Last Shuttle night launch on February 7

By Phil Plait | January 30, 2010 6:32 pm

Speaking of NASA and the Shuttle, the last planned night launch of the Shuttle is scheduled for February 7 at 04:39 Eastern time (09:39 GMT). This will be a 13 day mission for Endeavour, which will install the Tranquility node, a connector, and a cupola to the ISS. After this, five more launches are planned, the last being in September.

MORE ABOUT: ISS, Space Shuttle

Comments (23)

  1. Messier Tidy Upper

    For all their faults -and yes there were many – I for one will miss the shuttles when they’re gone.

    Didn’t I see a mention on your last post about the shuttle still flying next year though?

    Is it possible the remarkable, breath-takingly spectacular machine that is the Space Shuttle might make it into 2011 after all? You know, given the first flight was in 1981 (unless I’m mistaken) that’d be kind of apt.

    Think 1981-2011 and, sadly, think also that in that span of decades we’ve pathetically failed to build & fly a single worthy replacement.

    Personally, I’d prefer a zero-gap policy where we don’t stop flying the shuttle until its replacement (whatever that is) is ready to take over immediately but I guess that ain’t goanna happen. Not being able to fly US astronauts into orbit on American craft – even for a short time seems painful. :-(

    PS. BA Can you please tell us if you’ve heard any more about NASA’s plan B for replacing the Ares-Constellation :

    Is that any chance to happen now? What are your thoughts on that Plan B idea today?

  2. The more I read about DIRECT, the more I am liking that program.

    I wish I could have made it to the Cape for a night launch when I lived in FL.

  3. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ the BA

    BTW. I asked this on the “axing rumours” thread too :

    but because it was very late (#170) there, I’m thinking you probably haven’t seen it & may not do so & I’d love to hear your answer please. Its a bit off topic sorry, but I hope you forgive that ok? :

    170. Messier Tidy Upper Says:

    The BA modestly said :

    It’s a lot to think about, and I’m not an insider expert on NASA.

    Really? You’re not? You’ve worked with them for many years incl. on Hubble. It says in your sidebar bio here that :

    Phil Plait, the creator of Bad Astronomy, is an astronomer, lecturer, and author. After ten years working on Hubble Space Telescope and six more working on astronomy education, he struck out on his own as a writer.

    Now I presume that decade on the HST & 6 more years on education was with NASA, right?

    But you *don’t* think of yourself as a NASA insider or expert Dr Plait? Why not?

    I beg to disagree – *I* think of you as an expert here! 😉

  4. Teshi

    So, I’ll never get to see a night launch in person, at least of the shuttle. I’m allowed to feel sad, right?

  5. Pi-needles

    ^ Teshi,

    You are allowed to feel sad if I am. I’m in the same non-launch viewing boat as you.

    Anyhow, I’m not sure how anyone can stop you from feeling any emotion. (Or anybody else incl. me & yes I’m sad about this too.)

    Well maybe a super-telepath like Lyta Alexander from B-5 or River Tamm from Firefly or that freaky kid from was it a Twilight Zone ep. or a short story /SF-horror novel or someone like that hypothetically could but that’s all. 😉

    If you control your own mind then you … er .. *still* can’t really control your emotions to the point of not feeling them. More’s the pity sometimes.

  6. Steve-o

    I’ve always wanted to see a shuttle launch. I always preferred to go see a night launch. I’ve lived in Florida for the last 7 years and haven’t seen one.

    I’ve already made the commitment to go see the one on February 7th. I’m driving up to Orlando from Miami to visit a friend Friday night, and we’re going early Sunday morning to see it.

    Interesting side note – My boss asked all of the employees last week what we were doing for the superbowl. When my turn came, I said that I’d most likely miss it because I’d be driving back from seeing the last-ever nighttime launch of the space shuttle. She looked at me as though I just said I traded a winning lotto ticket for a jelly donut. She said (paraphrased) “You’re missing the biggest game of the year for THAT?”


  7. Ben

    First, there are four more after this not five.

    Second, this is not the absolutely last planned night launch. It just so happens that the remaining four are durrently on days when they would launch in daylight. The slightest delay to any can move them into night; especially if July 29 moves just a few days out.

