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Surprising Science

Atlantis Makes Space Station Delivery

The International Space Station received a year’s worth of supplies in a giant shopping cart yesterday, courtesy of the astronauts on N.A.S.A.’s final shuttle flight made by Atlantis.

What’s the Latest Development?

Astronauts at the International Space Station (I.S.S.) have received a year’s worth of supplies from the crew aboard the Atlantis, the last of N.A.S.A.’s space shuttles to ever visit the I.S.S. as the program will be terminated once the current mission in completed. The I.S.S. crew received more than a ton of food, including a bag of fresh fruit, new clothes and spare parts for the Space Station. “Astronauts Sandra Magnus and Douglas Hurley used the space station’s hulking robot arm to hoist the bus-size container out of Atlantis’s payload bay and attach it to the orbiting outpost.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The I.S.S. and N.A.S.A.’s shuttle program were two peas in a pod and both have outlived their expected lifespan by decades. In fact, the continuation of the shuttle program was based nearly entirely on the need to restock the I.S.S. Now that the space shuttle will no longer be an option, what is the future of the Space Station and of space flight in general? In the near future, the Russian national space program will be relied upon to carry astronauts and crew into orbit. And eventually, private American space ventures hope to assume many of N.A.S.A.’s current responsibilities. 


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