This past Thursday, while we were enduring a major snow storm, something very important was happening in Florida. On February 24th, the space shuttle Discovery launched on its last mission into space. Its last mission is a ten-day haul up to the International Space Station.
One last mission remains for the program that has kept the American manned space program on life support for the last thirty years. I can remember that day thirty years ago, when all of us in our grade school class huddled around a television to watch the first shuttle launch of Columbia. I felt like that was the coolest thing I had ever witnessed in my life. Even as a kid, it made me dream of space and the boundless possibilities of exploring this great frontier. It left a lasting impact on me that is felt, even to this day.
For me that feeling has not changed. I continue to be in awe of everything space-related. However, a new feeling has descended on me about the plight of our space program. I have commented often on this in other posts. The political climate has made in nearly impossible for our efforts to keep humans on the edge of the envelope of exploration.
The decisions made today are having a serious impact on who will be making that push to explore the world beyond. Humans are continuing to explore space, but it seems that Americans will not be the ones that are on the forefront of this effort. It will be others such as China, India, Russia, and a few others that continue to keep the dream alive.
Maybe through their efforts there will come a time when the United States will rediscover the fire that once made us hungry to explore. For now it seems we will just be watching from the sidelines.
I thought I would take us all back to STS-1 and the first launch of the space shuttle to reminisce on days gone by, and the end of an era for the United States.
- Shuttle Discovery Headed for Space Station, Inspection on Tap (space.com)
- Shuttle’s First Pilot Describes Mission Number 1 (foxnews.com)
- Space shuttle Discovery blasts off from Florida (reuters.com)