I’m young, but not that young.
My framework for loving the space program includes images of the moon landing, early pictures of Venus and Mars from telescopes in Kitt Peak and Siding Springs Observatories, but nothing came as close to me as the shuttle program. Being pulled from classes to watch Challenger Launch, then ferried back so fast to talk about what we saw. Last year I held my children and watched Endeavour cross the country to be mothballed forever. I live each day hoping for a new age of space exploration and listening excitedly to the newest discovery, living vicariously to someone else’s next adventures. It really does take up part of my daily thoughts.
The Space Shuttle Endeavour left Kennedy Space Center on the morning of September 19, 2012. This trip was photographed from start to finish, in every state, but these two images are the strongest for me. Robert Markowitz took this picture of Endeavor piggybacking on its way to California and shared it via NASA’s image database. I cried watching this beautiful monument leave the public eye. History and exploration, a carrier that would keep my country’s science and space programs were wrapped inside Endeavour’s cargo bay, carefully kept, but antiquated and expensive to launch. It was time for a new way to reach space. True words, but still sad to see history pass in my lifetime.
The Last Shuttle Project is preserving the memory of this now-past greatness online while the California Science Center takes care of Endeavour herself. If you’re down that way go take a look at history. We have a full sized shuttle trainer at Seattle’s Museum of Flight’s Charles Simonyi Space Gallery. I visit it once a month or two. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Until then, let’s remember the space program, and specifically the Space Shuttle Endeavour this way: on the launch pad, ready to race to the future.
Most strikingly, remember Endeavour, and through her all the shuttles, waiting for her window to leave.
Imagine the possibilities.
These images are courtesy of NASA. Bill Ingalls caught lighting striking near Endeavor on Thursday, April 28, 2011, at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. Night Image Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann . The LA Times’ time lapse video makes me cry, so remember them on the launch pad.