Space Shuttle Atlantis' Final Landing

RF Cafe visitor and RF Coffee Mug winner Jeff J. sent me these photos he took of the Space Shuttle Atlantis' final landing at Cape Canaveral at 5:57 a.m. EDT on July 21, 2011.

STS-35 Mission Logo - RF Cafe"Space shuttle Atlantis carried the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to deliver supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station. The mission also flew a system to investigate the potential for robotically refueling existing spacecraft and returned a failed ammonia pump module to help NASA better understand the failure mechanism and improve pump designs for future systems."

Alas, this is the final flight of the five-craft Space Shuttle program, which commenced on 12 April, 1981 and totaled 135 missions (Columbia and Challenger were lost). America has no replacement system in the queue. Prior to the shuttle fleet, the Apollo series ran from February 21, 1967 with Apollo 1 (a fire killed the crew on the launch pad) through the splashdown of Apollo 17 on December 19, 1972. We landed two men on the moon at the Sea of Tranquility with Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969 (eventually a total of 12). At least during that 9-year void of manned space flight, there was a replacement vehicle in the works (delayed from March 1978). Now, we have no national manned launch vehicle on the books. NASA director Bolden remarked on Al Jazeera TV that the organization is now most concerned with teaching math and science to kids, international relations, and reaching out to Muslims. Not to worry though, at least NASA has the "Mission to Planet Earth" - we don't need no stinking launch vehicle for that. Ugh.
Space Shuttle Atlantis Being Towed After Final Landing - RF Cafe Cool Pic
Space Shuttle Atlantis Being Towed After Final Landing

Space Shuttle Atlantis Near VAB - RF Cafe Cool Pic
Space Shuttle Atlantis Near VAB

Launch Pad A at Kennedy Space Flight Center - RF Cafe Cool Pic
Launch Pad A at Kennedy Space Flight Center
Vehicle Assembly Building - RF Cafe Cool Pic
Vehicle Assembly Building

NASA Employees Awaiting Atlantis - RF Cafe Cool Pic
NASA Employees Awaiting Atlantis

Camera Platform with IR, HS, Still, & HD Cameras - RF Cafe Cool Pic
Camera Platform with Infrared, High Speed,
Still, and High Definition Cameras

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Posted August 1, 2011