Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The End of an Era

The last flight of the Space Shuttle program took place today when Endeavour was piggybacked on a 747 from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida across the USA to Los Angeles. It will eventually be on display at the California Science Centre.
 Space Shuttle Endeavour
Space shuttle Endeavour loaded onto the 747.... image from NASA's Image of the Day Gallery.












I'm a little bit sad about the end of the Space Shuttle program. I'll miss seeing those smiling astronauts march out of the building, dressed in their space suits and carrying their helmets, and waving confidently. I always considered it was an amazing feat of engineering to get the shuttle up into space and home again safely, although not everything always went smoothly. Two shuttles and their crews were tragically lost. I watched many of the launches and landings on TV, and I was lucky enough to witness the launch of Endeavour first hand when I was in Florida a couple of years ago. Spectacular!

A couple of additional facts: Endeavour was the replacement for the destroyed Challenger shuttle. It made its debut in 1992 and flew 25 times, logged 198 million kilometres in space, and circled Earth nearly 4,700 times before it was retired. 

Another unforgettable space shuttle moment came on a hot June day in 1983. (Was it really that long ago???) I was at work in Toronto, and looking out of the top floor office window I saw the prototype shuttle Enterprise fly by on top of NASA's first 747 shuttle carrier. Not the normal view from my office window!

Enterprise was on it's way to (or possibly coming back from) the Paris Air Show and made a short side trip to Canada...... probably because Canada had contributed to the space programme with the Canadarm, which was built in Toronto by SPAR Aerospace. Enterprise never flew in space. It was used to practice landings on earth and verify the flight worthiness of the design, and it was retired in 1985. It is now on display at the Intrepid Museum in Manhattan.

15 comments:

Dogbait said...

In 2008, I blogged about watching the Endeavour launch in Jan 1996. A fantastic experience. Click HERE.

Dave said...

That's interesting Shammickite. Thanks - Dave

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madretz said...

It flew by this morning around 8:30 but I forgot about it till just now as I was reading your post. Darn.
In 1987, maybe '88, I saw it land after one of its excursions in the Mojave desert about an hour where I grew up.

EG CameraGirl said...

It was an amazing time in history.

Xtreme English said...

hey...that was through here a couple of months ago! Guess they're carting it around so everyone can say goodbye!

stardust said...

Indeed an era ended with the orbiters’ retirement. The shuttle’s last “night” launch less than two years ago is still fresh in my memory. I look forward to what will replace the shuttle in future.

Yoko

Suldog said...

I wonder if any UFO sightings were reported when folks saw the piggybacked shuttle flying along? Not something one expects to see!

Craver Vii said...

The photography that has been done by the astronauts, and through the space program has been literally awesome.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Don't know if I'll get to see a "fly by", but I hope so....It should be very soon now...!

Hilary said...

Back in the 80s, when I worked at Zeller's head office in Montreal, one of the shuttles was doing a similar piggy back fly-by and we saw it do a diagonal route right past our windows. Just like Suldog said it did look rather alien.. and we already knew what it was. That was a thrill but I can't remember for the life of me which shuttle it was.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I got to see it "fly-by" and got a few pictures of it, too! It went right past my house---It Was Amazing!!!!

kiwi 2468 said...

We have another very fond memory of the Endeavour. The Endeavour was the first sailing ship from England to discover New Zealand in 1769.

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Ginnie said...

I know what you mean. My guess is something else will take its place...like the Mars landing/research? Surely something is being worked on with regard to outter space!

photowannabe said...

Wish the shuttle had come a little more north so we could have seen it too. It flew right over our State Capitol in Sacramento about 30 minutes drive from our home.
Interesting history that you were able to be a part of.
Fascinating that you were able to see the prototype from your office window...I'm a wee bit jealous. (:0)