Only 11 Space Shuttle Missions Remain

by Nancy Atkinson on May 6, 2008

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Space shuttle Discovery now sits majestically out on launch pad 39A, preparing for the upcoming STS-124 mission to the International Space Station. With the shuttle program slated to terminate in 2010, there’s a limited amount of times we’ll see that sight again: a space shuttle will crawl out to the pad only 10 more times –or possibly only 9 more. And whether that thought chokes you up a bit, or evokes a shout of “It’s about time!” here’s a quick look at the remaining shuttle missions and what each will accomplish. All dates and personnel are subject to change. (Updated 7/7/08)


Mission: STS-124
Proposed Launch Date: May 31, 2008, 5:02 pm EDT
Shuttle: Discovery
Mission Description: Discovery will bring the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module – Pressurized Module (JEM-PM) and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System (JEM-RMS) to the ISS. This is the 10th flight since the Columbia disaster, and the first mission that includes all the design modification to the external tank. Crew: Mark Kelly, Ken Ham, Mike Fossum, Karen Nyberg, Ronald Garan and Akihiko Hoshide, as well as bringing Greg Chamitoff to the station as part of Expedition 18.


Mission: STS-125
Proposed Launch Date: ~ October 8, 2008
Shuttle: Atlantis
Mission Description: Atlantis will fly to the Hubble Space Telescope for the fifth and final servicing mission for the venerable telescope, improving the observatory’s capabilities through 2013. Since the shuttle won’t be going to the ISS, which provides a safe haven in the event of an emergency, another shuttle, Endeavour, must be ready to go at the pad. Hence, the delay from the original launch date of August 28, 2008 as an additional new and improved external tank won’t be ready by then.
Crew: Scott Altman, Greg Johnson, Megan McArthur, Michael Good, John Grunsfeld, Michael Massimino and Andrew Feustel.


Mission: STS-126
Proposed Launch Date: ~ November 10, 2008
Shuttle: Endeavour
Mission Description: Endeavour, on ISS flight ULF2, will deliver supplies to the station in a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, and execute crew exchange for the ISS.
Crew: Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Stephen Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Don Pettit, R. Shane Kimbrough, as well as bringing Sandra Magnus to the station as part of Expedition 18, and returning Greg Chamitoff back home after his stint as part of Exp. 18.

Mission: STS-119
Proposed Launch Date: February 12, 2009
Shuttle: Discovery
Mission Description: Discovery will bring the fourth starboard truss segment to the ISS on assembly flight 15A, as well as the fourth set of solar arrays and batteries. Click here for a video of how the assembly will be accomplished.
Crew: Lee Archambault, Dominic Antonelli, John Phillips, Steven R. Swanson, Joseph Acaba, Richard Arnold (Acaba and Arnold are Educator Astronauts). Additionally, STS-119 will bring JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata to the station as part of Expedition 18, and bring home astronaut Sandy Magnus.

Mission: STS-127
Proposed Launch Date: May 15, 2009
Shuttle: Endeavour
Mission Description: Endeavour will deliver and install the final component of the Japanese Experiment Module, the Exposed Facility.
Crew: Mark Polansky, Doug Hurley, Christopher Cassidy, Thomas Marshburn, Dave Wolf, Julie Payette, as well as bringing ISS Expedition 19 Flight Engineer Timothy Kopra to the station and returning Koichi Wakata back home.

Mission: STS-128
Proposed Launch Date: July 30, 2009
Shuttle: Atlantis
Mission Description: Atlantis’ primary payload will be the Italian Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Donatello, which will deliver equipment to allow for bringing the station crew from three to six.
Crew: Not yet set, but currently, Nicole Stott is scheduled to be brought to the station as part of the Expedition 19, and Tim Kopra will get a ride home. The additional astronauts for the increased ISS crew size have not yet been named.


Mission: STS-129
Proposed Launch Date: October 15, 2009
Shuttle: Discovery
Mission Description: Discovery will deliver the first two ExPRESS(Expedite the Processing of Experiments to the Space Station) Logistics Carriers, which allows for “outdoor” experiments at the ISS.
Crew: Not yet named, but astronaut Jeff Williams is scheduled to be brought on board as part of Expedition 20, and Nicole Stott brought home.

Mission: STS-130
Proposed Launch Date: December 10, 2009
Shuttle: Endeavour, (possibly its last flight (see below)
Mission Description: Endeavour will bring supplies to the ISS in the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. No crew for the shuttle or station has yet been named.

