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'Retired' Atlantis Embarks New Mission of Inspiring New Generations


NASA has transformed itself many times and this latest incarnation begins with the retirement of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Atlantis was brought out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on a 76 wheeled platform, considerable smaller than the huge crawlers normally seen bringing the shuttle out to the launch site. It was carried along a 10 mile stretch to its new residence at Kennedy Space Centers Visitor's Center.

The Visitor Center "Rocket Garden" is home to Redstone, Atlas, and Titan launch vehicles.

New Facility For Atlantis

However, Atlantis is to be housed in a new $100 million dollar facility. There to bid farewell to the Shuttle were numerous past Atlantis crew members, including Commander Chris Fergusen, current NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. who also previously flew on an Atlantis mission, and several hundred employees who helped make the shuttle missions possible. A number of these individuals will lose their jobs with the end of the shuttle program.

NASA Helped Generate Money For The Economy

The author of this article likes to know that his audience is educated to the benefits, not just of education, but also of the space program. This said, a number of individuals who would complain about the expense of the space program are sadly... ill informed. When one considers that NASA's Spinoff Program has teamed the Space Center with numerous small businesses to innovate new products. This has led to NASA helping small business generate over $4 for every $1 spent on the space program.

Cutbacks Lead To Overseas Outsourcing

This also ignores that because of our cutbacks, the United States has been compelled to seek help, and spend resources outside the United States using Russian launch vehicles to maintain our satellites, and to work in conjunction with the International Space Station.

Nevertheless, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr, made a good point when he pointed out, "NASA is here to make Science Fiction into Science Fact," and that, "While the Shuttle Atlantis' mission of discovery has ended, it has begun a new mission of inspiring new generations."

NASA Astronaut Chris Ferguson, and commander of Atlantis's Final Flight.

Charles Bolden Jr
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr., and also a previous Atlantis crewmember

shuttle employees who assisted with the Atlantis program...

Space Shuttle Atlantis being led to its new home at the KSC Visitor's Center by the Merritt Island High School Honor Guard, and the Titusville High School Band.

Michael Markman graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in History. He is a poet, traveler and author. Read more stories by Michael Markman.

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