If the Atlantis blasts off today, it'll be the official end of the space shuttle era. And, for what feels like quite some time now, we've noticed some excellent obituaries for the venerable manned space vehicle. Some of them are nostalgic, others ruminate on the future of unmanned space probes, and others still have just wished the bulky things good riddance. So, in celebration of all the commemorating, here are some of our favorite goodbyes.
Below are a few notable articles and essays--sorted by date--that caught our eye for their sharp angle, argument or merely because we enjoyed the way they were written. We hope you do too:
Esquire - Go by Chris Jones
In Brief: A January, 2009 first person recounting of a tension-filled Endeavour blast off.
The cockpit communications were switched to a private channel, and the loudspeakers went silent. The bleachers were quiet then, too. So much planning, so much money and nerve, and it all might be scrubbed because of two pins in a door. That’s just the way things had been going.
Foreign Policy - The People's Capsule by Charles Homans
In Brief: A July/August 2010 history lesson from the magazine about "How a clunky old Soviet rocket outlasted the space shuttle."
But for the routine space-station trips that constitute almost all manned spaceflight today, the Soyuz is not only $19 million cheaper per astronaut to launch than the shuttle, but it's also by most measures safer -- it hasn't had a fatal accident in 29 years.
The Atlantic - Earthbound by Hanna Rosin