The Space Shuttle: Flying for Me (2015) - full transcript

Fergie, Doug, Sandy, and Rex.

Good luck, God speed, and have
a little fun up there.

Verify ready to resume count
and go for launch.

Two, one, zero and lift off.

When the engines light and
then those solid rocket boosters

light you know you're
gonna go flying.

If the bolts didn't fire
they would pull the
launch pad with it.

It's that much power.

Having a chance to fly
the most amazing flying
machine ever built

was just incredible.

Every time a child draws
a spaceship for us and

sends it to us it's in the
shape of a Space Shuttle.

That image, the silhouette of
the Space Shuttle is an iconic

image that I think is going
to last for generations.

The pure number of
astronauts that

the Space Shuttle program
brought to space

have made a difference
for humanity.

What I think one of the
most lasting achievements of the

shuttle program was I think it
allowed us to carry so many

people into orbit that had such
a wide spectrum of backgrounds

and capabilities and it allowed
young people to dream.

This exhibit is a
powerful reminder of NASA's

unmatched accomplishments
during more than 50 years
of exploration

and the great
future that lies ahead.

With their payload bay
doors wide open,

Atlantis is literally reaching
out with open arms to welcome

all visitors, create
our unprecedented
achievements in space,

and inspire a new generation.

Atlantis has flown 126
million miles in space,

2 and a half million
handmade parts.

It was made by
man and it was
made by people
that were

dedicated to the
program for over 30
years and that
really is

something really special.

This is not the end of
the program and

thats really a strong message.

We've got a great opportunity
on STS-136 here, which is the

next mission for Atlantis
and that is to inspire

and teach and really

get the next generation of
kids ready to go to space.

Of my 7 Space
Shuttle flights,
5 of them

were on the Space
Shuttle Atlantis
so obviously

Atlantis is my favorite bird.

But when I first walked into the
facility down there I was

overwhelmed and then when the
curtains opened and you walk out

and see Atlantis being so
perfectly displayed

it was a very melancholy
moment for me.

I had a mixture of emotions.

I had an overwhelming
joy of seeing it being
displayed so well

so that people could get up
close to it and see the wonders

of the incredible devise,
the incredible hardware
that we flew in space.

But at the same time I had this
feeling that I wish we were

still flying to vehicle
because because it was an
incredible flying machine.

And it gave us capabilities
to operate in space

we may never see again.

After 30 years of missions,

the Space Shuttle
program is over.

The orbiters are now gifts to
the American people.

Atlantis at the Kennedy
Space Center visitors
complex in Florida...

Discovery now at the
Smithsonian National Air

And Space Musuem in Virginia...

Endeavour put on quite a show
on its way to the California

Science Center in Los Angeles.

And Enterprise, the
first shuttle used
only in test landings,

is on display at the
Intrepid Sea-Air-Space
Museum in New York City

with the massive orbiters
relegated to museums,

2011 and the final flight
of the Space Shuttle is

now but a dream...

We would go down to
places like the
Kennedy Space

and people would
come up to us and
say ' Hey just
want to

let you know I've been
working for 25 years and
this is my last day.'

And at first you would say,

I'm so sorry but almost to a
person they would come back

and say ' No don't be sorry.

I am so happy that I was able to
be a part of this program.'

And so it was really
amazing to see the
dedication people

had to that program.

But there's one other thing the
shuttle would be remembered for.


The shuttle was just as
beautiful on its last flight

as it was on its first.

When we were in the Astrovan on
the way to the launch pad for

STS-135, we rounded the final
curb and headed straight for it.

The view of the shuttle on the
launch pad was simply

breathtaking as it always is.

2, 1, 0 and lift off.

The final lift off of Atlantis.

People always say how does it
feel to fly the last flight

and for me the time it
hit me the most I think was when

we undocked from the space
station and I was looking out

the window and I could see the
station and I was shooting a

hand held laser to give us data
about how for it was away.

Then I backed away from the
window and kind of floated down

to a corner and as I
did I had a few seconds

and I heard Ron Garren
on the Radio say,

"Atlantis will be parting from

the International Space Station
for the last time."

And it just gave me a little
bit of a lump in the throat

and I go, "Wow this is it."

Atlantis weighs anchor from
the International Space Station

for the last time.

Twelve and a half years of
shuttle missions to build and

service a million pound
complex at an end.

Space Shuttle flight
director and NASA veteran

since the 1960's, Milt Heflin,
is the only person to be present

at the final
splashdown of Apollo,
and the final landing

of the Space Shuttle.

When Atlantis came
out of the
darkness for the
135 landing at

the end of the
runway my
thought was

boy, she is really
strutting her stuff.

She is kind of looking at us and
telling us, ok, you guys we're

really good at what we're doing
and we're stopping it.

I just want you to know I
recognize that,

I'm not happy about that,
but we have accomplished
a lot in this program.

The final touchdown of
Atlantis ended an era for
the world's

first and only re-usable

I believe the
Space Shuttle is
going to go down
in history as

one of the most
remarkable advances
in aviation and in
space ever.

A reusable space vehicle.

We have never had one before.

That was such a
giant leap forward.

I think we've also done
an awfully lot in the
last 30 years.

The shuttle and the
space station,

partnership, the
total spectrum of
what has come

out of that
activity in my
judgment is equal
to at least

the accomplishment of
landing on the moon.

It is a vehicle that houses
1960's and 1970's technology.

