Last Chance to See (Part 10)

“Unfortunately I got stuck on the Earth for rather longer than I intended,” said Ford. “I came for a week and got stuck for fifteen years.” ~ Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Tile damage on space shuttle Endeavour

That’s a little how we feel too about our space shuttle adventure. We didn’t quite understand what we were getting into. Originally, our idea was to see one of the last launches, in large part because we didn’t want the shuttle program, which has marked our adulthoods, to end without us having the opportunity to see a launch in person. We first traveled to Florida in November expecting to the last launch of Discovery. Since then, over the last eight months, we have spent about a month on the Space Coast, seeing each of the three remaining orbiters on the launch pad ready to go and witnessing the last two launches ever of the space shuttle. Though we made some plans, we couldn’t have foreseen how our adventure has unfolded.

Today, we have a special video interview with Stephanie Stilson, NASA’s Director for Shuttle Transition and Retirement. Stephanie began her work with NASA as a college intern twenty-some years ago and only recently moved from being Flow Director for the orbiter Discovery, a job that ended, to her new role overseeing the decommissioning process for all three orbiters and coordinating their transfer to their future museum homes.

In the spring, when we were at Kennedy Space Center for Endeavour‘s not-launch and then launch, we talked with Stephanie by phone, and we wanted to follow up because Endeavour is the orbiter coming back home to California, where we live. This time, our media escort Robert Smith took us over to the Orbiter Processing Facility to meet with Stephanie in person. She a fast talker, full of enthusiam for what she does. And yes, that’s Endeavour right above her head.

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