The last flight of Space Shuttle Discovery is slated for after 4pm EST today and once she returns from docking with the International Space Station (ISS), it’s off to retirement for the old dame. NASA will launch one more space shuttle mission and then the entire program will be mothballed and another era will pass into the sunset. Drat! I missed my space shuttle ride.
The ISS is currently being serviced by robotic spacecraft called ATV’s, or Automated Transfer Vehicles, while we wait for the new shuttle replacement, Orion spacecraft series, being built by Lockheed-Martin. These will not only ferry crews and material from Earth to the ISS and back, but will usher in the next phase of interplanetary exploration; initially the Moon and Mars.
The next fifty years is likely to put the old Wild West to shame. Can’t wait!