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RIP Discovery. A part of my heart dies with you.

Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
3:47 pm

The U.S. space shuttle Discovery deploys the chute as she glides in for landing March 9, 2011, at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The oldest and most traveled space shuttle, Discovery, landed back on Earth Wednesday after its final space flight and will now end its days as a museum piece to delight the crowds. Space Shuttle Discovery landed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier today, completing its 39th and final mission, completing a “career” of 27 years and 148 million miles flown.

Quoted in a Deseret News article, Former Utah Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, who flew as a payload specialist aboard Discovery in April of 1985, said he is extremely saddened at the "retirement" of Discovery:

… it is a "huge, huge mistake" for the U.S. government to turn its back on the 30-year-old space shuttle program that is being shuttered because of operational costs.

"NASA constitutes less than one half of 1 percent of the federal budget," Garn said, adding that the Congressional will to de-fund the program is a decision "I don’t even comprehend."

Amid the sadness, however, he remembered the joy of his Discovery flight:

"There were 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets every day, with 45 minutes of daylight and 45 minutes of darkness. … It is impossible to describe what it is like."

"The magnificent beauty of our planet … it makes you realize how insignificant we are here on Earth and you wonder why we don’t treat each other better."

I never rode the shuttle like Garn (although I would have loved to do so), but I have been fascinated by the space program since I was a little boy.  Part of my heart is dying as the shuttle program takes its final breaths.  There is something ennobling in man when he looks upward to the stars and takes significant steps to reach them. We lose that when we look downward and judge the space program solely on terrestrial pragmatism

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