The Long Decline: End of the Shuttle Program

For those who don’t know.. As a nation we have essentially decided to give up our manned space program.  While NASA has done amazing things with robots and satellites in space the one aspect that really captivates is manned exploration.  As with most huge projects, things haven’t exactly gone as planned with the shuttle or space station over the last 30 years. But now as reality sets in and we see the ending of the shuttle program it strikes me as a milestone that the United States will not have a way to get people into space forcing us to rely on the cooperation of others (who are not our friends) to do so.  I wanted to share a few things for those who are interested. From Penn Jillette in How to Play In Traffic

It’s 3.7 miles away, and your looking at this flame and the flame is far away and it’s brighter than watching an arc welder from across a room[….] The fluffy smoke clouds of the angels of exploration spill out of your field of vision. They spill out of your peripheral vision. It’s the biggest explosion you’ve ever seen but you’re hearing… swamp sounds. You have time to notice the quiet, wrinkle one eyebrow and think to yourself “Hmm it seems so bright and smoky – you know, I would have thought there would be some noise.”

Right as you say the word ‘noise’ in your head, right as those synapses connect, you get hit in the chest. You don’t exactly hear it at first, it almost knocks you over. It’s the loudest most wonderful sound you’ve ever heard. […] You can’t really hear it. It’s too loud to hear. It’s wonderful deep and low.

This is a real explosion and it’s controlled and it’s doing nothing but good and it makes your unbuttoned shirt flap around your arms. It’s beyond sound,it’s wind. It’s a man-made hurricane.”

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