Today, July 21, 2011, an age of exploration and discovery came to an end.
Rarely does a simple youtube video re-invigorate my imagination and stir my emotions like this great compilation of the NASA Space Transportation System (STS) program by nature video.
From the summary:
The Space Shuttle fleet delivered the Hubble Space Telescope, the International Space Station, and dozens of satellites, space probes, crew and supplies. Two Shuttles were lost: Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003. The touchdown of Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center marked the end of an era, after 135 missions. This video shows all of them in chronological order. http://www.nature.com/spaceshuttle
As the great astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson put it on July 8, the day of the final shuttle launch:
Many lament the shuttle era's end. But that's misplaced sentiment. Lament instead the absence of an era to replace it.
Where do we go from here as Americans? Where do our dreams lie, if not in the great universe around us? Russia and China continue while we stop. What’s next? What will the next generation dream about as children? Will space be a thing of science fiction or a reachable, accessible experience to them? Will space travel be a product of business? I am completely ignorant of all that lies ahead.
Thank you, NASA, for the Shuttle program. It was grand.