Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Another 'Last' for the Space Shuttle Fleet

"NASA Launches Shuttle Discovery In Pre-dawn Liftoff"
Space.com (April 5, 2010)

"The space shuttle Discovery lit up the sky above Florida like an artificial sun Monday in a rare pre-dawn liftoff of one of NASA's last few shuttle missions – and the final flight expected to launch under cover of darkness.

"Discovery soared spaceward from a seaside launch pad here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center with a crew of seven astronauts on a busy delivery mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff occurred at 6:21 a.m. EDT (1021 GMT)...."

I remember when the Space Shuttle was the latest, greatest thing in ground-to-orbit-to-ground reusable vehicles. There were a lot of "first flights with - - -" then.

Now, almost three decades later, there are quite a few "last flights with - - -" for the shuttle fleet. I think it's possible that generations from now writers will use the era of the Space Shuttle as the setting for tales of adventure and romance, just as storytellers today weave tales set more or less in the time of Spanish galleons and billowing sails.

But I'm not sorry that the Space Shuttle fleet will become a few museum pieces. Any more than I'm sorry that galleons have been replaced with transcontinental airliners and container ships.

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