Thursday, June 2, 2011

Endeavour's Final Touchdown from Space

As the era of U.S. manned space flight draws to an end, I need to comment about the final landing of the space shuttle Endeavour yesterday morning.

There is so much history caught up in the closing of the era of U.S. manned space--after the Atlantis mission in July, I do not reasonably expect to U.S. to launch a manned mission into space for at least the next 20 years.

And so--as the era of the Space Race comes to a close and we cede to the Russians and the Chinese the ability to place people into orbit--a sad day is coming. Manned access to space will no longer be possible form the United States.  The source of national pride--which I was once able to witness in person, will no longer ply the vacuum of space carrying the US flag on its side and the Canadian Maple Leaf in the shuttle bay.

I have become so accustomed to our frequent missions into space that the loss may not be apparent for a long while.  But at some point, we will wonder why we lost our adventurous spirit and become so entrenched in the mundane aspects of living that we have forgotten to refresh ourselves with the excitement and wonder of discovering the unknown and pushing the envelope of knowledge.

A bit of history about this shuttle from Wikipedia:

The orbiter is named after the British HMS Endeavour, the ship which took Captain James Cook on his first voyage of discovery (1768–1771).[5] This is why the name is spelled in the British English manner, rather than the American English ("Endeavor"). This has caused confusion, most notably when NASA themselves misspelled a sign on the launch pad in 2007.[6] The name also honored Endeavour, the Command Module of Apollo 15, itself also named after Cook's ship.

Discovery, exploration, pushing the edges of knowledge--all characteristics of the vessels named Endeavour!

And characteristics that used to define the United States.

Good-bye Endeavour--you served us well!

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