We have learned to take these
technologies and put them to

work and get more
out of them then
we ever imagined

You had an airplane that
could launch like a rocket,

go up into space and
be a spacecraft,

spend 2 weeks in orbit, fly back
down and land on a runway

like a big cargo airplane.

Nothing before it and nothing
since has taken its place.

The concept of a re-usable
space plane has been around as
long as

NASA began launching men
into orbit with rockets,

beginning with the Mercury
Program in the early 1960's.

With Gemini and later Apollo,
the rockets only got bigger as

the United States landed on the
Moon in the first 10 years of

its space program.

Tranquility Base here.
The Eagle has landed.

The moon landings were
mankind's greatest feat,

but as john young and charlie
duke scampered on the moon's

surface in the spring of 1972,
Congress approved funding for

NASA's next goal... to make Space
a livable and workable place...

at a more affordable price.

The people who got us to the
Moon began to turn their

attention to the Space Shuttle.

The concept was re-usable
and I think that was a
nobel endeavor

and it turned out to be a
re-usable space craft

took a lot of care and feeding
but that was the goal.

Glynn Lunney, a veteran flight
director of Apollo,

would become one the
early program managers
of the Space Shuttle.

NASA and the space team had a
pretty clear goal

of building a
machine that could
take people and

up the Earth's
orbit and bring
them back home

and it could do it
fairly lively,

much more reliably then we
were doing with the Apollo

and it could do it more cheaply.

When it was ultimately approved
by President Nixon in 1972

the whole project picked up a
great amount of steam and moved

forward in the design of this
vehicle turned out to be

partially re-usable and
thats what took us into
the shuttle program.

As Lunney oversaw the
Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz
missions of the mid-70's,

the shuttle began to take shape.

So while we were doing
that there was major
progress being made

in the design and construction
of the Space Shuttle

and I give full credit
to Bob Thompson who was

the program manager on all
those years of the 70's

and to his team of people.

So the issue we're arguing
is a functional test.

You ought a just function a

We thought we might want
to build a two stage fully

vehicle with a big flyback
booster at Marshall and a
big orbiter.

A JSC much like the Apollo mode.

But that vehicle was
quite complex.

It cost quite a bit.

So we figured out a more simple
way to do the same thing

which in my judgement
turned out to be

a better way to do
the whole thing.

The Space Shuttle was a
new way to fly.

Its development was plagued
by cost overruns,

delays, and critics,
but by 1981,

Apollo veteran John Young
and rookie Bob Crippen

were ready to fly the
shuttle's first mission.

With its solid rocket boosters,
external tank,

and main engines on
the Orbiter Columbia,

the Space Shuttle was
set to make history.

And on April 12th, Columbia
blasted off from

Launch Complex 39 at
Kennedy Space Center...

6,5,4 we've gone
from main engine starts

And the shuttle
has cleared the tower.

It was almost miraculous
that it flew that first time.

A friend of mine
in the astronaut
office said it

looked like a
butterfly bolted
to a bullet.

It just took my breath away,
it rattled my bones to be that

close to a space launch.

As soon as Columbia lifted
off... Mission Control at

Johnson Space Center in
Houston took over the flight.

Milt Heflin was monitoring the
orbiter's power systems in a

back room that day.

I'm fully expecting
as this thing launches,

I'm looking at numbers
on a display.

I'm looking at power

the fuel cell operation.

I was amazed how as we
launched that it was just...

have we really launched?

It looks to me that by the
displays here hardly
anything is changing.

Very surprising.

Took a little while to get
over that good feeling.

Space transportation
system or STS-1 would be
a near perfect flight,

landing on a dry lake bed at
Edwards Air Force Base

two days later.

The Space Shuttle would be a
game changer for NASA.

And over the next 30 years,
355 astronauts and cosmonauts

would fly on a shuttle,
all describing it as the

most incredible flying
machine ever built.

It's a behemoth, it's a monster,

its a skyscraper
right in front
of you.

Gleaming white under the lights.

Making noise,
it's groaning and
moaning because

of the liquid hydrogen
thats inside of it.

You get your suit on, you
make the five, six mile trip

out to the pad and then
we take turns getting in,

but as a pilot
during that time
you're thinking

every scenario
that you've been
trained for.

For me, my technique was
I got in and strapped
the vehicle to my body.

It became an extension of me.

You have to remember it's a four
and a half million pound vehicle

sitting on its tail, thats
going to lift off under

several million pounds of
thrust, burn propellents
at a rate of twelve

tons a second, and go supersonic
in less than a minute.

There's no other vehicle that
operates like that.

And we have a go for auto
sequence start.

When it gets to
thirty seconds,
that's when it starts

to really get your attention.

Firing chain is armed.

And then as the clock's
counting down from thirty
seconds and

you see the ten, nine, eight,

T-minus ten, nine, eight

Suddenly I
felt this rush of
adrenaline because,

oh we're really gonna go right.

Seven, Six...

We're just inside seven seconds

the three Space
Shuttle main
engines ignite

Four, three...

And between the three of
them the produce about

a million pounds of thrust.

Two, one...

The solid rocket
boosters ignite.

Zero and lift off.

Lift off Lift off Lift off
and Lift off

And that is it. Bang

The shuttle has
cleared the tower.

That explosion out the back end

when those boosters
ignite is something that
could not be simulated.

Roger Roll Endeavour

Houston is now controlling.

You know you are
leaving town right now.

