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The Inspiration Gap And The Shuttle's Last Launch

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The Inspiration Gap And The Shuttle's Last Launch

The Inspiration Gap And The Shuttle's Last Launch

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Think back to the days when the space shuttle had yet to blast off for the first time. In 1977, NASA tested the Enterprise to prove the shuttle could fly and land.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

T: For 33 miles, the shuttle will glide and fly alone about 9 nautical miles on north. It will try to make a big turn up by the Atchison and Topeka Railway and go...

NORRIS: Adam Frank is one of them. He's been following the U.S. space program for decades. Frank is an astrophysicist and blogger for NPR, and he has these reflections on the day that the last space shuttle blasted off.

ADAM FRANK: Right now, there is a frozen moon called Europa orbiting Jupiter. It has a surface of ice that is miles thick. Below that ice is a liquid ocean that goes even deeper. Who knows what unimagined ecosystems might thrive in those oceans? Someday, somebody who is inspired now as a kid is going to wander those frozen plains and drill down to explore those oceans. If we are smart in our choices, then those kids could still be our own.

NORRIS: Adam Frank is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester. He also writes for the NPR blog "13.7: Cosmos and Culture."

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