Highlights of Endeavor's final flight and outlook on the Space Shuttle Program

Aula B. Touschek (Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Via Enrico Fermi 40, Frascati)

Aula B. Touschek

Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Via Enrico Fermi 40, Frascati

Via Enrico Fermi 40 00044 Frascati

The STS134 has been the last flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour. The 16 days mission has concluded the ISS assembly with the delivery of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. The Italian part of the STS134 has been identified as the DAMA mission and it included 6 additional experiments. The six-crew mission has been training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for about 2 years. The initial launch date was scheduled to be for the end of July 2010, but, due to a number of delays, the launch happened on the 16th of May 2011. For the numerous robotic arm operations, as well as for the significance of the extra vehicular activities, the STS134 mission will remain in the story of the space activities as one of the most complex mission ever. The perfect, spectacular, night landing on the runway of the Kennedy Space Center, could not have offered any better image of the conclusion of the Shuttle era. The retiring of the Shuttle, nevertheless, is also opening to new opportunities. NASA is, in fact, looking for alternative proposals as deriving from private industry initiatives. The most visible, so far, has been the SpaceShip1. Nevertheless, a number of different projects are more and more consistently surfacing into an enlarged community of spaceship designers with very interesting new projects, and with very promising new ideas.

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