One of the most daring and ambitious space programmes, the space shuttle, is nearing its end. The space shuttle, Discovery, is seen here being transported to her launch pad last Monday, for a final voyage into space. In Feb 2011, after sister ship, Endeavour, makes her final voyage the three surviving space shuttles (Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour) will finally retire, signalling the end of this 30-year programme..
The other two space shuttles, the Columbia and the Challenger, were destroyed along with their entire crews in accidents that illustrated that, notwithstanding technological advances, space exploration remains a leap into the unknown.
During this move to her launch pad, six weeks before lift-off, the Discovery is being transported on giant crawlers at the dizzying speed of about one kilometre per hour. In contrast with that, she will achieve speeds of more than 28,000 kmph in space.
NASA had sent out more than 700 invitations to shuttle workers to bring their families to watch Discovery's rollout to the launch pad. The team spirit with the shuttle programme is legendary.
I had watched the launch of the Atlantis last May and written a description for Business Standard. If you'd like to revisit it, the article is posted in this blog... scroll back to 16th May 2010.
Good luck and Godspeed to the Discovery and her crew.