Just in case you hadn’t noticed. I hadn’t noticed. I didn’t even know that there was a launch scheduled anytime soon.
So yeah, this is the appropriate forum, since our space program has clearly reached the level of mundane and pointless. How exactly did that happen, anyway? It used to be that a launch was a big thing. Then it became routine until the Challenger disaster. We were riveted when it went back up. What happened? We lost interest again. Until Columbia burned up. Once more we paid attention. And now, even with the known issues arising with every single flight, with the slightest protuberance undergoing the most rigorous of scrutiny, they launched and nobody noticed. For the love of God, it doesn’t even merit mention on the front page of CNN.
Well I noticed and knew it was coming several days ago. Not that I was watching the actual launch, but I try to keep track of when they go up and what the next stage of construction is going to be. Also it’s on my cnn.com, though not at the top with all the SoCal fire coverage. It’s in the Tech section of ‘More News’.
I’m with you, I still find space launches amazing. It is a shame that they have become boring to the general public. I was looking at an old scrap book I made of the Viking Missions in the seventies. I don’t have that level of wonder and pride, but I still feel it.
Actually, this particular flight wasn’t ignored. In fact, according to the New York Times, this flight was controversial because it took place prior to the replacement of several deteriorating heat tiles and the schedule is packed with construction tasks.
That said, I really hope that nothing bad happens. I think another accident will kill the shuttle program. I would like the current shuttle to fly indefinitely. (I built part of the simulators, so I can feel a small part of it as long as they fly the current shuttles.)
That’s what bothers me, too. I made the mistake of thinking, back in 1986, that Shuttle launches were routine. I was tired of hearing of the whole Teacher in Space thing, and just wanted that boring PR launch to get done, so a real payload would get up again. (I was really looking forward to the Gallileo probe, even then.)
Then I was told that it blew up.
Similarly, people were still surprised when Columbia burned, even though everyone was saying it was a real risk.
I started a Pit thread on this topic a few months ago. And, the sad thing is for every person who still thinks that space exploration is exciting, interesting, and worth paying attention to, there are ten that would prefer to hear about Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, or Lindsey Lohan.
Or derided. I started a thread a while back about watching the first launch after a long delay (following the loss of Columbia, I think) and being moved by it, and getting a handful of responses like “are you an idiot, this thing is a boondoggle, don’t be a jackass,” after which the thread sank like the Challenger wreckage. Yeah, it’s expensive. Yeah, it’s inefficient. But given that a hundred years ago we were barely able to fly, it’s also fucking astonishing what we’ve managed to achieve, and the yawns and rolleyes are incredibly depressing to me.
Remember that the Apollo 13 mission had people yawning and the networks showing sitcoms, not long after Neil Armstrong took that “one small step.” It took a near-disaster to get the world paying attention in a hurry. After a hundred-some shuttle missions, I’m a little saddened but not too surprised that this mission is getting so little publicity. I strongly support the manned space program, but it’s unrealistic to expect that the public will be all excited about it after so long.
Our local news channel (CFCF) had a news segment on this; showing the launch, mentioning the heavy construction schedule for the ISS, and that for the first time the two Commanders (that of the shuttle and of the ISS) are both women. I don’t usually follow the launches, but I thought it was a nice piece of news, with footage and everything, rather than just a quick mention with a background photo.
Maybe the news director is just a space fan… it isn’t ignored by everyone!
I knew it, and I watched it on CNN Live which carried it. It’s a historic flight for a lot of reasons. It’s the first mission where women are in charge (mission controller and shuttle commander are both woman.) They are carrying Harmony up to the ISS which is a large and important component, and moving around trusses and panels. Five spacewalks will occur which make it a stressful and dangerous mission.
The launch brings tears to my eyes. It’s the finest thing we as a human race do, our highest accomplishment. You can watch the live view from the main tank all the way up until seperation. Absolutely amazing.
The ambivalence doesn’t surprise me, though.
If Jesus showed up and turned the loaves into fishes 120 times over 20 years or so, it might start to get old too.
Not to me, though. I saw one live.