On October 8th, Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift-off for a final visit to the Hubble Space Telescope. While there, the astronauts will perform various upgrades and maintenance tasks on the telescope to, hopefully, extend its lifespan past the Shuttle retirement (2010, the year we make contact) and into the next orbital vehicles reign.
The awesome site, The Big Picture, has a bunch of high-ish res pictures showing NASA preparing the shuttle and its crew for the mission. We have one of them, in much reduced form, on the right over there. Check out the whole thing, it’s really cool. I especially like the underwater training. I’d pay to experience that myself.
Now, I could go off on a rant about how the U.S. government, with an assist from NASA and an apathetic public, has squandered many chances to expand our presence in space, and how much it sucks that, only now, is it even barely possible that low orbit is achievable for the moderately wealthy. I could, but I won’t. What I will do, though, is point out that NASA as a trailer for the Hubble mission. How cool is that? Check it out: