I GREW UP WITH THE SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM. Tomorrow morning, at 5:56 AM, that program comes to an end. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, as I posted previously, it is time to move on to the next thing. On the other, there are a lot of people, both at NASA and at contractors, who have been losing their jobs, and that is going to significantly accelerate tomorrow morning at wheel stop.
GALILEO WAS AN AMAZING SPACECRAFT. Launched in 1989, it arrived at Jupiter just under 6 years later and orbited for 7 years. Over 20 years after sending Galileo, we are about to launch his younger sister, Juno, on her way to Jupiter on August 5, and I get to be at Kennedy Space Center to send her on her way.
THE SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM HAS ENDED. Some say this represents an end: an end to US human spaceflight, an end to a 30 year legacy. I prefer to see it as a beginning: the start of low earth orbit as commonplace, the start of the commercial era of space. For over 50 years now, space has been the provenance of governments. Now it’s time for private entities to show us that it is easy, and for NASA to move into the next era.
I LOVE THE SPACE ENTHUSIAST COMMUNITY. NASA has done an amazing job of adopting social media as a method of outreach, and it certainly shows in the community that they have helped build online. I always liked the idea of space exploration, but until I got involved with a NASA Tweetup at Goddard Space Flight Center, I never knew what the community was really about. It is just overflowing with interesting and smart people from all walks of life, and some of them came up with an idea that I find intriguing.