Discovery just ended it's 27 year run, touching down at Kennedy at 11:58 AM EST. Gotta tell you, I've been getting all weepy about this since she went up. The end of an optimistic era.
A couple days ago, Shatner recorded the following over the Star Trek theme, and it was played for the Discovery crew as a wake up message:
"Space, the final frontier. These have been the voyages of the space shuttle Discovery. Her 30 year mission: To seek out new science. To build new outposts. To bring nations together on the final frontier. To boldly go, and do, what no spacecraft has done before."
We did more with her than with any other shuttle. She's been flying my entire life. For me, there was never a time when some kid in the class didn't want to be an astronaut. The earliest science fiction I read was based in the concept that yes, YES, we really can and do go into space. That yes, YES, we can "explore the stars in peace, together, forever." (Bill Hicks). I'm a bit of a holdover in that respect. Most of my age peers don't feel the same way. Space flight is expensive and blase. What I hear the most is "we need to focus on this planet before we go screwing up others."
Yes, yes we do. Why can't we do both? Why do we have to limit our capabilities as a species and a one-mind by choosing only this planet or the galaxy? I believe that the technology that would allow us to live on other planets, to reach them and be at peace, is the same that will allow us to live on our planet in joy and in health; not just our health, but in a healthy and balanced biosphere.
Listen to this, from NPR:
Just a little? Just a little bit of "the right stuff"? Feeling optimistic about our capabilities as a species and as a spirit has gone out of fashion, I think. We're supposed to worry, to be afraid and concerned and fight, but never believe in our better angels.
End article, NPR:
So, Discovery is to be retired to a museum, perhaps (likely) the Smithsonian. It makes me sad, sure... but the idea that there may not be a hopeful next makes me sadder.