Friday, July 08, 2011

Grand Finale Launch for Atlantis

Shuttle Atlantis lofted into space today for the final launch of the Space Shuttle program. The launch drew one of the largest crowds in the history of the space program to the Central Florida Coast.

Turn up your speakers and set to full screen to take in the feeling of this historic launch.

There is abundant commentary around the 'net. Keith Cowing captures the emotion and impact of the event in this column.
I will wager that prior to today's launch, 90 percent - or more - of the people involved in NASA's human space flight program had not fully processed the blunt reality of what the end of shuttle operations really means. Between today and wheel stop in 12-13 day's time it will start to settle in.

People are being laid off. Others are retiring. Others will show up for work weeks or months from now, sense a sea change, and suddenly decide to depart. When all is said and done the agency will look much different. And I will wager that NASA itself has yet to grasp what this will means in terms of what it wants to do - and what it is able to do.

Transitions are never easy but this one was made more difficult than it had to be because of indecision and conflict at several levels of government. However there is the prospect of new ventures emerging over the next few years. Some of these are portrayed in this short video.

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