You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is..

Yesterday’s attempt was scrubbed with an hour to go, but NASA will try to launch Shuttle Mission STS 115:Atlantis again today at 11:14:55 a.m. EDT (16:14:55 pm BST)- Launch blog.. NASA TV. [pesky sensors permitting – Ed] While waiting, just time to catch up on other space-related news [*ahem* – Ed] NASA has awarded the contract to develop the replacement for the space shuttle, Orion, in a surprise to some, to Lockheed Martin Corporation. It will use solid rocket boosters, Ares, and is expected to form the basis of manned missions to the Moon, a stepping stone towards further missions to Mars. Meanwhile the European Space Agency’s first lunar mission, SMART-1, successfully crashed into the Moon last weekend.. with a small bang UpdateAtlantis has successfully launched and safely reached orbit.

Btw, absolutely stunning images during that launch, from the camera on the main external fuel tank, as a vividly blue and green curved Earth slipped into view.. all the way to the point at which the main tank was dropped and Atlantis swooped on into orbit.

More on the launch here

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  • The Devil

    How much of a nonsense does the return to Ares type rockets make of the notion that the USA ever had a lunar mission before.

  • Pete Baker

    A nonsense, Mr Satan?

    Not quite a return either.. it’s a hybrid of what works, if anything.. a solid rocket, a lá the Shuttle.. and a secondary liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen stage.

    I’d suspect there may be a plan to launch any effective Mars mission from a Moon base [Moon Base Alpha? – Ed]

    And let’s drop the conspiracy theory, eh?

  • The Devil

    What works pete….

    and “And let’s drop the conspiracy theory, eh?”

    what conspiracy theory, is 2 + 2 = 4 a theory

    is water being wet a theory

    is scap being stakeknife a theory

    is the absolute childish garbage that man set foot on the moon in 1969 still dear to your heart pete, like worshiping the Sun or burning witches

  • susan

    Pete, in your quest for intelligent life on earth, you might enjoy the reflections of Pat Santy on “The Orphans of Apollo” from her Dr. Sanity blog. (Pat was a NASA aerospace physician; she worked with the Challenger crew and was present the day the Challenger blew up.)

    http://drsanity.blogspot.com/

  • Pete Baker

    All Hail the Great Sol, Mr Satan!

    Thanks susan.. I keep hoping there’s some intelligent life out there..

  • susan

    (Cough)

    I realise this is a bit of an obscure departure for a Northern Ireland blog, but I was a bit startled when it was pointed out to me just how far to the right some of Dr. Sanity’s political posts are. I’d only read her links directly related to NASA.

    Nonetheless, for those of us (all 4!) still riveted by the pitfalls and possibilities of space exploration, her blog from January 27, 2005, “Challenger: A Flight Surgeon Remembers,” is required reading.

    http://drsanity.blogspot.com/2005/01/challenger-flight-surgeon-remembers.html

  • Crataegus

    Space is exceedingly dangerous and I doubt if we will make significant advances in human exploration until there are good commercial reasons to go there. Curiosity is the reason for much of what we do and some vague ideas on defence. Yet space exploration has caused major advances in technology and for me is uplifting and shows what we can do.

    Communication satellites are regularly being launched but until other commercial ventures materialise NASA is at the forefront making the first tenuous steps. However given how hazardous space is to humanity perhaps our period of exploitation will be dependent on genetic modification. Now there is a scary thought. The last 50 years have been the era of micro chip the next century is likely to be an era of increasing knowledge of genetics. This is a field that perturbs me or rather the potential for abuse and some of the possible uses.

    I tend to think of space exploration in terms of 1492 and the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. If we manage not to destroy ourselves with war, famine, overcrowding or pestilence in 500 years time who knows?

  • susan

    We literally cannot afford to push the frontiers of space exploration; and yet, as a species, perhaps we cannot afford not to. Crataegus, here is a link to an article on calls for space exploration as an “intelligent lifeboat” for humanity in the hopes of preparing for some sort of life after earth:

    http://www.sciencentral.com/articles/view.php3?article_id=218392844&cat=3_all