The end of an era!

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the last launch is due...

As a child born in the 1960’s I watched the space race develop from the Americans landing on the moon (I was only 7 but remember it) to the collaboration between the US and USSR in the Soyuz/Apollo program on Skylab and then the International Space station.  However once the Saturn Five stopped being launched at the end of the Apollo missions it was all about the Space Shuttle for me.

The Shuttle has obviously had its issues, and some very bad moments, but the sight of it launching has always been something I loved watching. I almost made it to a launch back in 2001, I had managed to obtain tickets from NASA (you could apply on-line) and was due to visit Florida – but then various events prevented the trip and so I did not see the launch.

A subsequent trip was within a few weeks of a launch – again so close……

Now however I will have to add this to my “failures” on my wish list (it also includes a flight on Concorde) as the last flight is due to launch today (although the weather may stop it).

Just in the nick of time Apple have managed to get the iPhone approved for flight (they have made some minor modifications – all wireless communication has been disabled and the battery has been removed. Instead, an external battery pack already certified for use in space will be used. The two units will be used to run some experiments.

So an iPhone 4 will be on the last flight – I am jealous……

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75 thoughts on “The end of an era!

    Damian Trasler said:
    July 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    The shuttle was a brilliant and brave idea, and I hope the end of the shuttle flights doesn’t also herald the end of attempts to make space flight easier and more common. Richard Branson’s bid may be about Space Tourism, but if there’s enough cash generated by it, who knows where it could lead? Lunar tourism, maybe?

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      Great idea but I can’t imagine it ever getting ‘accessible’ for the common man.
      It’s amazing that a machine designed three decades ago is still the most complicated machine man has ever built!

    Mikalee Byerman said:
    July 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    It truly is the end of an amazing era. I have a very vivid recollection of the first launch (in ’81, I think?). Bizarre to think my kids have seen the last.

    😦

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      Sadly most kids see it as ‘normal’ and not the incredible thing that it still represents!

    gprn said:
    July 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Still breathtaking, even from desktop computer. Watched Columbia in 1983 take Canada’s telecommunications satellite to orbit. Like other great experiences…Grand Canyon etc, even video can’t capture the power of the earth shaking at launch. Sorry to see us ending the era. gprn

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 8, 2011 at 4:49 pm

      So sorry I never saw a launch despite getting close! Having said that if I had the choice to go back it would be a Saturn Five launch for me every time!

    healingandliving said:
    July 8, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    It’s hard to imagine there won’t be anymore launches. I saw several of them when I was a kid. My mom worked for NASA, and we lived in Cape Canaveral. They were all truly amazing experiences. I saw one from by the launchpad on the water before, and several just from my front yard. I’ll never forget the big boom sound you would hear when they came back to Earth as well.

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 8, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      Sounds amazing – I am jealous!

    S2 Leatherworks said:
    July 8, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    So I guess if the iPhone works from space we can no longer say “ET call home” but should utter “ET call ahead”…

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm

      I’d like to see how Google Maps works up there though!

    divyatrungta said:
    July 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    great pic and thanks for sharing your experiences.
    I was lucky to see the Discovery being toed off to its station during my visit to NASA in june’08!

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 8, 2011 at 6:45 pm

      I saw the transporter move on a visit – but it was empty!

    Lilabell said:
    July 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Oh I do hope the space exploration program continues on and on and on…It can’t afford not to.

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 8, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      Totally agree, something’s you can’t put a price on – this is one of them.

    theamberlight said:
    July 8, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I always wanted to see a launch. The fact that kids today see the shuttle as normal means that they will have to create something even more unimaginable to amaze themselves. Each generation is needs to improve as it evolves, correct? I am sure that commerical space flight will happen in my lifetime (I am 45yrs now). Living in space is the next “wilderness”. It is thrilling to think about. Lovely photo! AmberLena

    thebigbookofdating said:
    July 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Maybe it is about time that the money from the program is put towards developing earth science

    Ruglovermary said:
    July 8, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Now this is not going to make me popular, but hey it is my point of view.

    I was never a big fan of the space missions. I think we have ruined earth enough that we don’t need to ruin space too. The expense of each mission could be used for better use here in our own neighbourhoods.

