And, just like that, metal becomes magic.
The space shuttle was an amazing technical creation, a structure of metal and composites and tile and glass and thermal protection blankets that could rise majestically through the atmosphere in defiance of gravity and could cradle humans safely through the inhospitable void of space and could glide back home in a way far too graceful for her stocky form. Amazing.
But the magic? Walk up to an orbiter today, and it’s amazing, but inert. Metal and composites and glass and tile and thermal protection blankets. A machine. The magic came when she was on the pad, fueled for launch and ready to leap upwards. A living thing. Astronauts who knew the machine intimately were surprised at the shuttle they boarded on launch day – hissing and venting and groaning. Breathing. Coiled with purpose. Visceral. Alive. No longer creation but creature.
Magic from metal.
Astronauts say that boarding a fueled space shuttle prior to flight was an amazing experience. As if that needed to be said.
Last week, the Space Launch System (SLS) program completed its Critical Design Review, a first in almost 40 years for a NASA exploration class rocket. Through the CDR ...