The Sophisticates is a conversational podcast that pulls back the curtain on life's most critical issues. Think NPR, but with conversations on hobos, punctuation and space travel. Brought to you by Rajan Mudambi, Ryan Pfister and Matt Patches
He’s Biggy, Bewitch’d, Block and Block, Boozy, Bowz’d, Been at Barbadoes, Piss’d in the Brook, Drunk as a Wheel-Barrow, Burdock’d, Buskey, Buzzey, Has Stole a Manchet out of the Brewer’s Basket…
— Ben Franklin’s 200+ Synonyms for “Drunk”
From its first launch 30 years ago to its final launch scheduled for next Friday, NASA’s Space Shuttle program has seen moments of dizzying inspiration and of crushing disappointment. When next week’s launch is complete, the program will have sent up 135 missions, ferrying more than 350 humans and thousands of tons of material and equipment into low Earth orbit. Fourteen astronauts have lost their lives along the way — the missions have always been risky, the engineering complex, the hazards extreme. As we near the end of the program, I’d like to look back at the past few decades of shuttle development and missions as we await the next steps toward human space flight.
Above: Space Shuttle Columbia lifts off from Kennedy Space Center, on April 12, 1981. Commander John Young and pilot Robert Crippen were onboard STS-1, the first orbital flight of the Space Shuttle program. (Reuters/NASA/KSC)