Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Otsukaresama, Discovery

courtesy of Oregon Hiker
of Flickr
Tuesday April 17, 12:11 p.m.

Saw the final flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery this morning. Of course, CNN was right there when it landed at Dulles International.

I was still too young to remember the Apollo missions. I think I was barely four when the first moon landing took place in 1969 but I can't remember anything from that. The earliest I can remember is Skylab and the Apollo-Soyuz linkups. But the shuttles I do remember. Right from when the first training shuttle Enterprise was unveiled in front of most of the cast from the original "Star Trek"series (interesting how Shatner wasn't there....wonder if they hated him back then, too.) and up to the very first launch of the Columbia in 1981. I distinctly remember waking up on the morning of April 12, and listening to ABC's Frank Reynolds, giddy as a boy on Xmas morning and just a couple of weeks after melting down on live TV during the Reagan assassination attempt, intoning the word "Go!"as the Columbia finally got off the ground.

Of course, the Columbia and the Challenger are gone now. But it was poignant seeing the oldest intact shuttle, Discovery, given its final ride to Washington for eternal display at the Smithsonian after 30 years of shuttle service. And I think there was the additional feeling of full circle since our very first views of a shuttle in the air was when we saw Enterprise piggybacking that 747. Our final view of Discovery was the same.

"Otsukaresama"is a daily expression used in Japan when someone leaves the office for the day. It literally means "You worked hard". It is basically the company conversational goodbye, but the term is still used especially when someone really did put the extra effort into something. I think both NASA and the remaining shuttles deserve that final greeting.

My only wish is that when the United States gets back into space exploration again, the next actual ship is called the Enterprise.