Friday the 8th of July 2011 sees the final curtain of one of the coolest design and engineering projects ever conceived. Designed and built in the 1970’s, while everyone was busy watching the Apollo Missions, the great and the good at NASA were busy cooking up something really really cool, something that made Star Wars and Star Trek seem that little bit closer.
At the time I was a kid who fell in-between two camps, I wasn’t old enough to see Neil & Buzz go for a stroll on the moon, but I was old enough to get completely caught up and sucked in by Luke, Han and Chewie. Don’t get me wrong the Apollo Rockets where cool but let’s face it they’re no Millennium Falcon.
Then in 1981, as small boy aged 7 and a bit, I sat crossed legged in the front room watching our colour TV, staring excitedly at this amazing real life spaceship waiting to see it come to life. I remember that blast off gave me goose bumps and if I’m honest it still does today aged 37 and a bit. For me the launch of the first Space Shuttle in 1981 would create one of the 80’s earliest and most iconic moments, along side Michael Jackson’s Thriller Video on Ch4, ET and his flying BMX and watching Breakdance the Movie on Betamax! But the main reason I got so excited was that I thought one day I’d have my very own X-Wing fighter and we’d all be living in a Death Star instead of Wigan.
Well as we all know the latter didn’t come true but I’ll settle for those very happy early memories the Shuttle gave me. I do think it’s very sad that the Yanks haven’t got a cool back up plan in place because the Shuttle, much like Concorde, still looks and acts the part. I put this down to some great design and thinking done in an age when ‘why not try it’ seemed to be the right attitude to have without worrying about how much it all cost. If we’d have spent a lot less blowing each other up since then and spent it wisely elsewhere, who knows where we could have got to?
Above I’ve managed to track down the original NASA documentary, very 80’s footage, which is well worth a watch if you’re a space geek like me. Check out the very cool 1975-92 NASA Logo in the opening titles, why they ever changed it is totally beyond me as the new logo sucks space balls! While I’m on the subject of logo’s I’ve always been very envious of the designer who gets to design the mission patches below, all of which can be found here.