Friday, July 08, 2011

On Atlantis once more sinking beneath the waves

"We have the power, knowledge and equipment to build a world beyond our wonder. Only loss of nerve can defeat us. That is all."
James Dillet Freeman
As I post this, today's planned launch of the space shuttle Atlantis on the program's final mission, STS-135, is up in the air due to cloudy and rainy weather at the launch site. Part of me hopes she doesn't fly today, as I don't necessarily relish seeing the launch pad after the vehicle is gone for good. I guess I don't do so well with endings.

This quote seems to reflect my mood insofar as the U.S. space program is concerned. It is - or was, anyway - a marquee program, a national competency that sent a global message. It said, over and over, that a country that can put humans into space is special. It leads. It takes risk. It makes sacrifices to drive change back home.

That all ends when Atlantis reaches wheels-stop at the end of this penultimate mission. All that leadership and capability? Gone. Thousands of people who've spent decades pushing the bounds of engineering have either lost their jobs or are about to - all with no replacement program in sight.

And as the country systematically allows its manned space flight skills to dissolve into history, Mr. Freeman's words seem strangely prescient: The nation lost its nerve. I hope it gets it back someday.

Your turn: Do you have any thoughts on the end of the shuttle program?


Kalei's Best Friend said...

I just don't get it.. Is it due to cost? or loss of interest which I can hardly believe... I grew up watching John Glenn making his first step, as well as the other shuttles that went up... Someone else did a post similar to this and the sentiment of the comments were similar to mine... I think its a mistake, we still can learn from what is gathered way up there.

srp said...

It went off.... weather cooperated at the last minute.
Several former astronauts are working with a private company in developing a cargo carrying rocket that already has plans to shuttle to and from the space station. And plans for a rocket to go to Mars is in the works in Florida... of course much technology still needs developing. Hopefully, WE the people will triumph over the inefficient and power hungry federal government in this and other things.

Anonymous said...

What's all this talk about Atlanta being gone? Atlanta has not sunk beneath the waves. It is still in Georgia. I don't know where you are getting your information from Carmi,bit I assur... What? Atlantis? Not Atlanta? Oh. Never mind.

Miss Emily Latella.

Marco Pietrangelo said...

Ihan somewhat understand the decision the government had to make in regards to cancelling the program. It costs astronomical amounts of money, with little return other than bragging rights and global recognition. I belive i read somewher that they have insteadfocused on researching ways to make future missions cheaper, which I think is a very practical idea and one that will pay off in the future.

IMO this is a pefect time for Canada to get into the whole space exploration game.

Please excuse my spelling and grammar errors, still getting used to a virtual keyboard :-)