End of 30 year Shuttle Programme

The 135th and final space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, concluding 30 years of shuttle missions launched from US soil. The shuttle mission will transport 3.5 tonnes of supplies (including 2 iPhone 4s loaded with apps to conduct experiments)  to the diverse crew comprising Russians, Americans and Japanese at the International Space Station. While this would mean a hiatus for NASA space travel for awhile, other countries and private companies (like Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Virgin Galactic and Northrop Grumman) might takeover the helm in funding, developing and organizing future space travel to satiate man’s unquenchable desire to explore the stars, democratizing space travel.

You can view the roller coaster timeline, littered with both amazing triumphs and shattering tragedies, of the space shuttle here.

Deenis Overbye from the New York Times also commented in this short essay about how the space shuttle program was perhaps more of a social and political endeavor, rather than a scientific one.

Most of the scientists I know would be thrilled to see humans exploring space, landing on Mars, for example — they just don’t think that science should pick up the check. Many of them were suspicious of the shuttle, both because of the cost drain and because making instruments like the space telescope compatible with it would compromise the potential science, restricting them to low earth orbit, for example, and making them hostage to the exigencies of human spaceflight.

But politically, if not technically, the shuttle and the space telescope needed each other.

Why do you think humans desire to travel into space when there is so much undiscovered here on Earth?

What do you think about future space travel being funded and organized by private corporations instead of governments? 


2 thoughts on “End of 30 year Shuttle Programme

  1. I think humans venture into space to look for more resources. As the resources on Earth are being depleted rapidly, there is a great need for us to look for alternative sources, which may be found on other planets. Besides, humans are curious beings that thirst for more knowledge. Exploring space might provide us with more information which could be vital to advancement in science.

  2. I believe that humans’ desire to travel into space is due to the lure of infinite possibilities generated by the human mind. Ever since the 1900s, space travel have been a topic of great interest between the young and old alike. Countless movies and shows had based themselves on discoveries made in the outer reaches of space. The concept of space travel expressed by these movies and ideas are already intertwined with everyone’s “childhood fantasy”. If an opportunity presents itself, why not take the chance and fulfill what you always wanted to do when you were young? (Anyway, exploring the far reaches of space sounds more exciting and promising than searching for some old, undiscovered stuff on Earth)

    If private corporations were to take over the funding and organisation of space travel, their first priority would undoubtedly be seeking ways to reap profits. This would make space travel more commercialized. Although commercializing space travel might help improve future investments and interest in this field, it dulls the spiritual and emotional satisfaction gained from exploring the unknowns. Moreover, conflicts may arise between countries and corporations in the future when new raw materials or planets are discovered. Therefore, I believe that space travel should be organised sorely by governments for the time being.

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