It's a lot like driving down in
a car with loose shocks on a

gravel road because it is just
bouncing and rocking.

I remember not being about to
read the screens out in the

front because we were
vibrating so much.

I was kind of like, wow

The sound is so intense you
feel it as much as hear it.

I remember looking at the mach
meter as it increased through

mach 3 and I'm looking at it and
I said holy smokes.

And you find yourself going,
wow what a machine this is.

One minute fifty seconds into
the flight we're standing by for

separation of the twin solid
rocket boosters Discovery now

traveling 2,695 miles an hour.

At about 60 miles we're
leveled off and accelerating

at three times to
force of gravity.

Standing by for solid rocket
booster separation.

When you leave the atmosphere
and you lose the solid rockets

then it's nothing but pure

Big flash in the window and
they separate away and it was

instantly smooth, quiet and I
thought just for a second my

heart kind of leaped and
I thought oh my God

all the engines have stopped.

You know. We're going to die.

And that's when you experience
zero gravity for the first time.

Your introduction to
weightlessness is just
really fabulous.

All of the sudden everything
in the cabin is floating.

I used to have dreams when I was
a kid that I would run down

the street and put my arms
out in front of me and lift off

and fly like Peter
Pan or Superman

and thats what
weightlessness is like.

It's just the most
wonderful experience on
Earth or above Earth.

It is just the neatest thing
you can hover in midair.

You fly everywhere you go.

You don't have to walk anywhere.

Looking back at the
Earth whether it was in

daylight or in
darkness was
just amazing.

So when you're going 17,500
miles an hour every 45 minutes

the sun comes up or it goes down
as you're orbiting around the

Earth and watching the
transition as you're going from

darkness into daylight and then
back into darkness you know

45 minutes later was surreal.

You saw sights that you just
don't see on Earth.

When we talk about
discoveries and things that
happen to human beings

when they have the
opportunity to go to space

your perspective of our
Earth really changes.

My first time in space when I
looked up after we got to orbit

I saw this big island and
I realized it was the
continent of Africa.

And it was the continent from
which my heritage and I had

tears come down my face
because their were no
lines so all the study

of the geography of the planet
it just went out the window.

The Space Shuttle
actually operated like a
rocket during launch,

a spaceship while we're
in orbit but then it's a hundred

and ten ton glider when we
come back in for re entry
and landing.

Atlantis Houston you are
go for the de orbit burn.

We hit the atmosphere
about 4000 miles before
the landing point

and the heat starts to build up.

Copy Houston go for the
de orbit burn.

And outside it started
out black.

Then it got kind of grayish
outside and then went to white

and then yellow and orange and
it was flashing and I floated up

and looked down at the
nose cap and it's normally
a black carbon material

and it was carnation pink.

And my eyes got this big.

And embers are going by my
window, and I thought of a
couple of things,

I thought, wow, the simulator
doesn't do this

and then the second thing was,
I hope it's not important.

Atlantis is now 6 1/2
minutes from landing at
altitude 81,000 feet,

traveling 1700 miles per hour.

So we s-turn the vehicle to
control the energy as we get

lower in the atmosphere.

Once we come over the
top of the runway,

the pilots really go to work.

That's when we take manual
control for the first time
as we go sub-sonic.

Arrival announced by a twin
sonic boom as it drops

below the speed of sound.

And remember, at this point,
we're over the runway at

40,000 feet and in four minutes
we're going to be on ground.

The shuttle's decent rate is
20 times steeper than a
commercial airliner.

It's angle of attack, more
than seven times steeper.

You dive down to about two
thousand feet and you start the

nose up... you're aiming a
mile short of the runway.

And remember,
you're just a glider,

and you can't go around.

At 400 feet, the pilot puts
the landing gear down.

The gear is down and locked.

And then the commander
lands it around 200 knots.

Main gear touch down.

Pilot puts the drag sheet
out at about 185 or so.

And then you roll to a stop.

That last hour..the hour from
the burn until the wheel stops

on the runway is an
amazing hour.

And I'll never forget, I got
the biggest smile on my face

and said, "Wow, that was fun.

I want to go back and do that
all over again!"

The Space Shuttle program.

That was one of the programs
that I think that this country

had that pooled
everybody together.

Whenever there was a
Space Shuttle launch,

no matter where you were,
they felt pride in America.

The inspiration
for the American
people from

Space Shuttle
program, I think

is going to be
hard for us to
duplicate in
this country.

Almost 10 years after the
last Lunar Mission,

the U.S. Space program
roared back to life with
the Space Shuttle.

NASA, like the rest
of the country,

was changing with the times in
the new shuttle era.

Gone were the
chain-smoking skinny ties
of the Moon program days.

Milt Heflin, who was moving up
the ladder to flight director,

witnessed the transformation...

When the shuttle
program started,

as far as the men
and women... the
team in this room,

uh, and the way
they did their

not a damn thing changed.

Yes, and the difference
would have been that
more minorities...

women became a bigger
part of the team.

Outstanding, what they did.

The Astronaut Corps was taking
on a contemporary look too

when NASA announced a new
class of astronauts in 1978.

Designed to carry up
to 7 astronauts,

including pilots and
mission specialists,

the shuttle opened up
space travel to a wider
spectrum of candidates.

It wasn't until
Space Shuttle when
we specifically said

we really want to
include women and
minorities in the

We really evolved the type of
astronauts that we have.

The type of things that we
were able to do in space.

