The end. Today it's all over. Three decades of the Space Shuttle, with its many amazing successes and two horrible failures, are gone forever. This video shows those thirty years in one single launch.
The space shuttle was the most complex machine ever created. Even with all its faults, it was a mighty beast. Combined, the shuttles travelled 513.7 million miles (826.7 million km) in 135 missions. It's an staggering number—we could have visited Jupiter!
As a spacenerd who never saw Saturn V roaring up to the skies, I couldn't imagine a more amazing display of power and engineering prowess more amazing than the launch of the Space Shuttle. Strapped to 1.6 million pounds of liquid fuel and two solid rocket boosters pushing 5,600,000 pounds-force of liftoff thrust, it was a thing of beauty that we will never see again.
For someone who saw the original launch of Columbia as a kid, I'm finding it hard to believe that everything is over just three decades later. If I feel gutted today, I can't even begin to imagine how people working in the program must feel. Still, I'm hopeful that things will get even more exciting in the coming years, hopefully with a mission to Mars and other planets. Until then, I'll watch this video to remind me of the genius of human engineering and the American space program.
Godspeed Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour. And thanks for all the fish.