STS-135, the final mission for both the Orbiter Atlantis and the Space Shuttle program has come and gone. (Read NASA’s mission overview HERE) Considered a success, the curtain has now dropped and final bows have been taken. An astonishing 30 year run of exploration for the Shuttles, filled with triumph and tragedy alike, is complete.
However, that doesn’t mean the story is over. What happens to the vehicles and launch facilities themselves now that they are put out to pasture? Indeed, what is the future of space exploration itself? In this third part of the Space Shuttle Legacy, we’ll answer those questions.
Where Do They Go Now?
In this About.com article, the 4 surviving orbiter vehicles are to been given different parts of the United States where they will be on display.
Enterprise will take her place at Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. Discovery will take the coveted spot at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Endeavour will be housed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. And the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex in Florida will be the home of the Atlantis. I would highly recommend that you go and see at least one of these incredible machines if you have the means.
However, one of the launch pads for those vessels will get a slightly less ceremonious end; but that doesn’t mean it’s purpose will be any less important. Pad 39-B, which launched 52 shuttle missions is being dismantled. This will pave the way for a new “clean pad” approach to maximize efficiency and adaptability for future spacecraft launch systems.
What’s Next for NASA?
On July 1st, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued a firm statement outlining the future of exploration and development for the space agency. New space craft development, the continued efforts of the International Space Station, and probes to outlying parts of the solar system are just a few of the goals NASA has in store. Plus, efforts to make a space flight and exploration a commercial effort are not too far off either. The future looks bright indeed for our continued journey into the final frontier.
What’s Your Take?
Most of us can take away something memorable from the efforts of the Space Shuttle program. Whether it’s an overall impression, or something more specific, NASA’s 30 year mission has touched almost all of us here at Starbase 118. In the comments, we’d love to hear your thoughts about what the Space Shuttle Legacy has meant in your life.
It’s with great fondness and pride we say farewell to the Space Shuttle. Thanks for the memories.