Chair Force Engineer

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mission Complete

The successful completion of the STS-118 mission is a major emotional milestone for NASA and for all manned spaceflight programs. It brings closure to many of the unfulfilled ambitions that were left open due to the twin disasters that have unfortunately left an indelible mark on the Space Shuttle program.

--It was the first successful flight of an educator-astronaut, Barbara Morgan. She watched in agony as her friend throughout training, Christa McAuliffe, perished in the Challenger disaster.
--It was the first mission for Endeavour since STS-113 in December 2002 (The last successful mission before Columbia was lost, and the last launch I witnessed in person.)
--STS-118 was the last mission that was officially manifested for Columbia prior to the orbiter's destruction.
--STS-118's pilot, Charles Hobaugh, was the CAPCOM for STS-107, and was the source for the desperate calls of "Columbia, Houston. Comm check."

Hopefully the completed mission will be a cathartic event that helps NASA to finish the shuttle program safely and transition to Orion smoothly. It should inspire all of us to bounce back from our mistakes and continue our pursuits. On a personal level, the successful flight of an educator-astronaut gives me hope that, even if I pursue a career teaching high school, the space program can still be a part of my life.