It's sad to see another orbiter retired, but I'm satisfied that the Shuttle program saw the International Space Station through to assembly complete. The Shuttles -- perhaps especially Endeavour -- really came into their own as orbital assembly platforms.
The vehicles outlasted the mission. That's a remarkable achievement for humanity's first crack at a reusable spacecraft. It's a strange thing that so many people are unable to recognize victory and unwilling move on. We built the ISS. It was probably the most complex thing humans have ever done, but we did it, and we did it well.
So it's time to declare victory and move on to the next challenge. There's so much more to do in space, and the only way we can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is to try to keep doing what we're doing after the doing is done.
Let's remember that Shuttle was the product of a "gap" in the 1970s. We're been here before. It wasn't the end of the world. It produced a space program that was undoubted different in vision and character than the Apollo program it followed, but we loved it just the same, and it is ending on a high note with an achievement that is every bit as grand and complex as landing men on the moon: we built our own moon in the sky. And it was Shuttle that made it happen.
Why should we be upset that we completed exactly what we set out to do?
Bravo butters! Thank you so very much for this fantastic post. I must say that this scenario would be much better to swallow if there were a new direction and goal in sight.
I am not tired and I'm ready to continue. I don't need a break or a vacation. I don't stop eating every day just so I can afford a fancy dinner. Invest and save but keep exploring and keep dreaming. That's how we stay healthy and alive!
Congratz to STS-134, Endeavour, the crew, the team, and everyone who supported!