Thursday, 21 July 2011

Farewell to the Shuttle

Bit of an emotional day today - first I watched the landing of Atlantis, the last ever Space Shuttle. I watched the first one, Columbia, land in 1981, and was captivated then by the sheer beauty and elegance of the orbiter. I'd been fascinated by space travel ever since the Apollo missions, I can remember the first moon landing, and in particular the very tense wait for Apollo 13 to contact Houston after its re-entry. My mouse mat has Gene Kranz's famous quote "Failure is not an option" on it, which he made to Mission Control after learning what had happened and they were planning how to get the astronauts  back to earth safely (actually, he never actually said it real life, only in the film....). So, today was the end of an era, but it won't be the end of space exploration and travel - we can't afford to let it be. The return on investment of the 15cents a day that each american citizen has invested in it has been enormous, and the scientific, technological and medical advancements which have come out of the space programme are too many to list here - but the world today would not be the same without them.

The other emotional event was attending a degree ceremony, - I try and get to a few during graduation week, and it always makes me realise why we're here. All of those proud students, parents, supporters, family and friends. And I always get a lump in my throat at the bit in the ceremony where the graduands stand up, turn round and applaud their family.

Not a lot else to report from this week - except that we had a very good demonstration of Webex at our section heads meeting. It's a web conferencing tool used by a number of departments, and we're thinking of making it our recommended standard, and supporting it centrally.

This will be the last blog post for a couple of weeks -  busy at degree ceremonies again tomorrow, and then off on hols - twitter, facebook and the other blog will probably have a few holiday related posts on if you're really interested :-)


Anonymous said...

Cost of US Space shuttle program:$200 Billion. Total US non-military aid over last 10 years:$70 Billion. Estimated cost of providing clean water and sanitation to those without it worldwide:$10 to 30 Billion.
Money well spent? I don't think so.

Chris Sexton said...

It isn't the actual spend that's important, but the ROI, and the spin-off benefits, many of which have, and will, assist in solving the world's problems, including poverty.