We had women doctors.

We had all kinds of people
that we brought in to the

space program, the likes of
which we had never seen before.

Well, it was pretty
exciting and this was
the largest group of

astronauts that they
had ever taken.

They were
actually going to
take six women.

I was
surprised that
took that many in
a class of 35

that were to start in mid-1978.

I think the six women
immediately became pretty close

because we knew that this was
going to be different for women.

They wanted to make sure that
women were suited to this kind

of position and I felt very
fortunate that I was part
of that group.

The thing that
I found very
interesting was
that NASA had

already accepted the idea
that they were going
to have women in this class.

I'm sure some our
male colleagues,

particularly the pilots who had
been to Viet Nam and probably

weren't used to working with
women professionally maybe

had their doubts of how
we were going to do.

But I think we quickly fit in
and proved that we were

going to do a good job.

It wasn't like the early
days of space exploration
where it was

test pilots flying vehicles
where we were learning.

We were going to take the Space
Shuttle and we were going to

live and work in
it in space and
were going to need
lots of

different skills
lots of different

and so the Astronaut Corps
actually reflected that.

America would soon
have new heroes...

Astronauts that represented
every segment of the

The Challenger crew on STS-41G
in 1984 was a model of NASA's

next generation of space

We had seven crew members.
The first time seven flew.

We had the first time foreign
payload specialist,

Mark Garneau from Canada flew
on board that flight.

And also another payload
specialist was from Australia.

Paul Scully-Power so, it was
quite an eclectic crew and

two of them were women,
Kathy Sullivan and Sally Ride.

Kathy and I were
going out and do a
space walk and
Kathy was

going to be the
very first woman in
the world to ever
do a space walk.

And there was a lot of media
attention and a lot of that had

to do with Bob Crippen, who flew
the very first shuttle flight

was the Commander
and Sally Ride,

being on that flight, being the
first American woman.

Nobody wanted to ask us any
questions, or talk to us.

They only wanted to talk
to those other three.

So we had a lot of time
kibitzing from the sidelines and

enjoying all the attention that
the other folks were getting.

The diversity of the class of
1978 would inspire waves of

astronauts to follow...

I didn't have
that goal to become
an astronaut
growing up.

Frankly, little girls couldn't
grow up to be astronauts in
the early sixty's.

And then when I was in college,
the first group of women

were selected as astronauts.

So it then became a reality that
that could be a potential.

My first day in Houston
was Sally Ride's last day
in Houston.

And to meet her, to meet one
your role models who literally

had opened those doors that had
previously been closed to women

was quite astounding.

Kathy Sullivan, the first
female to do an EVA.

There are so many in that
first group of women astronauts

that you look up to and
say, "this is something
I can do now."

Cady Coleman was selected
as an astronaut in 1992.

Today, she's NASA's Senior
Astronaut with flights on

two Space Shuttle missions

and an expedition to the
International Space Station.

It's become
clear to me in
recent years
that there's a

perspective that
everybody brings
that comes from
their diversity.

If you can see it,
you can be it.

And if you don't see it, then it
just might not occur to you.

That the importance of
actually on film.

On TV, in a book, in an

seeing somebody that you can
identify with.

Probably that looks a little bit
like you... the value of that

cannot be over stated in that
you see somebody like that

and you think that
maybe I could do this.

During three decades of
shuttle missions,

49 women would fly into space.

Astronauts would include people
of every ethnicity,

including flyers from 16
different nations.

As each shuttle hurtled
into space,

everyone could look skyward and
know "they were flying for me."

Three, two, one.

We have SRB ignition and the
history's largest astronaut crew

is on it's way.

In the early 80's, NASA was on
a roll as three more orbiters

joined Columbia in the
shuttle fleet.

With Challenger, Discovery, and
Atlantis added to the rotation,

the space agency launched 24
successful missions in the first

five years of the
shuttle program.

The 25th mission would
end in tragedy.

We have main engine start.

Four, three, two, one
and lift off.

Lift off of the 25th
Space Shuttle mission
and it has

cleared the tower.

Challenger, go with throttle up.

Roger, go with throttle up.

In 15 seconds, velocity
2,900 feet per second,

altitude 9 nautical miles,
down range distance seven
nautical miles.

The Challenger accident
in 1986 would set the
shuttle program

back for over 2 years.

Make sure you maintain
all your data.

Start pulling it together.

For Hoot Gibson and Rhea
Seddon, the first astronauts
to marry,

the loss would be very personal.

My second mission which
was aboard Columbia,

launched on January, 12th of
1986 and we landed on
January 18th of 1986.

We were at a real
high point at that time.

Just ten days later, January
28th was when we lost the

Space Shuttle Challenger
and lost the entire crew.

We had all turned on the
television to watch it even in

our training session because
all of us liked to watch our
friends get to fly.

And when the explosion
happened, you know,

everybody thought, the boosters
came off too soon.

Where did the boosters go?
What happened?

The shuttle's still out there
flying on it's main engines and

as we began to see things
fall into the ocean,

we realized that they were gone.

Flight controllers here
looking very carefully at
the situation.

Obviously, a major malfunction.

You know, there were so many
close friends on that flight.

A number of them
had been in our class.

It was the first time in
my adult life that I
had friends die.

To have so many of them die at
the same time and to watch it

was just incredibly,
incredibly sad.

