Flickr Find 0054

STS-133 Discovery (201011030001HQ)
STS-133 Discovery (201011030001HQ), originally uploaded by nasa hq photo.

While I often say I have no regrets in life, I will shortly have to change that view. My one regret in life will be never seeing a Shuttle launch live, actually being there as it rockets off to space.

I’ve loved the space shuttle since its very first showing. It was the Enterprise attached to the back of a jumbo jet to test is ability to fly in atmosphere in the late 1970’s.

Since then I have attempted to see every launch, which in my youth was waking up early in the morning and tuning in as this new technology was launched into space was beamed around the world.

After I watched the live telecast of the Challenger launch in 1986 and cringed then cried as it exploded in mid-air. It seems the lustre was lost on the world and the launches were rarely shown live, or if they were they were announced less prominently and I missed a heap.

This was further compounded in 2003 when Columbia disintegrated during re-entry. On both occasions the shuttle program was put on hold while the incidents were investigated.

Thank god for the internet where I can watch them live, and also rewatch them again and again via podcast.

It’s hard to believe that the shuttle has been with us for almost 30 years and is soon to face retirement. In fact there are less than five shuttle missions remaining (I think just three).

The photo above is from NASA and is the Space Shuttle Discovery waiting on the launch pad to rocket off to the International Space Station to deliver a payload of spare parts. It’s initial launch window was delayed due to weather and has been further delayed due to cracks being found in the external tanks during de-fueling.

This is Discovery’s last venture into space. When she comes back after her eight-day mission she will be decommissioned, her engines will be removed and she’ll become a museum piece.

A sad time indeed, but no doubt a much needed rest for the old girl. Let’s wish her well on her final mission and a safe return for her and her crew.

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