    I love looking at the pictures from Hubble and I love Sci-Fi, but as for here on earth I just think the scientists and resources could be put to bettering here.

    On a side note I just finished reading a book by Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear UK and his last few pages were about how he hopes there is another space war so that technology and our lives here will evolve by leaps and bounds. He loves space and all the technology that gets made for every day use because they needed to figure out how to use stuff in space.

    Fair enough, but I am not looking forward to the day when humans are a minority and technology rules. I am just to old fashion for the Jetson’s era. Although I really would like teleportation to exist. That way it is cheaper to go on vacation.

      Phil said:
      July 9, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      I remember when the radio had tubes in them and there were no transistors or god forbid IC’s in them. I also remenber listening to the lone ranger on that tube radio because the TV was not an item the average person could afford if there was a tv station that they could receive on it.

      I watched the Saturn 5 launches from my home about 20 miles from the launch center, and saw the launch of the apollo 11 flight 5 miles from the launch pad, the shuttle has nothing on the Saturn 5, it shook the Bones in you body when it lit up. I am an electronics oriented person and can tell you that without the space program the advancement we enjoy today would NOT be possible. But i can see that the technology is now abundant to the private sector and thus private enterprises should take the helm in space exploration. the space race was the reason that the governmet got involved. When sputnic went up and when the first russian was in space , we flipped out in the fact we were behind in the technologies. Thus NASA was eventualy formed out of the reminats of the space programs of the early 50’s. Guess that is why we need the older generation , to inform the younger about the reasons for the way things are!! But it can not give them the emotions that were behind thos decisions.

    countryshane said:
    July 8, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Even though I am thousands of miles from Florida, I am glad that I took the time to sit down today and watch that historic launch on the television. Many thanks for this post.

    victorblah said:
    July 8, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    This day marked an end to my most prized childhood deam of one day making it to space. I can only dream now.

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 8, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      Richard Branson will sell you your dream ticket………

    Adrian Burns said:
    July 8, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Nice post Simon. I remember watching the Shuttle’s first [test] launch and flight when I was about 14 or so. Hard to believe it’s now 30 years ago. Alas, I too must put the Shuttle on my “failed to do” list along with Concorde and I can’t help but think that, sadly, the world has changed immeasurably in the past three decades and, as such, we’ll never see anything like them again – at least not in our lifetimes.

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 8, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      Adrian,

      Unfortunately I think you are right – Branson will take you into space in the next decade, but it will only be accessible for really high rollers. There just don’t seem to be the amazing machines around now that we saw as we grew up.

      Simon

    JESUS HERRERA said:
    July 9, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Simon,
    I was born and raised in Mexico City and I’m also a 60s baby…your post reflects how I feel today very accurately.
    I hope your President could have the vision, the courage and the leadership to come up with a decent next step after the Shuttle era.

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 9, 2011 at 8:45 am

      Not my president – I am in the UK – but I hope the US do find the money to continue with manned space flight.

    the island traveler said:
    July 9, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Yep, the good times definitely rolled out the door. I passed by the space center in Houston yesterday and it saddens me to see that it will never be the same again. Regardless though, my son and I have a date to visit the place next week. great post!

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 9, 2011 at 8:47 am

      I wonder if the end of the Apollo program felt the same?

    Thomas said:
    July 9, 2011 at 1:55 am

    I remember the lunar module with greatest fondness. I assembled a plastic model of it when I was a kid. And I was sitting in my uncle’s living room with most of our extended family as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. I look at this as the end of a phase of the space program, but not the end of our ambitions toward space. We have seen the Mercury missions, the Apollo missions, and now the space shuttle missions, the longest running of them all. I hope for much more to come.

