Friday, July 22, 2011

My Obligatory Shuttle Retirement Post

I've been debating whether or not to post anything about the conclusion of the Space Shuttle program because I wasn't sure I had anything to add that hasn't already been said. That's still true, but I have seen so many beautiful tributes that I thought I'd show them here along with my thoughts.


Although I technically work for the International Space Station (ISS) program, not the shuttle program, my work has been very much tied to the shuttle as it brings up most of the equipment we install on Extravehicular Activities (EVAs aka spacewalks), and most US EVAs are conducted by the shuttle crew while the shuttle is docked to station. So although my job is safer than most, its nature had already begun changing by the time STS-135 landed. Instead of focusing on the next flight, I'll be working on preparing ISS for maintenance and for the new commercial vehicles. I'll miss the excitement of a shuttle mission and the camaraderie I developed with the crews and the rest of the team during the training and preparation for flight. The shuttle has been America's program in space for as long as I've been alive, and its absence leaves a real gap. What saddens me most though is not the fact that the shuttle program is ending, but rather the lack of a defined plan for NASA's next program. I worry that the longer it takes to establish a new program, the more knowledge will be lost and the less the public will support our next mission.

View of the final landing taken from ISS (source)

For now, let's take a moment to acknowledge all the amazing accomplishments of the last 30 years.


Take a moment to peruse a multitude of beautiful photos from The Big Picture. Notice how many people went to great lengths to see the final launch; clearly space is still inspiring!

And finally, here's excellent video with footage from every mission.


3 comments:

Sac Hermes Kelly said...

I really can't handle how sad I am over him dying. On the bright side, I can always drown my sorrows in fan fiction.

Also, I just read this article in Wired magazine & this quote made me happy.

'Harry Potter revealed a mass audience for fantasy that nobody was aware of, not even the people who were part of it. We were legion, and we didn’t even know it. Dostoevsky once said, “We all crawled out from under Gogol’s ‘Overcoat,’” and it’s just as true to say that we all crawled out from under Harry’s cloak of invisibility. He made being a fantasy nerd cool. Or, no, that’s not quite right. We didn’t change. The world changed around us: Harry Potter made everyone a little bit uncool.'

Mumbles said...

We were lucky enough to be able to drive to Chantilly to watch Discovery come in. It was thrilling for our then 14-year-old, but incredibly sad for me. Disappointing. It seemed that somewhere between the promise of the early 80s and the end of the program, something got lost. That sense of purpose, the drive, the feeling that our space program was going to have us on Mars, have a colony on the moon, have us hurtling, manned, toward the next solar system. Soon! I don't blame NASA--I love NASA. I blame politics (and politicking), corporate greed, and the collective dumbing down of our nation in general. I'm still hopeful--forever hopeful. But not necessarily optimistic.

I really enjoyed reading.

Kris

Alist Partners said...

Nice post. thanks for the shared with us. 100% Cotton Melange