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Endeavour is Off

May 16, 2011

Apparently, I was sadly misled. Or I missed NASA’s updates. Either way, I’m saddened.

I thought Endeavour would fly the final shuttle mission. She gets the next-to-last instead. While I have no real issue with Atlantis seeing out the shuttle age, it would have been nice to witness Endeavour’s final lift-off. As the last mission is scheduled on or around my birthday (end of June- mark your calendars), it would have been even nicer.

But life is what it is. I’ve lamented about the end of the shuttle programme before. The mood now seems akin to the last few weeks of school. There’s a sense of inevitable winding-down, the imminent closing of a chapter. I am proud of the fleet, the astronauts, and the ground-based crews. I’m nervously excited for the future (excited because who knows where we’ll go, nervous because with budget cuts and red tapes, who knows where we’ll go…).

And yes, I’m a little sad that one of the world’s most beautiful machines will be grounded.

Endeavour is “my” ship for a simple reason: as a small child, I spent a few summers at Space Camp/Camp Spatial Canada. Although probably not as cool as the American versions of Space Camp (i.e. the ones close to actual space centres), we nevertheless got to live in a space museum, test astronaut simulators, and fly missions in a full-scale mock-up of Endeavour.

She dominated the training pit, taking up most of the space in the vast hall while the simulators clustered alongside the walls. Every time you walked through the hall, the hulking space craft drew your eye. And while I did have (*cough*still have*cough*) an overactive imagination, I do remember having a moment of disorientation after one “mission,” illogically wondering how she’d landed in the training room without crashing through the walls.

And to the crew now orbiting the Earth: best of luck, and come home safely.

The Cosmodome

In the museum

 

 

 

Simulator at lower right

Arvik

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2 comments

  1. I am worried about the U. S. space program. We now have no vehicle for human space flight, and we’re in a budget-cutting mood. I’m hoping that the members of the House and the Senate in the states with space industries will have enough pull to save NASA. But the Chinese and the Indians are gearing up for their own programs, so all may not be lost.

    It’s human nature to explore, and exploring gets us over our own narrowmindedness and fear.


    • I agree. For all the rhetoric about returning to the Moon and going to Mars, the fact remains that the US will simply not have the technology to get anyone to orbit, let alone beyond- even the ISS is going to have to rely on Russian Soyuz rockets. And since the Canadian Space Agency tends to piggyback on NASA a lot… well, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

      However, what I find so inspiring about spaceflight is that, space race aside, it does provide an opportunity for humans to transcend national boundaries. A space triumph for one nation/programme is really a triumph for all of us.



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