Friday, July 08, 2011

Shuttling off

What's this? Two posts in as many days? My eyes!

I didn't think I needed to write about this, but seeing as it's one the biggest, most complicated gadgets the world has ever seen, I though it apt post some words on this day.

Of course, I'm talking about the Space Shuttle, and the successful launch of Atlantis - the last ever shuttle launch - not more than about two hours ago as I write.

To echo other comments I've read online, I'm surprised by how emotional I've been about the whole thing. I think it's because, like the space race generation before me, the shuttle launches have taken place over a large proportion of my life.

It seems that, with the ending of the Shuttle programme, and the ending of supersonic passenger flight in the shape of the Concorde, the world is taking retrograde steps in the progress of mankind.

That's not in any way belittling the advances in other fields of science - medical progress, the development of portable computing power - personal phones, tablets, really quite powerful battery operated computers - these were the stuff of science fiction when the shuttle first launched in 1981. I don't think we even had a home computer back then.

But the image of the shuttle stack sitting on the launch pad, the sheer brute force of these engines - in my mind represented the ultimate in human endeavour.

So despite being surrounded by small tech - great tech - I'm saddened by the loss of one of the greatest technological feats in our short history.

There are some exciting technologies in the pipeline, I'm sure, but I don't find the same attachment to BDBs* as a delivery mechanism.

And the world is a poorer place for that.

*Big, dumb boosters

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