With the final launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis (30 years after the first shuttle launch of Columbia in 1981), so ends a chapter in U.S. space exploration and travel, as the shuttle fleet is officially retired.
This week I wanted to take some time to discuss the history of the shuttle program, from its beginnings (as an idea) in the late 60’s…all the way up to its conclusion in 2011.
What was the program initially intended to do? What were some of the early designs? How long were the shuttles intended to last? What obstacles did NASA face in its development? And of course, what tragedies had befallen the program over the years?
This discussion primarily centers on the beginnings of the program and how it got started…moving from the Mercury and Apollo capsules, to the vehicle that many of us have associated with U.S. space travel for 30 years and was the only one of its kind in the world.
As a young boy – I was 6 at the time of the first launch – I marveled at the Space Shuttle and the possibilities that it seemed to present…igniting my interest in science, space and understanding the universe. I used to stare at the shuttle poster on my wall and build models of it; my interest never waning as it has for many over the years.
So this week’s show is dedicated to my fellow “space nerds” and the iconic shuttle fleet, as I lament its retirement and the fact that we do not currently have a new program to takes its place…yet.