Yesterday, on facebook, we asked truckers, “What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen over the road?”
One of our followers responded that seeing a shuttle land was the coolest thing he’s seen. My dad is a driver, and if you ask him what the coolest thing he’s seen on his more than 30 years over the road, he would tell you the same.
Sadly, today marks the last time many will see a space shuttle land in the U.S., as NASA has ended its shuttle program.
The space shuttle Discovery left Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on its last flight Tuesday, mounted atop a specially modified Boeing 747, headed to its final destination at the Smithsonian in Washington.
The Discovery will replace Enterprise, which now sits in the Smithsonian. Enterprise was a test shuttle that never flew in space. It will be moved to New York, before moving onto its new home at the Intrepid Museum.
By the end of the year, the shuttle Endeavour will be heading to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. While Atlantis will make the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex its final resting place.
At first light, the shuttle gave its final salute to the past and all those who were part of the U.S.’s shuttle program, flying over launchpad A, down the beach and over the space center’s visitor complex before heading north.
The shuttle has logged more than 148 million miles and is the oldest of the three shuttles.
Steve Lindsey, the shuttle’s last captain, and five others who flew on mission 133 in February 2011 came out to say their goodbyes.
“Bittersweet is an overused word, but it is sad,” Lindsey said.
The shuttles heading toward their final resting place, marks an end to 30 years of flying, there have been glorious accomplishments and heart-wrenching tragedies– the crash of the Challenger, that killed 7 crew members, and the crash of the Columbia, also killing 7 crew members.
Although today marks the end of an era, Lindsey said dwelling on the past would be a mistake, we have to keep moving forward.
“We’ve got to move on; we’ve got to make sure that spaceflight doesn’t die in this nation,” he said. “We still have (the) space station going, but if we don’t get ourselves heavy lift, get going with exploration or part of what I’m working on – the commercial program – then we risk losing this as a nation, and I don’t want to do that.”
Drivers, how many of you have witnessed a space shuttle taking off or landing? Do you have any photos you could share with us? Email us at [email protected]