Here is the launch of the space shuttle Discovery, one of four of the very last (maybe) such of the program after thirty years.
The shuttles are due to end in September. Then the US will rent spaces on Russian Soyuz rockets, at $51 million a pop. The ISS program will be totally international in scope then. Much to the chagrin of American exceptionalists.
But the program hinged on the completion of the International Space Station and the inherent danger of the shuttle launch stack itself. But that doesn’t mean the shuttle was a waste of time, oh no.
It’ll go down in history as one of the most innovative pieces of aeronautical technology of all times and it will be sorely missed.
Time marches on though and it’s time to retire the old and fragile machines.
Hopefully, the private sector can invent innovative vehicles that will expand on the shuttle and carry NASA into the future.
Launch of shuttle Discovery STS-131 4/5/2010