Good-bye Shuttle

Looking back at the space plane’s scientific legacy

By Alexandra Witze, 10:30 AM June 2, 2011

Three decades and 135 flights after its first launch, the space shuttle is ending its reign. After the final orbiter, Atlantis, touches down — on a trip scheduled to begin no earlier than July 8 — NASA will officially close the books on the shuttle program. For the near term, the agency will buy seats aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. For the long term, private businesses are trying to develop ways to fly crews into low-Earth orbit, as...

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