Tuesday, August 09, 2005

NASA brings the Shuttle home safely

Credit where credit is due. NASA's team successfully, safely brought the shuttle home today. It landed at Edwards Airforce Base in the predawn hours this morning. I'm so glad. I feel like I've been holding my breath since they launched.

I went to Edwards once to see a shuttle land. It was an amazing experience. It was, like this one, the first shuttle to land after a disaster, in that case, the Challenger. The viewing area was filled with trailers and campers. People from all walks of life had driven to that remote area in the desert the night before or early (3 AM) in the morning to see the Shuttle land. Just after dawn, we heard a boom and someone pointed to something in the sky so small it appeared to be a star, or a little white fly. It looked like it was heading like a comet straight down to the earth. I had watched on TV the swooping S curves and can assure you it looks nothing like that from the ground. It just looked like a star falling, and suddenly it was on the ground, racing across the desert.

The public is kept far from the landing strip, but I wondered if the astronauts could hear our collective whoop of relief. As with this landing, no one knew for sure if they would make it, or if something terrible might happen. It was a wonderful moment to share with others. If you've never witnessed a shuttle landing, I can tell you, it's worth a cold dark trip into the desert (or to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the preferred site).

There's something really inspiring to me about the fact that man can leave the planet and return to it. I also think there's a perspective one must form looking at the planet as a single unit, without dividing lines, sharing the same resources, that must profoundly remind the viewers how interdependent we are, and how all we really have is each other. There's a lot of empty space beyond Earth. It really behooves all of us to learn how to get along with people with whom we don't seem to have much in common.


Blogger Other Lisa said...

I'm one of those who still thinks there is a place for manned space flight, for many of the same reasons as you state. I hope that a next generation of shuttle vehicles gets off the drawing board and into orbit soon.

9:16 AM  

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