Nostalgia I guess…
I don’t know why as of late I am having such an interest in NASA projects. It might be the fact that STS-135 was the final mission of the Space Shuttle after 30 years in operation. Maybe it is the fact that the shuttle missions began (first launch April 12, 1981) & ended within the span of my life so far on this earth. But it all seems rather poignant and inspiring at the same time. It is sad in the sense that we have stopped an amazing feat in human engineering and adaptability. One also needs to remember the loss of life during STS-51-L (Challenger) on January 28, 1986, and STS-107 (Columbia) on February 1, 2003. No matter what era of history one looks to, one finds that with all great advancements in science and technology there is usually a human cost associated.
I watched the final launch live online; I even dragged the kids over and kept them interested for the final seconds till liftoff. I must say that I was happy to see the excitement in their eyes as they watched in rapt attention as the Shuttle cleared the tower and powered into the ether. After the launch my one daughter pointed to the screen and said “I want to see that again!” And I can say that we have watched it over again online.
The ISS (International Space Station) orbiting over our heads remains focused on a number of scientific research programs. For the duration of its time in space NASA has turned toRussia’s Soyuz spacecraft and the private sector for support. In some ways this is a deferral of costs as the Shuttle was not the cheap mode of transport as originally hoped ($450 Million per mission on average). Nor did the shuttle reach its expected target of 500 launches.
NASA now intends to focus its efforts and knowledge to reaching farther into space; designing the next generation of engines and spacecraft that will take humankind to Mars and beyond. I still think they should be testing a little closer to home, before sending people off to Mars and I know we have been to the moon already; but the kid in me still thinks a moon base would be cool. NASA also has a number of on earth projects on the go, one of which is taking place a mere 126kms from where I live; once again…cool.
In my small sense of trying to be part of the bigger picture I have gone so far as to buy some NASA patches marking the 30 years of the shuttle program and final launch. What I will do with these is still up in the air (no pun intended…lol). I have thoughts of a framed set-up of patches and photos but for now they sit tucked away with my Apollo patch. I know these items have not traveled to space to return to Earth so their value will not really grow over time but it allows me a chance to own a small piece of history.
Who knows, maybe I can instill the interest of the world & space around us into my kids that they might look to the stars and strive to reach them as well.
So enough for now…as some other sparkly has my attention…till next time…OH SO SHINY…