08 Jul 2011
Welcome to the Friday’s Food for Thought post from got geoint? America has always been a pioneering nation with it comes to space exploration. And as human beings, we are continually asking ourselves when we look up at the night sky: what exactly lies out there beyond the stars? Space, time and the universe are truly a mystery and it is the desire for knowledge that pushes the bounds of what is possible. Today, the Space Shuttle is poised to take its last launch today 39 years after mission controllers informed two Apollo moonwalkers of congressional approval for the new winged spacecraft. In this week’s FFFT post, we will examine the human desire to learn more about the universe, as well as highlight the Space Shuttle program. We hope you enjoy and happy Friday!
Stephen Hawkin’s Universe
“Where do we come from? How did the universe begin? Why is the universe the way it is? How will it end? All my life, I have been fascinated by the big questions that face us, and have tried to find scientific answers to them. If, like me, you have looked at the stars, and tried to make sense of what you see, you too have started to wonder what makes the universe exist. The questions are clear, and deceptively simple. But the answers have always seemed well beyond our reach. Until now. The ideas which had grown over two thousand years of observation have had to be radically revised. In less than a hundred years, we have found a new way to think of ourselves. From sitting at the center of the universe, we now find ourselves orbiting an average-sized sun, which is just one of millions of stars in our own Milky Way galaxy. And our galaxy itself is just one of billions of galaxies, in a universe that is infinite and expanding. But this is far from the end of a long history of inquiry. Huge questions remain to be answered, before we can hope to have a complete picture of the universe we live in.” Cool, right? These are Stephen Hawkin’s words and check out more here.
Weather a Wild Card as Crew Boards Atlantis for Final Launch
Despite a good chance of thunderstorms, the four-member crew of Atlantis climbed aboard the fueled-up ship and prepared to blast off Friday morning in the final mission of America’s 30-year space shuttle program. The very last launch for a space shuttle is set for 11:26 a.m. ET. Thousands of people, including some who came to Kennedy Space Center three decades ago for the very first launch, gathered to watch. Almost a million people are expected to be on hand to witness the historic event. Read more from CNN here.
Milestones in 30-Year Shuttle Program
NASA’s space shuttle flights began three decades ago with Columbia and will end today with the final voyage of Atlantis and the retirement of the fleet. Between, there were triumphs and tragedies. Some of the milestones of the shuttle era:
1981: Columbia makes first shuttle flight for two days.
1982: Shuttle declared operational, no longer experimental.
1983: Challenger’s first flight with first shuttle spacewalk; America’s first woman in space, Sally Ride; America’s first black astronaut in space, Guion Bluford.
1984: Discovery’s first flight, first untethered spacewalk by Bruce McCandless, the so-called “human satellite.”
1985: Atlantis’ first flight; first congressman in space, Sen. Jake Garn of Utah.
1986: Challenger destroyed after lift-off, seven killed including teacher Christa McAuliffe; shuttles grounded during investigation.
1988: Shuttle flights resume with Discovery.
1989: Launch of Jupiter probe Gallileo.
Be sure to check out the full list of milestones here.
Shuttle Retirement Is Not the End of Human Spaceflight, NASA Chief Says
Even though NASA’s iconic space shuttle program is ending in a matter of weeks, the future of American human spaceflight remains bright, according to NASA chief Charlie Bolden. Private spaceflight firms will pick up NASA’s slack before too long, ferrying humans to low-Earth orbit and back relatively cheaply and efficiently, Bolden told reporters here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday (July 7). And handing off that taxi service to commercial companies, Bolden added, will free the space agency up to do what it was meant to do: explore further afield in our solar system. So the nation is not abandoning human spaceflight, despite a pervasive public perception to the contrary, he said. Read the full Space.com story here.
Songs About Space and Space Flight
As our fans of the FFFT post know, we like to showcase a music video that ties into the overall theme of the post. Often times, we dig pretty deep for video content, or we like to take the obvious choices. Today, we are going with the obvious with a series of music videos related to space. We hope you enjoy.
David Bowie’s Space Oddity via The Right Stuff Movie
Peter Shilling’s Major Tom (Coming Home)
REM’s Man on the Moon
Moby’s We Are All Made of Stars
The Police’s Walking on the Moon