Feeds

NASA hangs bunting for shuttle anniversary

30 years since Columbia first took to the skies

Build a business case: developing custom apps

NASA is gearing up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle launch later today at Kennedy Space Center, and administrator Charles Bolden will take centre stage to announce just where the surviving orbiters will finally be put on public display.

The festivities kick off at 17:00 GMT (13:00 EDT), and you can catch the action live on NASA TV. Bolden and Kennedy Center head honcho Bob Cabana will "honor the shuttle work force's dedication, which has made it possible for NASA to take the next steps in exploration and retire the shuttle fleet later this year".

John Young and Robert Crippen pose on the flight deck of Columbia. Pic: NASAOn 12 April, 1981, Columbia took to skies from Kennedy's launch pad 39A, carrying commander John Young and pilot Robert Crippen (pictured left and right). The latter said of the "enormous jolt" at lift-off: "There was no doubt you were headed someplace. It was a nice kick in the pants."

The two-day trip was to "demonstrate safe launch into orbit and safe return of the orbiter and crew", and "verify the combined performance of the entire shuttle vehicle – orbiter, solid rocket boosters and external tank".

Columbia was lost in 2003, 17 years after the 1986 Challenger disaster.

It was left to Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour to wrap the 30-year shuttle programme, and with its end in sight NASA invited "educational institutions, science museums, and other appropriate organizations" able to pay the $28.8m delivery charge to pitch to give a retired orbiter a home.

Discovery bowed out on 9 March this year, when it touched down at the end of its 39th mission – a 13-day trip to the International Space Station.

Endeavour's swansong STS-134 mission is slated to blast off on 29 April. It will carry the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the ISS. NASA hopes the shuttle programme's climactic moment won't come until 28 June, with the launch of Atlantis on STS-135.

The Atlantis crew pictured at Johnson Space Center. Pic: NASA

If it goes ahead, the mission will deliver the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to the ISS, packed with "supplies, logistics and spare parts". On board will be (pictured from left to right, above) Rex Walheim, commander Chris Ferguson, Sandy Magnus and pilot Doug Hurley. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.