Today, 12 April 2011 was the 30th Anniversary of the launch of STS-1 in 1981, an event that marked the beginning of the Space Shuttle Programme.
The speakers at the ceremony on the grounds of Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, expressed their views on the importance of this programme in space exploration. The Space Shuttle Programme was instrumental in putting together the International Space Station.
More importantly, this is proof that countries that were once antagonistic have found a way to work together and build something that benefits humankind.
Although the celebration recognised the excellence of the Shuttle Orbiters as space vehicles, their making was a difficult path full of ground breaking discoveries and devastating tragedies.
Behind it all the ceremony celebrated the hundreds of people that work together as a team, giving the best of themselves and believing that the success of the mission and the safety of those going to space lies on their hands.
The speakers at the event included :
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who in an emotional speech, announced where the Shuttle Orbiters will go after retirement. He asked the four institutions to take good care of the vehicles and that they mean so much to so many people who were proud of their achievements.
Director of NASA Kennedy Space Centre Robert Cabana conducted the ceremony and thanked everyone for their contribution as the spacecraft are the result of efficient team work.
Director of Flight Crew Operations Janet Kavandi mentioned how much they will miss the Orbiters and what they meant to all those who worked on their development for so many years.
Endevour Vehicle Manager Michael Parrish talked about the point of view of the support crew, so important for the success of the missions.
They also showed the video "The Space Shuttle" narrated by actor William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the television series Star Trek.
The spacecraft from the television series was the inspiration for a change of name of the first Shuttle from “Constitution” to “Enterprise.”
The cast of Star Trek at the roll-out of Enterprise and video "The Space Shuttle"
Where will the Shuttle Orbiters go after their last flights?
- Atlantis – stays at Kennedy Space Centre, Florida
- Endevour – goes to The California Science Center, Los Angeles
- Discovery – goes to Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Virginia
- Enterprise – goes to Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York
The crew of the International Space Station, joined the celebrations highlighting the importance of the shuttle orbiters in building the station, one of the best pieces of engineering in the world, a place that they call home for up to half a year per mission.
People living in space was science-fiction at the start of the space programme, now it is a reality. These are the first steps of space exploration. A new space age is about to begin and today’s dreams will become a reality sooner than we all suspect.
The crew from ISS join the celebrations
References¤ “Enterprise (Shuttle Orbiter)” (2011). The Internet Encyclopedia of Science. [Online]. Available here. (Accessed: 12 April 2011).
¤ “NASA Television” (2011). NASA. [Online]. Available here. (Accessed: 12 April 2011).