Mission: STS-131
Proposed Launch Date: February 11, 2010
Shuttle: Atlantis, on its final flight
Mission Description: Atlantis will deliver the Docking Cargo Module and the third and fourth EXPRESS Logistics Carriers to the ISS on Assembly Flight ULF5.

Mission: STS-132
Proposed Launch Date: April 8, 2010
Shuttle: Discovery, its final flight
Mission Description: deliver the Node 3 components to the ISS, which includes advanced life support systems and a Cupola with a robotic workstation. It’s possible that this flight could be the final space shuttle mission if an additional contingency mission is not needed.

Mission: STS-133
Proposed Launch Date: May 31, 2010
Shuttle: Endeavour (for sure the final flight!)
Mission Description: This is a contingency flight to finish any remaining construction or bring up any remaining components, and possibly bring the 5th ExPRESS Logistics Carrier. If needed, this will be the final space shuttle mission.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Ross May 6, 2008 at 1:06 PM

It is going to be sad when the Shuttles no longer launch. I think then we will have to reliy on some old pencil rockets there after to get into space.

Al Hall May 6, 2008 at 12:25 PM

I’ll go with the “It’s about time!” group. Time to put the focus (and money) back into exploration. The ISS is a good thing, and the shuttle has had some usefulness, but it’s time to get back to main reason for the existence of NASA (in my opinion).. Exploration!..

owen May 6, 2008 at 12:33 PM

its so sad to say goodbye to the space shuttle

Brian V May 6, 2008 at 1:31 PM

I’d say “it’s about time”. The shuttle is 1970′s technology flying in an age that requires faster, cheaper, and more practical craft.

And then there’s the safety issue… I only hope the remaining astronauts come home safe on these creaky old craft.

As Al Hall says above, more money into exploration would be great. With the advances in robotics and computers, imagine what could be done with the next-gen of unmanned space probes! The recent landing on Titan could just be the start of a new golden age of solar system exploration.

BR May 6, 2008 at 1:51 PM

Since you note Richard Arnold, you might want to point out that Joseph Acaba is also an Educator Astronaut. Both are flying on STS-119.

Nancy Atkinson May 6, 2008 at 2:05 PM

BR- Thanks for noticing that omission — its been fixed!

Cheech May 6, 2008 at 6:15 PM

Talking about space shuttles, can anyone tell me when they launch shuttles into space for no return, where they get fuel and energy to burn?

Astrofiend May 6, 2008 at 8:38 PM

Bring on STS-125 (Hubble)! The ISS can take a running jump.

It is sad to see the shuttle go – it is a veritable icon of the space age, along with the Saturn V and other major triumphs of engineering, despite what may be said about it’s cost. I must say I grew up watching those images of the shuttle and it ‘defined’ space and space exploration for me in my formative years.

I think it would be easier if there were something in line to replace it that seemed like an obvious step forward, but that is a long time away – we’ll have explored Pluto with New Horizons before that happens!

Pedro May 7, 2008 at 8:23 AM

I would say ‘it’s about time’ but the perspectives for the future seems a bit desapointing.

In early 60′s Kennedy announce that we would go to the moon. 10 years was enough to make it happen.

Now, 40 yrs later, somehow tentativily, whe’re returning to the moon. And Mars? And beyond Mars?

Should we blaim the shutle missions for that? I think without the shutle we would simply keep sending satelites and nothing more, learning zero about space traveling.

Al Hall May 8, 2008 at 12:52 AM

Pedro -

Without mentioning money, resources, and focus (manpower), a lot of the STS missions appeared to be nothing more than acting as a trucking company… After the 3rd or 4th launch they should have started thinking about passing it on to private companies. The satellite thing, that is.. From what I remember, we used the shuttle more often to put up satellites than anything else. A rocket would have been cheaper. But what did we do? We built more shuttles..
Don’t get me wrong… I am very happy that the shuttle came to be.. and it has many achievements….. I have been ‘face-to-face’ with Enterprise (the test shuttle).. It is very impressive. Hard to believe they can get such a huge thing off the ground, let alone, into space.
My hats off to the shuttle program..

http://www.nasm.si.edu/udvarhazy/

alphonso richardson May 9, 2008 at 5:50 AM

Ahh, all good things must come to an end….
Looks like I’ll never get to see a launch – I never got to see Concorde either.
2 examples of human desing elegance (for their time) & ingenuity.
I’ve said before, the shuttle is a bit long in the tooth now, but it’s a testament it’s been around for as long as it has, especially as its safety record ( in terms of corners cut as well as lives lost), hasn’t placed it on a good footing.
But realistically, I think the fleet has long past its due & should slide gracefully to one side.

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