Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Today the Space Shuttle Discovery took its last flight. The aged space vehicle flew piggy-back on a 747 from Cape Kennedy to Washington's Dulles International Airport where it will spend its retirement at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center adjacent to the Airport. Although I was unable to watch any leg of the flight in person, I was able to catch a snippet on the morning news before I came to work, and then, a few stills (link attached below) on CNN's website.
Back, what seems like forever ago, when the Space Shuttle Program was new I watched the first flight. It was eerily similar-a piggy-back ride on the back of a 747. I don't know if I watched this live or taped but I do remember being in my basement watching. It was a day off of school (summer?) and the kids in the neighborhood were beginning to gather in our back yard for some game or other. They knocked and peered in the sliding glass door that led from the family room to the stoop in the back yard urging me to come outside that games were about to begin. I told them "I'll be out later" I wanted to watch history.
In 1976 or '77, seeing that futuristic 'plane' atop a jumbo jet was awesome. It was shiny and new and inspirational. More than a generation later, you can see the scars on that grand old Shuttle. It earned a place in history. All of the Shuttles did. Enterprise. Columbia. Challenger. Discovery. Atlantis.
My friend Grace was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it from her home. I am jealous.
One of my history books was closed today with a little sadness in my heart. I hope the retirement of this program is not the history of space exploration in the future.