Space Shuttle / Last Flight of Discovery / Observations

Space Shuttle

In honor of the final flight of Space Shuttle Discovery, here is a photo of the Pathfinder shuttle at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, as it seemingly flies off into the sunset.

Of course, the shuttles never fly horizontally with the external tank and solid rocket boosters attached. But it still makes for a cool picture, and a rather nice tribute, I think.

Space Shuttle at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama

Photo location: U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama
A three exposure (-2, 0, +2) HDR tonemapped in Photomatix, edited in GIMP

Last Flight of Discovery

Yesterday, I watched the Space Shuttle Discovery make its final landing after mission STS-133. Of course, I wasn’t there to watch it in person. But I did watch it over the internet, just as I had watched the launch online 12 days earlier.

This was the final mission for Discovery, which first flew in 1984. However, this wasn’t the final Space Shuttle flight - there are two more missions planned, one for Atlantis and one for Endeavour.

Watching the launches and the landings of the Space Shuttles has always been exciting for me. It is amazing to see what smart people have been able to do. And there is always just a bit of a sense of relief after each successful launch and landing.

While watching this most recent landing, I was thinking about how much things had changed since the first Space Shuttle missions of the early 1980s. Back then, if you weren’t there to see it in person, your only choice for watching these events was on network television. And then once the flights got to be routine, the networks stopped carrying live coverage.

But these days, we have cable television and satellite television, and even an entire channel devoted to NASA. I must say I was just a little excited once DirecTV started carrying NASA TV. Keep your “geek” comments to yourself.

And who would have thought almost 30 years ago when all of this started that we could watch launches and landings and even entire mission coverage right on our computers on something called the internet. Or even on more foreign sounding things like iPhones and iPads. Or that we could get up-to-the-minute Twitter updates about what was going on.

Just like the space program from the early days of Mercury and before, the world we live in has come a long way. And it’s exciting to think about what may be in store for the future.

Observations of the Past Week (2/27 - 3/5)

Not to be forgotten, here are the Observations of the Past Week from Facebook and Twitter, making this an extremely long post. Unless you stopped reading before you got this far.

Today is a new day! Well actually, it’s still Monday. It’s not like they made a new day called Jupiterday or anything. (I’m starting a petition…)

If Charlie Sheen and Moammar Gadhafi swapped personalities, would anyone notice? (Or care?)

What’s the best thing about Monday? 5:00. That would be PM, of course. (I wonder what happens at 5:00 AM on Monday? Not that I’m going to get up and find out.)

Watching Laverne & Shirley. TV just doesn’t get much better. (From some comments, evidently some think that TV does get much better. I disagree.)

Surprise! Are you surprised? (Wait, don’t surprises usually come with birthday cake?)

I finally figured out why we have two feet: When we stub a toe on one, we have another one to hop on. (Checking that one off the “Unsolved Mysteries of Life” list.)

Maybe the Memphis Tigers should follow the lead of the Wisconsin Democrats. If you can’t win, run away and hide so that no one can win. (And take your ball with you when you go.)

Trying to think of something meaningful to say, but nothing comes to mind. So how about this: The internet - it’s going to be big. (My Magic 8 Ball told me so.)

Infinity = Thursday afternoon (Enough said.)

“Everyone can’t be from Tennessee - it’s a gift from God.” - Church sign. In Tennessee, of course. (Because having that on a church sign in Arkansas would probably start a riot.)

Words of wisdom: “You can paint a skunk, but it won’t take away the smell.” - Steve Burns (And that’s about as deep as my thinking gets, unfortunately.)