Friday, September 21, 2012

The shuttle comes home

There's alot of excitement in the air as the shuttle prepares to fly over Southern California and land at LAX.  We would be in Seal Beach or on the Queen Mary to take in this once in a lifetime event, but as homeschoolers, we've been up early enjoying archery and the aquarium the past two days.  But this does remind me of the excitement of the shuttle program over the years. 

I remember when the first shuttle went up in 1981.  I can't believe it's been 30 years!  I had a part-time job at an aerospace company while I was going to school studying math and computer science.  The company set up TVs in conference rooms for employees to watch the historic moment.  One of our co-workers was actually on the program and he was more nervous than anyone.  As an engineer, you wonder if you've tested every possible scenario before you hand over your code/design.

Then my dad took us out to Lancaster to watch the landing at Edwards Air Force Base.  We had hoped the landings at Edwards would be commonplace, but soon the regular landing site was moved to Florida.

The shuttle was built in Southern California.  In college, we had a chance to tour a mockup of the orbiter (the part of the shuttle that goes into space and comes back) at Northrop.  An amazing piece of machinery.   It only makes sense for one to retire in Los Angeles.  The Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey also plans to have a mock up of the shuttle for tours in the near future.

Because of my blogs, I've been getting invites to attend the press conferences regarding the shuttle arriving at the California Science Center.  I hope I will get an invite for it's arrival at the museum in October.

And the company where I worked when the shuttle first took off?  I joined them after graduating and we worked on the first GPS system.  Can you believe the smallest unit was the size of a backpack??  Now, we have it on our phones.  Incredible!

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