Thursday, July 21, 2011

End of the First Space Plane Era

With the final landing of Atlantis (STS-135) early this morning, our first space plane era has ended after 30 years. I'm sure that human spaceflight will continue, and we will have other, better space planes someday. But Atlantis and her sister shuttles were a pretty audacious start, designed and built as they were with the technology of the 60's and early 70's. I'm happy that I got to witness the one launch that I did (Endeavour's STS-118 back in 2007).  I would have loved to have flown in one.

I couldn't do that, but I was happy to discover last night that version 2.0 of the great iPhone app F-SIM Space Shuttle was recently released. The new version of this shuttle landing simulator adds wonderful external views and a cool replay feature that allows you to enjoy your successful landings and scrutinize your errors in great detail. The shuttle era lives on in a small way on my iPod Touch and on iPhones and iPads everywhere.

Here's a great personal video of the real STS-135 landing from someone who had a great viewing spot, and here's the official NASA video which includes a few seconds of the cockpit HUD view at the very start (F-SIM Space Shuttle duplicates the HUD view and behavior quite exactly). 

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