We learned an awful
lot of very difficult,

very painful lessons with

I will never forget being on top
of the world when I finished my

second space flight which
was my first flight as
Mission Commander

and in the space of just
10 days dropping down

into the deepest darkest hole
you could ever imagine.

Challenger hit close to home
for me because my husband

had just landed from
his second flight.

And I remembered standing
on the roof of the launch
control center

where families watched
launches and it was incredibly

incredibly cold when
they launched.

Some of those mornings where
almost as cold as that morning

when the Challenger launched.

And to me to realize that that
could have been my husband.

I always was more afraid
when Hoot flew.

More afraid that I was
going to be the spouse that
was left behind.

The goal of frequent access
to space now seemed like

an elusive dream for NASA.

The failure of a solid rocket
booster "o" ring in cold weather

caused the agency and the space
industry to re-tool every

procedure in the shuttle
program from bottom up.

When the shuttle returned
to flight with discovery in

September, 1988, the outlook
for the program was changing...

After I left the shuttle
was severely curtailed.

It was not going
to be the system
that people

thought it was
before the

A lot of the customers
that we had went onto
different launch vehicles

so the content of what we
were going to do changed

and diminished frankly.

And then the shuttle come back
flying but basically was there

to support NASA's
programs itself.

With commercial
satellites and defense
payloads going elsewhere,

nasa was under
pressure to deliver science

and the deployment of the hubble
telescope by sts-31 seemed like

just the thing in 1990.

Hubble's mirrors were
nearsighted though

and challenger's
replacement, endeavour,

was sent to fix it in 1993.

We lost Mars observer on
our way to Mars,

unmanned probe.

So NASA, collectively
manned and unmanned,

we were a bit in the
doghouse at that time.

The December that we flew the
repair mission STS-61,

I got back to my office and
there was a single sheet of

paper laying on my desk and
it was a copy out of the

Congressional record.

And that page basically said
NASA if you are unable to

accomplish this repair mission
then be aware that your future

in funding is going
to be in jeopardy.

That was probably the
first time that I paused
and thought to myself,

holy cow.

A veteran crew that
featured 36 grueling hours
of spacewalks by

Kathryn Thornton, Tom Akers,
Jeff Hoffman,

and Story Musgrave saved Hubble
from being a monumental failure.

That's the way I was
beating the drum.

I wanted to keep the cadence up
and the very first spacewalk

we did we had some problems
closing some doors.

We overcame that because Story
Musgrave basically had this idea

that I thought was excellent and
the team on the ground here,

the collective team, was a
little bit nervous about it but

I'm thinking to myself Story
knows what the hell he's doing

he's not going to hurt anything.

And so as a flight director I
had the...

it's easy.

I gave the go for
him to do that.

And we stayed on the timeline.

The thing that I enjoy the
most as a lead flight
director on that

flight is that as we
accomplished things
in the mission

I noticed looking around
the room that initially there

were a lot of tense, locked
jaws no smiles, peoples
heads down working.

But as we were doing the mission
occasionally you would see

someone grin at you after
we did something,

accomplished something.

And we have to say that
through your superb efforts
you have

really shown that NASA can
do all that we promise to
do and more.

And those grins just
kept coming.

The EVA's of STS-61 proved
that humans could work and adapt

in space better than
anyone could imagine.

The mission laid the groundwork
for much of NASA's future and

four subsequent service
missions to Hubble,

making the telescope one of the
shuttle's greatest achievements.

I selected Hubble
because, again it's this
icon of not only the

shuttle program but
for all of NASA.

An army helicopter pilot,
Nancy Currie grappled Hubble
with the

shuttle's robotic arm on
STS-109 in 2002.

Currie now moving in for

the grapple of the
Hubble Space Telescope.

Grapple confirmed.

My saying was if I don't
grapple it you guys don't

get to do an EVA so lets
take first things first.

And seeing this giant
spacecraft come right up
beside me and

Nancy reached up,
grabbed it, stacked
it in the back and

we climbed all
over it like ants
for about a week
and fixed it.

Linnehan's spacewalking
partner was Hubble
veteran John Grunsfeld,

who serviced
the telescope in three
separate missions...

It was this
combination of
humans extending
our reach to

fix the telescope to allow us to
use Hubble to look back to the

beginning of the universe and
everything in between.

And each time the Space Shuttle
went back to Hubble,

installed new instruments, made
new upgrades over a series of

four flights, really transformed
our view of the universe,

our view of ourselves
where we came from.

And set the story of the
Space Shuttle as this
remarkable machine.

The Space Shuttle pushed its
performance limits to service

the Hubble and its crews
knew they were taking
greater risks...

The shuttle has only the
capability to go about 350

maybe a little bit more
nautical miles up and
then come back again.

And so when we come back
we literally have just enough
fuel left in our tanks,

we burn into exhaustion
to get home.

So if things don't go
exactly right,

we may not come home from a
Hubble mission and that's always

been one of the reasons it's
considered a bit more dangerous

that other shuttle missions.

But the risks were worth it to
add to the Hubble's legacy...

The most prolific and important
scientific instrument ever built

by man is the Hubble
Space Telescope.

It's produced more science,
more PHD's,

more knowledge about the
universe in terms of who we are

and where we are in the universe
than anything we've ever done.

John Grunsfeld recalls saying
goodbye to Hubble in 2009

after his 8th EVA to repair and
upgrade the telescope...

Coming into the airlock at the
end of that fifth EVA I thought

I can't believe that we actually
accomplished everything

we set out to do and
a little bit more.

