Space Shuttle Atlantis Abstract
Kennedy Space Center Museum, Florida
We have finally returned to launching Americans on a US launch vehicle from US soil. The SpaceX launch vehicle with the Crew Dragon onboard provided this signifiant milestone in our revitalized Space Program on 30 May. We have a new horizon of Space exploration ahead of us with defined programs to return to the moon and send Americans to Mars. This will happen in my life time!
I remember the launch of the Sputnik when I was in grade school. This was followed by our country’s aggressive program to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. I remember the Gemini Program highlighted by Shepard’s first flight into space and John Glenn’s record orbit around the earth. I remember the failures and successes of the Apollo program, culminating in Armstrong’s first step on the Moon in the summer of 1969. I also remember the miracle of Apollo 13.
While at Boeing, I had the opportunity to work with several of the engineers and leaders who were an integral part of the Apollo Saturn V rocket program, the Lunar Rover program and the Space Shuttle program. I moved to Washington, DC and was Boeing’s technical liaison between our Seattle staff and NASA. I met Michael Collins, the astronaut who stayed in the command module while Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon. I worked with General Abramson, the ex-Shuttle Program Manager, on Strategic Defense Initiative programs. I watched the Challenger disaster with several of my Boeing associates in our Washington, DC Control Room. One of my bosses became the leader of the Space Station Integration program. I was part of our National Space Program.
When we exited from space launch programs with the last Shuttle flight in 2011, I felt a deep loss of US leadership in Space. Now after 9 years, we have made our first significant step toward the World’s New Horizon. We have returned … How proud it makes me feel.