The Space Shuttle: Space as Routine

I sat up all night when Columbia broke up, following the news via Samizdata’s Dale Amon. I’d seen the Challenger disaster live, too, but at the age of eighteen, which is different. Of course, NASA had carried forward an awful lot of ill fortune that really belonged to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. But there’d been something clean, brushed and modern about the ’90s shuttle missions that was befouled by what happened to Columbia.

Here are three cockpit videos taken on board the Space Shuttle. Unlike the thrilling Apollo broadcasts I posted a few days ago, these are characterised by a kind of preppy longeur. The Yeager-esque “aw shucks” manner that Tom Wolfe made so much of has gone. In its place, an atmosphere familiar to anyone who has ever haunted an American campus coffee bar.

It’s the sensibility of the future and what orbital space travel has to become before Branson turns it into an hysterical version of BMI.

Taking off:


Docking with the ISS:


I think they’re attempting re-entry sir! Or is that not what you want to say around Shuttle footage?



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