The next day we put the Hubble
on the end of the robotic arm.

3,2,1 release.

Let go. Backed away.

And over the course of an orbit
saw Hubble drift away.

And I wasn't sad I was actually
really happy that we'd given

Hubble the best opportunity to
have a long observant career
ahead of it.

But I'm still thrilled that
we were about to give
Hubble a long life.

The legacy of the
Space Shuttle program,

I think when folks look back
hundreds of years from now,

will be the launch and servicing
of the Hubble Space Telescope.

It has given us such an
incredible view of the universe.

It's opened our eyes to the
wonders and beauty of the

universe in a way that I think
will never be equalled.

And it was only through the
ability to go up and grab the

Hubble and send people
out, like myself,

in space suits to put new
instruments in that allowed us

to have these incredible views.

When I grew up I was a
Trekkie, Star Trek, what
kid wasn't.

And I just wanted to
be an astronaut.

But there was a couple episodes
there where they're flying

through giant amebas and there's
these colors and all these

beautiful things and I go,
It's beautiful but it can't
look like that.

Well you know what, when we got
those Hubble pictures back,

it does look like that.

It's like it's almost how do you
determine where art and science

you know, stop or blend

That's the magic thing about
Hubble and the Space Shuttle

in terms of what it's done.

America's heartland... a small
town in Nebraska is home to

astronaut Clayton Anderson.

His journey to becoming an
astronaut was a long one.

His career at Johnson Space
Center began as a college
intern in 1981

and it would be 17 years
before NASA would select him

as an astronaut.

Five years later, he was still
waiting for a flight assignment.

His job on February 1, 2003 was
to support the families of the

crew during the routine return
of STS-107 to Cape Canaveral.

I was intimately
involved in that
entire mission so
much so

that on the
landing day, I
was at the cape
near the shuttle

landing facility playing
with the kids,

tossing freebies in the grass,
waiting for Colombia to re-enter

and land at the
Kennedy Space Center.

For the seven person crew
aboard Columbia,

the mood was light and
re-entry into the earth's
atmosphere seemed routine.

This is amazing.

It's really getting really
bright out there.

Yea, you definitely don't want
to be out there now.

Minutes later, there were
signs the landing wasn't
routine, however.

Milt Heflin, now chief of
flight directors,

was watching from
mission control.

I was sitting in the viewing
room, behind the control team
and mission control

that saturday morning with
Ron Epps,

one of the Division
Chiefs and The Flat

He and I were just
talking sports and
other stuff.

As the order was coming across
the states and the team was at

that point when it got close to
the central part of the states,

and over Texas and they're
making the calls to the crew,

I began to sense something
just didn't feel right

looking at the display and
the track and so forth.

I had to turn to the
grand stand where all the
families were

standing up wondering now,
what's going on here?

The clocks continuing.

We don't see or hear anything.

John Shannon, one of my flight
directors, who was serving

behind the flight director as
the missions ops. director.

John, at one point got up,
reached int he book case,

grabbed a big white binder,
headed to the door.

At that time, I knew that
this was not good.

Columbia, Houston Comm. check...

Columbia, Houston UHF
Comm check...

Columbia, Houston UHF
Comm. check...

He walked behind me and I
said, "John, What's happening?"

And his words to me were,
"We lost them."

When Columbia entered the

it disintegrated with pieces
falling over east Texas and

neighboring states.

Eventually, Col. Cabanna
came down and stood in
front of the families

and told them there is no hope.

We've lost the crew.

Man, the screams and sobbing,
it was just horrible.

I've been here for all three
tragedies that we've had.

The Apollo 1 fire, Lost the
Challenger. Lost Columbia,

but this one really
happened on my watch.

That's been something I
think about everyday.

The loss of the Orbiter
Columbia set back NASA
another 2 years

as it developed new safety
procedures to look for

thermal tiles damaged by
foam strikes during launch.

It was the beginning of
the end of the shuttle,

but it had a mission
to complete...

A mission that began in the
decade prior to the
Columbia disaster.

STS-60 in 1994 was the dawn of a
new era of cooperation between

NASA and the Russian space
agency when Sergei Krikalev

became the first cosmonaut
to fly on a shuttle.

This mission and a series of
shuttle flights docking with

the Russian space station Mir
would lay the groundwork for

the International Space Station.

Congratulations Space
Shuttle Atlantis,

space station Mir.

After twenty years, our
space craft, our dock
can orbit again.

I was asked to go back to
Houston and fly one more

shuttle mission,
and become the
commander for what
was going

to be the
first joint
shuttle mission.

And as a marine, I said
forget it.

You got the wrong guy.

I have no desire to fly
with any Russians.

My boss at the time said,
"Hey, there are two of them

who are going to be in town."

A guy named Sergei Krikalev,
whom I ended up flying with,

and Vladimir Tehtoff, who
eventually became his backup,

but they were the two
candidates to fly the first

joint Russian/American mission.

And I went and had dinner
with them that night,

and it was just an absolutely
incredible experience where we'd

talked about our families,
we talked about our kids.

We talked about our
hopes for the future,

and the way we wanted to
bring our nations together,

and I was reminded one more time
what my mom and dad had

taught me, was that all
people are the same.

Today, they are among
my best friends.

Krikalev would return to space
in Endeavour in 1998 to begin

the assembly of the
International Space Station.

Nancy Currie remembers joining
the American Unity Module

with the Russian Zarya.

