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Posts Tagged ‘Atlantis’

A few minutes ago the final NASA shuttle launched from the Kennedy Space Center, taking with it a crew of astronauts and critical supplies to the International Space Station. This marks the end of an era for the US space program and it’s a good time to reflect on the space race and how it inspired generations of people across the world. The space race excited us in so many spheres of life, from the pioneering science, to an expression of the political muscle of the USA and USSR, to asking (and answering) so many questions about our place in the universe.

Atlantis before the launch (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Atlantis before the launch (Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

As one NASA spokesman said:

The space shuttle spreads its wings one last time for the start of a sentimental journey into history.

What now?

We will never see another launch, and for that I’m a bit sad. But imagine what Carl Sagan would have to say if he was watching today. He would tell us that the space race spanned the most promising decades of our history, and as one chapter comes to a close, another opens. He’d say that it’s far better to celebrate what this program had brought us and let it inspire our next move. And he would finish with a breathtaking image that gives a little perspective on how much more there is to explore.

Saturn, shadowing the sun (Image credit: CICLOPS, JPL, ESA, NASA)

Saturn, shadowing the sun. The Earth is the speck on the left hand side. This is what Sagan would have loved to see and how he would inspire us to keep exploring the universe. (Image credit: CICLOPS, JPL, ESA, NASA)

Find out more!

You can see much more news about the shuttle at the BBC News website or NASA’s live video feed. Abstruse Goose is a little more melancholy. I think that this event speaks for itself. It’s wonderful to be able to share the joy of our colleagues in a different lab on a different continent, working in a different field, and watching this launch is a great way to start the weekend.

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