After 30 Years of Flight NASA’s Space Shuttle Program Comes to an End

Last week, it was announced that the NASA space shuttles would be displayed nationwide in institutions all around the country. It has been 30 years and more than 130 missions of continuous missions in the heavens above us in the 20th century.

My affinity with this story is the fact that one of the first orbiters was given the name “Enterprise” due to a push by Trek fans. In 1976 they wrote in and convinced president Gerald Ford to rename it from the “Constitution”. Although this space shuttle was engineless it was used for landings and structural integrity tests. The symbol of this vessel helping to usher in the Space Shuttle program is testament to the visionary strength and prowess of Gene Roddenberry’s original vision.

Standing with NASA's first space shuttle "Enterprise," Nichols, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and members of the original series cast at the shuttle's rollout ceremony in 1976.
Standing with NASA’s first space shuttle “Enterprise,” Nichols, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and members of the original series cast at the shuttle’s rollout ceremony in 1976.

Atlantis, which will make it’s 33rd and final flight this summer, will stay in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center.

Endeavour, currently set for its final liftoff on April 29, will head to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

Discovery, who took made her final voyage earlier this month, will go to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Virginia.

Enterprise, will move from the The Smithsonian to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.

As these vessels head into the mothballs and become museum pieces I wonder about the future and our ability to move toward a reality where Space flight to other worlds is possible.  As a fan I was inspired to pursue computing, visual arts, foreign languages, and astronomy. I wonder how the new generation of Star Trek fans will be inspired to explore outer space or tinker with tech to push the bounds of our imagination.

With a revamped franchise and galvanized fan base is the future possible?

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