Though NASA's shuttle program ended this summer, the space agency's quest to explore the universe isn't over.
On Thursday, NASA is scheduled to launch a Delta 2 rocket carrying twin GRAIL spacecraft – GRAIL short for "Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory." It is the space agency's first step towards landing the next generation of astronauts on the moon.
Many people have been involved in this effort, although one woman's involvement may come as a surprise to some. Nichelle Nicols, better known as Lt. Uhura from the classic sci-fi show "Star Trek," helped to recruit NASA astronauts. "Star Trek" will celebrate its 45th anniversary of the first airing of the series this week on the same day that the rocket is set to launch.
Nicols joins American Morning live from Captain James Kirk's actual seat from the show at the Kennedy Space Center this morning to discuss NASA's missile launch and her experience in "Star Trek."
Atlantis landed safely back on Earth this morning at the Kennedy Space Center, capping NASA's 30-year space shuttle program.
It was a sentimental occasion for the four astronauts who flew the final mission and delivered more than 9,400 pounds of spare parts, equipment and other supplies to the International Space Station.
NASA launched the space shuttle program on April 12, 1981, and has since sent five shuttles on a total of 135 missions, bringing 355 people from 16 countries to space.
Today on American Morning, Leroy Chiao, a former astronaut who has flown on three shuttle missions, joins Ali Velshi and Kiran Chetry to talk about the success of the final mission and to discuss the future of NASA programs and private space travel.
Astronauts on the shuttle Atlantis have begun to wrap up the shuttle's final mission today in preparation for their return to Earth tomorrow morning, set to occur at 5:56am ET.
The conclusion of this mission marks the end of NASA's revered shuttle program, which has been in operation since the Columbia launched into space 30 years ago.
Since then, five shuttles have taken 130 flights, carrying more than 350 people into space and traveling more than half a billion miles.
Today on American Morning:Wake Up Call, STS-135 commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus join Ali Velshi live from space to share their thoughts on NASA's final mission and to weigh in about the future of space travel and exploration.
Today, Atlantis' astronauts will begin the job of preparing their shuttle for landing at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday. The shuttle mission, STS-135 on Atlantis, will conclude NASA's 30-year-old space shuttle program, leaving many to wonder what's next for NASA and space exploration.
Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, joins Ali Velshi today on American Morning to explain the future of commercial space adventure and to discuss the legacy of NASA's space shuttle program.
When John Young and Bob Crippen launched on the space shuttle Columbia on April 12, 1981, it was the dawn of a new era of space travel.
Now that the program is wrapping up, does Crippen think that the program accomplished everything it set out to achieve?
He joins Ali Velshi on American Morning today to reflect on his astronaut experience and to weigh in on the future of NASA and space exploration.
Garrett Reisman, former NASA astronaut, flew on the space shuttle twice, performed spacewalks, and spent about three months living on the International Space Station.
He recently left NASA to take a job with the commercial firm Space X, which hopes to one day launch NASA astronauts and paying tourists to space on its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket.
Reisman joins Ali Velshi today on American Morning to talk about the future of the private and commercial space industry now that the shuttle era is coming to a close.