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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Soundbite: Endeavour’s farewell tour should inspire new space exploration

    Students, faculty and Tucson community members gathered on the UA Mall to watch the retired space shuttle Endeavour fly over on Thursday.

    Former astronaut Mark Kelly, who manned the Endeavour in May 2011, requested it be flown over Tucson on its way to California from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He watched with his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, from the top of a parking garage as the spacecraft, mounted on a Boeing 747, made its way over the UA.

    The Endeavour was the second-to-last manned spacecraft sent by the United States to the International Space Station, and many spectators took the time out of their day to see it because it may be their last and only opportunity to witness a U.S. spaceship to ever fly over the United States. But the Endeavour’s farewell journey across the U.S. was not a farewell to space exploration.

    Funding for NASA is precarious in the face of an enormous federal deficit requiring massive cuts. NASA stands to lose money for space operations and exploration, and it requires massive bipartisan support from the public, Congress and the president to continue to thrive.

    But the moment of silence and then cheers and applause on the Mall on Thursday are a testament to how NASA can endure. The emotional reaction to the last flight of Endeavour shows space and science still matter.

    While the Endeavour may be the last spacecraft we see piggybacking over campus for a long time, it doesn’t mean it’s the last U.S. manned spacecraft ever.

    NASA is working on a manned spacecraft called Orion. Our country will continue to explore new frontiers, whether through government or privately funded endeavors.

    Last Thursday may have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but it certainly isn’t the end of manned space flight.

    — Dan Desrochers is a pre-journalism sophomore. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @drdesrochers.

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