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Friday Poll: Thoughts on shuttle Atlantis retiring?

As space shuttle Atlantis gets ready to launch its final scheduled mission, what are your thoughts about the space program's future?

CNET News Poll

New horizons
What are your thoughts as Atlantis sets off on its last scheduled mission?

Absolute awe at what the shuttles have accomplished
The shuttles are old; bring on the new!
We don't need new orbiters while we still have three that work fine
I'll be into space stuff when I get a ride up there
It's all a waste of taxpayers' money

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Shuttle Atlantis

Space shuttle Atlantis is set to launch at 11:20 a.m. PDT Friday on its final scheduled mission: a 12-day rendezvous during which the craft and its six astronauts will deploy new parts for the International Space Station, including the awesomely named Integrated Cargo Carrier-Vertical Light Deployable.

Like all current-generation space shuttles, Atlantis--which had its first flight on October 3, 1985--is notable for its impressive track record, as well as several important missions to the ISS and flying many of the secret Department of Defense missions that conspiracy theorists love to hate.

But this looks to be it. After this mission, the space shuttle program has but two more outings planned--by Discovery and Endeavour--before the entire aging fleet is mothballed. It is supposed to be replaced by smaller crafts from private companies that won't have the grandeur of the old-breed shuttles.

Now that the end is near, what are your thoughts? Do you expect to the new vehicles to live up to the shuttle's legacy? Or is putting the shuttles to bed a royal mistake? Vote in our poll and be sure to elaborate in the TalkBack section below.