Friday, the only remaining Space Shuttle from the original fleet, Atlantis, blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA blogged the launch. It’s amazing how many little things go into a shuttle launch as I learned at Space Camp (technically Space Academy, Level II) in 1989. The blog reminded me.
It features a number of the potential concerns – temperature, emergency landing sites, recovery for the rocket boosters, etc. When you read about these details, it becomes clear why the space program is so expensive. (But don’t be intimidated by all of the acronyms – they tend to explain most of them except MECO (main engine cut-off).)
This mission is a routine space station parts delivery mission to complete the station. “STS-115 will resume the on-orbit construction of the station with the delivery of the P3/4 truss and a new set of solar arrays. After the truss is attached to the station, the STS-115 crew will conduct three spacewalks to outfit the truss and to prepare the arrays for operation. The solar arrays are slated to be unfurled on flight day 6.”
I remember in 1989 I learned all about the original space station “Freedom” design that was planned and we had a mock-up of it that we used for training. The ISS (International Space Station) we have now is different from what was planned, but it’s not as bad as many originally thought it would be.