Another kind of liftoff
July 8th, 2011
03:09 PM ET

Another kind of liftoff

Hello universe, and welcome to CNN's Light Years!

The space shuttle is making its final "sentimental journey into history." Despite all the arguments that have been made  here on about the logic of the program ending , we couldn't help but feel a tug as we watched NASA's final feat of this type.

Exploration, of course, does not end with the NASA shuttle program. We have created this blog to serve as a home for that wondrous curiosity about space, Earth and science. You'll find stories from the global CNN network here, from cells to Soyuz, fusion to fossils.

This blog is run by people who love space, science and technology. We're the ones who wax rhapsodic about rocket launches to anyone who will listen, and who bake pies on March 14 (that's Pi Day, for the uninitiated). We are constantly searching for new information on our favorite topics, and looking for people to share it with.

Welcome to Light Years. You can find us at or at and around the site as news merits.

We want you to share with us, too. Comment on our posts. Drop us a tweet: @CNNLightYears. Hit up  Tell us what you want to see in this space, and we'll do our best to bring it to you.

Post by:
Filed under: News
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Chasmine

    I love reading these articles because they're short but inrofmtaive.

    July 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  2. Kids Science Experiments

    Hi mate,
    This is a great post for such a complicated topic to talk about.

    I look forward to seeing many more excellent posts like these.


    July 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • elandau


      July 12, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  3. dale

    NASA needs a shuttlecraft program they should develop a shuttlecraft half this size, that can be placed on top of a booster to avoid any kind of damage and can escape very quickly.

    And make the cargo bay multi-tasked it can be for crew or cargo.

    Also the new and improved shuttle can dock to supply vessels filled with extra fuel and oxygen and other necessities for long space missions.

    Missions to Mars the new improved shuttle since it is smaller and much cheaper to build and maintain two or more can go to Mars at the same time, these smaller shuttles can be docked to fully equipped Mars Landers and equipped with Mars rovers.

    For return trips back to earth just simply dock to supply vessels that are already in orbit around Mars.

    July 8, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  4. Roy

    When Mercury ended, we had Gemini. When Gemini ended we had Apollo. When Apollo ended we had the shuttle. Now that the shuttle has ended, what do we have? Nothing, but that maybe, just maybe, some private company can develop a program that NASA can't. Controversial, no just plain stupid

    July 8, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Kaylana

      I'm so glad I found my suoltion online.

      July 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • tmyxlpdqe

      xUNEin zlgevszrrnib

      July 24, 2011 at 5:51 am |
  5. James Collins

    July 8, 2011

    Today was a very sad day for the United States of America. No matter how you spin it, the end of America’s Space Shuttle Program is, and will be portrayed by historians, as a pre-eminent example of the decline of the United States of America. It is the first time America has “given up” on anything, and coupled with our pathetic educational system, a failing economy, and a government in gridlock and only interested in promoting political gain, it appears our decline is accelerating. America was stabbed in the heart today. The glory of Atlantis searing a path across the sky today stands in stark contrast to the deep sadness at the end of an Era. Shame on you Mr. Obama….shame on you Congress….shame on you Americans that let this come to pass! You let a country down today…..The country that helped save the world from hatred, tyranny, oppression, hopelessness…you extinguished the Light of our Nation. SHAME ON YOU!

    James C. Collins
    Virginia Beach, VA

    July 8, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Stephen Collins

      So America is letting the pursuit of space exploration and attendant knowledge and technology die? It seems we will lead the world back into the stone age!

      July 8, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
      • RML

        Well you idiots elected George W Bush, failed to impeach him, let him ruin your economy with wars you could not afford and then insulted the world by entertaining Sarah Palin as a potential replacement. What a joke the US has become and what a tragedy this is for the world.The God in whom you supposedly trust will not save America – he does not exist. Meanwhile the Chinese Communist Party, well stocked with smart engineers capable of rational thought, is out thinking and outsmarting you all the way to world domination ....

        July 11, 2011 at 6:21 am |
  6. Oscar Navarrete

    What is the big deal with the last space shuttle? According to history, we stopped the Redstone Rocket, we stopped the Mercury missions, We stopped the Gemini missions, we stopped going to the moon when Apollo ended, and we let Skylab burn up over Australia after only three missions. We throw stuff away all the time. Now that Nasa's purse strings are going to be squezeed tighter than ever, it's just time to let it go. Nasa is going to specialize in what it's always done: Communications Satellites. Other than that, I don't think the Republicans and the Tea Party Conservatives are going to let the U.S. do much of anything for the rest of the decade. At this rate, We will be lucky if we get to Mars by 2199.

    July 8, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  7. Frances

    Jack Cafferty, Assuming you might ask what more people want from space exploration with this last shuttle; I would suggest those 9,000+ administrtors, engineers, technicians, support staff be hired by a "new" NASA type agency to bring our 19th century railroad system into the 21st century... HIGH SPEED. The Chinese go from Beijung to Shandhai in 5 hours– same distance New York City to Chicago 15+ hours..... This should be our next priority and we have the skilled people to make it happen. Thank you.

    July 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  8. michelle

    i dont understand. if there wont be any more shuttle launches, what is taking its place?

    July 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Rob

      Nothing, until NASA eventually develops a new type of launch vehicle.

      July 8, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Oscar Navarrete

      Communications Satellites. That's the only valuable thing that Conservative Republicans see in Outer Space.

      July 8, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Martin

      Alas Nowt is taking its place for a while! Basically you Yanks will now have to hitch a ride on Russian launch vehicles. European ones aren't man-rated yet and your own replacement got defundedin a mire of mess. Hopefully at some point in the next few years partisanship will take a quick break and the US will manage to decide what to do with the billions of $ of tech that has already been developed for manned flight. In the mean time, y'all are grounded.

      July 8, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  9. Andrea

    Thank you! I was just watching the 135 launches in 135 seconds video, and attempting to explain to my two year old why I am teary eyed at the idea of no more shuttle launches. I don't think he cares, but I want him to grow up in a world where we value scientific exploration and achievement more than we value military victories. Looking forward to what you have to bring us.

    July 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • KevThom

      Apparently the Space Shuttle will be replaced by the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). Check out the following article:

      July 10, 2011 at 12:15 am |


  • Elizabeth Landau
  • Sophia Dengo
    Senior Designer