Goodbye Atlantis…

Ever come across something so cool that you think ‘I just have to share this’? Well, check out this Space Shuttle time-lapse, collated from a series of images taken from Space Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis whilst docked at the International Space Station (ISS) for the last time. Thanks to Flavio for sharing!

Sun rising on the final Shuttle mission

Sun rising on the final Shuttle mission

Atlantis’s landing today marks the end to NASA’s 30 year Shuttle programme. The iconic shuttle fleet were used to launch the Hubble space telescope, build the ISS, and ferry astronauts and supplies into orbit- they were the first spacecraft designed to be reusable. Atlantis’ final touchdown also leaves Russian Soyuz rockets as the sole taxi service between Earth and the ISS, until commercial ventures can fill that gap, though that looks to be a few years away.

What does that mean for US space exploration? Will the government savings made by concluding the Shuttle programme come back to haunt us, or will private missions drive faster progress, get astronauts to Mars sooner? And, (purely selfishly) are we any closer to affordable space tourism?

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