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The Answers! Part Four

July 21st, 2011

You ask!

The Answers!

July 21, 2011 — Thanks for all of your great questions!! NASA’s Leland Melvin has taken 20 of HTE readers’ questions … and here are the answers! We’ve posted 15 of them already, now here are the final 5, in honor of Atlantis touching down at 5:57 am this morning. Thanks to everyone who submitted! And don’t forget to watch the astronauts’ welcome home ceremony tomorrow afternoon!


photo credit: NASA

16. Why won’t they still use shuttles to go into space?

Cooper, age 10, New York

The space shuttle has been an engineering marvel and has served us well for more than 30 years.  We could never have built the International Space Station without it.  But now it’s time to retire the shuttle so that we have funds available for the next set of vehicles, which will take us not only to low-Earth orbit, but also into deep space.

17. When do you think we will finally be able to go to Mars or other planets?

Jared, age 10, New York

We still have a lot of hurdles to get past, but I believe your generation will be the first to explore another body in our solar system – it might be an asteroid, or a planet or a moon of a planet.  I can’t wait to find out, and I hope you plan to be part of that exciting future.

18. Why does it take so long for the Soyuz capsule to get to the Space Station, but so little time to get back?

Sammie, age 9, New York

The space station is moving at 17,500 miles an hour, so after a vehicle is launched from Earth (whether it’s the shuttle or a Soyuz), they have to catch up to it so that they’re properly aligned for docking and that takes some time – usually about 2 days.  Coming back is a straight shot for the Soyuz.


NASA photo of ISS

photo credit: NASA

19. Why did they change the space shuttle to the capsule?

Emma, age 5, New York

The current plan to return to having a capsule on the top of a rocket is for the safety of the astronauts.  If there is a problem during the launch, the astronauts and the capsule could be jettisoned to safety, away from the rocket fuel below them.

20. Do the stars look different when you are in space? And what does it feel like to float?

Lois, age 5, New York

The stars are beautiful from space, and so is our planet Earth.  It really gives you an interesting perspective.  Floating feels like the ultimate freedom – it’s really amazing.  You do have to be careful, though, or you will bump into things!


leland melvin

Follow @Astro_Flow on Twitter!

Thanks for sending such great questions, kids! I hope you will study science and math, listen to your parents and teachers, and live a healthy and fit lifestyle. Doing these things will allow you to reach higher, to excel and to become the next generation of explorers!

Reach for the Stars,



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