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 9, 2011 at 8:50 am

      I have a collection of models from the Apollo program (at my mothers house) that I made as a kid – it was a time of amazement for youngsters, I am not sure that space flight has the same level of excitement for today’s Xbox generation?

    saltybi11 said:
    July 9, 2011 at 4:40 am

    Mach 15+… sounds like a crazy time! I wonder how that will treat the iphone…

    Khemi said:
    July 9, 2011 at 5:05 am

    It is certainly disappointing that there ends an era.

    waqas mehmood said:
    July 9, 2011 at 5:06 am

    I think you are right – Branson will take you into space in the next decade, but it will only be accessible for really high rollers. There just don’t seem to be the amazing machines around now that we saw as we grew up.
    i am waqas from pakistan.

    acleansurface said:
    July 9, 2011 at 5:47 am

    This leaves me a little bit sad.
    I hope you won’t have many more “failures” on your list.

    Marcel said:
    July 9, 2011 at 5:56 am

    I was really hoping to make it to the last launch for I have never seen one before but forgot to schedule off and instead worked today. Whether Space Shuttles are a big deal now days or not, it still sends shivers down my spine to watch such an amazing machine blast off into the sky. Its a shame that the end has come for such an amazing program. Looking back I will be disappointed in myself for not having went. Now my opportunity has past.

    Dev said:
    July 9, 2011 at 7:15 am

    With the blessings of Aliens above ;-), the future human space flights will continue in some form or the other.

    sheokhanda said:
    July 9, 2011 at 7:50 am

    yes…. Indeed it unfortunate….

    I saw it on news in India and wondered that how will now astronauts go out in space….

    I think the phrase that “every good thing comes to an end does apply here”……

    panfilocastaldi said:
    July 9, 2011 at 9:38 am

    The end of an era indeed… It has left me feeling a little sad. The space shuttle is / was a visceral symbol of hope, one backed up by impressive amounts of cash. We could hardly be called a space-faring species, yet it nevertheless feels like we are turning our backs on the universe, retreating to our tiny little planet. The recent end of the SETI-at-home program is another facet of the same retreat. Let us hope that China, together with courageous individuals like Richard Branson, will not let the dream die.

    Thanks – what a buzz! « Simon Dare's Blog said:
    July 9, 2011 at 10:31 am

    […] Simon Dare’s Blog Property, Tech and Energy issues HomeAbout meCamerasComputingInteresting Links RSS ← The end of an era! […]

    DrAnthonysBlog said:
    July 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I watched the last launch in person and it, as always, was incredible. I look forward to what comes next. Great post!

    darwinzialcita said:
    July 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    nice read! 😛

    Mark A Warmington said:
    July 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    For me, the sight of a shuttle launch, the iconic radio transmission of “…’Go’ at throttle up..”, has always been the most evocative depiction of the endless possibilities available to us as we accept humankind is only limited by the extent of our imaginations.

    I will miss the orbiter, just as I will miss Concorde.

    Eva McCane said:
    July 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    very cool photo, and i agree…there’s something magical about a shuttle launch no matter how many times we do it.

    gaycarboys said:
    July 9, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    As a 60’s child I’m with you on this one.

    chems luc said:
    July 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Thank s for the happy memories, I was so young too and i saw the BIG event at tv,
    We were going to travel in that after noon, and just before leaving, our father called us to watch the launching of the Shuttle first…
    An historic moment I never forget…
    Thanks for recalling the event; very exceptional moments…

    The ReThinker said:
    July 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm
    sallyjeangenter said:
    July 9, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Sadness overtook me when I heard the last shuttle had launched. I’ll miss that stage of space exploration. It heavily influenced my growing up years. But I had to smile when you pointed out that the iPhone got in the last word. A true sign that the last shuttle flight does equate the end of technological advancements.

    materialgirlmadonna said:
    July 9, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    This is definitely going to mark a different future for space exploration.

    thedarkness54 said:
    July 10, 2011 at 3:11 am

    I was lucky: I managed, after more than a couple of attempts, to watch the shuttle take off carrying Galileo into space. It was quite an impressive sight, even from Titusville where I was watching with my camera. Given the time frame, the images captured were all on film, and I’ve never gotten around to scanning any of the images. Then again, if I close my eyes, I can see that bird climbing off the pad, and after a few seconds, feel the air shake from the exhaust. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get a chance to see this last flight. A friend of mine did manage to get there, and here’s a link to his photos:
    http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=1010270
    I don’t count what Branson’s doing as getting into space. Right now, the best description I can come up with for what his vehicle is going to do is “Get into space on a technicality.”, because it won’t orbit, only go up a little more than 60 miles to get past the point where someone decided space begins. The really sad thing is, people will shell out good money to do this.

