As the United States prepares to end its space shuttle program, technologies developed to nurture the reusable spaceships through three decades of flight will live on in day-to-day use on Earth.
Shuttle Atlantis and its four-member crew are due back at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:57 a.m. EDT on Thursday after a mission to resupply the International Space Station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, currently orbiting about 250 miles above the planet.
NASA points to the station, finished this year after 12 years of assembly by shuttle crews, as the program’s crowning achievement, but it is far from the only one.
“Space shuttle has provided unbelievable benefit and return on the investment of the American taxpayer,” said NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver.
That investment, including development and operational costs over the past 40 years, tallies about $200 billion, according to a recent University of Colorado study.
The shuttle program also took a toll in human life, with 14 astronauts killed in two separate accidents…… Continue reading U.S. space shuttle spawned heart pump, fly by wire