Upcoming shuttle launch closes a 34-year chapter of U.S. space exploration
Look for a preview of the Atlantis launch or links to multimedia materials at the paper's website.
Contrast the length and placement of shuttle news with coverage of other national events. Do you think the balance is about right? Should this space mission get more attention or less?
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Part of U.S. history is scheduled to blast into space near the end of next week. Pre-retirement orbits by Atlantis, the last active shuttle in NASA's fleet, will wrap up a manned launch program that began 34 years and 134 missions ago. After its 33rd flight, a mission to resupply the International Space Station, Atlantis will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Merritt Island, Fla.
A chance to witness the final liftoff, scheduled July 8, is a big draw for space buffs and others. Tickets that cost $20 to $65 through a NASA lottery are offered for hundreds of dollars on eBay and other sites. Spectators also can see the historic launch for free at nearby beaches and other spots.
During the 12-day flight, four astronauts will deliver spare parts and other supplies to the orbiting station. The mission also features test flights of a robot to investigate the potential for unmanned refueling of existing spacecraft. Also aboard are 11 student science experiments chosen from more than 500 submitted by schools around the country. The same mini-lab carrying those projects also will hold zero-gravity experiments from researchers in government, universities and industry.
Then U.S. manned spaceflight takes a long break while NASA scientists and engineers -- working on a tight budget -- plan trips to Mars eventually. "We are committed to living within our means in these tough fiscal times," says Administrator Charles Bolden. "And we are committed to carrying out our ambitious new plans for exploration and discovery."
Commander says: "We're just trying to savor the moment. We're incredibly proud to represent this, the final flight." -- Navy Capt. Chris Ferguson, mission commander
President says: "By 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space. We'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time."
Astronaut says: "The space shuttle won't stop inspiring people. They're going to park Atlantis down at the Kennedy Space Center and kids are going to go real close for the first time to see the Atlantis and say, wow that's amazing we can launch those into space. And hopefully they'll get the same reaction and say let's do it again, let's do it again." -- Rex Walheim, Atlantis crew member
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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