Last 4 shuttle astronauts arrive for countdown

July 4, 2011 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer

(AP) -- The four astronauts who will close out NASA's space shuttle program are at their Florida launch site, eager for a Friday takeoff.

Commander Christopher Ferguson and his crew flew into from Houston on Monday, the Fourth of July. NASA staff handed them small U.S. flags, as their launch director greeted them out on the runway.

The four will take Atlantis on the last flight of NASA's 30-year shuttle program. Atlantis will make a supply run to the , before joining Discovery and Endeavour in retirement.

Ferguson says it will be a busy 12-day flight. But when it's over, he says the astronauts will be "very proud to put the right-hand bookend on the ."

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1 / 5 (2) Jul 05, 2011
How sad it is that the USA can no longer put a man into space.

not rated yet Jul 07, 2011
How sad it is that the USA can no longer put a man into space.

Not true-- the US will always have the power to put a man into space, it's just that we won't temporarily. NASA is looking into cheaper, more reliable vehicles to transport crews into space, such as the Falcon 9 rocket by SpaceX, an all-American private company. This rocket can hold 7 people, and the last time NASA ever launched 7 people at one time was on Challenger. NASA needs to give up its bulky space shuttles to move onto something new. These new rockets will be much cheaper, allowing even more launches by NASA; they plan on using them by 2015.

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