Today, we (deliberately) crash-landed a space probe on a comet. The Rosetta probe was “gently” crashed into the comet 67P, on which a specifically designed lander had soft-landed on November 12, 2014. I was watching ESA/NASA TV when the loss-of-signal event indicated the flight had ended with the probe impacting the surface of the comet.
I am one month older than the space age.
I was born in September 1957, Sputnik was launched in October. Since then, we’ve landed probes on Venus, the Moon, Mars, two asteroids, two comets, and a moon of Saturn. Twelve men have walked on the Moon. We’ve surveyed every planet in the Solar System, including dwarf planet Pluto (that was discovered, named, considered a planet, and then demoted to dwarf planet, all before it had completed even one orbit around the Sun). Two probes have left the Solar System altogether (with one destined to meet an inglorious end as target practice for a Klingon bird of prey, the other to fall into a black hole and – oops, sorry, wrong timeline). Space stations have been launched by the USSR (7), the USA (1), and China (2). The International Space Station is currently in orbit, operational since November 1998. Five hundred thirty six people have flown in space. Eighteen people have died in spacecraft flight accidents. Thirteen others have died in training or test mission accidents.
I really thought we’d have Moon bases by now. Even a Mars base. And I thought our space stations would look like this:
What we have now is pretty cool, as far as space stations go:
The space truck was an interesting thing. I was all space-cadet when I got close to one:
It might not be evident, but I was all a-twitter inside when I took this selfie. I got to see a shuttle land at Edwards Air Force base (Columbia, July 4, 1982).
I’m in this crowd, somewhere.
We also got to see the 747 carrying the Challenger fly over on it’s flight from Edwards to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I really kick myself that I didn’t get to see a launch in person.
All in all, it’s been an interesting 59 years. I’m hoping that Mars landing is soon enough for me to see. I’d hate to check out right before it happens. (crossing fingers)