    Julio Santizo Coronado (Facundo) said:
    July 10, 2011 at 5:25 am

    I was born in the 60’s too, but not in the States. I was born in Guatemala, but I remember vividly when Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. I do not live in the USA, but aviation and astronautics have been my passion. I got the private pilot license in the 80’s. I do not fly anymore, but I cannot turn my eyes froma a plane when it is taking off or passing over my head. It is simply fantastic. We will miss the Space Shuttle, as we miss the Concorde. If you understand Spanish, I invite you to read my impressions about Atlantis launch. http://elideariodeunescribiente.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/el-fin-de-una-era-del-vuelo/
    Sorry, my English is not very good.

    Simon Dare responded:
    July 10, 2011 at 9:44 am

    To everyone who has commented on my blog to date – thank you! I am sorry I have not replied to you all personally, I have been somewhat taken aback by the number of comments!

    So many thanks again!

    Simon

    Seán Coleman said:
    July 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I am quite saddened by the “passing” of the Space Shuttle program. I realize that at it’s inception it was probably intended to end at this point in time. However from my understanding the Shuttles have not logged nearly as many miles as they were designed for. The Shuttles have a lot more use and life left in them and we are just going to retire them. As an American this is an embarrassment and a disgrace that we will now be reliant on the Russians to take our astronauts and space projects to and from space. I am disgusted with our government for thinking this is acceptable. I was at the Kennedy Space Center last summer and I got the sense that many at NASA share my sensibilities on the matter.

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 10, 2011 at 2:17 pm

      I don’t think working with the Russians should be considered an embarrassment – look at it as a help while the US machine gets back together!

        Seán Coleman said:
        July 14, 2011 at 10:03 pm

        Oops, I realise my statement sounded like a jab at the Russians and I do not feel that they are inferior or that working with them is an embarrassment. I am fully on board with the International Space Station being an international project and effort. I just think despite the Shuttle program’s age it is still the most advanced system for space travel in the world and It shouldn’t be retired. I also realise that now NASA has freed resources to move on to an even more advanced project. I just fear that this will be the beginning of the end for the USA’s focus on space.

    Ramblings on Military History said:
    July 10, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I remember watching the Apollo missions launch. Everyone was excited about the US missions to space and we eagerly gathered around the TV to watch. I have cheered with successes of the Shuttle program and cried with the tragedies. I was able to share this same sense of excitement and love for space with my children. My 20 year old follows every flight. However, I must admit that I was unable to watch the final launch. I guess I’m too sentimental, it would have been the same as watching a friend leave forever.

      cheenadreams said:
      July 10, 2011 at 7:58 pm

      My Dad worked on the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space capsules. Even though I was just a kid, I could hardly wait for him to return home from work so that we could talk and dream about space and its possibilities! I miss my Dad, my hero, so very much, but I’m glad he did not have to see the demise of America’s Space Program and the institution of its new mission, Muslim Outreach. America NEEDS an active Space Program, in my opinion, now more than ever!

        thedarkness54 said:
        July 10, 2011 at 8:15 pm

        I’d ask what point you’re trying to make, but it’s obvious from your comment that you don’t have anything but a conservative “talking point”, and not even a truthful one at that.

        Tom P. said:
        July 11, 2011 at 4:41 am

        cheenadreams I enjoyed your post, I was there at the last launch, you could feel the anticipation in the air, it was awesome the crowd all responded with excitement! I have followed the space race since I was about 7yrs old, when I watched the launch of Friendship 7! It captivated my imagination and from then on I wanted to be an astronaut one day. Sadly I never saw that dream come true, but I still believe in what our space program has done for mankind thru out the world! I am dismayed, by what the current administration, has done with the space program. It is sad to think that a once great technological force, that was our space program, has been reduced to a Democratic political posturing point. I think NASA should not be involved with any form of outreach to anyone group! This amounts to turning NASA into a division of the state department or a PR project for B O(The Stinker)! I talked with a lot of the families of the technicians that were there at the visitors center and they felt the same way! They all were in agreement, that we should be launching our own astronauts into space!! The loss of so many techs, because of B O’s new direction for the NASA, that have worked on the shuttle will hurt our future in getting back into space! They say it may be 20yrs, before they can train more techs, to support any new effort, to put our astronauts back in orbit, or even send them to the Moon!
        Just another way, that this administration has killed more jobs, in an attempt to be more inclusive to a people that care nothing about this technology!
        God bless you and your dad for his dedication to the space program he would be very proud of how you remember him!

