Thursday, September 20, 2012

Final flight for Space Shuttle Endeavor

It's hard for me to believe that the Space Shuttle Endeavour is traveling to its final landing. On Friday, it will fly over L.A. and then travel to a California museum. The once proud shuttle is set to become a dust collecting relic. A shadow of its former self, the Endeavour will take its place at the California Science Center. It will hopefully inspire schoolchildren and adults to once again reach beyond the clouds.

The space program brought my parents together and inspired myself and countless others to beg for telescopes for Christmas. It gave my husband and children the chance to stand together on the Florida coast. Together, we felt the ground quake and watched a shuttle achieve orbit.

Replica Space Shuttle rocket booster, Utah.
Through Endeavour and the other space shuttles, NASA brought lasting advances in science and technology.  Advances are still being made through the Mars rover and Hubble space telescope.

As Endeavour travels to California, I wonder about missed opportunities. We can only speculate on the achievements that will be missed by discontinuing this 30-year program. 

As I write this article, research by several countries is still being done at the International Space Station (ISS). We have the ability to participate, but to a lesser degree.

NASA space shuttles that carried our astronauts and needed equipment to the ISS are no more. Our final mission was performed by Atlantis in 2011.There are no more space-taxis to carry U.S. passengers to the ISS. The last flight for the Space Shuttle Endeavour puts our space-flight cab stand out of business.

Space shuttle Atlantis will make its home at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Enterprise is aboard the Intrepid in New York. Discovery can be viewed at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. Endeavour will be housed in California.

It is difficult for me to see the space shuttle program fall to the wayside. Seeing Space Shuttle Endeavour take its final flight aboard a Boeing 747 is like seeing an old friend move away. You wave good-bye as waves of sadness overtakes you. Your friend's parents tell you that the move is for the best; but, as you watch your friend leave, you don't fully understand why.  All you know is that things will never be the same. You try to accept that as you look ahead to the future.

Good-bye Space Shuttle program. Like any relationship, we have had our share of turbulence. Overall, it's been a good 30 years.

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