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.


  1. The Space Shuttle was a political compromise that rose above its political origin, and justified its existence with just the 4 Hubble Space Telescope repair missions, to say nothing of its other great achievements (mostly unknown to the public). But it was also an albatross for NASA, built of 1970's technology, which we should have surpassed long ago, and might have done if not for its continued demands for resources. It was a great realization of a dream, but it locked us into that dream and kept us from going on to greater dreams. I miss it and acknowledge its greatness, but know that we stayed aboard it for too long. The next phase of our metamorphosis into space-going beings awaits. Let us make the quantum jump to the next state.

  2. I agree with you David. It's just sad to see it end regardless. I think SpaceX will definitely rise to the occasion and the long term plans NASA has is extremely exciting.