Today, on July 21st, 2011, at 5:59 EDT, the United States Space Transportation System program, known colloquially as the Space Shuttle, ended with the landing of Atlantis(OV-104). The 30+ year program carried out over 100 missions, invaluable scientific research, and inspired an entire generation, one of which I am part of. The idea of going into space on a ship like the shuttle, or at all, was a favorite dream of mine as a child. To see it end, even with a picture perfect mission like STS-135, is saddening.
But even moreso, this era ends on a sour note for me. I'm a huge space buff, and I love the idea of going into space. With the end of the shuttle program, for the first time in 50 years, the US now entirely lacks the ability to send a person into space, which I consider a regrettable shame. To lose this ability, and more importantly, to stunt the dreams and motivations that the ability inspires, is to me a great tragedy.
In light of this, I got this picture drawn at MFF 2010 of Arrow looking wistfully and reflectively at a shuttle landing. Originally, the final shuttle mission was to occur during the convention, but the mission was delayed and another mission was added. So here we have Arrow reflecting on what's been done...and what remains to be achieved.
For all those who have ever dreamed of going in space, here's hoping we get another chance in the future. It would be a shame if this was the end.
For all those who have inspired us and worked in this quest to explore space (including my grandfather, who was on the design team for the Apollo Environmental Control System), thank you. The world owes you a debt for all your braver and hard work which can never be repaid...but I hope we can try and honor your story.
So...goodbye to the shuttle. A great machine with a great legacy, and hopefully this is only the ending of a chapter, not the story. Rest in peace.
"Whatever the reason you're on Mars, I'm glad you're there, and I wish I was with you." -Carl Sagan
"Wanna go to space." "NOBODY'S GOING TO SPACE, MATE!" -Space Core, Wheatly, Portal 2
Art drawn by likeshine at MFF 2010.