I’m still young enough to say the shuttle program is older than me, yet I’m old enough to say I’ve lived through the vast majority of it’s 30 year run. I suspect it will be many years before we’re able to create something of nearly that quality again.
There is a very reasonable chance that nobody of my generation will every enter earths orbit on a NASA spacecraft. By the time NASA gets funding, develops a program and gets to the point of manned flight, they may be too old. Kennedy in 1961 challenged the US to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. By 1969 they were strolling on the moon. That was the entire programs length. It’s unlikely that NASA’s current roadmap to Mars by the mid-2030’s won’t be modified/scrapped by a future president. Even 2015 to start construction of a new heavy-lift vehicle is somewhat unlikely.
An amazing program despite it’s failures. Hopefully at some point we’ll get a successor together. 30 years is a long time. Technology has come a long way. If applied correctly, space exploration could be light years ahead of where it is today.
It started during a Joint Session of Congress on May 25, 1961 with John F. Kennedy challenging the United States to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. 1969, 6 years after JFK was assassinated Apollo 11 landed on the moon and this famous newscast with the late Walter Cronkite who coincidentally passed away on Friday.
For the 40th anniversary NASA restored some of the old video of the landing, now available in H.264 to view. It’s not true HD in today’s terms but still impressive to see. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) also manged to snap a few pictures of the landing sites of the Apollo missions just in time. I believe this is the first time they have ever been identified since the actual landings. 2-3X higher resolution images are under way.
Lastly The John F. Kennedy Library launched “We Choose the Moon” a clever “live” broadcast of the Apollo 11 mission in its entirety with exactly a 40 year delay.
Now 40 years later NASA is embarking on Constellation which even in vehicle design parallels what was done in Apollo. We may be back on the moon by 2020 assuming Constellation, Aries IV or DIRECT succeed.