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NASA Sets Final Launch Dates for Space Shuttles Discovery, Endeavour

NASA sets dates for last space shuttle missions.After about 30 years of sending U.S. astronauts into space, NASA announced Thursday that space shuttles Discovery and Endeavour will make their last flights, respectively, on November 1st, 2010 and February 26th, 2011. According to Network World, Discovery's 10-day mission will be to deliver logistics carriers, which are basically cargo holds, and other spare parts to the International Space Station (ISS). The Endeavour will then fly a 13-day mission, delivering S-band antennas, a high-pressure gas tank, other spare parts, and an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which astronauts will use to detect cosmic rays, to the ISS. Of course, these dates could change, as the missions have already been delayed once due to problems with the spectrometer. [Ed. Note: Just remember, next time you are late, to blame it on your spectrometer.]

After NASA's shuttle program is shuttered early next year, U.S. astronauts will have to hitch rides on-board the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to travel between Earth and the ISS. But this high-tech taxi service won't last long; President Obama said in April that he wants to spend $3.1 billion on a heavy-lift rocket for deep-space exploration, and hopes that NASA will start building the rocket by 2015.

So, enjoy it while you can, Russia, because, in five short years, the U.S. will once again prove we're the best at spending billions of dollars on rockets while millions of people remain unemployed and without health insurance. [From: Network World, via: Popular Science]

Tags: flight, international space station, InternationalSpaceStation, NASA, president obama, PresidentObama, soyuz, space, SpaceShuttle, SpaceShuttleDiscovery, SpaceShuttleEndeavour, top