Goodbye Space Shuttle. You were not epic, but you were reliable.

28 04 2011

I have shared my past with the shuttle before, but as the day of the penultimate shuttle flight draws near (hours away) I am of a mind to share again. I spent a good portion of my childhood in the shadow of Cape Canaveral. Getting out of bed at five in the morning to watch the man-made dawn expand into the sky is one of my most cherished memories. I went to the theater to see Star Wars and its sequels and I climbed onto my roof to see the much messier but far louder and impressive fireball of the booster rockets lighting up the Atlantic, a candle of our greatest ambition. I miss the salty air of that place, where I watched rockets fly into space.

When I was about seven, maybe eight, I picked out my own Christmas present. It was a photograph in a gilded frame of the shuttle on the back of the 747 transport that carried it back to Florida from California. I remember being resentful of California for getting the landing. But we had the launch, my god, you will never know the beauty of a launch! Every red that the eye can see and a thousand other shades of fire you cannot lighting up the imagination of a ten year old boy on a roof. I don’t apologize for having sixteen hundred pages of space opera unpublished in a drawer. When other kids were hanging posters of sports heroes I was hanging this…

Goodbye space.

science of fiction

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4 responses

20 08 2011
Sue Bursztynski

I grew up in the Apollo era – but nowhere near the Cape! Lucky you. No wonder you were space-obsessed. So was I. Still am. It’s a shame about the shuttle, but maybe now they will think of going further into space and creating vehicles that can do that.

20 08 2011
silverstairs

I had a teacher (German Intellectual History… ouch) that told us that the great Cathedrals and achievements of high buildings in the middle ages were expressions of the newly asserted middle class. I suggested skyscrapers were similar. Rocket programs are even more so. If there is to be exploration of deep space, it will not wear the American flag. But Cocoa Beach was a great place to be a kid!

PS, I’m slushing with you.

20 08 2011
Sue Bursztynski

And all I could do was read the astronaut autobiographies! My favourite astronaut of all is Michael Collins, who has written some fabulous stuff, not only about his own time in the space program,but about the program itself, whose attitude to the flight of Apollo 11 was that there were plenty of people who would have loved to be in his place and he was a pilot first and foremost. His descriptions of life in Cocoa Beach were fascinating.

Glad to hear you’re slushing and I do hope you find something wonderful. That’s the pleasure of it – every time you open a file, it’s like a parcel – “Ooh, a story, what’s it about?” I’ve just read a delightful one in the last few days. Hope you do too.

21 08 2011
silverstairs

Of the ten or so I’ve read there have been three that came from writers with very obvious talent but just lacked a little patience to clench it. It has been fun and very- VERY educational.

Life in a spaceport, by the way, was awesome. I wonder how many sci-fi writers were born under those beautiful contrails drifting over the ocean.

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