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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Staff Editorial

Space shuttle launch marks the end of an era

US space shuttle Discovery made its final departure to the International Space Station on Thursday.

Onboard is Commander Steven Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe, Navy Capt. Stephen Bowen, Benjamin Drew Jr., Dr. Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott, all of whom are experienced space fliers.

According to the Associate Press, this is Discovery’s 39th launch and NASA’s 133rd mission overall. Upon its return, it will be retired and placed in a museum, making it only a memory for past and future generations.

After 30 years, the shuttles will be retired this summer, which marks the end of an era. It’s sad to see such an important part of American history come to an end.

NASA has provided America with a strong sense of nationalism since the first successful Apollo mission in 1969. Since then, the space programs have been an important part of American culture; regardless of the amount of social and economic discourse in the American public, the launch of a space shuttle has provided citizens with a sense of togetherness and pride in the United States.

For members of the younger generation, seeing a program come to an end — that which has always been something big, huge and exciting throughout our childhood — will always be upsetting.

Of course, NASA is an even bigger part of the lives of the Baby Boomers, because they’ve had the opportunity to watch the rise and fall of such a rich part of American history.

According to NASA, space shuttle Discovery has about 143 million miles to its name since her maiden voyage in 1984. Prior to Thursday’s launch, it has spent almost a year in orbit and has orbited Earth more than 5,600 times. There have been 38 previous flights and 12 International Space Station dockings, making it most launched spacecraft in history.

The shuttle is expected to be in space for a total of 11 days and is scheduled to return March 7.

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