Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thank you, and Godspeed

Today, the 30th Anniversary of the first shuttle launch, NASA announced where each of the retired space shuttles would be living out the rest of their lives, on display for all of us to get a chance to see a vehicle that has traversed the depths of the outer reaches:

Atlantis will go home to the Kennedy Space Center.

Endeavour will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles (and, you'd better believe I'll go visit!)

Discovery, the most-flown shuttle, will go to the Smithsonian.

And Enterprise, the prototype shuttle, will go to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York.

The end of the Apollo program saw the beginning of the Shuttle Era, and from 1981 to 2011, NASA has sent human beings beyond the reach of this planet inside the world's first reuseable space vehicle. The shuttle program has made possible further innovations, like the ISS, and has paved the way for a truly International Space Program. Yes, there were tragedies, and we will never forget Challenger or Columbia. But, as the Shuttle Era comes to a close with Endeavour's final flight, we thank these remarkable craft, and the remarkable people who put her into space again and again.

It was really something to see Charlie Bolden, veteran astronaut, shuttle crew, and NASA administrator, get choked up as he thanked the crowd gathered at Kennedy Space Center for applauding, saying ,"It's been a tough day." For them, it must be like saying goodbye to a member of the family, one that kept you alive in the vacuum of space, and returned you home safely.

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