  8. Jen

    You know, this is like the 3rd launch I’ve seen billed as the “last night launch”. People need to learn to add “unless the schedule slips” to that statement. I personally am hoping for a little slip later in the year because I can’t go to this one, and I’d really like to see a night launch.

  9. Wayne on the plains

    I guess I’ll hope the July launch gets bumped a few days, I’m planning to be there for that one. Of course, I hope it doesn’t get bumped too far, or I’ll miss it (again).

  10. Frank

    I am already feeling a nostalgic sense of loss for the shuttle. We seem to have a shortage of healthy things to be proud of right now.

    On the bright side, there’s a moon that’s been waiting 40 years for our return.

  11. Jen (#8): I did say “planned” night launch.

  12. DrFlimmer

    Aren’t there supposed to be 5 flights this year, meaning that after Endeavour only 4 more launches will take place?

    Hopefully they get off the ground next Sunday, otherwise I won’t be able to watch the launch. So, NASA, just launch as planned just for once 😉

  13. PlanetaryGear

    considering the whole firing room just flooded due to a fire sprinkler malfunction the launch may be delayed a bit… They say not, but there was water in all the wiring under the floors, I hope they take some time to clean up and test. That aside I dont see why they can’t extend the shuttle program a bit, nobody seems to know what the heck they are doing. Relying on the Russians to launch us for several years is going to be expensive too.

  14. Harman Smith

    I should be able to follow this launch live. Cool beans.

  15. Ken

    #13 PlanetaryGear: It may already be too late to add a few more launches. The supply chain has already been partially shut down (e.g. external tank production). Restarting that could be very expensive…

  16. Ben

    Phil, change five more missions after this to four.

    “Planned” to me implies another one would be unplanned. But this is the wrong way to put it.

    And people like this don’t help:

  17. Is there a list somewhere of remaining shuttle launch dates and summaries of what the missions are? I think I want to make a trip

  18. John Paradox

    5. Pi-needles Says:

    Anyhow, I’m not sure how anyone can stop you from feeling any emotion. (Or anybody else incl. me & yes I’m sad about this too.)

    Well maybe a super-telepath like Lyta Alexander from B-5 or River Tamm from Firefly or that freaky kid from was it a Twilight Zone ep. or a short story /SF-horror novel or someone like that hypothetically could but that’s all. 😉

    Ah, yes, the classic TZ: It’s a Good Life. Starring Bill(y) Mumy, also in B5.
    Actually, he couldn’t stop people from feeling emotion, with his reaction to one person who opposed him made me forever look at jack-in-the-boxes differently.


  19. There could be a 6th flight… NASA has already paid for and has had built the necessary equipment for STS-335, which would be launched as a rescue shuttle if the last scheduled flight, STS-133 (last year they swapped the order of STS-134 and 133, so 133 is now last), ran into problems and couldn’t re-enter or land safely. This is just like the plan to launch a rescue shuttle for the Hubble repair mission, except there isn’t the same time crunch since the astronauts can wait for several months on the ISS. For most regular missions to the ISS, the next scheduled shuttle flight is the designated rescue mission, but since STS-133 is the last, there is no “next scheduled flight.”

    However, NASA is looking into making a deal with the Russians such that they could use Soyuz capsules to return the astronauts from the ISS if they can’t land in their shuttle, and thus be able to launch the STS-335 equipment (under the name STS-135) as the final flight, either late this year or early next.

    Also, there once was a hard and fast “drop dead” date that the last shuttle flight had to go before the end of fiscal 2010 (Oct 1, 2010, IIRC), but fortunately this stupid and dangerous artificial deadline has been rescinded. (What were they thinking, STS-133 is sitting on the pad in Florida in September, and a hurricane comes along and NASA has a choice of leaving it on the pad and hoping for the best, or pulling it back to the VAB and missing the October 1 deadline, or is under enormous pressure to launch after a delay to Sept. 30?) So even without an STS-135, if there are cascading delays (remember the woodpeckers?), the last launch or two could easily slip to next year.

  20. Pi-needles

    @ 18. John Paradox: THX. :-)

    @ 19 Ben & 20. Buzz Parsec: THX too. :-)

  21. anonymous

    They essentially made it official today there will not be any added shuttle missions beyond the five.

  22. anonymous

    And as of February 16th, STS-131 has been delayed to April 5, a night launch. Big surprise.


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