Practical Technology

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The end of the future: The last Shuttle flight


When I was a kid, growing up on a dirt-road in the middle of Appalachia, not too different from how Max Jones’ childhood home in Robert A. Heinlein’s Starman Jones, I dreamed of starships.

When I was older I followed the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions religiously, and when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon I watched on a static filled color TV at a science camp. I dreamed of working at NASA, and, oddly enough, despite my liberal arts degrees I ended up working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in the 80s. During my time there I met astronauts, worked at GSFC’s Spacecraft Tracking and Data (Acquisition) Network (STDN) for eight Shuttle missions and I saw the Challenger disaster.

After that horrible day, I saw, and in a very, very small way, helped NASA return to flight. Then, I left NASA. I did it because I was starting my career as a technology journalist and because I had learned how NASA was slowly dying on the vine.

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