Discovery’s Final Flight
It is not every day when I get to see something so amazing during my lunch break. It all started when I was little and was obsessed with the U.S.’s shuttle program. When I was little me and my family decided to take a vacation to FL and more importantly than going to Disney was visiting Cape Canaveral. I think it was one of those things I expected to last forever. Although I missed the space race I was around for the construction of the international space station and the demise of the MIR as it fell out of orbit.
I was saddened a while back when the program was ended. I guess you could say I grew up with the shuttle program, through it good times and the bad ones. I remember seeing Hubble images for the first time but I also remember the misfortunes. there is so much history in the skies that I feel so inspired by the enthusiasm of NASA even after the space race was a thing of the pass.
A few weeks ago my inner nerd came across the news article informing DC that it would the prime location of a one time only event. the Space Shuttle Discovery would be escorted over downtown DC including the capital build and the National Mall on its way to its final resting place in the National Air and Space Museum in VA. So by the time I finished reading this news I was shaking and probably making some weird fanboy sounds.
So I originally planned to call out of work to meet the shuttle in VA since it is by my house but I isn’t want to leave my office hangin’. Instead I decided to take a very early lunch so that I could go down to the mall and watch it flyover. I think it was a blessing that I went to the mall. I think I got a great view of the flyer… Or should I say flyovers. That’s right, the escort flew over the mall about four times most of them being straight up the mall towards the capital building.
Now I keep on saying “escort” and didn’t really explain what that means. When being transported between missions or in this case to be retired, the shuttle is fitted on the back of a modified 747. How cool is that!? There was also a jet flying with them from what I can only imagine was to take pictures from next to the envoy with the city below.
This whole event just gives me a nice warm feeling inside that makes me feel like I got to witness a piece of history. In my opinion it signifies the end of a great era in the U.S. space program. The sad part is that there is no program in place to directly take the place of the shuttle program. I know there are things in the work but as a fan of space exploration I would have just wanted to see one program end and a new one start up to get people excited all over again.
There is just something magical about space exploration that makes people like nerd out. To be fair I get the same way about ocean exploration but that one is a little more difficult to get excited for. I guess you can chalk that one of to working for NOAA. I drank the Kool-Aid while working there and totally get nerdy with the ocean as well.
Thank you to all my friends who put up with my complete nerd overload over that week. I think every other post on facebook and twitter was me geeking out over some new piece of information about the festivities. I am glad I made it and got some pictures but the ones from NASA and some of the other news organizations just make me pause and smile. I can say “I was there.”
There can be no thought of finishing for ‘aiming for the stars.’ Both figuratively and literally, it is a task to last the generations. But no matter how much progress one makes, there is always the the thrill of just beginning.
- Robert H. Goddard