FOR everyone associated with NASA's 30-year space shuttle project which ended with the return of Atlantis to Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Thursday. There have been 135 such flights to and from the international space station but also two disasters in 1986 and 2003 in each of which seven astronauts lost their lives. For the first time in a half-century the United States has no space launching vehicle in existence or production although work on the design of a heavy-lift rocket for a return to the Moon and eventualy to Mars will be continued.

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