It’s an 80’s Kind of Thing

Last week the world witnessed what has now become something of a commonplace event, the launching of another Space Shuttle.

Despite the rather aging and ailing technology used to get the shuttle off the ground, it’s sort of amazing how well that ship has flown over the years. Yes, really well, even considering the two terrible tragedies of the Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003.

As the shuttle Atlantis lifted off on July 7, I couldn’t help but be both proud and sad. Proud that another shuttle successfully made it to orbit. Sad that it’s the last shuttle to fly.

As a kid from the 80’s, the Space Shuttle program was something of magic and dreams and technology and good ol’ American pride. I loved to watch each and every launch and applauded as that little dot disappeared into the endless blue. Then several days later it would appear again and our astronauts would come home and by god, we did it again!

Remember when the shuttle landed in New Mexico’s own White Sands in 1982? I sure do. That was a good day, seeing my home state on the big stage. We got the shuttle and got ‘er home safe too!

Sadly, over time and two tragedies and budget cuts and over-administration, the proud NASA tradition has faltered, yielding way to private space programs and astronauts hitching rides with other countries who have the time and money to keep a space program running.

It’s the end of an era which makes me more than a little wistful.

Here’s wishing the crew of the final Atlantis flight an easy, uneventful flight home.

The first shuttle launch, a ship called Columbia, in 1981.

Reuters/NASA photo from The Atlantic Monthly.

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  • Ur Bro

    Rick Husband, commander of the Columbia was a friend of mine. That was a very dark day.

  • Dave Bonner

    It was Columbia that landed at White Sands. I hope NM wasn’t the jinx… but if it was… at least it landed over in Otero county.

    NASA White Sands NM is the unknown stepchild of the NASA bases. We are a major development base of NASA! The guys at NM NASA do get the big bucks but very little recognition. I live very close to NASA…. a mile from their road and maybe five miles from the gate.

    When the Shuttles land at Edwards in California, they fly it back to Florida on the back of a VERY LARGE airplane. They always detour and fly over my NASA and do a figure-8 in tribute to those over paid folks.

    They always fly over my house. I think the plane is Boeing 747…great big airplane… but I aint sure. The plane flys extremely low and extremely slow for this token of respect.

    I’ve witnessed it many times but it always thrills me. I can hear it about three minutes away… often times giving me time to get on the roof. It is an unmistakeable sound! A giant airplane that is thoroughly overloaded flying at a very low altitude laboring along at just over stall speed!

    I shall miss them!

    But we really can’t afford space exploration right now. The good news is… we aint sending the parts to the recycle center! I wouldn’t be surprised….

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