Despite knowing the path that the Shuttle takes as it approaches the landing site, none of us could find it in the sky. Then suddenly it popped out of the blue, coming in very 'hot' and 'fast'. Screaming down like a brick. It then wooshed down the run way without any engines until it came to a gentle stop at the end.
We all cheered and applauded, not just for the crew, but mostly for ourselves. For we had made history. No one had ever flown a cryogenic refrigerator in space. The next generation of world-class deep-space viewing instruments will all use cryogenic temperatures, which have all previously been accomplished by using cryogenic ice. This places limits on the life of the instrument. Now with a cooler such as the one we flew, as long as you have power from your solar cells, you could make science observations. This is the dawning of a new era in space telescopes.
The Shuttle, as it rolls down Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center.
The landing was on Nov.7 at 12:04pm. Full Size. Other View.
The landing brings to an end an incredibly exciting personal journey. As this web page documents, it has been a great ride from the start of this project, thru building the Controller, travelling to Kennedy, meeting Senator Glenn, sitting in the Discovery pilot's flight chair, and seeing the impressive launch. On my commute from the condo every morning, my drive takes me over a bridge that connects Cape Canaveral to the Kennedy Space Center. When I go over this bridge I can see in the distance the huge Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and the two launch pads over my right shoulder. I am reminded when this happens of what a privilege it has been to work here.