End of an Era
Tomorrow marks the end of an era: the final flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the 135th and last mission of the NASA space shuttle program.
A lot of us grew up with the space shuttle program, yearning and dreaming to reach the stars. The space shuttle and the space science programs inspired many a student to pursue higher education in aeronautical and aerospace sciences. There was the HABET (high altitude balloon experiments in technology) program at Iowa State University in the Space Systems and Controls Lab or the CUBESAT program at CalPoly: an innovative program wholly run by students to design, construct, test, launch, and operate miniature satellites for space research. It was a time of great inspiration. I still remember all those years of getting the applications for the astronaut program that never made it to NASA.
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Discovery Final Fly By
How ironic is it that it was Discovery that did the flyby today over Washington DC, amidst the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Capitol? Atop a Boeing 747, it soared over the Nation’s Capital at 1500 ft waving a final goodbye before gliding to a landing at it’s final resting place: National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center in Dulles, VA.
After a sweeping low flyby past the Washington Monument, it looped over the National Mall not once but twice, slow, silent yet graceful. Past the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, the Capitol, The White House, Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial. After two graceful loops over the mall, she finally bid adieu headed up the Potomac River past the SW Waterfront, Reagan National Airport and finally Dulles International Airport. Crowds thronged the mall and other lookout areas taking a break from school, work and other activities to catch a glimpse of history, anxious to snap a photo and discuss the times they had watched a shuttle launch out in Titusville.
When NASA announced the end of the Space Shuttle Missions in 2010, it was finally now or never. It was STS 133 launch that I was scheduled to watch. After several failed attempts to procure KSC launch tickets, my friends and I managed to buy the Dolphin Tours Causeway launch package for STS-133 which was scheduled to liftoff on Nov 1st, 2010. As fate willed it, after waiting almost a week in Florida with daily postponements to the next day, STS-133 launch got scrubbed and re-scheduled for Feb 24th, 2011 when Discovery accomplished it’s final mission before being retired from service.
It was to be never for me since I have never watched a Shuttle launch or landing. So it is especially a bitter sweet moment to finally see Discovery not on a launchpad strapped to solid rocket boosters 10 miles away blasting off gracefully to space on a crimson and pristine predawn Florida sky but 1500 ft above Washington DC, piggybacked on a Boeing 747.
Discovery … and so we finally meet 🙂
Happy Earth Day
Sunday is Earth Day!
Courtesy: William Anders, NASA
The final decision on who took this historic photograph was decided finally this past January.
Happy Earth Day 2018!
On a cosmic time scale, human history is as brief as the blink of an eye. By compressing all 13.8 billion years of time into a 10 minute scale, this video shows just how young we truly are, and just how ancient and vast our universe is. Starting with the big bang and culminating […]
“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations…If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won’t exist because you’ll have already shut it out … You can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.”
— Dr Mae Jemison
Dr. Mae Jemison is an American Astronaut & Physician. She was born on October 17, 1956 in Decatur, AL. She obtained her BS degree in Chemical Engineering from Stanford in 1977 and an M.D. from Cornell University in 1981. She served in the Peace Corps for 2 1/2 years and became the first African American selected to the NASA Astronaut Program in 1987.
She also became the first African American Women in Space when she orbited the Earth for 190 hrs, 30 minutes, and 23 seconds, with six other astronauts on STS-47 mission on September 12 1992.
After leaving NASA in 1993, she taught at Dartmouth College, and currently runs BioSentient Corp, a medical technology company. She continues to be a strong advocate for science eduction
March is Women History Month and Women of Aviation Month.
Photo Courtesy: NASA
Sally Ride was born on May 26th, 1951 in Encino, CA. Older of two daughters, her interest in science grew at an early age. She went on to get a bachelor of science in Physics, a bachelor of arts in English, a master of science and a PhD in physics from Stanford University.
When NASA was looking for woman astronaut candidates in 1977, Sally Ride was one of the six women selected. She became the first American woman in space when she flew aboard Space Shuttle Challenger on June 18th, 1983.
She made two shuttle flights, and later became a champion for science education and a role model for generations. She wrote five science related children’s books and co-founded, Sally Ride Science, to encourage children, especially girls, to study science.
She died of cancer in 2012.
March is Women History Month & Women of Aviation Month.
Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, landed safely back on Earth after a three-day mission on orbit. Tereshkova was born in central Russia in 1937 to so-called ‘proletarian’ parents, and out of school worked at a textile factory. She developed a passion for skydiving during this period, and this skill brought her to the […]
In December 2006, Sunita Williams became only the second woman of Indian descent to travel to outer space when she was launched on board Space Shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station (ISS). Kalpana Chawla had become the first woman of Indian descent to travel to outer space when she flew on board Space Shuttle […]