July 21st. The date that will be remembered as the last ever Space Shuttle touched down at the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, for the final time. Just over thirty years after it was first launched. The wheels touched the ground. The crew disembarked. Atlantis was towed off the run way for the last time.
It has been over a year since the Space Shuttle was retired. When those wheels touched down, the very fate of the United States Space Program was a question mark. NASA was working on another orbital craft, but running costs, political pressure and over budgeting gave a grim outlook. All in all, the future of space exploration did not look like a future at all. The worlds most advanced machine had been put to bed, and along with it, the dreams of many a space geek.
Fast forward into the present, NASA have managed to capture their spark of old with Curiosity. A one ton moving science lab, that was dropped onto Mars through rather unconventional means to make way for the next big leap in Space Exploration – humans on Mars.
With all the excitement, its good to look back at the 30 years of service rendered to us by the STS missions. The fallen brethren, Columbia and Challenger, and those brave souls who knew the risks and took them anyways. 30 years of selfless service, pushing the imagination and the boundaries of humanity. 30 years – far to long and yet far to short.
Atlantis, Discovery, Endeavour, Enterprise. You have earned your rest and you deserve your place amongst the stars. You have inspired many, myself not excluded. And for that you will always be remembered.