Monday, September 24, 2012

the dream that died

The Space Shuttle Endeavour flew over Los Angeles on Friday. The other members of this family dashed out of their respective schools and office buildings to gawp at it, but they had neglected to mention its scheduled passage overhead to me (fresh off the plane from Netherlands / UK). So despite being the one person in the household with any kind of investment in space exploration I missed it, being occupied with catching up with emails and other digi-life dreariness. 

To be honest, I was never that engaged by the Shuttle. It lacked even the residual grandeur of the unmanned Mars mission, or the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, or the Voyager space probes. Squat and ungainly, the Shuttle seemed to just barely make it into Space.

But I certainly wouldn't have minded having a look at it on its final farewell tour. Right now it's resting at Los Angeles International Airport for a few weeks, before it gets transported on land to its retirement home, the California Science Center.

Missing the Shuttle reminded me of something I chanced upon in downtown LA a month ago. Heading on a regular journey through Little Tokyo towards the LA Times building, we veered off on a different route than usual, purely to find sheltering shade from the August scorch. And then stumbled on this:

It's a monument to the first Asian-American astronaut, Ellison S. Onizuka, who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986.

In fact the whole street is named in his honour. 

The monument had a gleaming, brand-new slickness -- and that's because the year before it had been carted off for repairs and restoration for 21 years of exposure to the elements.

January 28th 1986 -- the day the dream really died

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