Perspective on Shuttle program's end

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by sattruckomar, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. sattruckomar

    sattruckomar Rookie

    Jul 13, 2011
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    I’m Omar, I run a television satellite truck. I used to joke that the trucks were as close as I’d ever get to rocket science. Now with a few more years under my belt… I’m glad to say I was completely and marvelously wrong.

    When I was a small kid I remember my parents saying "wheee" when I went down the slide or rode that gravity defying arc of a swing. As with all my playmates around me at the time, the noise of excitement unconsciously turned into to the whoosh and rumble of rockets. I remember the excitement and patriotic zeal of moonwalks and voyages to distant planets.

    In a time when the roar of rockets also loomed large over a nation always in the fearful stalking shadow of the Soviet bear, it was good to know USA was painted on the sides of the machines that rode the thunder to the heavens. There was security in advancing the human ideals and imperatives that made America great. Reaching and exploring new frontiers. Expanding science and knowledge. We could do anything we set our minds to.

    We got to the moon and back in a decade and suddenly there came a new era. Man could go walk amongst the stars and come back, again and again. The means of this miracle had names like Discovery, Endeavor, Atlantis, Challenger and Columbia. There were risks. There were sacrifices.

    As a nation we wept at Challenger. Christa McAuliffe carried the hopes and dreams of so many. Her mission, bring space down to earth for another generation. O-rings, corrupt contractors and cut corners ended that and almost cut short our reach. But we were undaunted! Ever forward, stretching beyond our horizons. As a college student two weeks into a new TV job, Challenger made me know, really know I would make a career of news. Triumph, Tragedy, Emotion, Pain and Redemption. I've never looked back.

    We wept again as Colombia made her final, fatal reentry. I'll never forget the day after, doing live-shots from the astronaut memorial at the Kennedy Space Center. It was covered in notes like wind blown blossoms whispering shared loss. The one that sticks with me even now was a poem called "There Were No Sonic Booms Today". A heartbreaking tribute from a woman in Cocoa Beach for whom the harbinger of exploration's demise was the lack of Colombia's tell-tale noisy return. I wept.

    I was lucky enough to be there for the return to flight on a beautiful day in the summer of 2005. Ingenuity again keeping our little blue marble in perspective. Reach beyond grasp, unbound by gravity or the sloth that infects the complacent.

    This spring I watched Endeavor disappear into the clouds in awe. Later, a snapshot from a plane window awed me further, reminding me that our perspective from here is so small. To really see ourselves we must often look back, and while reflection is nice, a bit of distance is a game changer.

    This summer I will likely see the final launch. I'm as excited as I was when I was nine, but guarantee I'll shed a few tears at the loss of the sonic booms and all they represent to me and like minded folk who feel the pull and stretch of looking beyond that which is immediately visible.

    I was there as Atlantis and the shuttle program roared into history. Waiting for a clean launch window, I realized the whole 30 year shuttle exercise goes to show you, if you teach a kid to reach without fear, there's no limit to what they will grasp. But if you teach a nation to reach together, brother we can shoot the moon.

    The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted, it belongs to the brave. President Reagan said that after the Challenger tragedy 25 years ago. It could have been said a hundred years earlier as Americans set off to tame the wild frontiers. Opening the frontier of space took hardship and grit. Hardship is coming again to communities built around the Shuttle program, but people, pioneering people built it, launched it and brought it home again and again. A new generation has big plans to push our frontiers ever farther. I suspect much like those who dazzled my generation... They'll do it Loud, Big and Audacious... you know, The American way!

    E Pluribus Unum, From Many One.

    “We've grown used to wonders in this century. It's hard to dazzle us... We've grown used to the idea of space, and, perhaps we forget that we've only just begun. We're still pioneers.”
    President Ronald Reagan, January 1986

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