Wednesday, July 13

Fresh Start or Beginning of the End?

As the LATimes relates, residents of Florida's Space Coast realize that even if Wednesday's return to flight is picture perfect, "most people know that the golden years of the shuttle program are over," as the venerable workhorse gives way to Bush's Moon-Mars vision thing. (The paper predicts just 5 more years until it's out to pasture.)

The WashPost runs a similar profile on the region, noting it is trying hard to diversify its offerings:
The Space Coast Office of Tourism is in the midst of melding the old with the new by using a spaceman character in a series of advertisements that will tout area attractions other than the Kennedy Space Center. One ad will show an astronaut in his space suit atop a surfboard; another will show him having cocktails with a woman in her space suit at a posh resort; and other ads will show astronauts fishing, relaxing on a cruise ship and bird-watching.
Meanwhile, New Scientist explains that the upcoming launch of Discovery will be so highly monitored by video, radar and other sensors that "increased vigilance might lead to more -- not less -- anxiety over the shuttle's safety," as previously undetectable dings get major attention. Get your adrenaline fix at 3:51 pm ET by watching here (then return to ignoring NASA).

P.S. On a personal note, Discovery's flight will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first space launch I can remember from childhood. Check out the retro-cool commemorative website for 1975's Apollo-Soyuz Publicity Stunt Test Project. Rocketmen and Captain & Tennille... those were the days!