Friday, February 4, 2011

Mark Kelly WILL Command STS-134

Mark Kelly, America's currently most famous astronaut because of the attempt on his wife Gabrielle Giffords' life, WILL command the STS-134 Space Shuttle mission.


That's aMERica, baby! Regardless of what happens to your loved ones, the tough get going.

Congrats to Commander Kelly and NASA on what must have been a very tough decision.

Go, go Gadget!

Universe Today has a nice write-up: here.

"Kelly's mission already was set to be one of the highest profile shuttle flights ever. It will be Endeavour's last voyage and the next-to-last for the entire 30-year shuttle program, and will feature the delivery of an elaborate physics experiment by a Nobel prize winner."   ...

From Wiki:

Samuel Chao Chung Ting  (born January 27, 1936) is an American physicist who received the Nobel Prize in 1976, with Burton Richter, for discovering the subatomic J/ψ particle. He is the principal investigator for the international $1.5 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer project scheduled for installation on the International Space Station in 2011.

In 1995, not long after the cancellation of the Superconducting Super Collider project had severely reduced the possibilities for experimental high-energy physics on Earth, Ting proposed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a space-borne cosmic-ray detector. The proposal was accepted and he became the principal investigator and has been directing the development since then. A prototype, AMS-01, was flown on Space Shuttle mission STS-91 in 1998. The main follow-on mission, AMS-02, was then planned for launch by the Shuttle and mounting on the International Space Station.[3]

This project is a massive $1.5 billion undertaking involving 500 scientists from 56 institutions and 16 countries. After the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, NASA announced that the Shuttle was to be retired by 2010 and the AMS-02 was not on the manifest of any of the remaining Shuttle flights. Dr. Ting was forced to lobby Congress and the public to secure an additional Shuttle flight dedicated to this project. Also during this time, Ting has had to deal with numerous technical problems in fabricating and qualifying the large, sensitive and delicate detector module for space. AMS-02 is manifested for launch on Shuttle mission STS-134 in February 2011.[4] [5]

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