Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty
Blogs

Headshot of Mat Kaplan

Space Shuttle: Not Designed by Hollywood

Posted by Mat Kaplan

02-11-2010 13:42 CDT

Topics: history, personal stories, human spaceflight, Space Shuttle program

O'Hare is a very busy place. Our connecting flight to Orlando leaves in a half-hour. I can look out the terminal window at the planes rolling by. It reminds me of an observation that frustrated me many years ago. The Space Transportation System was new. It wasn't perfect, but it was magnificent. I was as jazzed as I had been about the early, pre-landing Apollo missions. I couldn't understand why more people didn't share my excitement about this new spaceship! I eventually concluded that the design of the shuttle worked against it. Ignore the SRBs and the big tank, and it looked about as exciting as a DC9, only considerably less sleek, especially as it came in for a landing at Edwards or Kennedy. Why, oh why couldn't its designers have come up with something more like the Pan Am shuttle in 2001: A Space Odyssey?

I was clearly more of a marketer than an engineer. I still am. But much of the public has caught up with those of us who have appreciated STS from the start. Maybe it was watching it, or rather its crews, perform miracles above our planet. Maybe it was Columbia and Challenger, at least in small part. I'm still not sure John Q. fully appreciates this amazing achievement that has served our needs for three decades. At least it's now clear they will miss it when it's gone. I know it's time to say goodbye, but I can't help but feel the same way.

 
See other posts from November 2010

 

Or read more blog entries about: history, personal stories, human spaceflight, Space Shuttle program

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Essential Advocacy

Our Advocacy Program 
provides each Society member 
a voice in the process.



Funding is critical. The more 
we have, the more effective 
we can be, translating into more 
missions, more science, 
and more exploration.

Donate

Featured Images

Jupiter on May 20, 2016, from Pic du Midi Observatory
Saturn from Pic du Midi Observatory, May 21, 2016
Mars near opposition from Pic du midi Observatory, 2016
BEAM with expansion grid overlay
More Images

Featured Video

The Planetary Post - A Visit To JPL

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!