It's no secret that NASA plans to retire the space shuttle by the end of 2010, but I was still a little saddened to receive a KSC press release just now with the subject "NASA Sets Launch Dates For Remaining Space Shuttle Missions." After STS-125 (the final Hubble servicing mission set for October 8), there is one more ISS mission this year (STS-126, November 10) and five ISS missions in 2009. There appears to be only one set mission for 2010 (STS-131 in February) with two "shuttle-equivalent flights for contingency" (STS-132 and -133). The Consolidated Launch Manifest also lists several Russian and one Japanese non-shuttle launch with ISS completion tasks.
I'm glad I got to witness a shuttle launch at KSC last August (Endeavour on STS-118). That's my photo above - not the greatest shuttle launch picture, I know, but I took it. If you haven't gotten to experience this in person, I highly recommend doing so while you still have a chance. I hope to witness one more myself in the few remaining months of the program. Born out of cost-cutting compromises that never allowed it to be a truly low-cost, fully reusable vehicle, the shuttle experienced its share of problems and two major tragedies. But it flew hundreds of people in space and accomplished some amazing things, including the launch and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope and the enormous space construction project that is the ISS. It will be a long time before we see a manned vehicle as awesome as this "space transportation system." We're nearing the end of a remarkable era.