Thursday, July 21

Seems Like Yesterday

This morning, as did many of you, I heard the news broadcast about the safe arrival back on earth of the final flight of the final Space Shuttle. In contrast to past manned space programs, nothing is ready to take the Shuttle's place. In a real sense, as a nation, the US has moved back from its leading position in aerospace. I don't know that's necessarily bad, but hitching rides with the Russians was not something I expected back in the beginning.

You see, unlike most reading this, I was privileged to witness one of the very first public events involving the shuttle. In my very first job after college, in my third month working as an engineer on rocket engines (no "rocket scientist" jokes, please!) at Rocketdyne, we were all invited to see the very first shuttle. It was called Enterprise, in honor of the Star Trek television series. According to Wikipedia, the roll out was on Friday, September 17, 1976. I don't remember if that was right (seems to me we got to go on Saturday), but I do remember it was clear and warm at Palmdale, and traffic was slow.

It was the first of many new aircraft unveilings I was to attend, and it remains the second most memorable of them all. It seems like yesterday. In reality, it is another time and place, far, far away. The company that built the shuttles no longer exists. Aerospace, while still active in Southern California, is no longer the big economic driver it once was. Still, it was great to get to see the shuttle fly one last time, before it goes to a museum. I, for one, hope we see such things again in our lifetime.

Enterprise Returns to Earth - Photo from Wikipedia

1 comment:

Khal said...

I find it particularly depressing to be thumbing rides from the Russians. Like you, I graduated college in 1976, and suspect we both have felt the nation slide a bit.

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