The misadventures of Commander Merlin and the crew of RV-103
Wednesday September 18th 2013

More Bitter Than Sweet

The last launch. Credit Larry Tanner

What can you say?  It is the end.  The last launch of the most successful American Human Space Flight Program, in fact the most successful HSF program in world history, after thirty years.  Fourteen people have given their lives riding these magnificent birds striving to reach the heavens to work for the American people.  Hundreds others have ridden them to the heavens.  Literally tens of thousands have come from all over the nation, from all walks of life, with one dream in common, to build and maintain these ships in order to touch the heavens and make our nation and our world a better place.

A world class research center has been built in space because of these shuttles.  Planetary probes have been delivered by these shuttles which went on to visit Jupiter and other places.  The shuttles have been integral in defending our nation by delivering military satellites.  And these shuttles have rewritten our astronomy books with a wealth of new information exceeding all the previous knowledge we had about our universe in human history by delivering and servicing Hubble.  No Human Space Flight program has even come close to the accomplishments that the Space Shuttle Fleet has done.  And none will for the very long term future.

In two weeks, Atlantis will touch down at Kennedy Space Center and we will hear for the final time, “Wheels stop.”  In two weeks, Atlantis will join her sister birds being prepared to become museum pieces competing with Disney World, Universal Studios, etc. though she and her sisters still have dozens of flights left in her.  In time they will be eventually forgotten slipping into mythos.

I watched the launch with great sadness and bitterness.  There is nothing coming to replace these beautiful birds.  Nothing to spark our imaginations, make us strive for the heavens, to make our world a better place.  NASA, Obama, and our so called leaders in Congress have thrown it all away no matter how much they protest that point in their speeches and PowerPoint’s this last week.  Actions speak so much louder than words though our leaders hope that America doesn’t know this truth.

History will not judge our leaders and our nation favorably.  Charlie Bolden, the current NASA Administrator, will not be remembered for his service as a Marine, Marine General, astronaut, or Shuttle Commander, but will be remembered as the NASA Administrator that destroyed our nation’s Human Space Flight Program and destroyed tens of thousands of lives and dreams.

Currently Atlantis is docked to the International Space Station for the last time.  As her crew works diligently to load a year’s worth of supplies onto the station, I’m sure they are taking time to look outside the windows admiring the heavens, the Earth, and Atlantis for the last time.  I am sure it is bitter for them also.

To all the people at KSC, well done!  You have served your nation with pride, productivity, and unfailing loyalty. I just wish our nation could have reciprocated.

To the leaders at NASA, shame on you and may that shame always come to the forefront of your minds as you see these faithful contractors every day and as you watch other nations soar into the heavens instead of us.  You do not even deserve to walk in the shoes of those contractors who made the dream happen.  You have done our nation wrong and done the people who actually made our HSF happen a great evil.  History will not be kind to the NASA Administration deservedly so and will regard the contractors with awe and amazement for what they have accomplished.

In the next decade, Human Space Flight will be done by nations on the other side of the world such as Russia, China, Japan, and India.  In these United States of America, we will only be able to watch these accomplishments while waiting on the New Space Boys to learn how to launch payloads and humans into low Earth orbit.  For the first time since the beginning of the Space Race back in the early 1960’s, we will be behind not only one nation, but several nations.  It is a race that this time we may lose to the mediocrity that our nation’s leaders have chosen for us without our consent.

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