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On witnessing history - A Suburbs Boy Living a Country Life [Pete and Pam's pages (photos and some commentary)] [Pam's journal] [Our company] [My Flickr Photos] [Arisia]
April 20th, 2012
12:14 pm

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On witnessing history
Space Shuttle DiscoveryIt really struck me as I walked in to the hangar housing Discovery--her home of less than 24 hours--that this really was a historic moment in the truest sense of the word. We go to museums, in part, to bear personal witness to history. There we can learn about from whence we came, and from that ponder difficult questions about where we are and where we are going.

Yesterday when Discovery was signed over to the safekeeping of the Smithsonian, a spacecraft that has been an active part of the space program for most of my life became an artifact in a museum. Consider an artifact of over 100 years ago--the 1903 Wright Flyer.  In 1948 that aircraft became part of the Smithsonian's collection [the delay from its last flight owing to bitter disputes between the Wrights and previous museum administrators].  You can see it on display today.

It is conceivable--actually quite likely--that Discovery will be viewed by curious museum-goers in 2112.  The difference, though, will be that for those viewers it will be one of those exhibits that have "always been there."  For us today, I feel like it is significant, important, meaningful to contemplate Discovery: blazing one last time to space and gliding to a final wheels stop a little over a year ago; out on the tarmac yesterday morning; this morning a museum exhibit.

As moving as this was for me a space enthusiast, first inspired by the Space Shuttle as a ten-year-old, what is this transition from machine to artifact like for the men and women that commanded and piloted Discovery? That flew in her as crew members? That supported design, development, launch, missions on orbit, landing, and then preparation to launch again. How hard was it to prepare her for her last flight up the coastline to Virginia, knowing that Discovery would not be launching again?

It's not easy to become part of history, is it?

Current Location: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
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From:ckd
Date:April 20th, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
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I have a very minor version of that feeling; I myself have flown in one of the actual aircraft currently on display in the Udvar-Hazy Center.

(F-BVFA, to be precise.)
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From:happypete
Date:April 23rd, 2013 01:15 am (UTC)

I'm not familiar...

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though I've probably seen it. Which craft is that?
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From:ckd
Date:April 23rd, 2013 09:36 pm (UTC)

Re: I'm not familiar...

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From:mabfan
Date:April 20th, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC)
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When I saw the 9/11 exhibit at the Smithsonian, I had similar thoughts. In 2051 they will bring out the exhibit for the 50th anniversary, and people will probably marvel at the ridiculous size and design of, say, Giuliani's cell phone.
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From:c1
Date:April 20th, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC)
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...or that he actually needed a separate device to communicate remotely with someone.
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From:vettecat
Date:April 20th, 2012 05:33 pm (UTC)
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Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts (and the picture).
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From:happypete
Date:April 22nd, 2012 01:28 am (UTC)

Re: what the county wants...

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You're most welcome! It was a beautiful fly-by, transfer ceremony, and "unveiling."
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From:c1
Date:April 20th, 2012 06:44 pm (UTC)

Obligatory Rush Reference:

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It is conceivable--actually quite likely--that Discovery will be viewed by curious museum-goers in 2112.
Don't be silly: shortly before the dawn of 2112, the Discovery will be destroyed by the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx, at the command of the Solar Federation.
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From:happypete
Date:April 22nd, 2012 01:29 am (UTC)

Re: Obligatory Rush Reference:

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Riiiiiight....
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