The Beginning of the End

Today, a little sleep deprived and somewhat sated, we returned from the Space Coast of Florida to Southern California, where we reside. Upon our return, we headed to our local watering hole for a meet-up with graduate students and colleagues. This evening is a sort of teetering, as will be the next several weeks. Endeavour is in orbit, the shuttle crew is awake, and its focus is on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). According to NASA, “The crew will extract AMS using the space shuttle robotic arm at 1:56 a.m. Shortly thereafter, the station crew will wake, and at 3:01 a.m., the shuttle robotic arm will transfer AMS to the station’s robotic arm. At 3:41 a.m., the crew will manipulate the station arm to install AMS onto the starboard side of the station’s truss structure on the zenith side.” For more on the AMS, click HERE.

Atlantis STS-135 Crew: Chris Ferguson, Rex Walheim, Doug Hurley, Sandy Magnus

At the same time that Endeavour circles overhead, we saw the beginning of the end of the space shuttle era, the era in which we’ve fully come of age, with the rollover of space shuttle Atlantis from the Orbital Processing Facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building. We were right there. We were watching history unfold as the last shuttle scheduled to launch made its last trip over that concrete slab to the solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank that awaited it. You saw some photos from those moments in YESTERDAY’S POST, and we include a couple more here in this post.

We also share with you a video of part of the rollover process. Remember that with our Flip camera, like some sideview mirrors, objects may be closer than they appear. How close we were to the actual space shuttle and to its last crew ever in history still boggles our Lofty Ambitions minds.

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