Last Shuttle launch captured with Fujifilm X100

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Last Shuttle launch captured with Fujifilm X100

Post by NikonWeb »

Too bad I couldn't be there!

I've covered two Shuttle launches in the past (STS-93 in July 1999 and STS-100 in April 2001) and had planned to travel to Florida to see the last one as well. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to do so. The Shuttle program has been a big part of my life, and I'm sad it's over.

Anyway, I decided to do *something*, so I photographed my daughter in front of the TV (streaming NASA TV over the web) watching the final launch. The first one, on April 12, 1981, wasn't even shown live on television, so I got the news on the radio an hour or so after it happened. I was 11, almost 12, at the time. My daughter is 10 in September.

I'm looking forward to future space missions, but there will never be another spacecraft like the Shuttle.


For another last launch account, check Joe McNally's "The last launch" blog post. Cool stuff: ... st-launch/

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Re: Last Shuttle launch captured with Fujifilm X100

Post by Ashley_Pomeroy »

Cheerio shuttle. It's a poignant shot - I was very young when Columbia took off, we all were, and I think that like most kids of my generation I had an impulse to phone NASA and ask if they wanted to be the first space agency to put a kid into space. Obviously that's not likely to happen any more. And yet kids are small, can be trained to do simple tasks, don't mind being cooped up with other kids for extended periods of time, don't need much food, keep active naturally, they would make excellent astronauts!

Here's my copy of the National Geographic that celebrated the launch (my parents bought it for me, I read it until it fell apart, then bought another copy):

I always thought that the fuel tank looked nicer painted white, but apparently the paint weighed a lot and had no functional purpose, so they took it off. Which makes sense, if you imagine lots of buckets of pain. Sadly the tank wasn't naturally metal, like a P-51, it was dull brown. And then I learned that the shuttle didn't just land and take off again, it had to be completely overhauled between each flight; and the boosters were thrown away, so why not just bundle together a bunch of boosters and stick a satellite on the top? And where was it shuttling to? There was no moonbase, no asteroid mines, no orbital factories constructing an interstellar generation ship. Just satellites and a nice view of the Earth, although too close to see it as a blue marble.

Do kids still dream about space? I get the impression that up until the Apollo project and into the post-"2001" era space was like heaven; an unknowable domain where a mysterious force waited to show us the way, if only we would open our minds. But the aliens never came, we never found a monolith, and the party broke up. "Close Encounters" had an air of nostalgia even in 1978, and after that the dream of alien contact became a nightmare of abduction, experimentation, and mutilation. In the real world space had become a grimy work environment akin to an oil rig. It must have felt as if we had been rejected by someone, left to rot on this rock.

But then again, fads come and go, and space was one of them. Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke are dead; the sad thing about science fiction is that so much of it has fallen out of print, or will end up unread in a zip file on a sharing matrix, floating in the internet. But I'm sure there was a time when parents felt sad that their children didn't want to grow up to be knights, or sailors. And I suspect that for most people the goal of being an astronaut was just a vague notion, and even for the few who applied themselves it was still an untenable thing. Each century has a set of dreams, rolling on through the generations; some vanish, some remain, some come true, some turn into nightmares. If the greatest dreams evaporate in the light of day we can take comfort that the worst nightmares evaporate as well. And there were some nightmares in the 20th century.

On a tangent, whenever I get bored at work I read through Greg Goebel's concise history of the race for the moon, except that it covers essentially the entire space race from the 1930s until the end of the Apollo project:

It's a melancholic blend of people who wanted to send rockets into space for the same reason that drives everybody who is driven, funded by people who wanted to send rockets into space so that they could be used to bring an explosive payload down on the other side of the world, and both camps needed the other, and for a time it worked out. Different dreams, same hardware.
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Re: Last Shuttle launch captured with Fujifilm X100

Post by Stan Disbrow »


NASA showed the first launch of Columbia - on their own channel, which was delivered via C-band satellite at the time. I recorded it on a u-Matic 3/4" video tape, so playing it back has become rather problematic since that tape system is long gone.

At the time, we ran an Amateur Radio TV repeater and I had a dedicated C-band dish on the NASA channel so we could link it thru the repeater so folks in the Poughkeepsie NY area could see it that didn't have a C-band dish....

Ah, the old days! :P


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