Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Last Space Shuttle Crew Prepares For Take Off -- Follow The Flight From Your Twitter! (Photo)

No more space shuttles! The very last space shuttle and crew are preparing for launch...and you can follow along right from your Twitter.

NASA has scheduled the launch of the shuttle Atlantis for July 8 -- and this is the very last launch of the Space Transportation System.

The last shuttle crew will go down in history among the most remembered, simply because they are the last astronauts to ride about the space shuttle.

Luckily for us, we will be able to experience some of it, as every shuttle crew member will be on Twitter for Atlantis' final flight! This will be the first (and the last) time in the 30-year space shuttle program.

Once we get the correct Twitter pages to follow, we will let you know. But even better, 150 lucky twitter users will actually be able to see the shuttle blast off and take part in the last mission. NASA says it will release the list of 150 tweetup participants by June 10.

But what about our new shuttles? What will they be like? Why is this the last space shuttle mission?

America’s next launch vehicles for human spaceflight will embrace the more conventional separate rocket booster and crew capsule. The shuttle was, indeed, a unique spacecraft that will in all likelihood never be repeated. It was and remains an extraordinary human spacecraft that no other nation on Earth succeeded in duplicating and launching. The Soviets designed and built the practically line-for-line copy of the shuttle they called the Buran, which flew—unmanned—only once.

To speculate at this point as to the configuration and, in fact, the manufacturer of the next US manned launch vehicle is really a gamble. Armchair prognosticators ask why not use the Delta 4 Heavy, while others point to the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon capsule as an obvious choice. Certainly, the Ares 1-X launch vehicle developed by NASA and successfully launched on a suborbital flight on October 28, 2009 did not lead to further development as that program, and the parent Constellation program was cancelled.

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