October 10, 2012

The Last Flight of the Endeavor

By Andrew at 3:32 AM

A few weeks ago at work many people went out by the bay to watch an event that will likely never happen again: the transport of a space shuttle on top of a carrier plane. With the retirement of the fleet, the Endeavor was the last of the shuttles to be transported and decommissioned. The final resting place is in Los Angeles, but on its way to that location, it flew over Sacramento and San Francisco.
On its loop over the Golden Gate Bridge and down along the Pacific coast, the plane and shuttle flew over DreamWorks in Redwood City. What was interesting and somewhat intriguing to me is that several hours later, hundreds of miles away, our co-workers at our LA studio were also able to observe the shuttle. Granted, the studios are both in major metropolitan areas within the same state, but still, there are very few events that we participate in jointly between the two sites due to geographic separation. This was definitely a very unique experience.
I was especially interested in the shuttle due to having a previous interest in NASA and the space program from my dad, a high school physics teacher, who has followed the space program in its relation to his field of physics. When I was younger, my family traveled down to the Johnson Space Center and visited the facilities there. Once, my dad had an interview with one of the astronauts for his class from the International Space Station. So there have been many little occasions for observing space exploration events, although this specific instance caught me somewhat by surprise.
Another element that caught my attention regarding this event was the fact that that so many people were interested in and genuinely excited about the event. As of late, I had thought that people had become somewhat skeptical and critical of the space program, especially questioning whether or not the use of money on such endeavors is worthwhile with the continued issues of food and healthcare in the world today. However, you would have never known that these discussions had occurred on that day, as media outlets were reporting that many workplaces were disrupted in order to watch the flyover. That was definitely the case at the office park I was at, as many offices emptied to enjoy the sight.
I am not sure that I had ever seen a shuttle in person, but after this experience I am wanting to take a closer look at one sometime, perhaps in Los Angeles or at one of the other locations where the spacecraft have settled. Regardless, it is nice to see that there has been a renewed interest in space exploration, especially with the recent landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars and the shuttle retirement festivities. Also, it appears that in the near future the private sector will play a much larger role in the progression of space exploration. Until that time, however, I will fondly remember the time I saw the Endeavor fly over.

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