Friday, July 22, 2011
A tribute to the Space Shuttle
I grew up with the space shuttle. At every opportunity I watched each and every launch on TV and later via NASA TV streaming over the internet. I was a bit too young to witness the loss of Challenger, but I will never forget as Columbia fragmented during re-entry. I was watching the landing live via NASA TV and I was completely devastated. It took two years, but the space shuttle flew again. In 2005 Discovery took to the skies and that amazing sense of wonder was rekindled again.
The launch of Atlantis on 8 July was a bittersweet moment. For the last time in human history a space shuttle charged into the sky on pillars of flame.. I made my whole family watch, even though they didn't seem to care as much about it as I did. It was history in the making, and like the events of 9/11, will remain with me for life. On Thursday, 21 July, Atlantis returned home safely bringing the era of the space shuttle to a close.
There are no words to describe the impact the shuttle program had on my life. I shared the excitement and peril with each and every crew. I held my breath during every launch and sighed in relief at every safe return. The video above goes a long way in sharing that sense of awe. Each time I watch it I break out in goose bumps. I challenge anyone to watch it and not be touched.
The future of manned spaceflight is unclear at the moment. Let's hope the commercial companies will be able to step in, fill NASA's shoes and keep the dream alive.