Endeavour Flies

The Space Shuttle Endeavour successfully launched today on STS-134, its final flight.

With my schedule I don’t often get to watch a launch live, and I had to watch this one on NASA Edge with my smartphone because my computer kept crashing.  My youngest son sat on my lap and watched with me and is probably telling the other kids in his class about it right now.

I hope this morning’s launch time let you watch it, with a child, to urge the upcoming generation on to scientific pursuits.  I know your thinking…“Yeah, you want me to make my child into a geek!”  Well, ya in a sense I am. 

At my book signing on Saturday I saw a T-Shirt on a young person that read, “Dear Math, I am not a therapist.  Solve your own problems.”  The truth is that high-tech industries run on difficult math problems and to inspire the upcoming generation to take them seriously, we need to give them a vision of technology that looks enticing.  Then we need to follow that up with the message…“Stay in school”.  Sure, just because they do their school work will not necessarily mean that they’ll work in aerospace.  However, the road to such a career branches off into countless high-paying side paths.

Support your young persons’ future.  Pull up a recording of the Endeavour launch and watch it with them.  Tell them about the path of discovery and how many people it takes to pull something like this off.   Tell them about the dreams you had with your first televised space launch.  Mine was the Saturn V on an Apollo mission.  I was a little bit younger than my son is now and my dear mother called me in from outside to see it and I watched it on a 40″ black and white TV.  Maybe she was watching too, I don’t know.  With my eyes glued to the screen I didn’t notice anything else.

Through the years I’ve watched other launches as opportunity allowed.  They never lose their wonder for me and I can never do anything else during a liftoff except watch.  Space is such an unnatural place for a human to go.  I think of the photo that came with my phone that shows a goldfish leaping out of the water.  The fish goes up and into an arc like a shuttle launch.  Each launch represents the ultimate accomplishments in our lives, the ones where we surpass the limits of our flesh, expand our horizons, and achieve things that the other people around us didn’t think we could do.

In addition, each launch carries with it a host of new discoveries about our world, our universe, and about how to do things here on Earth in new and increasingly useful ways.  A lot of these discoveries are planned, and each new question answered lights up whole new questions to ask.  However, a great many catch us unawares, a trail of bread-crumbs left behind each launch…spin-off inventions where engineers solving problems for space come away with a new solutions to problems for Earth.  What human-need will experience an unexpected revolution tomorrow as a result of Endeavour’s flight today?  We’ll have to wait and see.  What human-need will stay in the dark-ages tomorrow, because of the negligence of not building a replacement for the shuttle program during past decades?  We’ll never know.

Take a child outside tonight and gaze with them at the stars.  When they point up and ask, “Why’s that star moving really fast across the sky like that?” tell them, “That is a spacecraft, built by many smart people on the ground.  It might even be the Space Shuttle Endeavour, or the International Space Station, with people living and working inside.”

Then tell them to stay in school and maybe someday they can be that star, moving really fast across the sky.

"Distant Horizons" Photo by Krista Housley Clement (used with permission)

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~ by Bill Housley on May 16, 2011.

3 Responses to “Endeavour Flies”

  1. [...] The Space Shuttle Endeavour successfully launched today on STS-134, its final flight. With my schedule I don't often get to watch a launch live, and I had to watch this one on NASA Edge with my smartphone because my computer kept crashing.  My youngest son sat on my lap and watched with me and is probably telling the other kids in his class about it right now. I hope this morning's launch time let you watch it, with a child, to urge the upcoming … Read More [...]

  2. [...] The Space Shuttle Endeavour successfully launched today on STS-134, its final flight. With my schedule I don't often get to watch a launch live, and I had to watch this one on NASA Edge with my smartphone because my computer kept crashing.  My youngest son sat on my lap and watched with me and is probably telling the other kids in his class about it right now. I hope this morning's launch time let you watch it, with a child, to urge the upcoming … Read More [...]

  3. Decided I wanted my 2 year old to see a Shuttle launch before they were gone. Got into the furball of trying to get KSC tickets, and managed to. The mission got bumped from February, we went and got scrubbed in April, and drove down Sunday, stayed up all night and morning standing in lines or catching bits of sleep on buses to get out on the causeway before dawn. Spent far more than I want to think about on; “just going down to see a Shuttle launch”.

    Was it worth it?

    http://img839.imageshack.us/flvplayer.swf?f=Pll4

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