To literally lay
the corner stone,

was pretty
overwhelming and
humbling for me.

You know, not many people go
to work when there's literally

millions of people looking over
their shoulder saying,

sort of don't screw this up.

The first mission involved
grappling that free flyer,

the Russian Zarya, that had
launched two weeks prior to our

mission unmanned..

You know, grabbing it with the
robotic arm and then mating it
to the U.S. node.

Houston endeavor, we
have Zarya firmly attached
to the orbiter,

and we're half way home
for the day.

Jerry Ross, the first
astronaut to fly 7 shuttle
missions and

perform 9 spacewalks, spent over
21 hours in space attaching the

hardware of the ISS
building blocks.

In many ways,
the International
Space Station is
one of the

achievements of
the Space Shuttle.

It was supremely adapted and
suited for that type of work;

to carry large components
into space and to carry the

crew members that were to
do the assembly of them.

And to be on the crew that
completed the first

three space walks, to basically
lay the cornerstone of

The International Space Station,
was an incredible honor.

Each subsequent flight added
more pieces to the growing

mammoth in orbit.

STS-92 delivered the Z1 Truss
for the first solar arrays and

Michael Lopez-Alegria made the
first of his record-setting

10 spacewalks in 2000.

One of the greatest legacies

of the space station is the

international cooperation that

was required to pull it off,

and it continues even today.

When you think about these
modules coming together,

that were designed using
different measuring systems,

and even different
alphabets in many cases.

The fact that it worked
was not trivial,

but that extra effort has led
to a lot of benefit for the

whole world community.

Being a part of the ISS
program actually fulfilled
some of the dreams

I had as a child
where I looked and
I thought,

imagine what it'd
be like to launch
off the planet and

rendezvous and dock with
something in space.

So, when we were there on
STS-92, there was no
permanent crew onboard.

In fact, the first permanent
crew was going to launch a
week after we landed.

So when we got there, there
wasn't anybody home.

In fact, I slept in it by myself
one night with my daughters
teddy bear.

That's probably the answer to a
trivia question, right?

Who's the only person to
have slept alone in the
Space Station?

Crews that flew later shuttle
missions since the return to

flight after Columbia,
witnessed the completion

of the International
Space Station.

The space
Station itself
looked like a tiny
bug, actually.

A little golden bug
in the distance.

Then as it blooms, really in our
windows as we approach it,

we see all the fine detail.

You see the incarnation of some
group of peoples audacity

to think that we could even
do something like this.

Something that's almost
two-acres in size,

the most complex machine
ever built,

gleaming in gold, in all
it's glory just right
there in front of you

and actually you're about to run
into it in a controlled docking

On the first
mission, we
brought the
S0 Truss,

which was the central
portion of the truss up
to the space station.

At that point, the space
station seemed big,

but by comparison on
my final two missions,

it was small in comparison
because it just kept growing
and growing.

And then we you approach it
on the final mission,

when I saw it just as an
assembly completed.

Just a magnificent facility.

The completion of the
International Space Station

fulfilled the goal of the
shuttle program to make space

a workable and livable place.

The astronauts who flew on the
shuttle and walked in space

achieved that dream.

Their unique experience of the
universe remains a legacy of

the shuttle program.

The most
experiences are
doing spacewalks.

When you open the
hatch, and you
look outside.

The hatch faces down
toward the earth,

and so you're sort of leaning
over the edge and you're
looking down.

And it's as if this magic sea
two hundred miles away is going

beneath you and there are
clouds, and maybe the ocean,

or maybe land and it almost
seems unreal.

And then when you go out,
everything is vivid.

There's no air, there's no dust,
in your entire visual field,

you see the grandeur of space.

What struck me was, again the
clarity and the beauty beyond

anything you can see even
with a High Def TV.

Two hundred and fifty
miles up and really
feeling that distance,

and having it just
kind of glide beneath you,

but in complete silence.

All you can hear is your fan
inside your spacesuit.

The occasional comment inside
your comm cap,

but other than that it's
complete silence.

My last Space Shuttle
flight was STS-110.

I had an opportunity at the end
of the space walk to be on the

end of the robotic arm.

And during that
trip, I watched
the sun set in
the west,

down the Mediterranean.

I watched as we came across
Northern Africa on one side,

and Europe on the other side.

As we got closer to Israel
and that area,

it was starting to
turn to nighttime,

and you could start to see
thunderstorms below with

lightening strikes going off
all over the place.

And I can remember going
right past the tail of
the Space Shuttle

at night and almost could
reach out and touch it.

And I could look down into
the Payload bay and see

the lights of the Payload bay

and the windows up in the
crew compartment.

And that's about the time that
the sun come back up,

and I could see this glorious
bathing of the space station

hardware in these beautiful
colors of pinks and reds and

oranges and ultimately the
whites as the sun came up

in a very fast fashion
as it does on orbit.

While flying with Jerry, who
had so much experience,

was just a real treat.

One of the best pieces of advise
was to really burn some pictures

into your memory.

Every once in a while, I would
try to look out and say,

ok now I remember this.

I remember being out in one of
my EVAs and seeing the sun rise

over the horizon, you could
see this incredible blue

right above the
rim of the earth.

Or looking down at the gulf of
California and down by Mexico,

and you could see all of the
coast of California thinking,

I need to remember this.
It's just an amazing sight.

