMars rover planned for launch in 2013."

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