Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Space Shuttle's Final Voyage

Last Friday the space shuttle Atlantis made its final launch ending 30 years of a program that has seen more than its fair share of success and tragedy. 

For me, I can't believe its been 30 years since a 14 year old Steve convinced his parents to let him stay home from school so I could watch not only the maiden launch, but all the lead up commentary and excitement.  In fact, we didn't have a VCR yet (it was 1981) so I taped the launch on an audio tape recorder and would listen and re-listen to all the analysis and the launch over and over again.  John Young and Bob Crippen were the first shuttle astronauts and my friend Tom and I would wear flight sunglasses and refer to each other as "Crip" as Young did to Crippen.

Young and Crippen 1981

At 14, I was a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol and was pretty convinced that I would go to the U.S. Air Force Academy to become a fighter pilot and then when NASA heard what a great pilot I was, apply to be an astronaut.  I even figured out that we would be heading towards Mars around 2005 and I would be just the right person and of just the right age to command the first manned spaceflight to another planet.

Ok, things didn't quite turn out that way... for me or for America's space program.

Young and Crippen today
Somehow the dream of the space shuttle making space flight routine and safe never quite materialized and the bold mission of exploring strange new worlds got bogged down into ferrying supplies, satellites, and astronauts into low earth orbit.

(Insert the sound of America's collective yawn here)

However, the space shuttle is one of the most sophisticated pieces of equipment ever developed and the research and technology it has been responsible for will help us into the next stage of manned space flight.  NASA has stated they are looking to concentrate now on deep space missions with the hope of establishing a permanent moon base as well as a manned trip to Mars.

OK America, it's quite a daring vision and darn near impossible to when do we go?

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