7 Awesome Images That Will Make You Mourn The Space Shuttle
Last week marked the final official mission of the Space Shuttle. It's over: No more manned space missions on the agenda. As of now, America is pursuing a "flexible path" space-flight program, which essentially means we have nothing. They'll say the program died because of funding cuts and age, but that's not the whole story. Astronauts and the Space Shuttle used to reign as the unquestionable rulers of badass, but then somewhere along the line, cultural opinion shifted, and somehow wrapping a man in a giant metal bullet and firing him into the face of the void became thought of as stuffy and boring. The space program didn't die because of budgetary concerns; it died because we forgot how goddamn awesome it was. And that's something we had no excuse for doing, as these images will prove:
Burn Down the SkyThis is the Saturn V rocket, carrying the Apollo 11 moon mission: This is the Discovery launch: This is the Athena II: These images bring up an important question: At what point did we forget that the Space Shuttle was, essentially, a program that strapped human beings to an explosion and tried to stab through the sky with fire and math? How jaded do we have to be to lose collective interest in that? We celebrate the 4th of July every year, all across the nation. If explosions are that important to us, why don't we just channel a third of our yearly fireworks budget into one big bastard of a shot -- one mad, screaming, man-made asteroid hurled right back up into the face of nature, just to prove to the bitch that she doesn't have a lock on that kind of thing?
What Void?With most photographs being taken in the contextless void, it's easy to forget that astronauts are just human beings wrapped up in fancy clothes, floating miles up in the air, surrounded on all sides by a lethal nothing. And then you see an image like this: An image that really drives home the fact that these are people -- tiny, fragile beings that die if they swallow a pretzel wrong or slip in the shower -- and they're existing so far removed from the planet they could be saying, "Oh excuse me, New Zealand,
Battle Tanks are GO!Remember those famous pictures of the Mars rovers, where they looked like tiny, plastic, chintzy little toys? Well, this is what the new model, Curiosity, looks like: It looks like something that should be laying siege to G.I. Joe Headquarters. It looks like it's about to call Optimus Prime a pussy and then kill John Connor for good this time. The NASA PR campaigns showed us the rover looking tiny, flat, kind of bland, and nobody cared. No matter how crazy awesome it was that we were playing RC cars on Mars, the public didn't have a catchy visual, so everybody wrote it off as more dry science stuff. But look at that thing again: Every kid in the world needs a toy version of that, and they need it
He's Got the Whole World ... in His Face.Odds are you're at work right now, reading this instead of collating or conglomerating or whatever adults with real jobs are supposed to do. Also, odds are your cell phone has a camera in it. So let's perform a quick social experiment: Fire it up, and take a self-portrait of you just doing your job, right now. How'd that picture turn out? Does that gripping image of you making crude pixel-tits in Excel fill onlookers with awe and wonder? Does that photograph of you quietly mourning the death of the last Red Bull capture the insanity, beauty and existential terror of mankind's progress? No? Funny, because when Clay Anderson, flight engineer for Expedition 15 tried this same experiment at his job ... ... it totally did all of those things
Thrust DiamondsThat's the engine of an SR-71 Blackbird being tested, but you can be forgiven if you panicked just now and slapped at the button that calls James Bond into your office. (Also, hey, thanks for reading, Q! Big fan.) The shapes in that Death Ray up there aren't tricks of the camera, either -- they're called Thrust Diamonds, and to NASA, that shit ain't even a thing.
The Crawler-TransportersIf you're the kind of person that skips right to the moneyshot when watching porn, you've probably only seen the actual take-off portion of a shuttle launch. And hey, if a missile being fired into the throat of the unknown armed with a warhead of "dudes who just don't give a fuck" doesn't impress you, surely nothing else about the launch process will.How about the world's largest tank? The machine that brings the shuttle to the launchpad is called a crawler-transporter, and it's the largest self-powered land vehicle in the world. They're twin mobile platforms weighing 3,000-tons a piece, 131-feet-long by 114-feet-wide, driven by a crew of 30, and powered by four 1,400 (not a typo) horsepower engines, one on each corner. That big, fuck-all structure holding the shuttle up there? Here it is cruising down the highway. For scale, here it is next to a human being: It's like taking
The Space Shuttle is Metal as F*ckHere's the Space Shuttle doing its best impression of a Dio album cover.
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Or you can just join him for a moment of reflection on the loss of the Space Shuttle, by stretching out your arms, running in circles and making explosive engine noises with your mouth.
Check out more from Brockway in 5 Disturbing Ways the Human Body Will Evolve in the Future and The Hoverboard Lie: How Back to the Future Ruined Childhood.