Welcome Home, Discovery, and Thanks for the Memories…

We’ve had more space posts than usual in the last week or so, but I wanted to give a shoutout to the Space Shuttle Discovery and its crew, for the safe landing and the successful completion of its final mission. I’m one of over 80,000 viewers watching the post-landing video stream on NASA TV over at uStream, and I think that the approaching end of the shuttle program has really reminded everyone of its amazing achievements over the past 30 years.

Shuttle Discovery set for its final launch today

It’s the beginning of the end of an era for NASA’s shuttle program, as Discovery is set for its final launch at 4:50pm EST today, with Endeavor’s final mission currently scheduled for April, and Atlantis’ possibly the summer. I have always been a huge fan of the shuttle program, and can remember when I got special permission to get out of class and go to the school library to watch the very first shuttle, Columbia, launch on its maiden voyage.

The shuttle program accomplished so many milestones, and there have been reports that the shuttle fleet may be sold for private use after their missions for NASA and the US government are complete. Other private initiatives for space flight are pretty exciting as well, so hopefully we will see more amazing innovations in the next few years.

To commemorate Discovery’s last mission and the shuttle program, CNN put together this great compilation of 132 seconds of shuttle launches – enjoy!

2012 Federal Budget: A Visual

You have to love Facebook because many times friends will post news articles that you might have missed. Everyone is talking about the new 2012 U.S. Government Budget that just came out. The New York Times has created a visual of the budget with different size blocks representing spending with a rollover to show the percentage of change from 2010. It is nifty to play with and gets across the big (or not) spending picture. The Washington Post uses a similar visual forrmat to show spending priorities from Reagan to Obama. Both visuals are interesting on their own but it is the surrounding budget articles that provide a good context for understanding their “rectangles”.