Shortly after Maximilian was born, I decided that he should get a mobile to place over his crib. I knew what theme I wanted. I wanted a space mobile. I looked all over, but couldn’t find any in stores, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to spend 90 bucks on one from Etsy, so I decided to make one myself. Normally, these things are made out felt, but not having a sewing machine, decided make Maximilian’s out of paper.
Atlantis just landed at KSC, its permanent home. What can I say? The era is now over. The one honest spaceship is no more. I’m a pretty much in agreement with Miles O’Brien’s take. The space shuttle just never quite lived up to its potential. As O’Brien points out, the shuttle was designed with the one of its main ideas as building a space station, which it finally did some 17 years after its first launch.
I was looking at the list of canceled missions, and while most were simply got converted into unmanned launches, one did stick out to me: STS-144. The retrieval of the Hubble Space Telescope for display in the Smithsonian. Yes, it would have been a mawkish mission, but I still have loved to of had that happen.
So long shuttle.
So today was the last shuttle mission. I remember my mom waking me up early that April morning and asking me if I wanted to watch real spaceship launch. Of course I did. We went into the living room, and sat in front of that old black and white television we had, and watched it live on channel 12. I may have had the first of my die cast space shuttles with me as we watched it. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen in my 5 year old life. I was a huge space geek then, and remained so up until sometime in high school I guess. We bought that day’s issue of the Southern Illinoisan, and I kept that folded yellowed displayed on my bedroom bookshelf for years. The front page had a large four color crew photo under the headline. That was unusual, as color printing wouldn’t become common for maybe ten more years. There was another story on the front page. It was about the latest developments in the Atlanta child murders.
Two days later, I watched the spacecraft that launched like rocket, land like an airplane.
Seven years later, after attending Space Camp, I witnessed the launch of STS-26, the first flight after the Challenger disaster. We were a few miles away, on shore of some inlet at Kennedy. My friend Billy got the passes by writing our congressman. We watched the launch through binoculars, and was looking directly over the top of the orbiter, just like on television. Over loud speakers, we heard the countdown, watched the boosters ignite, and then shuttle rise from its plume of steam and fire. Seconds later, we were hit with a wall of intense heat and noise. I didn’t expect that. We tracked the craft as it moved higher and further away until it disappeared behind a cloud. Behind the cloud, the SRBs separated, and the shuttle emerged, it was only barely pinpoint of light.
Then it rained. Apparently, a common, yet relatively unknown, but obvious, side effect of shuttle launches. Mix liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, and what do you get?
And now the shuttle is gone. Of course the shuttle was oversold. It never launched every week. It never carried enough payload. It tried to be all things to all people, and of course never completely satisfied anyone. Yet, it was an honest to god spaceship.
The designs for the shuttle replacement Orion / MPCVSpaceX’s Dragon, and Boeing / Bigelow’s CST-100 all are just capsules that seem like 1950s technology. While I don’t doubt they’re more practical, they seem disheartening. We’ve come a long way from the days of the “National Areospace Plane” (I always found it a bit weird that the artist depictions always made it look like Air Force One.)
I loved Lego growing up. I still love Lego. It’s terrific fun. When Star Wars Lego came out, I said if it had come out 15 years earlier, my mind would have exploded. Still, I long for the great blue and grey color scheme of the Classic Space sets. I’d love for them to reintroduce them, or at least make the parts available again, or at the very least, have astronauts wear oxygen tanks again. Apparently, I’m not alone, with these feelings.
But that was yesterday, and this is today. Lego has announced that for the retirement of the Space Shuttle, they are releasing set 10213 Space Shuttle Adventure. The set features, detachable SRBs and ET, working cargo bay doors, a Canadarm, a satellite, and even deployable landing gears with realistic shuttle slope. (See demo after the jump.) Unfortunately, no oxygen tanks, and the space logo isn’t the same. But, at least the astronaut lives on in some form.
So why do I mention this? Around last Christmas, my mom was wondering if I wanted an exorbitantly desktop model of the Space Shuttle since I was a huge space geek growing up. I passed. This however, I want.