    NiceArtLife.com said:
    July 10, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Nice memories about the space shuttle project, I grew up with them, unfortunately it stops now although the technique can last for many more years…thanks for sharing!

    markpattersonlaw said:
    July 10, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I shall miss the eternal optimism when something goes wrong. Mr. Dare echos it when he refers to the loss of two shuttle crews as “very bad moments”..it is so NASAesque….Everything is Great! Everything is A-OK!

    And when men and women are killed in space they just call it “a bad day”.

    Ramblings on Military History said:
    July 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I remember watching the Apollo missions launch. Everyone was excited about the US missions to space and we eagerly gathered around the TV to watch. I have cheered with successes of the Shuttle program and cried with the tragedies. I was able to share this same sense of excitement and love for space with my children. My 20 year old follows every flight. However, I must admit that I was unable to watch the final launch. I guess I’m too sentimental, it would have been the same as watching a friend leave forever.

    In case you haven’t seen it, there is an excellent photo history of the Space Shuttle at http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/07/the-history-of-the-space-shuttle/100097/.

    Regards

    […] 10 Jul As a child born in the 1960’s I watched the space race develop from the Americans landing on the moon (I was only 7 but remember it) to the collaboration between the US and USSR in the Soyuz/Apollo program on Skylab and then the International Space station.  However once the Saturn Five stopped being launched at the end of the Apollo mission … Read More […]

    41cmc said:
    July 11, 2011 at 2:14 am

    It’s a totally sad day, manned missions will become history, until technology catches up..

    Arjay (--,) said:
    July 11, 2011 at 2:35 am

    The rainbow in the pic made it all the more awesome and dramatic. 🙂

    Cheers!

    knightowl123 said:
    July 11, 2011 at 3:18 am

    I’m also sad to see it end. I think we have created so many new technologies from the discoveries that they have made from tests within the labs on the shuttle.

    I always wanted to go and see a launch first hand, to experience this in person.

    I hope they plan on bulding a new rocket to take the shuttles place. I think it would be a mistake for other nations to pull ahead of us in space exploration.

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 11, 2011 at 9:15 am

      I am sure this is not the end of US space flight, it may be the time for others to foot the bill though – China?

    duncanshume said:
    July 11, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Wish I had been there

    Maxim said:
    July 11, 2011 at 7:17 am

    All we have to do to avoid missing this kind of thing in the future is to all be iPhones. Let’s transform!

      Simon Dare responded:
      July 11, 2011 at 9:13 am

      They are taking over the World so perhaps a good comparison!

    diplomasya said:
    July 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    The Shuttle Program ends but the “race to space” must go on for new discoveries that will contribute great achievements for mankind!

    haleyreimer said:
    July 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    University of Michigan scholar Dr. Wayne Baker is actually writing about this topic all week in his daily online magazine at OurValues.org. Check out today’s article on whether or not US leadership of space exploration is essential and join our conversation today at http://OurValues.org

    dorothycunningham said:
    July 12, 2011 at 2:56 am

    What a great blog you have. It is a joy to read, and your photography is awesome. I love the rainbow next to the shuttle…very cool shot…

    I was fortunate to see Endeavour launch in May….It was a very special event for me…

    60minutequitsmoking said:
    July 14, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Love the post! Great pictures and thanks for sharing your experiences. If you can drop in to my blog:
    http://quitsmokingin60minutes.wordpress.com
    Thanks

    realanonymousgirl2011 said:
    July 25, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    My husband was sad about this as well. He thinks that people will realize that a lot of good came out of NASA and the everyday things we use from the technology and inventions they’ve made.

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