A FAREWELL TO SPACE SHUTTLE

STS 135 CREW 

On a clear July day thousands gather to witness the final launch of NASA’s only manned spacecraft known to us as The Space Shuttle. As countdown concluded the sky was lit with blistering flames coming from the launch rocket thrusters that would propel it into orbit. As it disengaged itself from the launch pad memories of those early space exploration missions from Mercury to Apollo would know doubt be in the hearts of the Astronauts as they set the sights for the International Space Station.

As the Shuttle reached remarkable heights in a matter of seconds separating the clouds and showing off a white trail behind itself, nothing else in aviation today quite compares with this technological achievement. Though not a deep space spacecraft its resilience shone through for 30 years, and it is poignant to remember the astronauts who lost their lives in the two disasters which NASA suffered. Aviation has now lost in the last 10 years two significant aircraft in Concorde and Space Shuttle with no replacements. Both America and Russia since the late 1950’s have paved the way in space exploration leaving perhaps another Nation to take up the mantel?
Both nations have successfully seduced their countries into supporting their audaciously expensive long term space programs. Competition between the two superpowers saw Russian military pilot Yuri Gagarin become the first man in space, and Naval pilot Neil Armstrong become the first human to walk on the surface of the Moon. As for the future I doubt if there will be any future space programs which will achieve , or touch the hearts like these two. It is not just proving that these goals can be achieved it is encouraging mankind that dreams can be fulfiilled no matter how far fetched they may appear when the vision is given. Technology will always advance beyond our imagination inspiring those who are gifted to work at their visions and hold them firmly in their hearts without fear of rejection. I will always applaud the risk takers,those who pledged the money, those who sacrificed the time for the invention of new technology, those who risked their lives as pilots and crew to achieve successful missions into new unexplored territories.
The future is unknown, but as for the past it is the end of a 50 year love story that captured the world in ways that will not be experienced again…..Gary Cole

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