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Last space shuttle comes home, ending 30-year era

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"America's not going to stop exploring"

Especially exploring ways to reduce the terrible debt burden.

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"all those losing their jobs because of the shuttle's end"

Most of these jobs were taxpayer-paid jobs.

"private companies have been tapped to take over cargo hails and astronaut rides to the space station"

Good.

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It was a thrilling ride, but the design had inherent flaws; the vehicle was subject to debris strikes and unable to safely detach during launch should disaster strike. Moving for the time being back towards a traditional capsule should solve this and reduce cost-per-launch; also, this can and should be done by private companies as it is relatively stable technology. NASA belongs on the cutting edge; it has several unmanned probes in space or under development that will do some wonderful science.

As for near-Earth launches, they will become superfluous if the Space Elevator is ever realized, and I think it will be within the next two decades.

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Definitely the end of an era, and it's sad that it's come to that. I hope they can choose a shuttle design and start planning new missions before too long, private companies or otherwise.

Good job, NASA.

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I just watched it live on BBC. It makes me so sad. Foxie, I remember that too! (oops, age showing)

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This is the end of an era. I still remember watching the first landing on the moon in black and white, had to get up in the middle of the night. This mission too ended in the dark. Thanks God the Russians are continuing the mission.

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The eagle hath landed, for the final time.

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