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A Tribute to All 135 of NASA’s Space Shuttle Missions [Video]

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shuttle landing at sunsetNow that Atlantis has safely returned to Earth and the 30-year space shuttle program has drawn to a close, it’s time to look back at the reign of Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour and the tragically shortened careers of Challenger and Columbia. Since 1981 NASA has launched 135 shuttle missions, reaching destinations such as the Mir space station, the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.

In those three decades the shuttle has had its triumphs—fixing the initially flawed Hubble, for one—and its tragedies. Below is a video tribute to the space shuttle, prepared by our colleagues at Nature, which touches on all those highs and lows. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) The tribute features footage from every shuttle flight, including the STS 135 mission that concluded this morning, and features a good number of the 355 individuals who flew on the shuttles.



Photo of space shuttle Discovery landing in 2006: NASA

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  1. 1. alabamao68 4:56 pm 07/21/2011

    So where’s the link to the video?

    Link to this
  2. 2. Charles Knause 6:25 pm 07/21/2011

    The reason that the shuttle program is shutting down is because the prevailing ideology of the marketplace has replaced common sense and logic. There are certain things that only government can do such as build infrastructure and other such highly capital intensive ventures that private corporations are not able to do because of a need for immediate return on investment.

    Yet, business as well as every other aspect of society depends on this kind of social investment. Its sad that America today is on such a downward spiral; however, such a course is inevitable when ideology replaces science.

    If we Americans want to maintain our past heritage of progress both social and scientific, we are going to have to take a revolutionary step forward based upon the best scientific critique of capitalism available.

    I can’t think of a better place to begin than by considering the dysfunctional nature of capitalism itself and the threat that it posses to the future life of the planet and human civilization.

    If the present imbalances in the global distribution of wealth are not deal with in a rational coherent fashion, they will be deal with by the forces of nature outside of human control that may return this planet to a pre-human condition.

    The pretentious myth that private enterprise can organize the capital resources of society for such a momentous project as space exploration that every one will benefit from is totally ludicrous and false.

    There is a crisis in leadership in America today that will have to be resolved in favor of reason and logic or the world will be thrown back into a new dark age.

    No doubt there may be some intermediary solution where private investment can continue to play some sort of important role in space exploration; however, if one once again applies the rule that infrastructure investment is required to be done by government so that all can benefit perhaps it would be wise to begin seeing the need for larger investment is such programs as maintaining the shuttle until a suitable replacement can be found as the necessary kind infrastructure investment that will be required for the forseeable future.

    The militarization of space is another problem as it draws needed funds away from more sensible and ultimately productive space investments inspite of the fact that much space technology is duel use to begin with.

    Its time for the scientist to start making the decisions rather than the neanderthals!

    Link to this
  3. 3. jgdalal 8:10 pm 07/21/2011

    Where is the link???

    Link to this
  4. 4. pyam 9:22 pm 07/21/2011

    alabamao68 and . jgdalal: You should be able to see the video embedded in the post. If not, try watching it directly on YouTube:

    It’s a great video, well worth watching.

    Link to this
  5. 5. jack.123 9:41 pm 07/21/2011

    I agree with alabamao68.Does Scientific American even read the comments of it’s readers?I tried every which way to find the video it’s simply not there.I don’t know if our comment’s are read or if they just don’t care.This is bad public relations if you ask me.I have found numerous examples of this behavior.I think it is time that a few editor’s lost their jobs.Can’t figure out why subscription rates are falling.Its just this kind of non responsive action to readers who have made complaints.

    Link to this
  6. 6. pyam 11:27 pm 07/21/2011

    jack.123: Please see my previous comment, which has the YouTube link. There was an earlier problem with the embed code, but this had been fixed.

    Philip Yam
    Managing Editor, Online

    Link to this

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