Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Atlantis comes down for good

I admit I'm feeling a little bummed. The last operational space shuttle finishes its last mission tomorrow (Thursday) morning with a 5:58 a.m. landing at the Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida. Somewhat ironically, the shuttle is spending its final day in orbit exactly 42 years to the day since Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

When Atlantis rolls to a stop on the runway in the pre-dawn murk, that'll be it. The only thing left to do will be to tow her off the runway and prepare her for life as a museum exhibit. Quite a comedown for a vehicle designed to lap the planet at 28,000 km/h.

I'll be up to watch her come home because history only happens once. I watched Columbia launch on STS-1, Challenger explode on liftoff, and Columbia shatter on re-entry. The program has spanned a large chunk of my life, so it only seems fitting to lose a little sleep as it draws to a close.

I'll probably have more to say in the quiet moments between wheels-stop and a stirring household. But for now, I hope you'll take a moment to think about what historical inflection points like this mean - or ought to mean - to regular folks like us. And where we need to go next.


Cloudia said...

Too sad: an ending with no clear new beginning!

Aloha from Waikiki;

Comfort Spiral


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Alexia said...

sad. it must be especially resonant to be able to be there to watch.