A true American pioneer, Sally Ride has passed away at age 61 after a 17 month battle with Pancreatic Cancer.
Flying aboard the Challenger in 1983, she made US history. She flew again on the same shuttle a year later. A physist as well as an astronaut, she helped design the robotic arm that made the shuttles (and later the ISS) so versatile and successful.
She also served on the two review boards overseeing the destruction of the Challenger and the Columbia.
A successful launch after a scrubbed launch last week put SpaceX in the lead for private contractors to handle missions to the ISS. The unmanned capsule is planned to dock with the ISS if everything is go. This is only the second launch for the Dragon capsule and the third for the Falcon 9 rocket.
The overall goal is to make space flight more cost-effective, something that NASA has not been able to do.
For the final time the Atlantis is aloft. And as some would say, she’s home for the last time.
She is scheduled to dock with the ISS on Sunday and to return home after thirteen days.
This marks the final launch of any space shuttle. With the end of the program and no concrete replacement, NASA is planning on laying off over 14,000 people from across the board.
One of their chief concerns is that with the glut of unemployed aerospace workers, few young people will want to embark in training for a career in space work, leading to a generational “brain drain” that will cripple the American space program in a decade or two.
In a very cool looking night landing, the youngest ship in the fleet, the Endeavour, comes to rest at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Next month, Atlantis will be making the final shuttle flight to resupply the ISS as well as experiment with in-space refueling, a concept necessary for manned space travel to move beyond the Earth and Moon. She was rolled out onto the launch pad yesterday, watched by over 8000 NASA personnel and onlookers.