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NASA's Endeavour Begins Final Mission

Written By: James Heiser  |  Posted: Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

                 As the Space Shuttle Endeavour began its final mission on May 16, the future of NASA's human space program remains uncertain. The space shuttle program is steadily approaching its end, but the readiness of the space agency to move forward in a post-shuttle era remains to be seen.

                As the Endeavour began its 25th flight, the inevitable blurring of science and publicity that has accompanied the manned space program since its beginning was in evidence. Related news stories focused on Endeavor's commander, Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) who was gravely wounded by a gunman in January. Some news accounts completely blurred together the scientific and 'human interest' angles, so that one ABC affiliate (WSET) reported the story: "On its 16-day mission, Endeavor will deliver a cosmic ray detector to the space station, which scientists hope will give them a glimpse into the very first moments of the universe, just after the big bang. On board, the astronauts are all wearing the blue bracelets celebrating Giffords life."

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