On my third Space Shuttle
flight, STS-37,

it was at night, and the
three crew members inside

told me to take a break because
they were concentrating on doing

some things with my spacewalking
buddy out there J. Epp.

So I turned off my
helmet motor lights.

"Here we go."

I just kind of leaned back, and
I was looking at the universe

just enjoying it.

Not really thinking about much
else other than trying to soak
it all in.

When all of a sudden,
I had this feeling,

this emotion come over me that I
was at unity with the universe.

"It's a great ride."

I really did have a sensation
that I was doing exactly what

God had designed me to do.

I was out there using my hands
to fix things,

my brain to work on
things, and that to me was
a real epiphany moment

or a real confirming moment that
I had made the right decisions

or followed the right
guidance from God

throughout my life and
throughout my career,

to get me to that point.

By making space our home,
the Space Shuttle and the

International Space Station have
set the stage for a new

generation of astronauts to take
our next steps in space.

I think this is
a great time to be
a part of it,

because we're at
a transitional

So, being at that
transition is kind
of like an
opportune moment

because you're like there on
the ground floor when there's

a huge change that's
about to take place.

There's a huge future beyond
the Space Shuttle for space

And that includes learning
as much as we can from

The International Space Station.

Taking all of that knowledge and
potentially taking it to

grappling an asteroid, bring it
back to our location and
exploit it.

Or maybe going back to the
moon and hopefully going to
Mars one day.

Developing the technology and
engineers for our future in

space is a mission for
universities like the

Georgia Institute of Technology,
which has produced

over a dozen astronauts
and thousands of workers

in the aerospace industry.

Georgia Tech is helping land
robotic rovers on Mars

And more in coming years.

The work that is going on
in my lab, for instance,

related to entry, decent
landing technologies.

We're not just
working on the
missions that are
flying right now,

we're developing
technologies for those missions

that will fly a decade or
more from now.

In my lab right now, I have
students working on technologies

that will one day enable us
to land humans on Mars.

They become experts in those
systems and then they go to a

place like NASA Langley Research
Center or Johnson Space Center,

The Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, and they take
those ideas that they

started on here at tech and they
mature them into real systems

and they actually get to
fly and operate them.

The foundation needed for
deep space missions like a

Mars expedition was built
by the Space Shuttle,

the workhorse that carried
the heavy payloads which
is ISS today.

The Space Shuttle might have
been the most visible symbol of

human space flight, but NASA's
human space flight program
remains strong.

And the center piece of the
human space flight program

today, is the International
Space Station.

What NASA's doing now, along
with American industry,

is we're building the tools and
capabilities that the systems

that will take humans out
beyond low earth orbit.

Out to new destinations,
out into deep space really
for the first time.

Perhaps back to the moon,
but you know,

my dream is that we
don't stop there.

My dream is that we go
all the way to Mars.

For future space explorers

destined to colonize
the Moon or Mars,

the Space Shuttle will
continue to be a symbol

of America's space program...

Every time a child, it's
really precious,

a child draws a spaceship for
us and sends it to us,

every single time, it's in the
shape of a Space Shuttle.

That image, the silhouette
of the Space Shuttle,

it's shape is an iconic image
that I think is going to last
for generations.

"Apollo, How's it going?"

"How are you?"

"Good, nice to see you again.


The pure number of astronauts
the Space Shuttle Program

brought to space
have made a
difference for

because so many
people can look

can see a movie, a video,
an advertisement,

a something, somebody can tell
them a story about somebody

kind of like them that
got to go to space.

And it doesn't mean they're
going to go to space,

but it means that something that
they thought was amazing and

could only happen to a special

happened to a real person.

And that the special thing, the
special passion that they have,

that passion is
possible as well.

Space Shuttle, that program
did that for all of us.

Clayton Anderson first dreamed
of being an astronaut

when he was six years old.

In 2007, his dream became
a reality when he
launched into space

on STS-117 and spent 152
days on the International
Space Station.

It was an emotional moment
when he framed a photograph

of his boyhood home...

When I figured out where I was,
and I saw Omaha and Lincoln,

and my eyes localized in on my
hometown of Ashland, Nebraska,

I couldn't take a picture.

I was crying.

All I could think about was, I
was born and raised there,

and here I am two hundred
and twenty-five miles
above that spot

floating in space
in zero gravity,

and living the dream that I
had dreamed since I was a
six year old kid.

And I didn't need a
picture that day.

I just needed that experience
that told me that that's
where I belong.

Engine start.

..., and we are clear the tower.

Anderson returned to ISS on
discovery as the shuttle program

began to wind down in 2010.

When the spacewalks were
over and most of our job
was complete,

then I began to get
very nostalgic.

I felt sad.

I wanted to stay longer.

So to leave that place and close
the hatch the last day,

and get back in Discovery...

Discovery departing.

That was pretty tough for me.

Not knowing if you were ever
going to get back to that place,

and that's a very special place.

Now that the program is over,
Anderson speaks for everyone

who misses the Space Shuttle.

The shuttles no longer
soar into the heavens,

but America's heart
remains in space.

Having the privilege to live
and work on board a shuttle

and space station is
the ultimate for me.

When I was seeing it come
to an end, it was very
difficult to grasp.

So. I'm honored that I
had that privilege.

I'm honored that I was able to
serve my country in that way.

And absolutely my heart
is still there, yeah.

I think once an astronaut,
always an astronaut.

And if they called me tomorrow
and asked me to go again,

I would probably say yes.