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On the ends of eras.

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‘Tis no more . . . Riding piggy-back to destinations all over the United States, the last shuttles have been retired from service.  All made it to final resting places, to be on display to the public from now on.

The first female astronaut, Sally Ride will be laid to rest soon also. She passed away at age 61, fallen by pancreatic cancer.  Doctor Ride inspired a generation of women to chose careers in Space, as well as careers in other formerly male-dominated fields.  Engineering is no longer just open to men

The NASA channel’s tribute to Sally Ride featured old footage of her first ride on the shuttle, Challenger.  That shuttle blew up shortly after launch many years ago on January 28, 1986.  After a lengthy investigation, NASA shuttles were once again riding piggy-back from California to Florida and other destinations on both coasts.

Now it is 2012 and we are in a new Space era.  One marked by NASA and other international space agencies operating the International Space Station.  People and cargo travel to and fro from the ISS by means other than space shuttles.  The next big arrival, on July 27, to the ISS will be HTV3, a Japanese cargo craft:

The 16.5-ton HTV3, also known as Kounotori3, or “white stork,” is carrying almost 4 tons of supplies, food and experiment hardware for the orbital outpost.

Eras end and new ones begin.  So often the ends of eras bring us deep senses of loss.  But we do our mourning eventually and then move on to the next phase.  Here’s to a safe berthing for JAXA’s “white stork,” next Friday.

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