News FocusScience on the Shuttle

NASA's Busload of Science

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Science  01 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6038, pp. 28-29
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6038.28

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Next week, a controversial chapter in space science is scheduled to end with the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis. Over the course of 3 decades, NASA's five shuttles have flown 134 missions. Although science was never their primary purpose (see timeline), the shuttles served as a singular platform from which to observe Earth and the effects of weightlessness. They also launched a half-dozen major scientific satellites and gave new life to the once-crippled Hubble Space Telescope. Yet the shuttles' accomplishments are haunted by unfulfilled promises.

  • * Dan Charles is a writer in Washington, D.C.