Right now I’m reading “Too Far From Home” by Chris Jones. It’s the story of Expedition 6 to the International Space Station
It talks about Expedition 6’s experience in the light of the Columbia tragedy (STS-107).
But Jones touches on the entire history of the shuttle program. In chapter 7 titled “Earthshine” he talks about the first flight of Columbia. I remember it well, April 14, 1981. I was a junior at LaSalle Academy (Beware, heavy Flash usage!) in Providence, RI.
In the minutes leading up to the landing they piped in the chatter on the communication channel between NASA and the shuttle over the school PA system. In addition I happened to be in a classroom that had a television in it so we were able to watch the shuttle come in for a landing at Edwards Air Force base.
I did question the practicality of such a vehicle even then. But it’s key role in assembly of the ISS made it worthwhile.
There have been many advances made in materials research as well as repairs to platforms like the Hubble Telescope named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, the man who discovered the red shift and confirmed the theory of the expanding universe.
Hopefully I’ve given you all enough to chew on. It’s a very good book and a delightful read, particularly when you consider that Jones is a sports writer.