Celebrating the Shuttle — coming soon
It’s been a looong time since I originally posted about a self-initiated project to celebrate the conclusion of NASA’s space shuttle program.
Originally I hoped to release a print to coincide with the final mission, but that came and went in July 2011 and I never got the piece to a stage I was happy with.
Anyway, watch this space, because I am pleased to announce that in early 2013 the project will be unveiled. Better late than never!
Discovery’s final flight / April 17, 2012
Yesterday Space Shuttle Discovery made its final flight, as it was transferred atop a Boeing 747 from Florida to Washington, destined to become a museum exhibit after 27 years of service and 39 missions to space. Coverage of the journey was all over the web and TV, as it made a dramatic flypast over the Washington skyline.
One of the best things that I ended up watching though, was this CBS special news report from August 1977. If you’ve got 30 minutes to spare, check it out on YouTube. This ‘Approach and Landing Test’ was the first time a Space Shuttle flew on its own. Piggy-backing in the same way on a 747, the Shuttle climbed to 24,00 ft, before astronauts Fred Haise and Gordon Fullerton performed a separation and guided it to the runway for the first time.
The documentary makes for compelling watching — not least because of some beautiful 70s graphics; just check out those Polaroid and CBS logos, nice! — but because, 35 years ago, NASA and the world dreamed these vehicles would be making 100+ trips into orbit over their lifetime, making space travel a routine, cheap and frequent exercice. It’s interesting to watch, noting this sense of optimism and excitement, and to think back on what the Shuttle program did and didn’t achieve over the last 30 years.
Best of the best Shuttle footage
If you can stand the commentary of constant acronyms, this is some of the most technically and aesthetically amazing camera footage you will ever see.
Thank you ISO50 once again.
Images by Joel Sternfeld
Photographer Joel Sternfeld, born in New York in 1944, has a truly outstanding portfolio. Rivalling the legendary William Egglestone, he pioneered colour photography as an art form in the US, in the second half of the twentieth century.
See a selection of images from the 70s through to the present at the Luhring Augustine website.
Amongst my favourites has to be the landing of Space Shuttle Columbia atop a 747 in 1979, and his haunting coverage of the High Line – before it was transformed into a park – in the early 2000s.
Space Center / Nanoblocks
So far on this blog, 2012 seems to mainly be me geeking out over Space Shuttle related things. I do apologise.
But when they’re this cool, can you blame me? Nanoblocks is like Lego, only smaller. Really small. I just built the space shuttle kit, above, and it’s pretty fiddly stuff. Good fun for the kid/engineer in all of us.
Inside Space Shuttle Atlantis + Discovery / Collectspace.com
Some truly awesome photos showing the interior of Space Shuttle Atlantis – with the instrument panels lit up one final time before the spacecraft is powered down for good, ahead of its transfer to public display at Kennedy Space Center.
More pictures here, and some of Discovery here.
Seen on ISO50.
Space Shuttle poster / NASA Space Facts
So I saw the new JJ Abrams movie Super 8 last night. It was good fun overall.
But the most exciting part for me was the awesome Space Shuttle poster on Joe’s bedroom wall. I would love to own this! There’s a pretty good high-res scan on the Super 8 Tumblr which will have to do for now.
Oh yeah, one criticism. Nerd alert! The movie is set in 1979, but the poster clearly dates from after this, as it describes Columbia’s first mission in 1981.
Y’know, just saying.
Space Shuttle / Lego System, 1992
I found this recently. I will definitely be building it.
And what with all the talk of the Shuttle retiring, here’s a little preview of a project I’m currently working on…
Discovery is retired / Photos by Justin Ray
So, the Space Shuttle program is over. After 30 years and 135 missions, NASA is retiring the last 3 orbiters. These stunning pictures by Justin Ray for Spaceflight Now show Discovery stripped of its engines in Florida. Over the next year the machine will be made safe for display, in preparation for delivery to the Smithsonian Museum.
I first saw these images on ISO50, where Scott very eloquently summarises his view of the Shuttle program:
“I wonder what we all gained growing up in a world where the Shuttle existed. I know it was a big part of my consciousness as a kid and probably had something to do with how I felt about my national identity. For me it symbolized the combined efforts of some of our greatest minds collectively reaching for a better understanding of the world we live in. For some — and perhaps rightly so — it probably represented a colossal waste of resources in the face of more earthly problems. Maybe it was both, but I’ll personally miss it as a symbol of what we as humans can achieve when we work together.”