July 12, 2011
On Friday, July 8th Tony Rice hosted a live viewing of the final NASA space shuttle mission, STS-135, at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. I’m not sure there could have been a better place to hold such a historical event, considering Wilber and Orville Wright piloted the first successful flight on the Outer Bank’s sand in 1903. Tony, a NASA volunteer, suggested not to get too anxious about the weather conditions might put a delay on the launch that could lead up to 24 hours. With this assumption in mind, the audience sat in awe as he spoke about the history of the space shuttle program, and the process NASA crews go through in the last hour before they can allow the ship to actually launch. Thankfully, mother nature came through; Atlantis left its launch pad for the last mission at exactly 11:29 a.m! The astronauts that are on the Atlantis are Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. They are scheduled to dock at the International Space Station this coming Sunday. The objective of this mission is to deliver logistics, supplies, and spare parts off of the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module. They will also be flying a system that will investigate the potential for robotically refueling existing spacecraft. Hopefully, if all goes well, the spacecraft will be returning a failed ammonia pump module that will help NASA better understand the failure mechanism and to improve pump designs for future systems (NASA). I learned a lot today about space shuttles that I hadn’t already known. It was a great experiencing Atlantis’s final flight! After learning about all the work prior to launching a space shuttle, I am interested in digging a little deeper into the operations of NASA. It is very impressive that the Wright Brothers made all of this possible. if only they knew how much the world has changed since their very own first flight here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina!