Wednesday, March 09, 2011

What goes up must come down

The rocket's red glare
Arva, ON
July 2010
[Click here to share your own double-themed vision]

I've been in a bit of a space-ish mood for much of the week. As the space shuttle Discovery's been zipping around the planet at an average speed that's 280 times as fast as a typical drive on the highway, I've found myself reflecting on the fact that this is the orbiter's last flight.

I was out on the sidewalk again with the kids last night, watching her fly overhead. On the surface, it wasn't anything spectacular: a dot moving across the sky, followed by an even brighter dot - the ISS - as it trailed her some 300 km above the planet. The meaning, however, wasn't lost on the munchkins. They saw her waiting for launch when we flew over the pad in December. The next time they see her, she'll be in museum.

Discovery, also known as OV-103, is set to return to Earth later this morning. When her wheels stop, that'll be it for the most experienced space vehicle in history. Her commander has said he may have difficulty getting out of his seat when the flight is over. I understand how he feels, especially given the relative lack of anything to replace it. Lots of plans, promises and talk. But nothing to haul to the pad anytime soon to continue the job started by Discovery and her sister ships.

I can't help but think that an opportunity's being lost in the process.

Your turn: Thoughts?


kcinnova said...

I'm sorry this is her last flight. I'm also sorry that I forgot to scan the starry sky last night -- it was so very clear out, too!

Bob Scotney said...

We watched on TV as she landed tonight. 365 days in space in 27 years - what an achievement.

Gordon said...

Yeah, your so lucky to have gotten to see Discovery fly overhead. It's kinda hard to see it so far off the space lane in Scotland :)
I bet there wasn't a dry eye in the house when it touched down..