So I think I’ve been reading too many earthquake related stories – for the past 2 days I’ve been feeling phantom tremors (seriously imagining that I feel shaking. Maybe I shouldn’t actually admit that).
I have actually read some non earthquake related news and clearly I’m a little too emotional as this almost made me cry. Yes, NASA is retiring the space shuttle Discovery. And today was it’s last launch. I’m totally choking up but – it has been an incredibly amazing and reliable machine for almost my entire life! My middle school was actually named after this shuttle (Oh yes, Discovery Middle School, or DMS for short!). I even remember being in 5th or 6th grade and we all got to vote on a ballot as to which name we liked best. I am pretty sure I didn’t pick Discovery back then, but now I am proud. This is the ship that launched the Hubble, for god’s sake!
Speaking of naming, the interweb has told me that Discovery was named after one of Captain Cook’s ships Discovery – the other being Endeavour (also a space shuttle!). And since Cook discovered NZ… you see where I’m going with this.
Regardless, I am also pleased to hear that Discover will likely be retired to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. I remember visiting as a child. The Smithsonian is one of those things that if it isn’t on your “bucket list” – it should be. Absolutely made an impression on me – it’s a national treasure (well, I guess it holds a lot of our material treasures)! Someday hopefully I’ll be able to visit the shuttle at her final resting place.
A couple of interesting clips from the aforementioned article:
A video camera mounted on Discovery’s fuel tank showed several bits of debris flying through the picture during the shuttle’s ascent, including what appeared to be an 8-by-10-inch patch of foam insulation that struck the orbiter almost four minutes after launch.
Foam debris loss is of particular concern because in 2003, the shuttle Columbia’s wing was hit by a piece of flying foam. Investigators say the resulting damage led to the breakup of that shuttle when it re-entered the atmosphere 16 days later. All seven of Columbia’s astronauts were killed, and NASA grounded the shuttle fleet for more than two years afterward.
NASA is under presidential direction to retire the shuttle fleet this summer, let private companies take over trips to orbit and focus on getting astronauts to asteroids and Mars. There’s been considerable disagreement among lawmakers and the space community on how best to accomplish this.
I remember the 2003 Columbia explosion. : (
I’m a bit gutted to hear that NASA will be retiring the shuttle fleet this year, and let private companies (ugh!) take over. I realize NASA is expensive, but I think there is still something wondrous about space exploration and the endless possibilities and unknowns (and thinking as a child – someday I want to grow up to be an astronaut. Well… not if NASA goes down the tubes). Do I think we should try to send humans to Mars (I believe that was under Bush actually)? No, not really. But the thought of exploring space and sending people into space gives those of us who will never go there a sense of wonder. It’s also a tribute of the things we humans can achieve using our giant brains and a little science and engineering (maybe some physics, if I must give credit where credit is due)! The fact that we can build machines which take us into space is pretty darn amazing. Surely we could come up with a way not to be so reliant on oil (harness the power of the sun, or heck – earthquakes release a lot of energy. Imagine if we could harness that!)… Or be more efficient with our resources, create greater efficiency in transportation and production of goods…?
We’re so clever as humans you would think that we would realize when we were killing our planet, using too many resources, had too many people who consume too much… Ah, maybe we’re not so clever. I digress.
Well, Adios, Discovery. Farewell and safe journey.