Imagine waking up to: “Space, the final frontier. These have been the voyages of the space shuttle Discovery. Her 30-year mission: to seek out new science, to build new outposts, to bring nations together on the final frontier, to boldly go and do what no spacecraft has done before.”
William Shatner recorded a special message for the crew of Discovery as they are getting set to retire the well known space craft. It is a fitting tribute considering that the Star Trek TV series was all about imagining space exploration and Discovery was about the realization of those imaginings. Sure, we’re not meeting up with green-pigmented alien babes or dealing with Tribbles yet, but we’ve come along way. Our knowledge of what probably is the more mundane aspects of building sustainable space stations has grown as well as our mutual cooperation with the international community. Remember that the space race started out as a competition and now we rub shoulders with those same opponents.
Discovery is the oldest of NASA’s shuttles that has survived. With all that can go wrong with space travel, that’s quite an accomplishment. It will be retired to the Smithsonian Institution. According to MSNBC.com, Discovery “racked up nearly 150 million miles by trip’s end, accumulated more than 39 missions in nearly 27 years and spent 365 days total in space.”