Friday, July 08, 2011

Video Del Fuego, Part XLVI

Atlantis took to the skies today for the last time, closing the books on thirty years of Space Shuttle launches from Kennedy Space Center. For the sixth time, we've seen the last launch of an American spacecraft series. As a salute to NASA's fifty-year history of manned spaceflight, here they are: the swan songs.

First: Gus Grissom on America's second spaceflight, Liberty Bell 7, the last flight of the Mercury-Redstone series.

Second: The last flight of the Mercury program, Gordon Cooper aboard Faith 7.

Third: Jim Lovell and Buzz Aldrin on Gemini XII.

Fourth: Gene Cernan, Jack Schmitt, and Ronald Evans on Apollo 17. On this December day in 1972, some say the sun rose twice...

Fifth: That wasn't the end for Apollo, though. Apollo spacecraft would fly four more times, on Saturn IB rockets. The last one would fly in July 1975, carrying Thomas Stafford, Deke Slayton, and Vance Brand on a rendezvous with Alexei Leonov and Valery Kubasov during the Apollo-Soyuz mission.

Sixth: The next "last one" wouldn't come for another thirty-six years. Today, Atlantis flew into orbit for the last time, carrying Chris Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, Sandra Magnus, and Rex Walheim towards the International Space Station.

As of this writing (11AM Friday) no videos of the launch had been posted to YouTube yet. So, the roll-out will have to stand in for now.

(Addendum, 10Jul11: NASA TV comes through.)

Which spacecraft will be number seven? That isn't yet clear. What is perfectly clear, though, is that there will be one. Despite the problems we're facing, America isn't prepared to give up on this enterprise just yet. Besides, I've got a sneaking suspicion that we've already seen lucky number seven's prototype...

And the journey continues!

No comments: